Evan Sealove — age 10 — moved to Westport with his family in August. During COVID, he discovered Bob Ross’ videos. Evan decided to try painting on his own. His mother Joselyn got supplies at Michaels. He got to work. The result is impressive.
We welcome Evan — and, as we do each week, we welcome whatever art form suits your mood. You don’t have to be a pro, or even experienced. Send it all!
Student submissions are especially welcome. So are artists who have not submitted previously. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, to share your work with the world.
“Happy Little Mountains” (Evan Sealove)
“Fairy Tale Plant” watercolor (Ellin Spadone)
“Nature’s Beauty” (Lauri Weiser)
“Spring is Here” oil pastels on sketch pad (Jennifer Skarupa)
Untitled (Karen Weingarten)
“Be the Sun!” (Pam Kesselman)
Untitled (Marybeth Woods)
“The Garden Door” (Lucy Johnson)
Feathers float down and stick on weathered jetty rocks. Pull before they curl. (Amy Schneider)
“Mykonos” (Lawrence Weisman)
“Acacia” rice paper with mineral watercolors (Costanza Baiocco)
It’s spring, which means you’ve been thinking about raising chickens.
Or maybe you already have a flock, but want to learn more about organic nutrition or chicken swings.
Cluck — I mean, click — on a link next Monday (April 12, 7 p.m.).
Bruce Benedict (Benedict’s Home and Garden) and Mackenzie Chauncey (Kent Nutrition Group) will tell you (virtually) everything you want to know about starting and raising your own backyard flock.
Bruce will walk you through the best coops, breeds and feeders to keep your birds happy and healthy. Mackenzie will guide you through feeding, from baby chicks to laying hens, and all their nutritional needs along the way. You’ll also see how see how WTF is raising their own chicks.
Click here to register. NOTE: Like raising chickens, this is a family affair — suitable for all ages.
In June, 19 Staples High School students will graduate with High Honors. That’s the top 4% of the graduating class.
Principal Stafford Thomas says, “the most astonishing aspect of this accomplishment is that these students were involved in a number of extracurricular activities and various aspects of school life, which took a great deal of time, focus and concentration outside of the classroom as well. We were lucky to have had them for 4 years. We will no doubt be hearing about their next great achievements in the years to come.”
High Honors students are listed below, under the photos.
From left: Assistant principal Patrick Micinilio, Gary Lu, Principal Stafford Thomas, Carolyn Everett, Emma Dantas, Claire Redmer, Claire Lee, Sophia Lauterbach, Hanna Even, Simon Rubin
From left to right: Samantha Webster, Nasir Wynruit, Andrea Bautista, Henry Portman, Charlotte Zhang, Rishabh Mandayam, Teagan Smith, Alexander Toglia, Elana Atlas, Konur Nordberg.
Saugatuck Church’s 1st-ever Easter drive-in worship service was — well, if not a miracle, then still pretty cool.
The back parking lot was filled with 45 cars (that’s around 13o people). The FM radio broadcast worked flawlessly, thanks to Mark Mathias. The service was punctuated with plenty of cheerful horn honks.
Dozens more watched the livestream on Facebook and YouTube. But that photo isn’t as interesting as the one below:
Westport Book Shop Artist of the Month is Katherine Ross. Her watercolors will be on display throughout April at the Drew Friedman Art Place, in Westport’s popular used book store on Jesup Road.
Ross is a well-known artist and art teacher. She conceived the children’s mosaic wall at the Longshore pool, with work from over 1,000 middle schoolers. She has served on the Arts Advisory Committee and Westport Cultural Arts Committee, and co-chaired the Westport public schools’ Art Smarts program.
The exhibit is open during the Book Shop’s business hours: Tuesdays through Fridays (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Saturdays (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sundays (noon to 5 p.m.
Tonight (Monday, April 5, 7:30 p.m., Zoom), the Democratic Women of Westport and Staples Young Democrats host a virtual session called “The Anti-Racist Policy Agenda: Connecticut Voter Protection.”
State Representative Stephanie Thomas — who represents part of Westport, and serves as vice chair of the General Assembly’s Government Administration and Elections Committee — will discuss the 2020 election in the state, possible expansion of access for voting, and building support for voter protection laws.
To get the link for the talk, or more information, email email@example.com.
In the midst of a grim pandemic, a group of Westporters had a cool (and crazy) idea: a drive-in theater.
They got permission. They got the screen. They got going.
