Tag Archives: Alexandra Korry

Norwalk Art Space: Alexandra Korry’s Lasting Legacy

When Alexandra Korry died at her Westport home last September of ovarian cancer, the New York Times honored her life with a long obituary.

Alexandra Korry (Photo by Dick Duane, for Sullivan & Cromwell LLP)

The 61-year-old was “a trailblazing Wall Street lawyer whose potent legal and moral rebuke as head of a civil rights panel helped spur the abolition of solitary confinement for juvenile inmates in New York City.”

She was one of the first women elected partner in Sullivan & Cromwell’s mergers and acquisitions department — and one of the first women editors at the Harvard Crimson.

Korry spent nearly a decade as head of the New York State Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights.

The great-granddaughter of former New York governor Nathan Miller, and a descendant of Ben Franklin, she worked for consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

But the Times never mentioned one of her greatest accomplishments: chair of the Harlem Educational Activities Fund. The non-profit serves 300 people a year, changing lives from middle school through college and beyond, with academic enrichment, social and cultural exposure, and individual attention.

Korry was a constant presence there, even teaching classes.

That commitment sparked another project: the Norwalk Art Space. She envisioned it before her diagnosis, and shepherded it along while sick.

Alexandra Korry died before the space opened, in June. But her vision and guidance can be seen and felt throughout the magical space, a converted church on West Avenue, just off I-95 exit 15.

The Norwalk Art Space (Photo/Patrick Sikes)

Korry found the property — near the old Loehmann’s plaza — and realized it was perfect for an art gallery, studios and classrooms. Three museums — Stepping Stones, the Center for Contemporary Printmaking and Lockwood-Mathews Mansion — are nearby. All embrace their new neighbor.

Working with Westport architect Rick Hoag, she planned several complementary uses for the Norwalk Art Space.

The upstairs includes an airy gallery, where local artists exhibit for free. In exchange, they teach art to children — for free. Upcoming classes include acrylic painting, mixed media and collage, drawing and sculpture.

A dynamic café — run by Bill Taibe of The Whelk, Kawa Ni and Don Memo fame — looks out over the gallery.

Bill Taibe’s cafe, adjacent to the gallery space.

Downstairs are 4 studios — free to artists — along with well-appointed classrooms, and a student lounge.

One of several well-equipped classrooms.

A sculpture garden helps link the Norwalk Art Space to the neighborhood, and nearby museums.

“Alexandra was all about closing gaps,” says her husband, Robin Panovka. Since her death, he’s taken up her torch.

“She kept hearing women artists, and people of color, complain about how hard it is to get into galleries.” Now, a great gallery welcomes them.

And, in the spirit of giving back, student artists — who otherwise would not have a chance to develop their talents — are being mentored by 4 resident artists, in their 20s. They, in turn, will be mentored by 5 older “fellows” in the Art Space.

And, Panovka says, even more established artists are mentoring the fellows.

Norwalk students flock to the Art Space.

Alexandra Korry died before the Norwalk Art Space was completed.

She never saw the first show, or knew that her classrooms were full this summer.

But her husband smiles as he describes the enthusiasm the community has shown, since the doors opened in June.

The spirit of the Norwalk Art Space — Korry’s spirit — is very much alive.

(To learn more about the Norwalk Art Space, click here.) 

Roundup: Staples Players, Alexandra Korry, Pumpkins, More

Mark Potts has written for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and — while he was a Staples student — the school paper Inklings.

Last night he reconnected with his alma mater. He writes:

Several years ago an unexpected storm deposited me in Kansas, sans ruby slippers. But my hometown is Westport. Once upon a time I was part of the team that launched radio station WWPT, and playing in the pit band for a Staples Players production of “Oklahoma” is one of my favorite high school memories.

So being able to sit in distant Kansas on Sunday evening and listen to the charming, expertly performed WWPT/Staples Players radio production of “The Wizard of Oz” was a great treat.

Bravo to all involved on a delightful piece of entertainment. It just proves, once again, that there’s still no place like home.

Behind the scenes at “The Wizard of Oz.” Plastic separated the actors from each other, in the Black Box Theater.

Alexandra Korry did not have a high profile in Westport. But when she died at 61 recently of ovarian cancer, the New York Times took note, with a long, admiring obiturary.

It called her “a trailblazing Wall Street lawyer whose potent legal and moral rebuke as head of a civil rights panel helped spur the abolition of solitary confinement for juvenile inmates in New York City.”

She was one of the first women elected partner in the mergers and acquisitions department of the prominent law firm Sullivan & Cromwell. She was also committed to public service, as head of the New York State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Her committee’s reports “criticized the New York City Police Department’sstop-and-frisk strategy, intended to reduce the proliferation of guns, arguing that it was disproportionately directed at Black and Hispanic people.

“And it concluded this year that disparities in state and local funding of education should be considered a civil rights issue because they denied equal opportunity to students in poorer, Black and Hispanic school districts.”

Click here for the full obituary. (Hat tip: John Karrel)

Alexandra Korry (Dick Duane for Sullivan & Cromwell)

Gene Borio sends along this photo:

He explains: “I didn’t know what this was until a woman walking nearby said it was weird: Every pumpkin on her block had been attacked by squirrels. 76 years on this planet, and I’d never heard of such a thing. Neither had she.”

Two religious institutions’ coat drive for Person to Person is nearing an end.

Clothing should be bagged, and sorted by gender and age (adult or youth). Donations can be dropped off in a blue bin labeled “Coat Donations” on the side elevator entrance at Saugatuck Church, or The Conservative Synagogue.

Donation pick-ups are available too. Email alexandrawalsh9@gmail.com for arrangements.

And finally … after more than 50 years on the road, Arlo Guthrie has retired from performing. The 73-year-old son of Woody Guthrie has suffered strokes.

He’s best known for “Alice’s Restaurant.” But his 5 decades of work go far beyond that 20-minute Thanksgiving garbage dump talking classic.

I saw him at the Westport Country Playhouse many years ago. He was the consummate performer. And I really loved that great head of white hair. (Hat tip: Amy Schneider)