Category Archives: Arts

Roundup: History Museum Stays Closed; MoCA Reopens; Main Street; More


Cultural institutions are reopening around Connecticut. However, the Westport Museum for History and Culture will remain closed.

Executive director Ramin Ganeshram says it’s not because they want to. Instead, she wrote in an email to members, “we have to.”

One reason: the “antique building with small rooms and an aged HVAC system” lacks the air filtration or cross-ventilation needed to host more than 1 or 2 visitor at a time.

In addition, a “major structural failure in the center of the building that was left unaddressed for many years and exacerbated by aspects of the way the building was used” will take “a lot of time and a lot of financial resources to ultimately fix.”

However, Ganeshram said, the COVID closure has allowed staff to “fix both the structural failure and work to save collections and archives that had not been properly assessed, catalogued or preserved for many decades.”


MoCA Westport is reopening. The big day is Wednesday (July 8).

In anticipation, they’ve released a short film showcasing the current exhibition: “Helmut Lang: 41.1595° N, 73.3882° W.”

The video from Douglas Tirola and 4th Row Films offers a first-person experience of walking through the exhibition, and provides background on Lang’s inspiration for the works. Click below to see.


Last night was gorgeous. The temperature was just right. It was Friday — the start of the weekend.

It was the perfect night for a picnic, meeting friends, or sunset watching at Compo Beach. It hardly mattered that there are no grills or picnic tables, and the concession stand is closed.

Nearly everyone heeded the social distancing signs. Many wore masks. And nearly everyone seemed grateful to be outdoors, with other people, again.

(Photo/Dan Woog)


The Main Street planters are all in place. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association project was created to provide more room for shoppers.

This was the scene yesterday morning. Come on down — there’s plenty of space!


Speaking of flowers: This week’s Westport Garden Club #Friday Flowers decorations are at Nevada Hitchcock Park *the corner of Cross Highway and Weston Road).

Two great factoids: The park honors Hitchcock, a founding member of the club. And the flowers — from the gardens of Andi Turner, Janice Yost and Topsy Siderowf — are pollinators. This is National Pollinator Week.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)


Meanwhile, the Pop’TArt gallery downtown had a low-key opening last night for its new “Scheherezade: The Shapes of Stories” sculpture exhibition. It will be up for the next month.

It’s outdoors — to the delight of at least one young, budding art lover.


When COVID forced shutdowns and program closures, STAR went to work.

For the past 68 years, the organization has provided services and support to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.

During the pandemic. STAR’s 45-minute Zoom classes kept clients and their loved ones connected and involved.

Westport participants have included Yvonne O’Kane, who taught cupcake decorating; artist Miggs Burroughs, State Senator Will Haskell, and Wakeman Town Farm. There’s been live music too, along with virtual dance parties.

Kudos to STAR, for this innovative, important programming — and to all who help make it work. Click here for more information.


And finally … Happy jUNe Day!

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 15 Gallery

As Westport reopens, the number of submissions to our Saturday art gallery slows.

Still, there’s plenty of good work to show. As always, our artists’ many moods are reflected in many mediums.

Keep ’em coming. Professional, amateur, old, young — we want it all. Student submissions are particularly welcome!

The only rule: Your art must be inspired by, reflective of, or otherwise related to the times we’re going through. Email dwoog@optonline.net.

Handmade greeting card (Amy Schneider)

“Hand’s On: An Artist’s Touch (Photographer Larry Untermeyer took this photo of Westport artist Howard Munce at Elizabeth Gaynor’s sketch class in 2010)

“Comforting” (Lawrence Weisman)

“Corona Meltdown” (Nina Bentley)

“Taken While Watching TV For the Millionth Time” (Ellen Wentworth)

“Garden Gate” (Jo Ann Davidson)

Untitled (Karen Weingarten)

Friday Flashback #198

Had it not been for COVID-19, tomorrow would have been jUNe Day here. Dozens of United Nations guests would have enjoyed a day in Westport — including an impressive display of flags from their native countries on the Post Road bridge.

jUNe Day 2015, on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. (Photo/Jeff Simon)

That’s the same bridge where, earlier this month, hundreds of people massed in support of Black Lives Matter, and to protest the death of George Floyd. 

