Category Archives: Arts

The Gerber Baby: The Sequel

Not long ago, “06880” posted a story on the Gerber Baby. The model was a little Westport girl (Ann Turner); she was drawn by a Westport artist (Dorothy Hope Smith). The tale was as cute as the tyke herself, whose face has adorned Gerber products for the past 88 years.

As so often happens, there’s a 2nd back story to the 1st one. Smith’s granddaughter, Dorrie Barlow Thomas, sent along these thoughts from her father, Peter Barlow — the artist’s son. He writes:

Every year or so, somewhere, a story appears about the Gerber Baby.

It’s always the same: about the very pleasant, 80-something former school teacher and mystery writer who was the model for the famous trademark that everyone seems to like.

The person who is hardly ever featured — sometimes never even mentioned — is the artist who actually drew the Gerber baby. Because the artist lived in Westport, “06880” readers might like to know more of the story.

Dorothy Hope Smith studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. She commuted to school on the elevated railway, often sketching other passengers along the way.

Dorothy Hope Smith, at work.

Dorothy Hope Smith, at work in her studio.

Another student was Perry Barlow, from Texas. He complained about having to draw so many plaster casts. “I want to draw real people,” he told his teachers.

In February of 1922, Dorothy and Perry were married in New York City. They soon moved to Westport. Perry drew cartoons for magazines including Liberty and Scribner’s.

Dorothy Hope Smith's ad for Mercury autos.

Dorothy Hope Smith’s ad for Mercury autos.

Dorothy Hope Smith (keeping her original name professionally) was more successful at first. She was one of the few artists specializing in children and babies. She illustrated children’s books; her paintings appeared on magazine covers, and she drew advertising pictures of children for products like Ivory soap, Campbell’s soup and Ford cars.

In 1928 she heard about a contest to select a picture of a baby for a new product line. Dorothy did not know many details, but sent a sketch with a note asking, “Is this what you’re looking for? If so, I can make a more finished version.”

No one answered. The sketch was put in with all the other entries — watercolors, oil paintings and drawings. When the judges looked at all the pictures, they chose the sketch. They liked it just the way it was.

The sketch first appeared on boxes of Gerber’s Cereal Food, covering most of the front. The image became known as the Gerber Baby.

Around this time Perry Barlow was selling cartoons to a new magazine, the New Yorker. He became a “regular,” for the next 30 years. He also illustrated many covers. Because he was partially color blind, Dorothy did the coloring — about 130 covers in all. In the late 1930s and ’40s, when photography began replacing art in advertising, Dorothy concentrated on children’s painted portraits.

The Gerber baby. (Copyright Gerber Company)

The Gerber baby. (Copyright Gerber Company)

Also in the ’30s and ’40s, Gerber was so pleased with the response to their baby that they offered prints of the Gerber Baby for 10 cents each. They sold thousands.

Some people liked the picture. Others thought it reminded them of their own kids. A few people thought it was their child, and sued Gerber for invading their privacy.

There were trials and hearings. Dorothy Hope Smith was called to testify for the company. There were no model releases in those days (they’re still not required today), so it was Dorothy’s word against the plaintiffs.

Gerber won each time. After several suits, the company decided to find the original baby and have her sign a release. They asked the artist for the baby’s name and address.

The baby — now grown up and married — was Ann Turner Cook.  She had a lawyer. Gerber paid $7000 for her signature. Ann says it was $5000. Maybe so — or maybe the lawyer got $2000.

Whatever the amount, it was a lot of money in 1951 — 20 times what the artist was paid for the original drawing.

Ann Cook became a frequent guest and spokesperson for Gerber, in personal appearances and on TV. Dorothy Hope Smith Barlow died in 1955, age 60.

One postscript: The artist’s granddaughter, Dorrie Barlow, was born many years later. She was fed Beech-Nut baby food — not Gerber’s.

Not the Gerber baby -- but one of Dorothy Hope Smith's many child portraits. Perhaps the subject was a Westport girl.

Not the Gerber baby — but one of Dorothy Hope Smith’s many child portraits. Perhaps the subject was a Westport girl.

 

Weekend Art Show: A Final Tribute To Susan Malloy

Even in death, Susan Malloy continues to give back to Westport.

