Category Archives: Arts

Roundup: Hip Hop, Photography, Art …

The Yankee Doodle fair ended at 5 p.m. yesterday. The last cars cleared out of the Library/Levitt Pavilion parking lot, just as the first concert-goers arrived for the Michael Franti show.

It was a full day of fun, for all ages. Summer in Westport has begun!

Michael Franti & Spearhead. (Photo/Dan Aron)

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“06880” readers know local photographers Michael Chait and Michael Tomashefsky for their work, featured previously in this blog.

They can see more of the duo’s Westport landscapes this weekend (Saturday, June 25, 4 to 7 p.m.; Sunday, June 26, 1 to 4 p.m., Michael Chait Studio, 11 Riverside Avenue, 2nd floor).

Chait — who is known for using his camera like a paint brush — has shown his works at the Brooklyn Museum and MoMA.

Tomashefsky is an award-winning landscape and travel photographer. He has spent over 3 decades showcasing Westport’s natural beauty.

Photos by Michael Chait and Michael Tomashefsky

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Speaking of art: Linda Colletta hosts a “Stomp Out Gun Violence” fundraiser and awareness event in her studio (July 7, 7 to 9 p.m., 33 Elm Street). It’s a benefit for Moms Demand Action. The event includes guest speakers.

Eleven pairs of her Vans painting sneakers — part of her artistic process — will auctioned off. They’re mounted and encased in Plexiglas boxes.

To RSVP, email reni@lindacolletta.com.

Linda Colletta’s Vans sneakers. An integral part of her artistic process, 11 pairs will be auctioned off at the “Stomp Out Gun Violence” fundraiser. (Photo/Chloe Crespi)

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The on-again, off-again swan egg saga in the Saugatuck River downtown appears to be off again.

Amy  Schneider spotted this scene yesterday. The eggs appear abandoned, and the mother is nowhere in sight.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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When Staples High School assistant principal James Farnen moved to Westport several years ago, he inherited a garden planted by previous owner Dale Lamberty.

He continues to tend it. And every spring, he’s rewarded with roses like these — today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/James Farnen)

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And finally … it’s hard to believe, but Brian Wilson turns 80 year old today. (I missed Paul McCartney’s 80th on Saturday).

The Beach Boys’ genius singer/songwriter/producer has had a famously difficult life. He grew with a tyrannical father; he was a perfectionist whose masterful harmonies and complex orchestrations never seemed to live up to his own high standards, and he has battled mental illness for decades.

He did not even like to surf.

But his songs live on. They sound as fresh today as they did in the 1960s. Like his influences George Gershwin, Phil Spector and Burt Bacharach, they are part of the American songbook.

Here are 5 of my favorite Brian Wilson songs. Click “Comments” to add yours.

Roundup: Bill Kutik Preserve, MoCA Piglet, Staples ’62 …

Aspetuck Land Trust’s first capital campaign had an ambitious goal: $4.2 million.

The results are in. The non-profit — dedicated to preserving and conserving open space — blew past that figure. They raised $5.6 million.

Funds will help buy more open space, adding to more than 2,000 acres in Westport and 4 neighboring towns. Most is open to the public.

Contributions also support “homeowner engagement.” ALT helps residents make their yards more biodiverse, and become connectors between preserves. Over 1,000 homeowners have already taken the “Green Corridor pledge,” planting more native species and using fewer insecticides om smaller lawns.

At last week’s 56th annual meeting, president Bill Kraekel announced 2 named reserves. For the first time, naming rights were sold in the capital campaign.

Westporter Bill Kutik made a major donation, to save a preserve on the Weston/Wilton border. A developer had approvals, and was preparing a 2,000-foot driveway with utility poles for cars and service vehicles.

Bill Kutik Honey Hill Preserve

It would have sliced through the center of Honey Hill Preserve’s 119 acres of 19th– century farm land (now forest), to a remote 10-acre parcel he owns bordering the preserve. ALT acquired the land. The newly named Bill Kutik Honey Hill Preserve recognizes his contribution.

Kutik — founding editor of Backpacker Magazine, and a reporter for the New York Times and Daily News — moved to Westport in 1997. He hiked newly opened Trout Brook Valley, and was amazed to find there was no charge. He began contributing ever-larger amounts, “in lieu of entry fees.”

