Tag Archives: Ann Chernow

Remembering Martin West

Martin West — actor, filmmaker, and for over 20 years the life partner of noted Westport artist Ann Chernow — died December 31. He was 82.

Martin West and Ann Chernow.

He first appeared on stage in New York in 1959, with George C. Scott in “the Andersonville Trial.” He also appeared in over 30 movies. As a documentary filmmaker, West earned an Emmy Award for “The Making of ‘My Fair Lady.'”

His television acting credits included 9 years as Dr. Brewer on “General Hospital,” and stints on “Perry Mason,” “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “Ironside,” “Dallas,” “Highway to Heaven,” “Matlock” and “L.A. Law.”

West moved to Connecticut in 1993. He joined Theatre Artists Workshop of Westport, acting in and directing many productions.

In 1999 Ann Sheffer commissioned him to produce “A Gathering of Glory,” a documentary about the history of the arts in Westport. The film included artist Paul Cadmus, actors Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Christopher Plummer, as well as Keir Dullea — West’s lifelong, and best, friend.

(From left): Dick Moore, Jane Powell, Martin West, Ann Chernow, Keir Dullea.

Over the next several years — while still acting — West became a key figure in the Westport arts scene. He was instrumental in expanding the Theatre Arts Workshop (founded by Dullea in 1983), and was part of the Westport Arts Center.

West’s growing interest in the local visual arts led him to develop a film project about artists over the age of 70, who still worked in Westport and Weston studios.

Years in the Making” (2009) celebrated 50 Westport aand Weston artists — some of them in their 90s — working in oil, charcoal, sculpture, photography and printmaking.

The film — made with fellow Westporter Kristen Fox McKinney — garnered several national film awards.

He also developed separate videos about each of the 50 artists. It’s all available now at the Westport Library.

Martin West (center) with photographer Larry Silver and arts advocate Mollie Donovan.

West continued working on new projects in Westport, including a documentary about his partner in life and art, Ann Chernow.

In addition to Chernow, he is survived by his children Jason Weixelbaum, Allie West and Gabriel West; stepson Paul Mend, and sister Gail Britt.

A memorial service is set for this Saturday (January 4, 2 to 5 p.m., Theatre Artists Workshop [Masonic Lodge], 5 Gregory Boulevard, Norwalk).

In lieu of flowers, donations in West’s name can be made to Theatre Artists Workshop.

 

TEA Talk Sunday: Breaking Barriers Through Arts

Everyone knows about TED Talks.

But here in Westport, we’ve got TEA Talks.

The Westport Arts Advisory Committee and Westport Library’s 8th annual TEA — that’s Thinkers, Educators, Artists — event is set for this Sunday (October 27, 2 p.m., Town Hall).

The topic is timely and relevant: “Breaking Barriers Through the Arts.”

Music, visual arts, performance and poetry artists will share personal stories of breaking boundaries through their work, in 3 20-minute conversations and performances.

There are special appearances by Westport poet laureate Diane Lowman and internationally renowned pianist Frederic Chiu — a local resident — plus an audience Q-and-A, and the presentation of a Horizon Award to a young area artist of note.

Noah Fox

Noah Fox is the winner of that Horizon Award. The 2009 Staples High School graduate — he went by Noah Steinman then — studied photography at Staples, and studio art, art history and queer theory at Oberlin College; earned an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; worked as education manager at the Westport Arts Center, and now serves as coordinator of academic and public programs at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.

He’s made a name with a unique project: “transforming” educational books that are “alarmingly misogynistic, homophobic and racist.” Fox paints, draws, sculpts and uses collages to gouge out the books, and “reclaim” them. He “sheds light on the oppressive foundations of American culture, while exposing the ways in which these systems and rhetoric persist today.”

Fox will be joined on the TEA stage by:

  • Illustrator Ann Chernow of Westport, whose works evoke the images of female cinematic figures of the 1930s and ’40s
  • Westport conceptual artist and sculptor Jeanine Esposito, who co-founded Beechwood Arts salon, and now brings innovation to libraries, universities and non-profits
  • Westport director, producer, dramatic coloratura and private voice teacher Wendy Morgan-Hunter
  • Ecuadorean-born violinist, educator and social entrepreneur Angelica Durrell
  • Groundbreaking classical and jazz singer, inspirational teacher, body builder and nutrition specialist Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson.

The TEA Talk is free, and open to the public. A reception follows immediately afterward. Registration is encouraged; click here.

Unsung Heroes #108

For more than 40 years, Baker Graphics has served Westporters with grace, smiles and skill.

What they do has changed — back in the day, copying was a chore best left to professionals, and business cards are going the way of the mimeograph machine — but they always adapt.

Catalogs, brochures, folders, flyers, forms, inserts, posters, signs — if it involves printing, graphic design or packing, they’re your go-to guys and gals.

Alert “06880” reader — and longtime satisfied customer — Ann Chernow thinks they deserve a special, Unsung Heroes shoutout.

“They help in every way possible,” she says. “They go out of their way to find just the right kind of paper or materials, with consistent good humor, knowledge of their craft, patience and assistance in many unusual ways.”

They’re particularly good, she says, with customers who have only a vague — or no — idea of what they want. Which, of course, is most of us.

The other day, Baker Graphics did something unheard of for a print and design company: They made a house call to Ann.

Special delivery, from Richard Baker.

Delivering pizza is one thing. Delivering a print job is on another plane entirely.