The 2 events are related. The Post Road bridge — with both its flags, and its role as the cherished spot for political demonstrations — is named in honor of Ruth Steinkraus Cohen. A remarkable Westporter (and former secretary to Eleanor Roosevelt), she dedicated her life to social justice, world peace — and music. 

The scene on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, several years ago.

With jUNe Day canceled, and political protests fresh in our minds, it’s time to learn a bit more about Ruth Steinkraus Cohen. Staples High School Class of 1981 graduate Laurie Cameron writes:

Back in the day I met a true Westport treasure: my piano teacher, Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen. She would have been 100 on June 8. She was also the grandmother of my friend and classmate Adam Weisman.

Ruth was a generous, warm person who made music and kindness. Learning piano from her was a great education; she made sure I knew Hadyn, Chopin, Brahms and Vivaldi in addition to Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. I learned about Vienna and the Music festival from her.

My brother Byl was the musician in our family. I had no gift for music, but I returned each week for almost 9 years. I was so fascinated by her travels, her art, her bookcase, her antique harpsichord, and hearing about the many jobs she had when she was not being a piano teacher.

My favorite time of the week was the hour that I waited for my brother Andy to finish his piano lesson, when I could stare at the paintings, books and sculptures in Mrs. Cohen’s living room.

Her colorful holiday parties were also our piano recitals. After each student performed, Ruth and her husband Herbert played a duet: she on the piano, he on violin. Their music was rich and melodious, but the joy on their faces was the true lesson for us.

Sometimes when Ruth could see me growing restless at the piano, she took me for a walk in her garden. It had a brick path that looked like the yellow brick road through the woods behind her house. It was so thrilling to me that I sometimes snuck out while waiting for Andy’s lesson to end, and ran down its wooden steps.

Ruth Steinkraus Cohen (center) joins famed singer Marian Anderson (2nd from left) at a concert by young Suzanne Sherman, at Bedford Elementary School.

During her time running the UN Hospitality Committee, Ruth placed over 50,000 people into American homes for cultural exchanges. My family learned about habits and traditions of people from other cultures from those we hosted, thanks to Ruth. She was a great humanitarian with a desire to bring the world together, and bridge gaps between cultures.

When I came back to Westport after being away for over 15 years, visiting Ruth was an important stop for me. Even in her late 70s she was warm, joyful and busy making the world better for those who needed it.

I feel privileged to have known Ruth and to have learned so much from her. Her knowledge, openness, love of music, energy and patience were great sources of inspiration to me. She would be so proud to know that a bridge bearing her name is used to support people fighting for peace, civil rights and equal justice.

(To learn more about Ruth Steinkraus Cohen, click here for her New York Times obituary.)

Roundup: A Camp, A Course, 2 Concerts; More


Many sports camps are closed this summer. So are science camps, space camps — most camps, period.

But the Westport Library’s new Camp Explore is open. And open to all children, everywhere.

It’s a weekly, virtual (and free) program. Kids can experience it any time. They can watch it alone, or share with friends. There’s something for everyone.

The program kicks off on July 9 with Jennie Lynn Finch. The softball pitcher led the US to a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics, and a silver 4 years later.

Also in July, deep sea explorer Dr. Robert Ballard returns to the library. The discoverer of wrecks like Titanic and the Bismarck, he’ll show campers what life is like on his ship the Nautilus.

Shark lovers will enjoy Emmy-winning writer and cinematographer Kevin Bachar. He spent 10 years as a National Geographic producer, and wrote specials for “Shark Week.”