The noted artist/philanthropist died recently, at 91. Just weeks earlier, she had agreed to participate in this weekend’s Westport Woman’s Club Art Show.

The event is a big one. For decades — starting in the early 1900s — the WWC sponsored an annual show. Some of America’s best artists were represented — because many club members were wives of artists, or artists themselves.

During the Depression, WWC  shows helped unemployed artists and their families make ends meet. Local artists were always prominently featured.

In the 1980s, the art show ended. Now — after a 30-year hiatus — it’s back.

Malloy won’t be there this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, May 2-3), unfortunately. It’s the first big event to be held in the WWC’s newly renovated Bedford Room.

But her paintings — selected by family members — will.

Susan Malloy's paintings will be at the Westport Woman's Club Art Show...

Susan Malloy’s paintings will be at the Westport Woman’s Club Art Show…

Malloy’s art will be shown alongside 14 of the area’s most talented and inventive artists’ — folks like Nina Bentley, Tom Kretsch, Katherine Ross and Jo Titsworth.

Their styles include ceramics, assemblage, digital and conventional photography, watercolors, jewelry, oils, acrylics, lenticulars and more.

Trace Burroughs will be there too. The brother of art show curator Miggs Burroughs, he’ll make his 1st Westport art debut since 1958. (He was 8 years old then, and sold almost 300 Jackson Pollack-like drip paintings. One was bought by Milton Greene, who was summering with Marilyn Monroe in Westport.)

100% of the proceeds from sales of Malloy’s work will go to the Westport Woman’s Club Scholarship Fund.

An additional 30% of sales of other artists’ work will also go to the Fund. All of that money is earmarked for need-based scholarships for Staples High School seniors. The WWC expects to hand out $30,000 in scholarships this year.

...as will Tom Kretsch's photos.

…as will Tom Kretsch’s photos.

That’s on top of $30,000 to 30 local non-profits and community service organizations. (Those funds come from the Yankee Doodle Fair.)

The Woman’s Club will also donate free use of their Bedford Hall meeting space to 8 different groups. That’s a $6,400 value.

The art show is dedicated to Malloy’s memory. What better way to honor it than to admire her work this weekend — and maybe take home one of her final pieces.

(The Westport Woman’s Club Art Show opening reception is set for Saturday, May 2 from 5-8 p.m. The show continues Sunday, May 3, from 12-4 p.m.)

Art show poster

 

 

O Say Can You See This Amazing Honor Court?

Boy Scout Courts of Honor are special events. Achieving Eagle Scout — and sharing the day with fellow troop members, leaders, family and friends — is a moment any Scout will always remember.

But last Sunday’s Court of Honor at Christ & Holy Trinity Church was extra special.

To open the ceremony — at which Westport’s Troop 100 feted Aaron Samuels, Cole Moyer and John Foley — 3 Staples Orphenians sang the national anthem.

A blog for adult Scout leaders callled it  “musical gold that’ll make you proud to be a Scout or Scouter, and proud to be an American.”

Those weren’t just 3 random juniors plucked off the stage. All are connected with  Troop 100. On the left is former Scout Keanan Pucci; on the right is Life Scout Wellington Baumann.

And there in the middle is Aaron Samuels — singing before becoming an Eagle Scout, on a day no one there will ever forget.

(Hat tip: former Scoutmaster Jennifer Jackson)

Listen, My Children, And You Shall Hear…

…of the Minute Man statue we hold so dear.
Not any one man is now alive
Who remembers back to 1775
Or the march of the British from Compo’s shore
To Danbury north, and its arsenal store
Or the days that followed, as they marched back south
And ran right into our militia’s mouth
The Battle of Compo Hill became quite a story
And Westport’s Minute Men earned all their glory
But seldom today do we give any thought
To all that our patriot ancestors wrought
We pass by the statue with ne’er a glance
For far more concerned are we with the chance
To sunbathe and swim, go boating and grill
Or enjoy yet another modern-day thrill
As the Minute Man stands, a sentinel silent
To a long-ago chapter so bloody and violent
But hark! For on Sunday we look back and praise
The remarkable heroes of those valiant days
(Click here for the details of all the events
Then read further this poem; ’twill make much more sense).