The other named preserve is the Daniel E. Offutt Forest Reserve Gateway. The 85-acres of Weston forest were purchased from the town, with proceeds from his will.

Bill Kutik (Photo/Nancy Moon)

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Yesterday’s MoCA Westport Family Day included a visit from the world-famous deaf and blind dog Piglet, and his owner Melissa Shapiro. She talked about The Piglet Mindset, a global movement for acceptance, inclusion, empathy and kindness.

Norwalk artist 5iveFingaz created a mural featuring Piglet. Guests also explored “Spark” (the Westport Public Schools art exhibition). and enjoyed an art activity and ice cream truck.

5iveFingaz, his Piglet art and a young fan. (Photo/Leslie LaSala)

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The Staples High School Class of 1962 grew up in post-war Westport.

They remember Saugatuck before I-95 came through, and the bathhouses at Compo Beach. They attended Staples when it was brand new, and Bedford Elementary before it became Town Hall.

Last night, they held a mini-reunion at Ned Dimes Marina. COVID knocked out plans for a big bash. But classmates came from New York, Florida and points in between for the casual event.

Now in their late 70s, the men and women of ’62 graduated in a far different time. It was a great time, they said.

And they looked great, too!

These 5 women were classmates at Staples High School — and at the original Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street. From left: Loretta Santella Hallock, Donna Esposito Hughes, Wanda Tedesco, Pam Barkentin, Mary Ann Saponare Stirling.

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Six decades later — last night, in fact — the Wilton High School Class of 2022 graduated.

They don’t have their own beach. So early this morning — we’re talking 5:30 a.m. — they headed to Compo to celebrate.

Congratulations, Warriors. Maybe you can gather at the Ned Dimes Marina too for your 60th reunion, in 2082.

(Photo/Paula Schooler)

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Nature can be beautiful. It can also be dog-eat-dog.

Or as in this “Wesport … Naturally” photo — it’s bird-eat-dinner.

As photographer Susan Leone points out, this creature really had its prey “in tow.”

(Photo/Susan Leone)

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finally … a few tickets remain for tonight’s special Levitt Pavilion concert with Michael Franti & Spearhead. If you like hip hop blended with funk, reggae, jazz, folk and rock, click here.

PS: The opening act is Tropidelic. Like their name, they’re another sunshiny band.

(Please click here to support “06880.” We are entirely reader funded!)

Roundup: Cavalry Road Bridge, Staples Graduation, Sharkey’s Cuts …

Residents in the Red Coat Road/West Branch neighborhood, straddling the Westport/Weston border, were thrilled earlier this month when the Cavalry Road bridge reopened.

For a year during the project, they’d faced long detours, constant traffic pattern changes, even property damage. They seldom complained.

But now they’re mad.

Suddenly, a large chain link fence has been installed on both sides of the new bridge. Residents call it an eyesore — and not part of the original plan. They wonder how safety measures more appropriate for a state road became part of their bucolic landscape.

Guardrail and fencing on the Cavalry Road bridge.

Resident Gery Grove — who says it is a Weston project — wrote to officials of both towns:

“This is a low speed bridge (now with extensive guardrails in place) with probably a limited to nonexistent history of injury or death. This is a pastoral residential neighborhood that people move to for quiet charms.

“Behind our backs at the dawn of a holiday weekend, it has been made to look like a downtown Manhattan parking lot with no warning. And likely no historical public record of this addition. No other small bridges that I am aware of (that don’t go over the Merritt or I95) have this extensive fencing.”

Westport 1st selectwoman replied quickly, promising to meet with residents there on Monday morning.

Weston town administrator Jnoathan Luiz said that he asked the engineering company that designed the bridge and provided construction oversight to respond.

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For the second year in a row — after a hiatus of nearly 40 years — Staples High School held its graduation ceremony outdoors.

“06880” provided photos of the 135th commencement. But those were only from ground level.

Staples sophomore Charlie Scott adds a new perspective, thanks to his drone:

(Drone photo/Charlie Scott)

The stage is at the north end (bottom of photo). Board of Education and other dignitaries are at the lower left. The 450-plus graduates are massed on Coach Paul Lane Field. The 2,000 spectators fill the bleachers on the right.

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Scalp dramatically reduces chemotherapy-induced hair loss in cancer patients.

But it’s expensive.