The original permit was for 4 shows. The project was a smash. The Remarkable Theater ended the season with 51 screenings.
Beyond movies, the Imperial Avenue parking lot was the site for nearly 2 dozen special events: fundraisers for non-profits, Supper & Soul concerts, and the showing of a Staples High School boys soccer game.
The Remarkable Theater was a pop-up hit last summer.
This Thursday (April 8), the Remarkable Theater returns for its 2nd year.
That’s not really remarkable. In just a few months, the drive-in became a cherished Westport tradition.
Thursday’s movie is “Vacation.” It’s followed on Friday (April 9) by “Ratatouille,” and Saturday by “When Harry Met Sally.”
Tuesday (April 13) brings “Minari,” a new release about a Korean-American family that moves to Arkansas in search of the American dream. It’s preceded by a 5-minute video, produced by Remarkable, in which Westport Asian-Americans discuss recent hate crimes.
Those 4 films are just sneak previews –“like spring training in baseball, or a restaurant soft opening,” says Remarkable artistic director Doug Tirola.
Official opening night (Thursday, April 15) kicks off with “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” featuring beloved Westporter Paul Newman. Upcoming films will be announced April 14.
The big screen returns soon. (Drone photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)
The 2021 season runs through Halloween. It will be remarkable in many ways. Low-key — but very important — is the theater’s mission of hiring people with disabilities. In fact, they’re the only paid employees. It’s a win-win-win: for them, the theater, and Westport. (For information on employent, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Movies begin at 7:30 p.m. The lot opens for tailgating at 6:30. There is no concession stand, so Tirola suggests picking up food from local restaurants or markets.
Tickets are $50 per car. Click here to purchase (they go fast!).
Don’t forget lawn chairs, so you can sit — socially distanced and masked — at this remarkable Westport venue.
BONUS REEL 1: The Remarkable Theater needs volunteers to help with check-in and parking. Families, friend groups, organizations, sports teams — all are welcome. You can watch the movie for free — and your name is on the screen. To help, email email@example.com.
BONUS REEL 2: The Remarkable Theater is always looking for interns. This year they’ll help produce the short content that’s shown before every movie. Interested? email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BONUS REEL 3: The non-profit theater relies on ticket sales and donations. More funding is needed to make this year a reality. If you give $5,000 or more, your name will appear on the screen before every movie. To contribute, click here. Or donate via Venmo: @BeRemarkable.
BONUS REEL 4: Click below, for an actual “reel”: the trailer for the Remarkable Theater’s 2021 season. It’s a minute of pure fun!
Several new artists join our online gallery this week. They provide a fascinating range of subjects and styles.
As we do each week, we welcome whatever art form suits your mood. You don’t have to be a pro, or even experienced. Send it all!
Student submissions of all ages are especially welcome. So are artists who have not submitted previously.
Email email@example.com, to share your work with the world.
“Song of Spring.” Artist Costanza Baiocco studied with Chinese and Japanese masters, here and abroad, She says: “I am distressed by the hate-mongering against Asian-Americans.This painting is a way to honor the heritage of Asian-Americans. It is on Chinese silk with mineral watercolor and sumi (ink),”
“Resurrection” (Brian Whelan). This is on view at the Westport River Gallery.
“Hope” (Jerry Kuyper)
Amy Schneider offers this haiku: “Early signs of spring Trumpets heading down, then up Beaming in the sun”
“Footprints From the Meghalayan Age” (Laura Appelman) — at Sherwood Island State Park.
“Spring Bounty” (Lucy Johnson)
Untitled (Pam Kesselman)
“Help Celebrate a Healthy Spring. Keep Masking!” (Ellin Spadone)
Tom Weber recently discovered this cartoon by Westporter Marty Sagendorf. Tom says, “Though done in 1958, it reflects what we have been through the last 5 years – or 1. These storks or seagulls may show a lack of communication between parties.”
Artist Gail Bernson says this Mobius strip “shows that there are no sides.”
“Crash Landing” (Karen Weingarten — taken in Westport)
“Spring Renewal: Together Again” (Judith Marks-White)
Itzhak Perlman is a violin virtuoso. On May 13, he adds “virtual” to that list.
The 16-time Grammy Award winner — and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree — is the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” guest.
Though he won’t appear in person, up to 100 people will be safely spaced in the Trefz Forum to watch Perlman on the state-of-the-art screen. Everyone else with a ticket will watch on devices.
Those tickets — both “live” and online — are available now (click here).
