Category Archives: Library

Westport Arts Center Offers A Bully Pulpit

Whether you’ve got a school-age kid or not, these days it’s tough to avoid hearing about bullying. Its causes, its effects, how to change it (or whether we’re overreacting) — bullying everywhere, from our schools and the media to the presidential campaign.

Soon, even the Westport Arts Center will tackle the topic.

WAC - More than WordsAn exhibition called “MORE Than Words” opens September 9. Utilizing artists, speakers, panels and films, it examines bullying within a broad cultural context. The exhibit focuses on courage, resilience and empowerment in the face of bullying, and considers how imbalances of social, physical and political power can marginalize others.

The WAC show includes artistic expressions of gender, racial, religious, geopolitical and age inequality, and includes cyber-bullying. The goal is to inspire dialogue and change.

Recognizing that the best responses to bullying are community-wide, the WAC has enlisted the help of important local organizations. They include the Westport Country Playhouse, Westport Library, SKATE/K2BK, Neighborhood Studios of Bridgeport, Anti-Defamation League and Norwalk’s LGBT Triangle Community Center.

Also involved: Athlete Ally and the National Charity League.

WAC exhibition - Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer’s piece in the “MORE Than Words” exhibition.

The exhibit was conceived by board member — and father of 2 young girls — Derek Goodman.

“We’ve all dealt with bullies,” he says. “At the same time, a number of well-known, influential artists have used their work to address it. We hope we’ve put together a platform to open dialogue, so that people in Westport feel comfortable discussing it.”

As the WAC partners with a variety of local organizations, he says, the town has an opportunity to take a leadership role in the battle against bullying.

“We’re not the experts,” he notes of the Westport Arts Center. “But we’re honored to put together a show for experts to help lead the conversation.”

(An opening reception is set for September 9, from 6-8 p.m. The exhibit runs through October 29. For more information on “MORE Than Words,” click here.)

Library Geeks Get Ready To Party

As a noted family and portrait photographer, Pam Einarsen knew that a key to great shots is asking subjects to bring objects they like.

So when the Westport Library asked the longtime resident to photograph its “What do you geek?” project, she figured folks would bring their favorite things: dogs, games, sports equipment.

Pam had no idea of the incredible range of things Westporters love.

We “geek” human biology, burgundy, Harry Potter, Greek Islands, Toquet Hall, astronomy, break dancing, coffee, archery, knitting, astronomy, the Green Bay Packers, folk music, dragons, baking, and sleeping.

And that’s only the relatively normal stuff.

Geek - sleeping

Pam’s long project is over. And now — 500+ photos later — the library is ready to celebrate.

On Tuesday, August 30 (5-6:30 p.m.), there’s a free, public “Geek Party.” Everyone who posed for Pam — and everyone who has seen her photos, or wants to — is invited to the Great Hall.

In addition to the geek photos, the event includes improv artists, interactive games and puzzles, and refreshments.

The geek project — designed to highlight the breadth of our community, and showcase the library’s many services — was an eye-opener for Pam too.

Her subjects ranged from babies to 90-somethings, and included every ethnicity. Pam was impressed with their diversity of interests — and their smiles as they posed with their favorite objects.

This word cloud shows some of the many different things that Westporters geek. The size of the word indicates its relative popularity.

This word cloud shows some of the many different things that Westporters geek. The size of the word indicates its relative popularity.

The Wakeman Town Farm folks brought a chicken. Someone from Earthplace came with an owl. A girl arrived with a beautiful chameleon.

“People looked so happy and proud,” Pam reports. “They were surrounded with things that were meaningful — not just their ‘work.'”

New York Times crossword puzzle editor, for example, did not geek word games. His passion is ping pong.

Some youngsters geeked dinosaurs — no surprise. But so did a 70-year-old man.

Geek - dinosaurs

Some of the portraits were poignant. A woman in her 80s brought teddy bears — including one her husband gave her more than 40 years ago.

Geek - teddy bears

Some were funny. Library communications director Marcia Logan geeks her dog — and her dog geeks tennis balls.

Geek - tennis balls

Pam enjoyed serving as project photographer. She was also the informal host. As subjects waiting for their shots, Pam noticed something interesting.

“Kids and people who could have been their grandparents started talking,” she says. “They showed each other what they’d brought, and shared stories. The interaction was fabulous.”

Westporters geek a lot of things. On August 30, we can all geek the same thing together: a party.

Library geek photo

(For more information on the August 30 geek party, click here.)


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Westport Shows Her True Colors

Severe thunderstorms moved through Westport early this evening.