Scott Sharkey — founder of Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids, the Westport-based haircut chain – has jump-started a fund to support patients throughout New England who cannot afford the treatment.

Each Sharkey’s salon donates a percent of every haircut to charity. “Hair to Stay” will be one more beneficiary of the company’s generosity.

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Jillian Elder has a new line of Westport-themed tank tops, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and tumblers.

Some are actually more specific: They say “I’d rather be in Saugatuck” and “I’d rather be at Compo Beach.” There are also red-white-and-blue Minute Man items.

Click here for “I’d Rather Be …”; click here for the Minute Man stuff.

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Artists Collective of Westport member Lee Walther curated a new exhibit, “Sculptural Dimensions,” at the Fairfield Public Library. It features Collective artists Sooo-z Mastropietro and Louise Cadoux, plus international artist Alan Neider.

The show runs through August 6. Click here for more infromation.

Art by Sooo-z Mastropietro.

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Marie Coppotelli — one of Westport’s first girls “soccer moms” — died peacefully on June 9. She was 92 years old.  .

Stuart McCarthy — a founder of Westport’s girls soccer program, and former Staples High School coach — says:

When we started the first girls travel team in 1977, Marie took charge. She did all the great organization and coordination that comes with the job (but she had no 3-ring binder left behind by the last manager). I will always remember how she was such a sweet lady — until someone fouled one of ‘her girls.’ Marie was fiercely protective, and they were all ‘her girls.’ We were all lucky to have Marie on our team.

Marie was preceded in death by her husband Donald Coppotelli and brother Anthony Cuda. She is survived by her sister Patricia Nole, sister-in-law Lynn Cuda; children Michele (Pat) Solis, Lisa Coppotelli, Alan (Nancey) Coppotelli, Renee (Mark) Dixon, and Claudine (Lee) Martin; grandchildren Emma and Reed Tso, Oliver and Madeline Dixon, Devon Mayhew, Dylan and Eileen
Martin, Ghislain and Mary Melaine, Jeff and Jessica Doerner, and great-grandchildren Molly and Benjamin Doerner and Georges Melaine.

Services will be held privately at a future date. In lieu of flowers,
everyone who knew Marie knows she loves to feed people. Donations may be made online to Connecticut Foodshare, Memories and condolences may be sent to the family: ACoppotelliNY@aol.com,

The Coppotellis, at Marie and Don’s 50th wedding celebration. From left: Renee, Claudine, Donald, Marie, Michele, Lisa, Alan.

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This “Westport … Naturally” wren seems right at home in Paul Delano’s birdhouse.

(Photo/Paul Delano)

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And finally … sure, Jillian Elder’s gear and mugs say “I’d rather be in Saugatuck” (or “at Compo Beach”).

But as the Turtles knew years ago:

Online Art Gallery #115

Some weeks, there’s a definite theme to our online art gallery.

This is not one of them.

Subjects range from music, hummingbirds and houses to love, Queen Elizabeth and a reclining woman.

That’s the magic of our gallery. All readers are can participate, whatever your age, level of experience (professional or amateur, young or old) — or subject matter.

All genres are encouraged. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage and (yes) needlepoint — whatever you’ve got, email it to 06880blog@gmail.com. Share your work with the world!

“Playing with the Wind” — acrylic on Masonite (Peter Barlow)

“All You Need is Love” — seen on a Norwalk building near I-95 (Karen Weingarten)

“Nap” (Sooo-z Mastropietro)

“New Homes for Owenoke” (Steve Stein)

“The Hummingbirds Are Back!” (Nina Marino)

“The Queen” (Sarah Kennedy)

Roundup: Yankee Doodle’s Logo, Compo Men’s Hoops, Felicia’s Salon …

The Yankee Doodle Fair is back.

The event — a decades-long herald of the end of school — was missing from the June calendar for 2 years, due to COVID.

It returned last September. Now it’s back in its familiar slot: This Thursday and Friday (6 to 10 p.m.), Saturday (1 to 10 p.m.) and Sunday (1 to 5 p.m.), at the Westport Woman’s Club on Imperial Avenue.

Also familiar: the Yankee Doodle Fair logo.

What most Westporters don’t know is that the carousel horse was designed more than 30 years ago by Angela Mata. Her mother chaired the event, for the sponsoring Westport Woman’s Club.