Kids will also appreciate Emily Calandrelli. The MIT engineer-turned-TV host was a featured correspondent on “Bill Nye Saves the World,” host of “Xploration Outer Space,” and wrote the children’s book series “Ada Lace Adventures.”

New York Knicks star Charles Smith will share his story, from his career as an athlete to his accomplishments as a corporate executive.

Camp Explore also features Jerry Craft, author of the novel “New Kid” and comic strip “Mama’s Boyz.”

The program ends with R.L. Stine. The “Goosebumps” author will do a (virtual) reading around a campfire.

The Library will provide a “Keep Exploring Kit” to accompany each presentation, with suggested books to read, films to view, and fun activities. Separate kits are geared for children entering grades 4-5, and 6-8.

Click here for more details, and registration information.


Everyone’s talking about the skills young people need to navigate today’s world. We’re all concerned about civic virtues. Of course, everyone wants to develop creative thinkers.

Westport Continuing Education is sponsoring an online course — “The Art of Innovation: Cultivating Qualities for the Emerging Future” — for students entering grade 10 through college.

Set for July 13 to 17 (10 a.m. to noon), it will focus on skills like critical thinking, collaboration and global perspectives.

Click here to register. For more information, including scholarships, email conted@westportps.org, or call 203-341-1209.


There may not be fireworks. But Pauli’s Deli will celebrate July 4.

The Norwalk-based bagels-and-breakfast place replaces Bagel Maven that day.

Last night, Chris Fanning snapped a shot of the preparations:


One more reopening sign: MoCA Westport has announced a concert with the renowned American String Quartet.

It’s July 31. And it’s a real one. Not virtual, Zoom, Facebook Live or anywhere else in cyberspace.

The performance is outdoors at the museum, with groups spread 6 feet apart and masked. Concert-goers should bring their own chairs and snacks, though drinks and food are available for purchase before the concert.

MoCA Westport concert series curator (and Staples High School graduate) Alexander Platt will provide commentary. He knows the American String Quartet through his work over the last 18 years in Woodstock.

“Back then they were the gold standard in American string quartets — and they still are now,” Platt says.

“I can’t wait to hear their beautiful music again — now, more than ever. Their program — sublime Mozart, bracing Shostakovich and appropriately, Dvorak’s ‘American’ string quartet — will be the perfect musical tonic, after all we’ve been through.”

Click here for tickets, or call 203-222-7070. The maximum number of tickets will be limited by state guidelines.


Two organizations at opposite ends of the age spectrum — Toquet Hall and the Westport Senior Center — are partnering to present a free livestream concert tomorrow (Friday, June 26, 12 p.m.).

It features the funk band Mojo, with noted local musicians Drew Angus, Eric Lindahl and Spencer Inch. Click here to watch via Zoom (and note the password: 3qgZ4L).


The new planters on Main Street are drawing plenty of attention.

But there are colorful flowers beyond Elm Street. For example, Rye Ridge Deli is doing all it can to make the outdoor experience special too.

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)


And finally … as Westport, Connecticut prepares for jUNe Day this weekend (virtually, of course), let’s celebrate Westport, Ireland with Stuart Moyles.

PS: When the Levitt Pavilion opens next summer, we really need this lad as a headliner!

Roundup: Wakeman Town Farm; Beechwood Arts; Barber And Bread Closings; More


The latest Westport institution to reopen is Wakeman Town Farm.

They’re doing it slowly. First they offer private farm visits, with a tour guide (optional).

Kids and parents will enjoy vegetable and pollinator gardens, beehives and animals (alpacas, goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, bunnies, even alpacas).

Tours are every Saturday morning through July, in 3 time slots: 9-9:45, 10-10:45 and 11-11:45.

Registration (click here) is first-come, first-served. The fee supports animal care and farm maintenance.

Justin Paul and his family enjoyed a recent Wakeman Town Farm tour.


The AMPLIFY Festival — Beechwood Arts’ supportive showcase for black artists and performers — continues this week. All performances begin at 7 p.m.

