A few things to wrap up before the ball comes down on 2012:
• The late Hartford artist Richard Welling drew buildings and cities; and visually chronicled the postwar changes in Hartford and, to some degree, New Haven and New York City. He died in 2009. Now his daughters Debrah Welling and Lisa Riss have donated hundreds of the artist's works to Connecticut and New York museums and historical societies (his drawings of the World Trade Center under construction went to the New York Historical Society).
The bulk of the drawings, prints and writings have just been donated to the Connecticut Historical Society. Reproductive prints of Welling's works, made by the artist, are on sale at the CHS gift shop; originals are not. A reproduction of Welling's G. Fox Christmas ornament is also on sale.
Making these works available to the public was a wonderful gesture by the family of a Hartford original.
• Local boy makes good food. If you remember the innovative downtown restaurant L'Americain in downtown Hartford three decades ago, there was a young chef there named Charles "Chuck" Draghi. Chuck and his wife now own and operate a marvelous restaurant in downtown Boston called Erbaluce.
It was just named Boston's Best Italian Restaurant of 2012 — consider the competition — by The Improper Bostonian. It's that good.
• Best wishes to Laura Knott-Twine, who is retiring next week as executive director of the Hartford Preservation Alliance after seven years. Under her passionate leadership the organization became a major player in historic preservation, an area essential to Hartford's economy and quality of life.
She will be replaced by Frank H. Hagaman, a Hartford native who has worked for 20 years for an Indianapolis nonprofit that rehabilitates old and historic buildings for adaptive reuse. That would seem to be a perfect fit.
Moving people who share a corridor by putting them into individual machines that burn fossil fuels and create pollution and greenhouse gas emissions isn't efficient and sustainable, nor is particularly pleasant, though some drivers on Farmington Avenue try to make it so by drinking coffee, eating breakfast, texting, doing their hair and talking on the phone.
A lot of people use the Farmington Avenues buses — it's one of the region's strongest bus lines, to damn with faint praise. But the buses get stuck in traffic, stop at every corner, wait for lights, wait for people to fumble with change. If the buses had the amenities that modern buses have in, say, South America, many more people would use them. The avenue had a trolley running down the center of it 100 years ago. This can be done.
Parts of Farmington Avenue are being rebuilt with "bump-outs," which make it easier to cross the street. That's good, but it solves the least pressing problem.
• Adios to my good friend Peter D. Shapiro, who has retired to Florida with his marvelous wife, Sally. Over decades as a lawyer-lobbyist, Peter was an idea guy masquerading as a boulevardier, to the extent one could be such in Hartford. He was a founder of the innovative ArtSpace housing developments in several communities and the Connecticut Economy quarterly, among other things.
Keep the ideas coming, my man.
• The office of Sen. Joe Lieberman closes tomorrow, so I should say a word about the senator's secret weapon. Sherry Brown, his Connecticut chief of staff, is one of the savviest and most effective political staffers I've ever had the pleasure to engage. The independent senator was up, down, praised and pilloried over his career, but never criticized for constituent services. Sherry will almost assuredly find another channel for what are remarkable talents.
Finally, I want to send deepest condolences to all the grieving families and friends in Newtown, especially my Courant colleague and friend Bill Leukhardt, who lost his stepdaughter, teacher Lauren Rousseau, in the unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Tom Condon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.