And then…

Rainbow - July 25, 2016 - David Waldman

(Photo/David Waldman)

(Photos/David Waldman)

(Photo/David Waldman)

(Photo/Robert Mitchell)

(Photo/Robert Mitchell)

Burying Hill Beach - July 25, 2016 - Jessica Isaacs

(Photo/Jessica Isaacs)

Finally, a bit later…

Compo Beach, looking west. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Compo Beach, looking west. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Joshua Bell Plays Westport — Again

Joshua Bell is the most famous violinist of our time. Wherever he plays — around the world — he attracts adoring, sold-out audiences.

Despite his grueling recording and performing schedule, Bell often finds time for Westport.

Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell

In 2012 Bell helped launch Beechwood Arts and Innovation, the Westport non-profit known for its creative, eclectic Arts Immersion Salons. Music, art, film, performance, food and technology — all come together in a stunning 1806 home owned by Frederic Chiu and Jeanine Esposito.

Bell — a longtime friend of Chiu, Beechwood’s co-founder and himself an internationally acclaimed pianist — kicked off the 1st year by donating an unforgettable concert of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”

He was joined by Chiu, actor James Naughton of Weston, and 13-year-old theater student Rachel Rival. Afterwards, chef Raul Restrepo of the former River Café served an equally memorable dinner.

Several years earlier, Bell appeared with Chiu — with whom he has played for 35 years — at the sold-out Malloy lecture for the Westport Library. A few days later they performed at the Westport Country Playhouse with Audra McDonald, Glenn Close and Tony Bennett, honoring Westporter Joanne Woodward.

Jeanine Esposito, Frederic Chiu, Paul Newman and Joshua Bell, at an earlier appearance in Westport.

Jeanine Esposito, Frederic Chiu, Paul Newman and Joshua Bell, at an earlier appearance in Westport.

Next month, Bell returns to town. On Thursday, August 25 (8 p.m., United Methodist Church) — in the midst of his own vacation — he’ll give a “high 5” to Beechwood Arts & Innovation, for their 5th-year fundraiser. Chiu once again joins him on piano.

The event includes a VIP Meet-and-Greet, a conversation where they reminisce about their early days as aspiring musicians (with WQXR’s Elliot Forrest), and a celebration party at Beechwood Arts, across the street from the church.

Beechwood logoThough every seat at a fundraiser is important, Beechwood is reserving 40 seats for patrons to sponsor young music students from underserved communities. Local music non-profits Spread Music Now, Turnaround Arts, Intake, Neighborhood Studios and KEYS are helping fill those seats.

Students will sit close to the stage, and talk to Bell and Chiu during intermission. Their parents can share in the event — and all will leave with a CD.

“In our youth, both Joshua and I were deeply inspired seeing master musicians play live,” Chiu says. “Those experiences left impressions that lasted a lifetime.

“This inspires both of us to work with students. And it’s why at Beechwood we regularly include students alongside masters of their craft, in all of our events across music, art, film and performance.”

Bell and Chiu have been friends since meeting at music competitions in their native Indiana. They’ve toured together for nearly 40 years, in the U.S., Europe and South America.

Their friendship will be on display August 25. So will their world-class talents, their deep love of the arts, and their wonderful generosity to all.

(Tickets must be reserved in advance. For tickets or more information, click here or call 203-226-9462.)

On one visit to Westport, Joshua Bell played "Four Seasons." On tour with Frederic Chiu in Ecuador, Chiu stood on the winter side of the equator, and Bell on the summer side.

On one visit to Westport, Joshua Bell played “Four Seasons.” On tour with Frederic Chiu in Ecuador, Chiu stood on the winter side of the equator, and Bell on the summer side.

Get Your Art! Buy Some Books! Enjoy The Sun!

Downtown is hot this weekend — literally and figuratively.

Two annual events — the Arts Festival and Book Sale — are drawing large crowds. There’s something for everyone, of all ages — and plenty of surprises too.

Both run till 5 p.m. today. They’re on tomorrow too, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The book sale continues Monday and Tuesday.

But the good stuff goes fast.

Keith Richards was at the arts festival -- well, at least, his portrait was. The artist -- from the Catskills -- hopes the real Stone will roll by.

Keith Richards was at the arts festival — well, at least, his portrait was. The artist — from the Catskills — hopes the real Stone will roll by.

Breezes off the river helped cool this artist -- and her sculpture.

Breezes off the river helped cool this artist — and her sculpture.

Westport Library artist-in-residence Miggs Burroughs and Westport Arts Collective colleague Mina de Haas, at the library's arts festival booth.

The Westport Arts Collective had a booth too.

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant -- and the Westport Library book sale.

You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant — and the Westport Library book sale.

Tables sprawl throughout the Jesup Green tent, and inside the library itself.

Tables sprawl throughout the Jesup Green tent, and inside the library itself.

Why wait until you get home?

Why wait until you get home?

Artwork, Books — And Miggs Burroughs — Downtown This Weekend

Some things about the Westport Fine Arts Festival never change.