Today (Tuesday, June 22), Kahyree Jannah reads his poem “You’re Killing Me Again,” and violist Amadi Azikiwe performs works by Coleridge Taylor Perkinson and Jessie Montgomery.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 24), writer/actor Iyaba Ibo Mandingo shares the fears of a black father whose children live in “the crosshairs of America.” He’ll perform a piece inspired by, and performed under, Beechwood’s 400-year-old copper beech tree.

Thursday, June 25 features poetry slam champion Tarishi Midnight Shuler, as well as the Delphi Dance Company.

On Friday, June 26, jazz vocalist Frederick Johnson leads a conversation on bringing people together through the power of words and music.

Click here to access the performances — and see those still archived from last week’s AMPLIFY Festival.


Compo Barber Shop — an institution in Compo Shopping Center for nearly 60 years — is closing. The final day for business is this Friday (June 26).

Tommy Ghianuly opened the shop, and ran it until his death in January 2019. New owners took over the next month.

The good news is, all of Compo Barber’s staff is moving to Westport Hair & Co. That’s the salon next to now-closed Olympia Sports, a few yards east in the same Compo Shopping Center.

They look forward to carrying on the 6-decade leagcy in their new shared space.

And they made a deal with Compo Barber’s owner to keep Tommy’s old phone number: 203-227-9779.


Another closure, this one reported by a reader: Panera Bread in Westport.

A phone call to the Post Road East store went unanswered, as did an email sent to the corporate press office. If anyone knows anything about this location, please click “Comments” below.

The Panera Bread near HomeGoods.


And finally … all the recent talk about Confederate flags and monuments made me think of this:

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 14 Gallery

As Westport reopens, and the world continues to turn — if a bit wobbly — you continue to send us your work. Your many moods are reflected in your paintings, collages, sketches, photos, sculptures, cartoons and videos.

Please keep ’em coming. Professional, amateur, old, young — we want it all. Student submissions are particularly welcome!

The only rule: It must be inspired by, reflective of, or otherwise related to the times we’re going through. Email dwoog@optonline.net.

“Feeling Trapped in the Illusion of Summer” (Lauri Weiser)

Dereje Tarrant is a rising 8th grader at the Pierrepont School. He created this mural, which hangs outside his Westport home.

“When Life Gives You Lemons” (acrylic, Herm Freeman)

Weston High School asked Andrea Metchick to paint a mural for the Class of 2020. She asked principal Lisa Wolak, staff and parents for words that represented the students. Her work was hung on the Onion Barn near Weston center for the graduation parade; it’s still there. It was a gift of love: Andrea’s youngest child, Millie, was in that class.

Untitled (Carina Bockhaus, age 9, Kings Highway Elementary School)

“Just a Drop in the Bucket” (Lawrence Weisman)

“This Pandemic is for the Birds!” (Jane Malakoff)

“The People Will Return!” (Karen Weingarten)

“Contemplating My Feet” (Jim Adelman)

“Pride” (Amy Schneider)

Roundup: Governor Lamont; Dr. Jackson; Shel Silverstein; More


On Wednesday, Governor Ned Lamont spoke to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, by Zoom. He discussed a variety of topics, including (of course) business concerns, and took questions from listeneres. Click below to see his talk.


Parks and Recreation director Jen Fava says: “Based upon changes in the governor’s restrictions on gathering size and the Phase 2 reopening guidelines, athletic fields are now open to the general public unless a permit has been issued by the Parks and Recreation department.

“The department is working closely with local organizations like Westport Little League, Staples High School athletics, Continuing Education and others to ensure they have the proper protocols and self-certification in place to meet state requirements before permits are issued. This process is taking place for leagues as well as for other groups that utilize our facilities to run various clinics and summer programs.” 

All valid permits supersede general public use. Gathering size is limited to 100. PJ Romano (Saugatuck Elementary School) and Jinny Parker (Staples field hockey) fields remain closed for the summer due to construction.