“Booked for the Evening” is the Library’s signature fundraising event. Previous notables include Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Wendy Wasserstein, Pete Hamill, Martin Scorsese, Arthur Mitchell, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Halberstam, Oscar Hijuelos, Adam Gopnik, Will Shortz, Patti Smith, Barry Levinson, Jon Meacham, Nile Rodgers, Lynsey Addario, Ron Chernow, Alan Alda, Justin Paul, and Frederic Chiu.
It got lost in all yesterday’s excitement over April Fool’s Day. But as of April 1, dogs are not permitted on Compo Beach.
Specifically, from now through September 30 “animals are prohibited at the beaches either in or out of vehicles, except when going to and from boats at Ned Dimes Marina (but those dogs must be leashed).
“Beaches are defined to include the water adjacent to the property, the sand areas adjacent to the water, the parking areas, grass areas, playing areas and roads. Dogs are permitted in vehicles entering into the Soundview parking lot weekdays any time, and weekends and holidays prior to 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Dogs must be on leash.
Sorry, guys. Gotta wait till October! (Photo/Dan Johnson)
The ceremony honoring TEAM Westport’s Teen Diversity Essay Contest winners is one of the underrated highlights of each year. Three students read their own words, addressing difficult questions with wisdom, honesty and power.
This year’s event will be held via. It’s this Monday (April 5, 6 p.m.), and — as in years past — is well worth watching.
The prompt was: “The statement ‘Black Lives Matter’ has become politicized in our country. In 1,000 words or fewer, describe your own understanding of the statement. Consider why conversations about race are often so emotionally charged. Given that reality, what suggestions do you have for building both equity and equality in our schools, community and country?”
We may be inspired — or sobered — by what Westport teenagers have to say. We certainly will gain an understanding of what the next generation is thinking.
Aztec Two-Step 2.0 — featuring Westporters Rex Fowler and Dodie Pettit — performs their Simon & Garfunkel songbook show for the first time as a 5-piece band on Friday, April 23 (8 p.m., Bijou Theatre, Bridgeport, 8 p.m.).
It’s a benefit for WPKN-FM. The show will also be livestreamed in HD and 360º Virtual Reality.
Tickets start at $5. Anyone purchasing by April 19 gets a free VR headset, for the fully immersive experience. Click here for tickets to the live Bijou (masked and socially distanced) show. Click here for virtual tickets.
BONUS TRACKS: Aztec Two-Step 2.0 will follow the Simon & Garfunkel songbook with a 30-minute set of original material, starting around 10 p.m.
Click below for a video montage to “I Ain’t Dead Yet,” one of Dodie’s 3 original country-blues songs featured in a 5-song EP being releasing to radio soon.
1st Selectman Jim Marpe issued another COVID update today. It includes information about vaccines — and word that the town is planning for a Memorial Day parade, and a Levitt Pavilion season. He says:
Beginning today, all Connecticut residents and workers aged 16 and older are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. For local vaccine scheduling instructions and locations, go to www.wwhd.org.
Health officials urge all who are able and eligible to register to get vaccinated. Those requiring special services and assistance with homebound vaccinations or transportation to vaccination appointments through Westport Transit should contact the town Department of Human Services (203-341-1050).
Fortunately, many of the most vulnerable in Westport are already vaccinated. They are enjoying the peace of mind and the realization that they are doing their part to help our community, neighbors, families and friends move into a spring and summer with less fear of infection from this horrible virus.
Although numerous people have been vaccinated, it is vital that COVID protocols remain in place until we are certain that transmission is decreasing.
Currently there is a surge in COVID-19 cases in Connecticut, and Westport remains in the red category with 28.5 positive cases per 100,000 population. We are seeing the effects of more social gatherings, travel, and a relaxation of COVID protocols.
Travel increases the chance of getting and transmitting COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control recommends that you refrain from non-essential travel and follow the travel guidelines,
The CDC also recommends continuing to follow its COVID guidelines and protocols, specifically mask wearing, social distancing and good hygiene, even as restrictions are loosened and the vaccine is further administered.
“Masked COVID Portrait” — drawn by Dereje Tarrant, age 14.
Much of the uptick in cases is occurring in younger residents, and those in their 20’s and 30’s. There have been reports of large teen and youth groups gathering at Compo Beach without masks. Parents, please remind your children to wear masks when they cannot socially distance, even at the beach and other outdoor locations.