Favorite artists, sculptors, jewelry-makers and photographers return, with familiar work in an intriguing variety of styles. Westporters and visitors flock downtown; there is music and food. The weather is hot.

Some things are always different. There is new artwork. New bands play.

This year too, the Westport Library‘s new artist-in-residence lends his presence — and talents — to the 43rd annual Fine Arts Festival (Saturday and Sunday, July 16-17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Parker Harding Plaza).

Miggs Burroughs' official Westport Library "geek" portrait. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Miggs Burroughs’ official Westport Library “geek” portrait. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Miggs Burroughs co-presents his own artwork — along with others from the Westport Artists Collective — including Nina Bentley, Trace Burroughs, Linn Cassetta, Wilhelmina de Haas and Tammy Windsor.

Miggs will man an “Artist-in-Residence” booth, answering questions and providing information about the library’s connection with local artists, town arts organizations and events.

The Fine Arts Festival — sponsored by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — is one of the town’s signature summer events.

Of course, so is the Library’s annual book sale. It runs this weekend too: Saturday, July 16, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, July 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Monday, July 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (all items half price); Tuesday, July 19, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (all items free; contributions welcome).

The 2 events are big, fun and complementary.

Just think: It’s the Library’s biggest event of the year, and they share their artist-in-residence with the Arts Festival.

(For more information on the Fine Arts Festival, click here. To learn more about the Library’s book sale, click here.)

A mime and artist, both hard at work during the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

A mime and artist, both hard at work during the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

You can get just about anything at the Westport Library's book sale.

You can get just about anything at the Westport Library’s book sale.

Weedles, Zubats, Ekans And More: Pokemon Go Floods Westport

The tagline for “06880” is “where Westport meets the world.”

Right now, Westport — and the world — are going gaga over Pokémon Go.

I don’t know a Squirtle from a Jynx. But I do know that Pokémon Go has been downloaded more times in a week than Tinder has in 4 years. (No value judgments, mind you.) So I figured I’d capture the local angle.

Tom Bruno is my Pokémon Go go-to guy. As the Westport Library‘s new director of knowledge curation and innovation — Bill Derry’s old gig, more or less — the game is in his wheelhouse.

The library itself is not a Pokestop or Pokegym, he says. But several are nearby.

Three Pokestops are actually sculptures. There’s Carol Eisner’s “Walter the Sculpture,” outside the library’s main entrance; the big sculpture on Jesup Green, and the Post Road bridge sculpture at the Taylor parking lot entrance.

The library encourages patrons to find those sculptures by setting Lures (which of course attract rare and unusual wild Pokémon that patrons can catch).

Bruno says, “Depending on where you are in the building, you can also catch some of these Pokémon in the library as well.”

Bruno and his colleagues realized that the Levitt Pavilion stage Pokestop is on the route for the library’s annual first-ever StoryWalk along the Saugatuck River (which, happily for this publicity, kicks off Monday). Bruno took a shot of a wild Pokémon perched atop one of the signs.

Pokemon - Westport Library

The library is also placing Lures at all of those Pokestops, to help generate buzz for the giant book sale this weekend.

Though Niantic — the company responsible for Pokémon Go — is not taking requests for new Pokestops or Pokegyms, Bruno says it would be exciting to have the library community battle for control of the gym in that building.

The library is also working to add Pokémon Go to its popular “Anyone Can…” technology 101 classes. “We’d like to help people who are curious about the game get started, and join in what will almost certainly be the big summer activity,” Bruno says.

Finally — in a stroke of luck akin to finding a Charizard — the library long ago planned a partnership with Barnes & Noble on a Pokémon card game tournament. Amazingly, it’s this Saturday (July 16, 4-6 p.m.) at the Westport store.

Because — like Pokémon Go — “06880” is all about community, we’d like to hear your stories and tips. If you’ve got any game-related news, click “Comments” below. Please use your real name, not a Pokémon alias.

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Finally, if you thought the only thing local officials care about are mill rates and 8-30g applications, think again. Yesterday, they posted this on the town’s official Facebook page (courtesy of the New York Police Department):

As PokémonGo fever hits Westport, we want to remind you of some simple safety tips. As you battle, train, and capture your Pokémon just remember you’re still in the real world too! Around the country the PokémonGo craze has seen reports of accidents, injuries and even crimes where suspects have set-up fake Pokéstops.

Be careful out there!

Be careful out there!

So as you set out to capture them all:

1) Be alert at all times
2) Stay aware of your surroundings
3) Play in pairs or as a group to ensure your safety
4) Do not drive or ride your bike, skateboard, or other device while interacting with the app…you can’t do both safely
5) Do not trespass onto private property or go to areas you usually would not if you weren’t playing Pokémon Go.