Growing up here, she was an avid fairgoer. She graduated from Staples High School, returned here, brought her own children — and is now a well-respected art teacher, at her alma mater.

Like the carousel on Angela’s logo, whatever goes around, comes around.

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Also back, after a pandemic break: Westport Parks & Recreation’s men’s summer basketball league, at Compo Beach.

The popular weeknight event runs for 8 weeks (June 20 to August 16). Teams can have a maximum of 15 players.

Games are Mondays and Tuesdays, at 7 and 8 p.m. The fee is $900 per team. To register or for more details, email mrobbins@westportct.gov.

Compo Beach basketball court. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

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Speaking of (much younger) sports:

The Twins won the Westport Baseball “A” League (3rd grade) championship last weekend. Congrats, guys!

The “A” League champion Twins.

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in 2019, Felicia Catale — a long-time hair stylist in Westport (Tony’s, Karen & Frank’s, Austin Rolfe) — opened her own salon in Nash’s Plaza on Post Road West.

That first year was busy. She worked long hours, on hair and also the business end.

Then came COVID. She scrambled to serve customers, and keep her salon alive.

Finally, the pandemic is easing. She’s back welcoming customers.

Finally too, she had a chance for an official “grand opening.”

A small ceremony — with the big, official ribbon-cutting scissors — was held yesterday. She welcomed her guests — and then, in another long-delayed event, she threw a party for last fall’s Staples High School boys soccer team.

“06880” would say “welcome to Westport,” Felicia. But you’ve been here all along.

Cutting the ribbon at Salon Nash (from left): business consultant Ganesh Gupta, owner Felicia Catale, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell, Staples High School soccer tri-captain Bruno Guiduli.

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Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup included a photo of “Rev. Hezekiah Ripley.” The long-ago, long-serving Green’s Farms Church pastor showed up (looking very much like a 21st-century Westporter wearing a costume) at Sunday’s rededication service. The 1789 church on Hillandale Road has undergone an extensive renovation.

Rev. Ripley was not the only dignitary taking part in the festivities. Senator Richard Blumenthal was there too, watching former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe cut the ceremonial ribbon. A Green’s Farms parishioner, he was standing in for 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, who was out of town.

From left: Capital campaign co-chair Tony Menchaca, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, capital campaign co-chair Diane Parrish, Senior Minister Jeff Rider. (Photo/Regina Madwed, Capitol Photo).

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Also this past weekend: Norwalk’s Copps Island Oysters was the place to be. A sold-out event raised important funds for Harbor Watch, the clean water research program of Earthplace.

Scientists provide data and field expertise to safeguard Connecticut waterways, educate residents about watershed issues, and train volunteers and student interns through hands-on research.

Plus, the oysters were delicious!

The Earthplace team, hanging out at the Harbor Watch fundraiser (from left): LaWanza Holder, Brenna Felt, Marisa Olavarria, Mary Donato, Nikki Spiller, Sophie Pollmann, Jess Mantzaris, Kasey Tietz, executive director Tony McDowell,

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Temple Israel’s first “Shabbat on the Beach” of the season is also the synagogue’s “Pride Shabbat.”

Temple officials say: “Together, we will send our clear message of love and acceptance for ‘kol yoshvei tevel’ — all who dwell on earth. BYO beach chairs and rainbows!”

A Westport beach pass is not necessary. Tell the gate attendant you’re part of the  Temple Israel service.

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Speaking of Pride Month: The lineup is set for this Friday’s Pride Cabaret at the Westport Library.

Comedian/activist Mina Hartong hosts Marvin Pittman, Sarah Ferro, Julie Loyd, Danielle Poyser and Staples High School senior Ellery Bodell.

Doors open on June 17 at 6:15 p.m. for cocktails, and mingling with local LGBTQ+ organization. The show begins at 7 p.m.

The cabaret is free. To register, click here. For more information, click here.

Cabaret emcee Mina Hartong.

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Sure, bunnies are supposed to hop (and reproduce).

But this one stood still long enough for Jamie Walsh to snap a great “Westport … Naturally” close-up.

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)

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And finally … today is Flag Day. Long may she wave, proudly and brave!

(“06880” relies on reader support. To donate, please click here.)

Roundup: Staples Rugby, Sky Show, Wave Show …

Congratulations to Staples High School’s newest state champions: the rugby team.