The Governor’s Executive Orders declaring a state-of-emergency have been extended to May 20. That means that COVID protocols and restrictions remain in place unless noted otherwise.
The town continues to work towards reopening more amenities and activities with the optimism that Westport will return to the yellow or gray status on the State’s color-coded COVID map, and that more people will be fully vaccinated. These include:
The Center for Senior Activities and Toquet Hall are planning for the possibility of outdoor and limited indoor programming in late spring or early summer.
The Parks & Recreation Department and Selectman’s Office continue to plan for a Memorial Day parade.
The Parks and Recreation Department is preparing to open its facilities, and plan to offer programs that were not available last year due to COVID-19.
Longshore golf course is open for play, as are several tennis locations, Compo Beach pickleball courts, the skate park facility, platform tennis, Compo basketball courts, and playgrounds.
Compo Skate Park is back open. (Photo/ldinkinphotography)
The Board of Selectmen approved the Downtown Merchants Association’s Fitness and Health Expo for May 1,, and the Fine Arts Festival for May 29-30.
The Board of Selectmen approved the closure of Church Lane starting April 15, to allow for expanded outdoor dining.
The Board of Selectmen approved the use of the Imperial Avenue lot for the Remarkable Theater’s drive-in movie theater. and for the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library’s Supper and Soul events.
The Levitt Pavilion is planning its season, to be held in compliance with any necessary COVID considerations related to outdoor venues.
Westport is approaching the end of the Passover week, as well as this Easter weekend. Both are important symbols of renewal and new beginnings that we associate with the arrival of spring. I wish all who observe these important holidays the joy that is associated with those celebrations.
And to all Westport residents, I ask for a renewed commitment to working through the COVID pandemic together in a safe and responsible manner. In doing so, we can all enjoy the pleasures of our community that come with the spring and summer months.
As Easter approaches, the days get longer and brighter. But continued vigilance is needed. (Photo/Craig Patton)
A Sunday sunrise service is set for 6 a.m. at Compo Beach, between the cannons and the pavilion. It’s co-hosted by 4 churches: Saugatuck, Greens Farms and Norfield Congregational, and United Methodist. All participants are asked to please wear masks!
Also on Sunday, Saugatuck Congregational will hold a “drive-in” worship in the parking lot, at 10 a.m. The service — featuring live music, drama and Easter reflection — will be broadcast to car radios. Sit in the comfort of your car, or bring a beach chair and “tailgate.” The service will also be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. Click here for details.
And tomorrow (Good Friday, 11:30 a.m., Branson Hall), Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church will screen the choral piece “The Last 7 Words of the Unarmed.” It will be followed at noon by an intergenerational neighborhood walk. Following a liturgy of Stations of the Cross, it will focus on racial justice and reconciliation. Participants will make a small loop around downtown Westport, stopping at various locations to pray and reflect.
Easter sunrise service, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Rev. Alison Patton)
The Westport Youth Commission is one of our town’s great, under-the-radar groups.
Thirty members — 15 students, 15 adults, all appointed by the 1st selectman — meet monthly. They talk about teen needs, plan projects and programs, and (this is huge) provide high schoolers with a great experience in leadership.
Of course, every year members graduate. So the YAC is looking for students now in grades 8-11 (and adult members) to serve for the 2021-’22 school year. Freshmen join a special committee, before joining the board officially as sophomoes.
The appointment process includes an application, and at least one letter of recommendation. The deadline is May 14. Click here for the application. For more information, call 203-341-1155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aquarion has announced its 2021 mandatory sprinkler irrigation schedule.
They say: “The schedule helps conserve water supplies by reducing overwatering of lawns and gardens through a maximum 2 days per week schedule. The purpose is to ensure that local water supplies remain sufficient for critical needs such as human consumption and fire protection.
“Lawns and gardens can thrive on reduced watering. By encouraging roots to grow deeper into the soil, they’re able to absorb more moisture and nutrients, even during dry spells. Customers may continue using drip irrigation, soaker hoses and hand-held watering at any time.”
The schedule begins today, and is based on the last digit of your street address.
If your address ends in an even number, or you have no numbered address, you can water only on Sundays and Wednesdays, from 12:01 a.m. to 10 a.m., or 6 p.m. to midnight.
If your address ends in an odd, number, you can water only on Saturdays and Tuesdays, same times as above.
For more information, click here. NOTE: Some residents may qualify for a variance. For example, if you’ve installed new plantings or sod in the spring, you arw allowed to water more frequently to help get plants established.
