Because Everything Is Better With a Little Bit of Honey

Five Points Center for the Visual Arts in downtown Torrington opened again to the public on June 5, with a show that features the apiary artwork of Randy Orzano of Sharon, Conn.

Anyone who’s driven through the outer edges of Sharon on the way to Millerton, N.Y., has seen Orzano’s work, in a sense. Those are his beehives out in the middle of a grassy field behind the farmhouse he shares with his wife, Gretchen Hachmeister, who is the executive director of the Hotchkiss Library of Sharon.

But as anyone knows who “keeps” bees, you don’t really keep the bees and they’re not really “your” beehives. 

This is more true for Orzano than it is for most beekeepers: Rather than boldly determining that he wanted to raise a colony of bees, and buying all the gear, he just kind of found a bunch of discarded bee boxes at the town’s transfer station swap shop several years ago. 

He consulted with a friend who’s an experienced bee expert, and then decided to keep the boxes and try to attract and care for a swarm of his own. 

He succeeded. Bees live in his boxes in his yard, but really it’s the bees’ domain, one which they will of course defend with determination, as anyone knows who has ever tried to mess around with a hive. That’s why there are beekeeper suits, and special protocols for visiting the hive — and trying to extract the honey that the furry, buzzing colony has grown. 

Orzano views the bees with wary respect and abundant appreciation. They not only provide him with honey, they also led him toward a new self image, this time as an artist and not as the civil engineer he used to be before moving to Sharon. They helped unlock the artist in him and free him to see himself in a different way, and to pursue another kind of life. 

So already there’s a lot of complexity in the relationship between Randy and the bees. 

But there’s more. Orzano is clearly a competent artist. He works in pen and ink and watercolor. His work might catch your eye but not hold it if it weren’t for another layer that he adds on to the images he makes. 

It started with his two children, whose lives and growth he began to chronicle some 16 years ago when they were still young, by sketching them. And, as children do, they took his drawings and drew on top of them. 

Orzano was fine with that, even intrigued. And when the bees came along and took up residence on his property, and as he got to know them, he began to sketch the bees and then wondered what would happen if he let them have access to his images. 

So he slid some of his finished work into the hives and the bees did just what his children used to do: They added their own artistic embellishments, although instead of colored marker they did their work with honey and with something called propolis, also known as “bee glue,” which is a sticky substance that acts kind of like bee plaster. It seals cracks and builds smooth walls. Sometimes they chew up the edges of Orzano’s paper and use it for the beehive. It’s a partnership, just as the honey is a partnership.

Through the years Orzano has added layers to the work, often literally so, by folding the paper and by also inserting canvas into the hive. The bees like it; they use the canvas for their own renovation projects, just as they do with the paper. Sometimes the images that Orzano slips into the hives are of the bees themselves. Sometimes they depict plants. Sometimes they’re large and portrait-like, sometimes they’re small and pattern-like.

See them for yourself at Five Points, which is at the center of the Torrington renaissance.

The gallery is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and by appointment. All visitors must wear masks and observe social distancing protocols. The show will remain up until July 11.

Five Points is at 33 Main St. in Torrington. Call ​860-618-7222 or go to www.fivepointsgallery.org.

Randy Orzano had been keeping bees and making art for years when he got the idea of having the bees “participate” by leaving honey and other bee products on his sketches. His work is in a new show at 5 Points in Torrington. Photo by Randy orzano

Photo by Randy orzano

Randy Orzano had been keeping bees and making art for years when he got the idea of having the bees “participate” by leaving honey and other bee products on his sketches. His work is in a new show at 5 Points in Torrington. Photo by Randy orzano

Latest News

Pirates win Little League championship

The Pirates pose with their trophies beneath the scoreboard after winning the Northwest District 6 Majors 2024 title.

Riley Klein

THOMASTON — The Steve Blass Northwest Connecticut Pirates defeated the Tri-Town Braves 11-1 in the Northwest District 6 Majors League Championship game June 14.

The Pirates, made up of players aged 10 to 12 from the six Region One towns and Norfolk, won by run rule with a 10-point lead after five innings, a fitting end to a dominant season. The 2024 champs did not commit a single error in the game.

Keep ReadingShow less
‘Old Glory’ finds new home for Flag Day

North Canaan Elementary School students applaud as the flag reaches the peak of a new 35-foot flagpole.

Riley Klein

NORTH CANAAN — Students of North Canaan Elementary School gathered at Sam Eddy Field Wednesday, June 12, to witness the stars and stripes hoisted high on a newly installed flagpole.

Celebrated two days early due to school ending, the Flag Day ceremony took place on a pristine spring morning. Patriotism was palpable as the students sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Grand Old Flag” beneath a clear blue sky.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy at The Playhouse

The Sharon Playhouse honors Bobbie Olsen at its annual Spotlight Gala.

Justin Boccitto

The Annual Sharon Playhouse Spotlight Gala cast their theater light upon a worthy honoree this year: Bobbie Olsen, Bobbie Olsen, former president of The Playhouse board and namesake of a well-known location, The Bobbie Olsen Theatre, where residents pack the seats each summer to see the mainstage production plays and musicals. Held on Saturday, June 1, the dinner, cocktail, and musical review at the Olsen Theatre was a celebration of all she has contributed to keeping live theater active and alive in Sharon, even in the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Bobbie Olsen is an incredible supporter of not just this theater, but this community,” said Sharon Playhouse Artistic Director Carl Andress. “She supports the Sharon Playhouse in her leadership, and in the beauty of her person-hood. We’re just so grateful that she’s been in our lives and that she continues to be such a good friend to the theater, Sharon Playhouse, and the theater in general.”

Keep ReadingShow less
NWCT Arts Council: Arts Connected

Matica Circus duo from Harwinton, Connecticut performing at NWCT ARTS Connected event in May

Jennifer Almquist

The Northwest Connecticut Arts Council (NWCT Arts) recently held Arts Connected, their first fundraiser, at the Spring Hill Vineyard in Washington, Connecticut. The evening celebration, a combination of Fellini movie, carnival, and Renaissance Fair, featured an aerialist from Matica Circus in Harwinton, and a flame and flow performer out in the courtyard under the stars. Momix, based in Washington Connecticut, under the artistic direction of founders Moses Pendleton and Cynthia Quinn, also performed. Two dancers wore Jeff Koons-style inflated red dog suits, and Momix dancer Jared Bogart wafted through the space wearing an immense, two-stories tall silk fan. Persian calligraphic painter Alibaba Awrang created a community work of art, while Ameen Mokdad, a violinist from Iraq, made music with Hartford’s Cuatro Puntos Ensemble. A young musician, Adelaide Punkin, performed an original song from the balcony of the vast space, while a giant puppet from Sova Dance and Puppet waltzed through the festivities. DJ Arvolyn Hill from Kent spun the tunes, an African drum circle set the rhythm, and there was abundant food and drink for the gathered crowd.

Keep ReadingShow less