The Wreckers romped over perennial powerhouse Greenwich 35-7, in Thursday’s final. That avenged a 30-12 loss to the Cardinals in the national tourney (when Staples was saddled with injuries and illness).

During the regular season, Staples defeated Greenwich 28-16.

Well done, coach Neal Seideman and the gang!

The joyful Staples High School rugby team.

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The Remarkable Bookcycle has a new home: Old Mill Grocery.

It’s a great spot for the popular free library. It will get even more use when the deli/market opens. As the sign promises, it should be soon.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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The Westport Astronomical Society’s astro-photographers are lighting it up again.

A new show — “How Beautiful, the Universe” — opens at the Stamford JCC’s Art Gallery this Tuesday (June 14, 7 p.m.). Photographs showing the beautiful objects found just by looking up in the night sky will be on display through August 31.

Among the WAS photographers showing works: Shannon Calvert, Steven Labkoff, Carl Lancaster, Michael Southam, Stuart Stakoff, Dana Weisbrot
and Kurt Zepetello

Proceeds from images on sale will support new observatory domes on the WAS campus (Bayberry Lane, behind the Westport Weston Health District).

Photos from the Westport Astronomical Society exhibit.

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Speaking of art: Westport artist Dale Najarian is among 8 female painters featured in George Billis Gallery’s new show: “Ride the Wave.” Her works in this exhibit were influenced by Westport photographer Stacy Bass.

The summer group show runs June 19 through July 23, at Billis’ new 180 Post Road East space. An opening reception is set for July 7 (4 to 7 p.m.).

Other artists include Maureen Chatfield, Kristin Coates, Kerry Irvine, Lori Leckliter, Wendy Briggs Powell, Diana Tremaine and Margery Gosnell-Qua.

“Salt Pond” — oil on canvas (Dale Najarian)

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“06880” would not normally post a photo of a guy in a kayak.

But, as Jamie Walsh — who took the image — notes:

“This is my neighbor, dear friend and longtime fellow Westporter Ed Perrault. He recently built this amazing kayak at home. He commissioned it yesterday.”

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)

Congratulations, Ed!

PS: Thanks for making me feel like a slug.

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Former Westport Planning & Zoning Department planner Carolyn Warnow Makover died last month in Danbury. She was 83.

The Cornell University graduate worked in publishing, marketing and graphic design, while raising her family. She found her calling while attending the Conway School of Landscape Design, and received a Master of Arts in Landscape Design in 1986.

Besides the P&Z, she worked at Tate & Associates and Frederick P. Clark Associates as an Environmental Planner. She later served as webmaster for the town and several non-profit organizations, and remained active in local initiatives. Throughout her career and in her volunteer work, she focused on utilizing good design and communications to support people and communities. Carrie also cared deeply about keeping family and friends connected.

During the pandemic, she used her technical skills to ensure that her personal and professional groups could easily move to online gatherings. With her brother and sisters, she founded Reckless Night Music to help preserve the musical legacy of their father, composer Raymond Scott.

Carrie is survived by her daughter Kathryn, son Daniel, long-time partner Richard Stein, and many friends and family members.

A memorial gathering will be announced at a later date. Click here to leave online condolences. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network or the Regional Hospice in Danbury.

Carolyn Makover

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Patti Brill describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

“This is the time of year that turtles lay their eggs. I caught this one today doing that at Covlee Beach. I took this quick shot without disturbing its task. They do not like to be interrupted while hiding the eggs in the sand. I didn’t want to get too close.”

(Photo/Patti Brill)

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And finally … in honor of the new George Billis Gallery show, “Ride the Wave” (story above) — well, this is close enough:

Pops Goes The Concert

All the stars aligned for last night’s Westport Pops — the annual end-of-school- year/kick-off-the-summer spectacular at the Levitt Pavilion.

The weather was superb. COVID has eased. The crowd of parents, siblings, classmates, and folks with kids long out of school was ready for a great show.

They got it.

Staples High School’s Symphonic Band and Orchestra, Choralaires, Orphenians, Jazz Ensemble and small groups — plus the Middle School Percussion Ensemble — put on a professional-worthy show.

Westport has been named a “Best Community for Music Education” by the NAMM Foundation — for 9 years in a row.