Minuteman statue 2

In 1906 Daniel Webster moved here
Though just 29, his sculpting talent was clear
Four years later he was asked (in part by the state)
To design, develop, cast and create
A sculpture to show a patriot kneeling
With flintlock in hand, and a strong steely feeling
‘Twould be placed near the beach, at the same exact spot
Where the Battle of Compo Hill had been fought.

Robert Penn Lambdin's

Robert Penn Lambdin’s “The British Landing at Cedar Point, April 25, 1777″ oil painting is part of the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection.

Lewis P. Wakeman is a name from the past
He’s the model from whom the Minute Man has been cast
In bronze, where he sits on a mound of green grass
From his perch now he’s watched a full century pass
The Westport statue is one of just four
Saluting a Minute Man to remember that war
Feelings were stronger in the year 1910
The unveiling was quite an event way back then
A clambake, parade, music and speeches
Made June 17 a red-letter day at the beaches.

The Minute Man statue, around the time of his 1910 dedication.

The Minute Man statue, around the time of his 1910 dedication.

In the 10 decades since then, much has been seen
The Minute Man’s patina turned brown to green
Rain storms eroded the earthen knoll’s contour
The fence fell into disrepair even more
But now, thanks to a passionate, hard-working team
The Minute Man once again shines with a gleam
His hill is restored, his fence now is steady
And once again with his flintlock he kneels at the ready
To remind us that once upon men, bold and brave
(Some of them buried in a near shallow grave)
Defended this land with a spirit so strong
That to forget their sacrifice must surely be wrong
So this Sunday — and all days — think, if you can
Of the saga of Westport’s beloved Minute Man.

(To learn more about this Sunday’s Minute Man celebrations, click here.)

(Photo/Katherine Hooper)

(Photo/Katherine Hooper)

Maserati Rolls Into Town

Weston Magazine threw a welcome-to-Westport party tonight for our new Maserati dealer. The site — across from Carvel — is the former J. McLaughlin (which in turn replaced the original Hay Day).

It was a great evening, with plenty of fine art, food and drinks.

And of course, fine autos.

Among the folks admiring the handsome cars were longtime Westport artist/icon Miggs Burroughs, and Liz Beeby.

Miggs and Maserati

This just may be the push I need to upgrade from my Toyota Camry.

Nah.

Downtown Westport Springs To Life

Yesterday was the 1st real day of spring. And talented photographer Lynn U. Miller was there to capture it.

Many folks headed to the beach. But Lynn was intrigued by the number — and variety — of people wandering around, and enjoying, downtown Westport.

She enjoyed shooting a variety of scenes. You’ll enjoy seeing our familiar town with fresh eyes. (Click or hover any of the photos to enlarge!)

This relaxed couple enjoyed the view on a bench behind Oscar's. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

This relaxed couple enjoyed the view on a bench behind Oscar’s. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

University of Bridgeport grad students Neevaj Ram Motaparthy (electrical engineering) and Gopal Dugglna (computer science) snap their own shots. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

University of Bridgeport grad students Neevaj Ram Motaparthy (electrical engineering) and Gopal Dugglna (computer science) snap their own shots. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Ruben Alva of Bridgeport takes a break from work at the Spotted Horse. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Ruben Alva of Bridgeport heads to the river for a break from work at the Spotted Horse. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

From left: Fang Chih Lee, her mother Li Lee, and son/grandson Drake Chen. Drake lives in Westport. His mother and grandmother were visiting for the weekend, from Plymouth, Mass. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Fang Chih Lee, her mother Li Lee, and son/grandson Drake Chen. Drake lives in Westport. His mother and grandmother were visiting for the weekend, from Plymouth, Mass. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

An old-fashioned Church Lane sign. Reflected in the window: the former Max's Art Supplies. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

An old-fashioned Church Lane sign. Reflected in the window: the former Max’s Art Supplies. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

As the former Westport Y is  remade into Bedford Square, a window goes missing. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

As the former Westport Y is remade into Bedford Square, a window goes missing. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Before it was the Y fitness center, there was a firehouse next to the Bedford building. Now, you can see right through it. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Before it was the Y fitness center, there was a firehouse next to the Bedford building. Now you can see right through it. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Everyone out of the water! The deep end of the Y's large pool.

