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SEARCH THE “06880” ARCHIVES
- Pic Of The Day #126
- Scenes From A Solar Eclipse
- Now We Know: Summer Is Officially Over
- SRO For Solar Eclipse
- John Fogerty Sellout Nears
- “River Of Names”: The Sequel
- Cleiten And Angelica: An Amazing, Artful Family
- Pic Of The Day #125
- Photo Challenge #138
- Advocates Fear Tide Going Out On “River Of Names”
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DISCLAIMERThis blog is personal opinion, and is not representative of the views of the Westport School District or Board of Education.
If you still have your retinas, check out these photos from today’s solar eclipse:
The largest Rolnick Observatory crowd since the formation of the universe clogged Bayberry Lane today. Westporters of all ages — particularly kids — headed to the highest spot in town, to watch the much-anticipated solar eclipse.
It was — at least this afternoon — also the coolest place to be.
A group of Coleytown teachers watched (safely) at Compo Beach:
Meanwhile, Robin Singer had her own special glasses:
Tickets are going fast for this Thursday’s John Fogerty concert at Levitt Pavilion. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member — who made Rolling Stone’s Top 100 lists of both the greatest guitarists and greatest singers of all time — headlines this year’s gala fundraiser.
Fogerty wrote and sang some of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s most classic songs, including “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Fortunate Son.” As a solo artist, he’s known for songs like “Centerfield” and “Rock and Roll Girls.”
For gala tickets ($275, including a pre-concert cocktail party, premium seating and an after-party); preferred seating tickets ($125) and patron tickets ($95), click here or call 866-811-4111.
Dorothy Curran — a co-organizer of the “River of Names” fundraiser that helped bring a 26-foot long, 6-foot high mural to the lower level of the Westport Library — has been following the artwork’s future during the library’s transformation project with interest. She reports:
I spoke directly to Kurt Derner, who installed the mural (we worked together on installation logistics). He is being hired to de-install it as well.
No one is more aware than he of the many risks and loose ends attendant to the project. Happily, he is a very intelligent guy and we had a good talk.
Among other things, he plans to cut down the wall in panels which will keep entire sections intact. However, as he cuts, the margins of the affected tiles are very much at risk. Also, his work ends with the wrapping and labeling of each section. He and Marion Grebow (the tile artist) are very concerned about what plans the library has for then safely packaging, transferring and storing the work.
For the record, the only conversations that those of us who were involved in the logistics of mural installation have had with the library pertain to the wisdom (or lack thereof) of taking the mural down and its planned destination 2 years hence. We were not invited to participate in discussion of the removal, transfer, storage and re-installation logistics.
However, happily, thanks to Marion, Kurt and I now are in touch and I will try and provide some quiet coding and logistical help for him. To start, in the River of Names book, on the pullout page the coding system that we used to guide tile placement is on display.
Remarkably, though the print is fine, every name and every word on the mural pullout is legible. The tiles that Kurt believes are most at risk are the bookshelf tiles. Anything that is broken will have to be re-made, but there is no plan or budget in place for that and no agreement with Marion.
Kurt also has told the library that the panels must be stored vertically. As far as we know, they will be placed in what now is the McManus Room: exactly the same floor where the jackhammering will be going on that supposedly necessitates removal of the mural from its existing location for its “safety.” He has no idea how they plan to create or box the panels for storage. Therefore, there may be a change in condition between the time that he removes the panels and the time that they are ready for reinstallation.
The only hopeful news is that, while Kurt indeed is coming to the library on Wednesday, it is “only” for a meeting. No date has yet been finalized for the beginning of his takedown. He is anticipating September.
The library says that the mural will be removed safely, stored carefully, and reinstalled appropriately.
Nine years ago — soon after Lindsey Blaivas Levine moved to Westport — she hired a Brazilian couple to clean her house.
She loves learning about people’s backgrounds. Cleiten did not speak much English, but Angelica was eager to chat.
Her great warmth and wonderful work ethic quickly captured Lindsey.
A few years later, Angelica had her 1st child. Worried, she asked Lindsey questions about his development.
Over the years, Lindsey watched with awe as Angelica navigates the Bridgeport school system (advocating for services her son needs) and healthcare (researching and saving money to see specialists).
“She is just about the most amazing parent I know,” Lindsey marvels.