So to Marita and Richard Baker, and all their cast and crew, present and past — congratulations! You are our well-deserved Unsung Heroes of the week.

New Playhouse Gallery Honors Westport Arts Heritage

Ann Sheffer is among Westport’s most avid arts advocates. Her support of all mediums — visual, performing, classical, new — is abiding and true.

So it’s very fitting that Ann’s latest project involves both an art gallery and the Westport Country Playhouse.

Actually, it’s a gallery at the Playhouse.

This Saturday (November 24, 5 to 8 p.m.), the barn next to the theater welcomes “Amazing Grace.” Noted Westport painter/illustrator Ann Chernow and famed graphic artist Miggs Burroughs offer dozens of mixed media images, photos and oils of real and invented people, from life’s shadows.

Ann Chernow and Miggs Burroughs

It’s the gallery’s inaugural exhibit.

It opens in what is already called the Sheffer Studio Space. The name honors Ann and her family.

As a child, Sheffer’s grandparents and parents took her to the Playhouse. She still recalls sitting in those red seats, for Friday afternoon children’s shows..

At 15, she became an usher. She continued serving the Playhouse long after graduating from Staples High School in 1966. Today, she’s an honorary trustee.

Sheffer has known and admired the 2 artists featured in this first show for decades.

Chernok’s work has been exhibited all over the world. Her Playhouse art focuses on actress portraits from American film noir of the 1930s and ’40s. Of course, many film stars also appeared on the Playhouse stage.

Burroughs — who graduated from Staples a year before Sheffer — has designed Time magazine covers, a United States stamp, Westport’s flag, and hundreds of logos for commercial and  non-profit clients. His lenticular photos line the Main Street and railroad station tunnels. His Playhouse exhibit includes 24 male criminals.

A sample of Ann Chernow’s work (left), and one by Miggs Burroughs (right).

Westport has long been known as an arts community. Next Saturday, we celebrate that heritage — in all its forms.

(The Gallery at the Westport Country Playhouse is a partnership between Friends of the Westport Public Art Collection and the Artists Collective of Westport. Saturday’s opening features music by Warren Bloom, drinks and light bites and more. The exhibit runs through December 22.)

Calling All Artists

The number of Staples graduates who go on to careers in the arts is astonishing. From Eric von Schmidt and Christopher Lloyd, through Brian Keane and Bradley Jones on through Ari Edelson, Daryl Wein, Gina Rattan — and the hundreds more whose parents will respond wrathfully because I did not name them — Westporters make their marks as actors, artists, musicians, choreographers, stage managers, cinematographers, sound engineers, and in countless other ways.

But they’re not the subject of this post.

Thousands of other Westport students were exposed to music, visual arts, theater and literature, then moved on to careers in law, medicine, technology, blogging, insider trading, and god knows what else.

Yet they still remain involved in the arts.

They act in community theater. Serve on symphony boards. Sing with a church choir. Etc., etc., etc.

Many towns have community theater groups, where non-professional actors continue to take the stage. This scene is from a recent Westport Community Theater production of “The Seafarer.”

Every October, the Westport Arts Advisory Committee honors notable and rising young “artists” (in the broad sense of the word). The brochure — detailing new and past awardees — makes for fascinating reading.

In 2013 — for the 20th anniversary of the awards — the WAAC wants to include as many “non-professionals” as they can find.

That information — recounting the impact the arts had on these bankers, engineers, CEOs and whatnot long after Staples — could be even more intriguing than the usual stuff.

First, though, the committee must find them.

If you — or someone you know — is still involved in the arts, in a non-make-your-living-at-it way, email Ann Chernow at ctfinearts@sbcglobal.net, or Sandy Lefkowitz at homehome@optonline.net.

And, just for fun, click “Comments” and let “06880” readers know too. We shouldn’t have to wait 17 months to hear about the arts’ influence on non-artists’ lives.

Years In The Making

You’re sure to hear more about it in the weeks ahead.  But for now, save the date:  Sunday, November 8, 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

That’s when Westporters can see a remarkable new film:  “Years in the Making.”  In just 66 minutes, it pays homage to Westport’s heritage as an arts colony.  It honors 50 Westport and Weston artists, in mediums ranging from oil and charcoal to sculpture, photography and printmaking.

Jean Woodham, 81 (Photo by Kristin Rasich Fox)

Jean Woodham, 81 (Photo by Kristin Rasich Fox)

But it does far more.  All of the artists are over 70 — some well into their 90s.  But as they talk about their art and their lives — their educations, their careers, their creative processes and the lessons they’ve learned from it all — they serve as inspirations for us all.

This is a film about Westport and art, sure, but it’s also about the power of passion, and the potential we all have to keep getting better at whatever we do, every day of our lives.

Filmmaker Martin West — with great help from Ann Chernow, Kristin Rasich Fox and Ada Lambert — has created a work that anyone can relate to, and everyone should see.  There’s more to come — the finished product will include separate hour-long interviews and studio tours with each artist (50 DVDs in all) — but for now, mark your calendars for November 8.

“Years in the Making” has been years in the making — 90-plus, in some cases.  The wait is definitely worth it.

(An exhibit of the 50 artists’ recent works runs through September 7 at the Westport Historical Society.)

The hands of Howard Munce, 92 (Photo by Kristin Rasich Fox)

The artistic hands of Howard Munce, 92 (Photo by Kristin Rasich Fox)