Starting yesterday, the Longshore golf ldriving range and practice putting area are open as well. Driving range balls will be available at the ball machine only ($6 per basket). The machine accepts only $1 and $5 bills; exact change is required.

Starting Tuesday (June 23), an additional half hour of tee times will be available Mondays through Thursdays, starting at 7:30 a.m.

NOTE: Social distancing and face covering rules must be followed at all Westport Parks and Recreation facilities.

The Wakeman athletic fields are among those that have reopened.


Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson has an amazing story. She grew up in a tough New Haven neighborhood, developed her singing gift in church, walked to lessons at Yale, and is now an international opera star.

She has many ties to Westport. She has sung at the Unitarian Church, taught at Greens Farms Academy, spoken at the Arts Advisory Council’s “Tea Talk,” and been part of Beechwood’s Immersive Arts Salon.

Dr. Jackson has developed an inspiring one-woman show: “From The Hood To The Ivy League (and Back).” Tonight (Friday, June 19, 7 to 9 p.m.) — in honor of Juneteenth — she sings and performs that show, as part of Beechwood’s Amplify Festival. Click here for tonight’s Facebook Live stream.

Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson


With the Westport Library and Levitt Pavilion closed, it may be a while since you’ve been to the Riverwalk.

But the next time you’re at that beautiful, calm-in-the-midst-of-downtown spot, check out the Storybook Project.

Created by Anne Ferguson, with thanks to the library and Westport Parks & Recreation, it’s a series of 30 or so charmingly illustrated pages from Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving.”

Spaced appropriately more than 6 feet apart, the installation runs the length of the Riverwalk and garden. The pages recount the friendship and conversation between a small boy and a tree. Both lonely, they share their innermost thoughts.

The pages are attached to sticks in the ground, and the intervals encourage visitors onward to read each page as they walk. The black and white sketches are beautiful, and begin below the steps at the back of the library. (Hat tip: Jill Amadio)


This week’s #FridayFlowers can be found on the steps of Christ & Holy Trinity Church.

The beautiful arrangement was created by Dottie Fincher and Janet Wolgast, longtime Westport Garden Club members.


For months, the few people parking at or passing through the railroad station eastbound parking lot have seen a red Ford Escort, plunked in the middle of the lot. It never moved.

Folks were worried. What happened to the owner? Was he okay? A month ago, “06880” ran a photo.

Now, Wendy Cusick reports, the car is gone. Which brings up more questions: Did the owner finally return? Was it towed? Again: What about the driver?

If anyone knows, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Caroly Van Duyn)


Just published: About that Wine I Gave You: Dreams of Love, Life and Death in the Vineyard. The novel — about winemaking in San Diego, with themes of friendship, survival, love, aging, immigration, theology and racism — is the debut work of Craig Justice.

A 1977 graduate of Staples High School, he’s had a varied career. After Duke he interned with NATO; learned to speak French, German, Russian and Japanese; wrote for the International Herald Tribune; earned an MBA, and embarked on a career in the projector industry.

He and his wife began making wine in their California garage in 2004. They now have 1,000 vines.

Growing up here, Justice worked at Chez Pierre restaurant. The staff came from around the world, giving him an open-minded world view that he retains today.

Whenever he’s back east he heads to Westport. He walks on the beach, then heads to a coffee shop or library to write (when that’s allowed).

For more information — including how to order Justice’s book — click here.

Craig Justice


And finally … as Westport opens up, this seems like the perfect up-tempo tune. The next time you go inside for some java, think of Al Hirt.

Personal Zoom Concerts: A Classic COVID Response

One of the great, unexpected consequences of the coronavirus is that musicians around the world are performing — live, for free — on very accessible media platforms. You can’t attend a concert, but concerts can sure come to you.

One of the downsides of this great, unexpected consequence is that it’s not exactly a real concert. Musicians get none of the usual feedback from audiences, who feel equally disconnected from performers.

The Hidden Fabric Music Project plays a different tune.