Have fun AND stay safe. Good luck in your quest, and happy hatching, trapping, and training at the Pokémon Gym!

Library Book Sale Spans Seneca, Dali — And YouTube

Each year, the Westport Library’s summer book sale gets bigger — and rarer.

This year’s 24th annual event (Saturday, July 16 through Tuesday, July 19) features — among its 100,000+ hardcover and paperback fiction, non-fiction, children’s sci-fi, comics, Judaica and erotica, plus comics, vinyl and sheet music — several specials:

  • First Plantin press edition of Seneca’s “Tragedies,” from 1576 (!)
  • 1959 signed limited edition “Dali: A Study of his Art-in-Jewels”
  • Books from the estate of area resident D.M. “Mac” Marshman, Oscar-winning screenwriter for “Sunset Boulevard”
  • 2 new categories: “Fashion from head to toe” and “Connecticut, New England and New York: art to travel and all in between.”

The tent is already up on Jesup Green. Volunteers are moving, sorting and doing the thousands of tasks needed for such a huge event. (Volunteers still welcome! Email shooper@westportlibrary.org)

But — like the rest of the book sale — the tent doesn’t just happen. Here’s a time-lapse peek at last year’s set-up.

The heavy lifting has been done. Now you just need to show up.

(The 24th annual Westport Library Book Sale takes place Saturday, July 16 [9 a.m.-5 p.m.]; Sunday, July 17 [10 a.m.-5 p.m.]; Monday, July 18 [9 a.m.-5 p.m., everything half price] and Tuesday, July 19 [9 a.m.-1 p.m., everything free; contributions accepted. Click here for more details.)

Connor And Carson Einarsen’s Inconsistent Story

Move over, “The Swimmer.” Step aside, “Stepford Wives.”

“An Inconsistent Story in Stealing” is coming to town.

No, it’s not a big-budget, full-length feature film. But the movie being shot in Westport later this summer has something those 2 projects — and nearly every other film made here — did not:

Connor and Carson Einarsen.

The talented Staples alums — Connor graduated last year from Carleton College, with a degree in cinema and media studies; Carson followed this year from Savannah College of Art and Design, majoring in film and TV — are preparing their 2nd shoot.

Two years ago, the brothers made “Ryan Hood,” a 60-minute film for just $40. (They rented jackets for police officers).

Carson (left) and Connor (middle) Einarsen, directing "Ryan Hood."

Carson (left) and Connor (middle) Einarsen, directing “Ryan Hood.”

This one — “An Inconsistent Story in Stealing” — is more ambitious. Written by Carson, the neo-noir movie is about a former thief who is sucked back into the town she despises, to hunt down something she stole long ago.

There are 17 speaking parts, and 40 locations. One-third of the film will be shot at night, something most directors shy away from.

Pre-production takes place in June and July. Shooting is set for the 1st 3 weeks of August. In October “An Inconsistent Story” will be screened for the town. Then it’s off to film festivals around the world.

The Westport Library is helping, with a little bit of capital and a lot of resources. It’s one more way for the MakerSpace to expand its creative mission, Connor says.

In return, he and Carson will lead library classes for aspiring young filmmakers, and offer a film appreciation course.

The brothers are looking for actors and production assistants. If you’re interested, contact inconsistentstory@gmail.com.

 

 

No Idle Threat

Tomorrow (Saturday, May 14) is Westport GreenDay.

Organizers hope it will be a real turnoff.

Well, actually, they’re encouraging drivers to turn off their car engines.

Nearly 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Connecticut are transportation-related. Turning off an engine, then back on again is more fuel efficient than idling for just 10 seconds.

idling car

First Selectman Jim Marpe urges all Westporters to sign a “No Idling Pledge” (click here for the environmentally friendly online version).

(NOTE: State law prohibits “unnecessary idling” for more than 3 minutes. Provisions are made for weather extremes, certain service vehicles and health-related conditions.)

Other GreenDay activities tomorrow include a cleanup of Parker Harding Plaza and the riverfront; family events and a talk about the town’s new arboretum at Earthplace; a tour of Westport’s wastewater treatment plant; activities at Wakeman Town Farm, and a 3:30 p.m. library talk about Westport’s Net Zero goal for 2050.

Green Day logoTomorrow afternoon, electric vehicles are on display at Jesup Green, and a few lucky folks can test drive Teslas. There’s also a free EV shuttle service from the library to Town Hall, where the Westport Cinema Initiative sponsors the film “Who Killed the Electric Car?” at 6 p.m.

It should be a great Green (if gray) Day.

And if Westporters don’t take the “No Idling” pledge to heart, “06880” will start posting photos of drivers sitting in their cars, while their engines run.

Don’t mess with us.

(For details of the weekend’s events, click on www.WestportGreenday.com)