Last night’s concert was proof — not that any was needed — that this is a town that supports, nurtures and embraces its young musicians.

To the more than 130 musicians on stage last night: Bravo!

Stafford Thomas calls himself “the proud Pops principal” of Staples High School.

The Middle School Percussion Ensemble warms up the crowd.

Emcee David Pogue (“CBS Sunday Morning”) entertains the crowd with his trademark easy wit. The father of 3 current or former Staples musicians, he graduated from Yale with a music degree — and spent 10 years as a Broadway conductor and arranger.

Luke Rosenberg leads the Orphenians in a stirring version of the national anthem.

The Jazz Ensemble’s numbers range from traditional to Afro-pop.

Orchestra members listen as their classmates perform.

Ryan Porio channels his inner Frank Sinatra on “Come Fly With Me.”

A small portion of the crowd — the largest since COVID first struck.

Vibraphonist Amy Ginzburg solos on “The Nearness of You.”

The view from the sound booth. (Photo/Brandon Malin)

Symphonic Orchestra, Symphonic Band and Choralaiares’ join in selections ranging from “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “This is Me” to a “West Side Story” medley.

Music instructors (from left) Jeri Hockensmith, Luke Rosenberg, Carrie Mascaro, Phil Giampietro, Mary Gardner and Caitlin Serpliss acknowledge applause before the finale.

Staples graduates Christian Melhuish and Samantha Chachra close the show with “Make Our Garden Grow” from “Candide.” (All photos/Dan Woog unless otherwise noted.)

(Last night’s Pops Concert was free. But donations are always welcome, to defray ongoing costs. Click here to contribute.)

(“06880” relies on support from readers like you. Click here to help.)

Online Art Gallery #114

God save the Queen!

After 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth makes her first appearance in the “06880” online art gallery. I hope it was worth the wait.

That’s the magic of this Saturday morning feature. You’re free to submit whatever you want, on any subject (pun intended), in any medium,

All readers are can participate, whatever your age, level of experience (professional or amateur, young or old).

All genres are encouraged. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage and (yes) needlepoint — whatever you’ve got, email it to 06880blog@gmail.com. Share your work with the world!

“The Queen.” Artist Geoffrey Stein says: “This portrait is made using collage material from altered historical photographs of Her Majesty’s wedding, coronation and other official events. They were originally published in The Times of London, Getty Images, Shutterstock and Reuters. Acrylic and pencil on canvas.”

“Sasco Creek at Southport Beach” (Kathleen Burke)

“The Golden Lion at Compo, 1955.” Photographer Peter Barlow used a Rolleicord camera with flash; this was taken from a dinghy. “1955 was before the harbor was enlarged, before it became a marina, and before it was named for someone,” Barlow says. “Most people called it ‘the yacht basin.'”

“Mother Ship Gives Birth” (Mike Hibbard)

“Time is Running Out” (Stephen Stein)

“Wired” (Karen Weingarten)

Westport Schools Spark Art

The Westport Music Department has its Pops and Candlelight Concerts. Staples Players, and the middle and elementary schools, welcome Westporters to their musicals and other shows.

But for a while, few Westporters have seen our young artists’ great work.

An annual art show at Town Hall ended even before COVID. And though each school hangs student art in their halls, it’s not accessible to the public.

That lack of opportunity sparked an idea. Soon — thanks to a partnership with MoCA Westport — an intriguing array of paintings, photography, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry and more will hang on that gallery’s walls.

Staples High School student drawing.

“Spark” — denoting creative ideas — opens this Sunday (June 12, with a reception from noon to 2 p.m. Staples students will sell handmade pottery there, as a fundraiser.

The show runs through June 19, during regular MoCA hours.

Art from the Bedford Middle School Comic Book Club.

Teachers at each school were free to decide what to choose, and how to present it.

Staples High School photography class: fast shutter speed.

Bedford Middle School, for example, will include pieces from their Arts Collective, which meets before school. Coleytown Middle will include the proscenium from their “SpongeBob” musical, which students helped design.

Coleytown Middle School proscenium.

Each elementary school will be represented by one piece of art from each grade. Together, they’ll spotlight the breadth of arts education in Westport.

Art from a Long Lots Elementary School 5th grader.

But wait! There’s more!