The premise is simple. A website connects young, classically trained musicians — graduates of Juilliard, New England Conservatory, Yale and other top schools — with anyone, anyone who wants to hear beautiful music. In a personal, one-on-one concert.

After filling out a brief form — answering preferred time and “strings,” “piano,” “wind/brass” or “surprise me!” — users are paired with an artist. The musician performs for 15 minutes via Zoom; the audience of one watches. There’s eye contact, energy — and the option, on signing up, for conversation too.

Hidden Fabric (the name comes from a Virgina Wolff quote) is the brainchild of Sam Weiser. At Staples High School he played violin — superbly — in every group, and every chance he got. He earned a dual degree from the New England Conservatory of Music and Tufts University. (The latter is in computer science. “I might use it one day,” Sam says.)

After grad school at the San Francisco Conservatory, he joined the Del Sol String Quartet. He has lived in the Bay Area ever since. (They performed in Westport last October.)

When the pandemic hit, Sam — and musicians around the world — suddenly lost all their gigs. Many pivoted quickly to livestreaming.

Sam Weiser

“There was an outpouring of creativity, even in the classical music world,” he says. “But as good a replacement as that is, the symbiotic relationship between the performer and listener gets lost. You’re playing to a camera. You don’t know who is on the other end, or how many people are there.

“For the audience, it feels sort of real. But there’s no sense that you’re sharing the music with the performer.”

He and his friends had an idea: short personal performances and conversations.. They recruited musicians from across North America. Their ability to connect personally was as important as their musical expression.

“The pandemic highlighted needs in our community — the need to create, but even more than that, the need to be heard,” the website says.

“HFMP is our way to engage with audiences, old and new, and to reaffirm our belief that to be human is to be connected.”

The idea has taken off. But even Sam was surprised by its power.

“It’s incredible how much doing 1-on-1 concerts changes my day,” he says.

“I’ve never been an extrovert. But it’s so touching to meet someone, and share something so personal. It’s just 15 minutes, but it feels really special.”

Listeners agree: Hidden Fabric brightens their day.

Enjoying a 1-on-1 concert, via Zoom.

There is no charge, though the website encourages tips. Sam says a set fee would “undermine the idea of giving our time to people who are struggling far more than we are.”

Across the country, restrictions are being lifted. Americans are going back to work and play. Concerts — with shared spaces, and musicians blowing into instruments — will be one of the last forms of entertainment to come back.

Until then, the Hidden Fabric Music Project plays on.

(For more on the Hidden Fabric Music Project — including sign-up information — click here.) 

Roundup: Reopening; Juneteenth; Renters’ Rebates; More


Phase 2 of Connecticut’s reopening plan began yesterday with indoor restaurant dining, fitness facilities, all personal services and many other business sectors allowed to welcome customers again.

2nd Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker says that business owners are “empowered to make the decision to open their doors. If they do, the ReOpen Westport team is working diligently to support them through this complicated process.  We are taking this seriously. It is our goal to build confidence throughout the entire community during this reopen period.”

For a complete list of Connecticut’s Phase 1 and Phase 2 business sectors and rules, click here. For ReOpen Westport Advisory Team information and FAQs, click here. To contact the ReOpen Westport Advisory Team, email reopenteam@westportct.gov.

While local COVID-19 transmission rates continue to be low, Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper says, “following safety protocols like wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and good hygiene practices are all critical. I urge residents to use common sense and to take advantage of testing, especially if experiencing symptoms.”

St. Vincent’s Behavioral Health Center on Long Lots Road is a local testing site option with open time slots. Call 860-972-8100 for an appointment.

2nd selectman Jennifer Tooker


The Westport Museum for History & Culture and TEAM Westport are partnering for a special Juneteenth Zoom program.

Tomorrow (Friday, June 19, 5 p.m.), theater professor and playwright Kyle Bass discusses his play Possessing Harriet. It’s the story of enslaved woman traveling with her captors from the South to upstate New York, who finds refuge in the home of an abolitionist where he meets his young cousin Elizabeth Cady (later Stanton).

Bass will also discuss his play in progress about his ancestors Tim & Lill Bennett. They were slaves in Westport, in a home on Compo Road South.

The event is free, but registration is required. Click here to join.

Kyle Bass (Photo/Brenna Merritt)


Elderly and disabled Westport residents can apply for the Connecticut Renters’ Rebate Program. Qualifications for the program include:

  • Age 65 as of December 31, 2019, or totally disabled and collecting Social Security disability income.
  • The maximum gross income for the program is $37,000 for a single person, $45,100 for a married couple.
  • One year of residency in Connecticut is required. People renting an apartment, room or mobile home, or living in cooperative housing, may be eligible for this program.

The application deadline for the Renters’ Rebate Program is September 28.

Qualifying Westport residents should call the Human Services Department for an appointment: 203-341-1050.


Carol Alexander took this photo at Old Mill. She writes:

As more people come to enjoy this beautiful neighborhood beach, we need to treat it with respect. Please clean up before you leave!


Playwright/director Tazewell Thompson is familiar to area residents. In 2006 and ’07, he was artistic director at the Westport Country Playhouse.

When his opera “Blue” premiered last summer at the Glimmerglass Festival, New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini called it “one of the most elegant librettos I’ve heard in a long time.”

Thompson wrote about a black family — the father of a police officer — that is torn apart when the son is killed at a protest by another officer.

“Blue” has now been named Best New Opera by the Music Critics Association of North America. The Times calls the honor “sadly timely as the nation is roiled by unrest over police brutality and race relations.” (Click here for Thompson’s story on how he wrote the opera. Hat tip: Nina Sankovitch.)


As an Ivy Film Festival screenplay staff member, Brown University senior Elena Levin reads scripts from undergrad and grad students across the country. Each spring, the staff holds a screenwriting workshop for high schoolers.

Now the Westport resident is bringing the experience to her home town.

Elena offers an “Intro to Screenwriting Workshop” for rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors (no experience required). It meets outdoors at 4 p.m. every Wednesday in July for 2 hours. By the end of the 5th session, everyone will have written — and workshopped — a script.

Click here for more information. Questions? Email elena_l_levin@brown.edu.

Elana Levin


And finally … Patti Smith has power. She knows that people have it too.

Street Art Enlivens South Compo

Early in the coronavirus crisis, a cement wall on South Compo Road was painted with an encouraging message.

On Memorial Day it became an American flag.

Now, several panels on either side of the once-boring wall have been turned into colorful, creative murals.

And the artists are all kids.

The youngsters — ages 8 to 17 — had been avid participants in Homes with Hope’s After-School Arts Program (ASAP). Thanks to funding from the Drew Friedman Community Art Center — and the volunteer work of Artists Collective of Westport members — participants had worked on multiple projects, including 2 murals to liven their meeting space.

But when COVID-19 struck in March, that program — and everything else — shut down. With summer near, and restrictions loosening a bit, ASAP director Lynn Abramson contacted noted artist and Drew Friedman trustee Miggs Burroughs about the possibility of creating a community mural somewhere outdoors.

Betsy and Hal Kravitz happily offered their long wall at the corner of Hidden Hill as a canvas.

Supplies on South Compo.

In these turbulent times, the young artists decided they wanted their mural to be filled with inspiring messages and images.

Miggs and fellow trustee Nick Visconti embodied their “stronger together” message by matching the ASAP students with Westport artist Elizabeth DeVoll. She helped them achieve their visions.

They recruited Connie Manna, another Collective member, to help execute the designs.

Work began Monday. The young artists spent several hours a day — fueled by goodies from Joey’s By the Shore, around the corner. (It helps that Betsy is the owner.)

No starving artists!

The mural is done. The message is clear. In the words of one of the panels: “We Got This.”