“She and Cleiten quietly do whatever they need to to make sure their son gets everything he needs. Their love and passion is evident in everything they do — even cleaning.”
But Lindsey did not email me because of their son. Instead, she wants “06880” readers to know about Cleiten’s art.
He is self-taught — partly from YouTube — and amazing. He paints murals and makes furniture (“Lillian August quality, if you ask me,” Lindsey says).
She had no idea of his talent until Cleiten showed up a few years ago with a hug Doc McStuffins mural for her daughter.
“He didn’t ask what her favorite character was,” she notes. “He just knew — because he pays attention to everything.”
Another example: He and Angelica stock Lindsey’s freezer with her kids’ favorite Brazilian cheese bread (pao de queijo), and leave delicious fudge yummies (brigedieros) for their birthdays.
Recently, Cleiten was asked by a friend to paint the inside of a Bridgeport ice cream store. “His work is impeccable,” she says.
Now — to help him get jobs — she’s pounding the pavement.
The owners of Splatterbox were impressed with his work, and will recommend him to clients for murals.
“Cleiten does not know I’m showing his work around Westport,” Lindsey says. (She did mention it to Angelica.)
Oh, yeah: He also customizes sneakers.
If you’re as impressed as Lindsey — and everyone else who has seen Cleiten’s art — and would like more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“06880” readers were cranking last Sunday.
We may not agree on what to call the span over the river: William Cribari Bridge? Bridge Street Bridge? Saugatuck Bridge?
But many folks instantly recognized last week’s photo challenge as the hand crank that once opened that multi-named bridge (and still does, if the motorized system fails).
Andy Kaplan, Peter Fulbright, Tom Erickson, David Sampson, Andrew Colabella (who also spotted the extension cord for Al’s Angels’ Christmas lights), Jay Tormey, Jonathan McClure, Joelle Malec, Seth Braunstein and Carmine Picarello all nailed it. To see Tom Feeley’s image, and read all the comments, click here.
This week’s challenge is harder.
If you know where in Westport you’d find this scene, click “Comments” below.
For 20 years, the River of Names has stood as one of the Westport Library‘most unique, quirky and popular attractions.
Stretching 26 feet long and standing 6 feet high, the mural contains 1,162 tiles. Each was individually created and drawn by artist Marion Grebow. Some portray historical events, like the founding of Westport, onion farming and the arrival of the railroad.
Others feature favorite places around town: the Compo Beach cannons, Minute Man monument and Staples High School. Some cite local organizations and businesses.
Most show the names of nearly 1,000 families. They honor parents, children and pets. They note when the families came to town, and where they lived.
The River of Names was a special fundraiser. Under the direction of former 2nd selectman Betty Lou Cummings and Westport Historical Society/Westport Woman’s Club leader Dorothy Curran, sales of the tiles brought in $300,000 for the library’s capital campaign.
Donors were promised that the mural would exist in perpetuity.
The River of Names draws visitors — some curious, some wanting to find their own tile, all intrigued — to the lower “Riverwalk” level of the library.
Grebow designed her mural to be looked at like the river itself. Taken together, the individual tiles appear to shimmer and move — imitating the Saugatuck River a few yards away.
But the library has embarked on an exciting 18-month “transformation” project. The downstairs level will be where most books are stored; a new entrance there will open up the river, improving the entire library experience for all.
On Wednesday, the mural will be taken down. A group of Westporters — including Curran, Cummings and arts advocates — fears for what happens next.
They worry that the library has no written plan for removing the mural from the wall. They don’t know where it will be stored, and how the tiles will be labeled so they can be replaced in the precise spots Grebow selected. And they haven’t gotten definite word on where it will be exhibited once the transformation is complete.
I asked library director Bill Harmer about those concerns. He replied: “Yes, it’s safe. It will be safely taken down and safely stored. It will be available for re-hanging when the library renovation project is completed.”
Town arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz adds:
The Library has held discussions with Marion Grebow, individuals involved in the 1998 fundraising project, the original installer, and (as early as 2014) with 3rd-party fine art service firms on how best to de-install, pack, transport and store the wall.
The priority has always been to protect the wall during construction. I am confident it will be professionally handled and stored until it can come back to the library.
Meanwhile, mural advocates produced a video about the River of Names.
At the end, Curran says: “Every day the tide goes in, and the tide goes out. But the river remains.
“I hope that the names will, too.”
(For more information, email email@example.com)