Bedford videographer Ryan Smith and townwide arts department administrator Liz Shaffer interviewed students in the show about their work, and art in general. The 7-minute video will be shown at MoCa,

It’s outstanding. The youngsters’ insights are very impressive — and they express themselves artistically.

Staples High students are helping design the “Spark” show, including hanging, branding and social media — giving them literal “hands-on” experience producing an art show.

“This is a very cool space, in a real gallery setting,” says town-wide arts coordinator Steve Zimmerman.

Student musicians and actors: Move over. Starting Sunday, the cultural stage belongs to our young artists.

(For more information, click here.)

Remember: “06880” runs entirely on donations. Click here to contribute!

Roundup: Donuts, Swans, Missoula …

In honor of National Donut Day last week, the Senior Center ran a contest.

The results are in:

  • Chocolate: Coffee An’ (“by far,” I’m told)
  • Glazed: Coffee An’ and Dunkin’ Donuts (a tie!)
  • Plain: Dunkin

Sweet!

A Westport favorite for generations. (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

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Staples Players’ first Studio Theater production in over 2 years takes center stage on Thursday. Studios are directed, designed and run entirely run by students.

“At the Bottom of Missoula” portrays loss and grief in such an impactful way. Co-directors Chloe Manna and Chloe Nevas — both seniors — say, “It was a challenging piece but one we were excited to take on with our amazing cast and crew. The show takes the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions within its 35 minute run. The lighting design and sound is unique too, and creates  really beautiful moments we hope the audience will be touched by.”

The plot: After losing her family in a fatal tornado, college student Pan embarks on an unimaginable journey. She transfers schools and isolates herself, but cannot escape feeling sad and guilty. Finally, a classmate helps Pam realize that healing need not be a solitary endeavor.

Performances are Thursday and Saturday, June 9 and 11 at 7:30 p.m., in Staples’ Black Box Theater. Click here for tickets.

The cast of “At the Bottom of Lake Missoula.” (Photo/Chloe Nevas)

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Speaking of Staples:

The rugby team defeated Trumbull last night 41-21 in the state tournament semifinals.

The Wreckers advance to the state championship. The match is home (Paul Lane Stadium) this Thursday (June 9, 5:30 p.m.) against perennial powerhouse Greenwich — winner of 11 state titles. The Westporters shoot for their first.

Staples and the Cardinals have a great history. The Wreckers won their league match this spring; 3 weeks later, Greenwich got revenge at nationals.

Get ready to rumble!

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Award winning singer-songwriter Diana Jones headlines this Saturday’s Voices Café at the Unitarian Church. Her 8 p.m. concert is both in-person and livestreamed.

The concert is dedicated to the efforts of 6 area faith communities. All help settle refugees in Fairfield County, through the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants.

Volunteers come from Westport’s Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church,  Unitarian Church and United Methodist Church; Weston’s Norfield Congregational Church, the Greenfield Hill Congregational, and First Church Congregational of Fairfield.

Jones has performed at the Cambridge Folk Festival, Galway Arts Festival, Levon Helm’s Ramble in Woodstock, New York, and Bimhuis in Amsterdam, and shared stages with Richard Thompson, Janis Ian and Mary Gauthier. Joan Baez has recorded her songs.

Voices Café offers café-style and individual seating. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Diana Jones

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It took 3 years of planning (and COVID), but Staples’ Class of 1980 will celebrate their 40th reunion — okay their42nd — at LaKota Oaks in Norwalk. It’s also a giant 60th birthday party for all. LaKota Oaks’ 65 acres includes a pool, basketball and volleyball courts, horseshoes and more.

The event begins Thursday, August 11 at Viva Zapata; continues Friday at the Black Duck, and concludes Saturday at LaKota Oaks. There’s jazz music in the afternoon, and a DJ at night.

As always, the Class of ’80 will raise money for the Susan Fund, in honor of classmate Susan Lloyd. For tickets and more information, click here. Questions? Email amy@aapk.com or szrobins84@gmail.com.

The Susan Fund — in honor of Susan Lloyd, Staples ’80 — provides scholarships for students with cancer, and survivors.

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Several readers have noticed that the swan’s nest near Gorham Island seems abandoned.

Amy Schneider took this photo, which may show the reason why: cracked eggs.

If so, it’s a sad — but natural — “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … if you’ve never heard of Diana Jones (story above) — or if you have, and enjoy her music — take a listen: