Drew Friedman was a pillar of downtown Westport. A major landowner, a founder of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association and landlord of restaurants like Onion Alley, Bobby Q’s and Acqua, he influenced much of Main Street.
His holdings once included the original Westport Public Library building on the Post Road between Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza (now Starbucks and Freshii). He also owned Post Road property beyond downtown. And was a presence in Weston too, as the owner of Cobb’s Mill Inn.
He died in February 2016, at 86.
Now Friedman is back in the news.
In his will, he left $500,000 to set up a “Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.”
But it’s not a place.
It’s a foundation.
Friedman’s former business partner Nick Visconti asked artist/photographer Miggs Burroughs — whose “Tunnel Vision” project is installed next to and across from some of Friedman’s former properties — and Visconti’s sister Louise Fusco to join him on the foundation board.
Their mission is to give $50,000 a year to one or more worthy artists and/or arts organizations and activities in Westport or Weston.
So far, money has gone to Homes With Hope, CLASP Homes, the Westport Arts Center and Westport Historical Society. It will help fund art classes and activities for under-served students and young adults. This spring, an art exhibit will showcase all their work.
In addition, the foundation will award 2 scholarships, of $7,500 each, so high school students with need can attend an arts college, or art classes at a community college.
A special gala at the Westport Woman’s Club on May 17 will celebrate the arts program — and artists’ — great accomplishments.
Though not an artist himself, Friedman married one. His wife Bobbie created memorable works of art on canvas, and in clay and bronze, in a beautiful studio he built at their Westport home.
Now Bobby Q’s, Acqua and Cobb’s Mill are all gone.
So are Drew and Bobbie Friedman.
But thanks to his generosity and foresight, the arts — and artists — in Westport and Weston will live on for years.
(Candidates for Drew Friedman Community Arts Center scholarships should click here for more information.)