The Westport Library’s Verso Studios are certainly versatile.
Starting April 12 (7 p.m.), it’s the focus of a Video Production hybrid course. The instructor is the Library’s own Emmy Award winner, David Bibbey.
The first 4 sessions are virtual. The final 2 are in-person. Participants will learn how to use professional video and audio recording equipment, lighting, and live switching/recording/streaming equipment. Participants can also serve as live crew for video shoots.
Steve Lyons — the Cape Cod artist who opened a gallery in Westport in 2019 — died peacefully Sunday at his Chatham home, surrounded by family. He was 62 years old, and had battled brain cancer.
When Steve opened Bankside Contemporary on Post Road West, next to National Hall, he envisioned it as both a gallery and a communal gathering place. The pandemic — which struck just a few months later — and his illness forced Bankside to close last year.
Art was his second career. Steve spent most of his adult life as a corporate writer for a mutual fund. But 9 years ago he went back to a hobby he loved. He began painting on scrap wood. Within a few years, he was named one of the Top 5 Expressionist Artists in the World.
During treatment for his cancer in California, Steve and his partner of 36 years, Peter Demers, both contracted COVID. On January 10, Peter died. Friends raised funds for Steve to return to his beloved Cape Cod.
In February 2020, I featured Steve Lyons in an “0688o” post:
Westport has plenty of art galleries.
But it may never have seen one quite like Bankside Contemporary, Steve Lyons’ new one on Post Road West.
Modeled on his successful gallery in Chatham on Cape Cod, this one — formerly Mar Silver Design, opposite Winfield Deli — is far from the very quiet/let’s examine the works/wine-and-cheese reception traditional gallery space.
Lyons prefers a “communal gathering space.” He wants people to wander in, say hi, enjoy cookies and candy and coffee, and just hang out.
“If you want art, we’ve got it,” he says. “But everyone is welcome.”
Steve Lyons’ art at Bankside Contemporary, 14 Post Road West.
If that sounds like a different kind of art gallery, well, Lyons’ path as an artist has been untraditional too.
Growing up poor in the foothills of Appalachia, he always painted. In college he minored in art and art history, but majored in something more career-oriented: journalism.
He moved to New York. He did PR for films and TV (and served a stint as critic Judith Crist’s assistant). He painted in his spare time, on weekends.
A job offer — corporate writing for a mutual fund — brought Lyons to New Haven. He bought a house on the Cape, and displayed his work at “casual shows” there.
He had some success. But he never thought about quitting his day job.
Eight years ago, Lyons began working on his back porch, painting on small pieces of scrap lumber. He put the finished art out front, with a sign asking anyone interested to put $40 or $50 in a nearby jar.
He sold 400 pieces that summer. Encouraged, he took a leap of faith to pursue art full time. “I know I’m one of the lucky ones,” he says.
Lyons opened a studio on Chatham’s Main Street — a homey place with a welcoming vibe.
In 2016 he was named one of the Top 5 Expressionist Artists in the World by the American Art Awards. The following year they named him #2 in the world for abstract expressionism. In 2018, Art Tour International Magazine listed him as one of the Top 15 Artists in the World to Watch.
It’s not quite a Grandma Moses story — she gained her first fame after age 80. But Lyons is 61 years old. Most “Artists to Watch” are not so close to Social Security.
Among the collectors paying attention was Phil Nourie. Last year — after a career in public relations and marketing — the 51-year-old Westporter started a new company.
Called GigSuite, its mission is to help people realize that after decades in a structured career, their skills actually are transferable. They can own, manage, advise and/or invest in a new, entrepreneurial field — even as their peers think about retirement.
The pair have formed an unusual business alliance. Lyons serves as Gig Suite’s art advisor. He helps clients who want to learn more about art, for aesthetic or business reasons (or both).
Steve Lyons’ “Dancing Clouds.”
Nourie, meanwhile, has helped Lyons open the Bankside Contemporary gallery.
“Steve changed careers in mid-life. He’s able to help others see it’s possible,” Nourie says.
Lyons’ artistic style is an important element in what both men do.
GigSuite’s research showed that “people need an open mind first, to overcome fear of trying something different later in life,” Nourie says. It also shows the human brain responds well to abstract expressionism.
So Lyons’ work hangs on the walls of Gig Suite’s office at 500 Post Road East, inspiring all who come to their workshops. And Gig Suite is the official host of the “Agility Through Art” series at Bankside Contemporary.
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