Everyone out of the water! The deep end of the Y’s large pool.

Near SoNo Baking -- across from the construction -- flowers bloom. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Near SoNo Baking — across from the construction — flowers bloom. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Westport Arts Center: Susan Malloy’s Living Legacy

In her 91 years, Susan Malloy was an exceptionally generous presence in Westport. Her time, energy and financial contributions aided countless organizations in town. The accolades pouring in after her death yesterday morning are heartfelt, well deserved, and broad in scope.

It’s hard to quantify which of so many institutions benefited the most from Susan’s generosity. But at least one most definitely would not be here today without her.

In 1947 a group of Westport artists began meeting informally — “and riotously,” according to a 2002 New York Times story — at various locations in town.

By 1969 they’d evolved into the Westport-Weston Arts Council. Their home was a tiny office in Town Hall.

In 1984, Joyce Thompson told the Times, the group needed its own home. They asked to use the former Greens Farms Elementary School — shuttered a few years earlier, when the student population declined.

After a year of negotiation, they agreed on a lease: $1 a year.

Greens Farms Elementary School was the Westport Arts Center first real home.

Greens Farms Elementary School was the Westport Arts Center’s first real home.

The newly named Westport Arts Center had to raise plenty of money, though. An oil tank had to be buried; steps needed to be installed — in addition to classrooms being converted into studios, halls painted white to use as a gallery, and the auditorium converted into a performance space.

The new center hosted art exhibitions, chamber concerts, children’s sculpture workshops and jazz jams.

But in the 1990s, the Times reports, the school population rose. The town wanted its school back. The Arts Center countered that they’d invested plenty of money in the building.

WACAfter heated negotiations the town paid the WAC over $500,000 to break the lease, and reimburse them for their improvements.

The Arts Center went on the road. They held concerts at the Seabury Center, the library and school auditoriums. They hung paintings wherever they could.

What they really needed was a home.

Heida Hermanns, a concert pianist who settled in Westport after fleeing the Holocaust in World War II, had set up a foundation to fund the Arts Center. But it wasn’t enough. And the settlement from the town had been designated for programs.

Susan Malloy stepped into the breach. “I could see the search was going nowhere,” the Times quoted her as saying. “Nothing was right. This place was too small, another wasn’t even in Westport, so I finally said, ‘OK. I’ll stake the arts center.”

Susan Malloy -- an artist herself -- helped the  Westport Arts Center survive.

Susan Malloy — an artist herself — helped the Westport Arts Center survive.

Her funds covered the rent for 2 years. It also inspired more donations. The result: In June of 2002, the Westport Arts Center opened its own home, on Riverside Avenue.

It’s been there for 13 happy, fruitful, artistic years. The WAC is now as permanent a part of the town as the library or Historical Society (2 other beneficiaries of Susan Malloy’s largesse).

It’s easy to forget the past. In Susan Malloy’s case, she wasn’t looking for praise, or even thanks. She simply saw a need, and filled it.

Think of that the next time you go to the Westport Arts Center. Or drive past it.

Or the next time someone asks you to help out your town, in any way you can.

The Westport Arts Center thrives today.

The Westport Arts Center thrives today.

Remembering Susan Malloy

Susan Malloy — a longtime Westporter, arts patron and philanthropist — died early this morning, of complications from pneumonia. She was 91.

Though she kept a low profile, Malloy’s mark on Westport was broad and deep. She donated generously to a variety of cultural institutions, including the Westport Arts Center, Westport Historical Society (for which she drew a 4-color map of 1960s-era downtown), and the Westport Library (which hosts an annual arts lecture in her name).

Susan Malloy

Susan Malloy

Malloy also supported the noted “Years in the Making” documentary — which pays homage to Westport’s arts legacy — and the Whitney Museum in New York.

An artist herself, she had her 1st New York gallery show in 2009 — in her mid-80s.

In 2012 — at 88 — Malloy published her first book. A “Guide to Paris” for young people, it contains sketches she made the previous year on a trip to France with her niece Ann Sheffer, and Malloy’s 17- and 10-year-old grandchildren.

Malloy’s family began summering in Westport in 1937, when her father Aaron Rabinowitz followed his mentor Lillian Ward (of Henry Street Settlement fame) here.

The family home — “Robin’s Nest” — was a farmhouse at the corner of Bayberry Lane and Cross Highway.

After Malloy married, she and her late husband Edwin lived for many years in one of Westport’s oldest homes, in the Old Hill district. In 1986 they moved to a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired property on Dogwood Lane.

Services are set for this Friday (April 17), at 11 a.m. at Temple Emanu-El in New York City.

 

And The Winner Is…

…Marc Litvinoff, and the Levitt Pavilion.

Recently, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce put out a call for photos. The winner would grace the front covers of the new Visitors Guide/Membership Directory and map.

Here’s what you’ll see:

Levitt - Marc Litvinoff - Chamber of Commerce cover

The shot of the new Levitt Pavilion was taken from Grace Salmon Park, on Imperial Avenue. It also shows the west bank of the Saugatuck River — and a stunning sky.

Litvinoff’s photo was chosen from over 600 entries, by dozens of Westporters.

“We had to make some tough choices. There were so many we could have used. But in the end, we felt this one said ‘Westport,'” says Chamber executive director Matthew Mandell.

The guide will be released in May. The Levitt kicks off its new season in June.

The view that Litvinoff captured so well is available every day of the year.

Lynsey Addario’s “Booked For The Evening”: The Back Story

The Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” fundraiser is always special. Previous honorees have included Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Wendy Wasserstein, Pete Hamill, Martin Scorsese, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Halberstam, Oscar Hijuelos, Adam Gopnik, Will Shortz and Patti Smith.

This year, though, is especially special. On Saturday, May 9 (7:30 p.m.), the library welcomes Lynsey Addario. She’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner, internationally known role model — and a Westporter.

Lynsey Addario

Lynsey Addario

Lynsey’s accomplishments are — well, special. Working for the New York TimesNational Geographic and Time, she has documented life and oppression under Taliban rule in Afghanistan; conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Darfur and Congo, and humanitarian and human rights issues across the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.

Now, Lynsey is a noted author. It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War is an insighful, inspiring memoir. It’s also been optioned as a big-time film. Steven Spielberg will direct it, with Jennifer Lawrence playing Lynsey.

None of which may have been possible without our special Westport Library.

The other day, I asked Lynsey if she recalled her early library days.

Boy, did she.

Her parents came to Westport in the 1960s to open a salon, Phillips. They had finished hairdressing school in New Haven, and were attracted to Westport’s thriving, creative atmosphere. Artists and authors seemed to be everywhere.

As a Coleytown Elementary School student, Lynsey remembers making field trips to the “old” library. In that building, on the Post Road and Parker Harding Plaza — where Starbucks and Freshii are now — she learned how to use the card catalog, and search for books.

The "old" library, where a young Lynsey Addario learned a lot.

The “old” library, where a young Lynsey Addario learned a lot.

The “new” library — the one next to the Levitt Pavilion — opened when Lynsey was at Staples. She was discovering photography, and used the library to learn more about the field.

Today, most of Lynsey’s research is done via the internet. But she knows how important libraries are.

At the University of Wisconsin, she spent “countless” nights researching papers and utilizing resources.

“I have always seen libraries as sanctuaries,” Lynsey says. “Now, I work primarily in war zones. Basic resources like food, water, electricity and shelter are a priority. Libraries would be the greatest luxury in these places. They are a sad casualty of the realities of war.”

Lynsey Addario photographed this young girl, who died delivering twins. The Sierra Leonean wanted to earn a degree, but at 14 was forced into marriage. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for NPR)

Lynsey Addario photographed this young girl, who died delivering twins. The Sierra Leonean wanted to earn a degree, but at 14 was forced into marriage. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for NPR)

The Westport Library is many things, to many people. We all use it in different, and varied, ways. But all of us find — and learn — something there.

On May 9, we can learn a little bit from Lynsey Addario — who learned more than a little bit in our own across-the-street library, a very brief lifetime ago.

(For more information on “Booked for the Evening” — including tickets — click here.)