Tag Archives: Artists Collective of Westport

Artists Collective’s “24/7 @ 47”

Every week, the Artists Collective of Westport members meet by Zoom. They talk about their challenges as artists, and share idea about current projects.

The latest group show came out of a recent meeting. Called “24/7 @ 47 Main” — and described as a “pandemic-friendly” exhibition — it’s a 10-minute video featuring 81 works from artists all over Connecticut.

It runs continuously on a large screen in the window of 47 Main Street (opposite the former Banana Republic).

Not comfortable venturing out quite yet (or just lazy)? Check out 2 options online.

One (below) is the show on the Artists Collective’s YouTube channel:

The other is a website. It’s got every exhibition image — plus details on each piece. There’s information too on how to contact an artist, for purchases. Click here to see.

So even though the physical “show” is in Westport, it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world.

That’s fitting. Those weekly Zoom meetings have included Artists’ Collective member Helen Klisser During. She’s a Westporter — but right now she’s back in her native New Zealand.

She joins right in. No one cares that it’s the next day there already.

Amy Kaplan’s “Screened” is one of 81 works in the current show.

Street Art Enlivens South Compo

Early in the coronavirus crisis, a cement wall on South Compo Road was painted with an encouraging message.

On Memorial Day it became an American flag.

Now, several panels on either side of the once-boring wall have been turned into colorful, creative murals.

And the artists are all kids.

The youngsters — ages 8 to 17 — had been avid participants in Homes with Hope’s After-School Arts Program (ASAP). Thanks to funding from the Drew Friedman Community Art Center — and the volunteer work of Artists Collective of Westport members — participants had worked on multiple projects, including 2 murals to liven their meeting space.

But when COVID-19 struck in March, that program — and everything else — shut down. With summer near, and restrictions loosening a bit, ASAP director Lynn Abramson contacted noted artist and Drew Friedman trustee Miggs Burroughs about the possibility of creating a community mural somewhere outdoors.

Betsy and Hal Kravitz happily offered their long wall at the corner of Hidden Hill as a canvas.

Supplies on South Compo.

In these turbulent times, the young artists decided they wanted their mural to be filled with inspiring messages and images.

Miggs and fellow trustee Nick Visconti embodied their “stronger together” message by matching the ASAP students with Westport artist Elizabeth DeVoll. She helped them achieve their visions.

They recruited Connie Manna, another Collective member, to help execute the designs.

Work began Monday. The young artists spent several hours a day — fueled by goodies from Joey’s By the Shore, around the corner. (It helps that Betsy is the owner.)

No starving artists!

The mural is done. The message is clear. In the words of one of the panels: “We Got This.”

 

COVID Roundup: “Artists In Residences”; Alice In Wonderland; Class Of 2020 Signs; More


Among the many features of the transformed Westport Library, there was this: continuing exhibitions of local artists, in the Sheffer Gallery and other prominent spots.

The library is closed. But thanks to exhibits director Carole Erger-Fass, artist/ designer/jack-of-all-trades Miggs Burroughs, and modern technology, they’re getting even more exposure now than they would have had hanging on the walls.

“Artists in Residences” is the library’s cleverly named, wonderfully executed project. Miggs and Carole conducted 30-minute Zoom visits with Artists Collective of Westport members.

Part interview, part studio tour and part demonstrations of their techniques, each episode is as different as the artists themselves.

So far, 6 of these rare, intimate looks at artists in their “native habitats” have been completed. They feature Nina Bentley, Susan Fehlinger, Emily Laux, Joan Miller, Nancy Moore and MaryEllen Hendricks.

Click below for Nina’s; click here for all, via the YouTube channel.


Staples High School’s Class of 2020 will make history in at least 2 ways.

They’re the first to have senior year disrupted by a coronavirus pandemic. And they’re the first to have free lawn signs distributed to every graduate.

Signs are being picked up this week by all 437 seniors. You may already have seen some around town.

Plans are underway for many more activities for this year’s hard-luck, but resilient and wonderful, class. Hindsight is always “20/20” — but with a bit of foresight, this year’s Class of graduation will be both memorable and great.


Speaking of Staples: The “Seussical” show did not go on this spring. But another great one is on tap — er, on radio — this Thursday.

At 6 p.m. (May 14), Players director David Roth’s Theatre 3 class will broadcast their annual radio play. It’s “Alice in Wonderland.” And if it’s anything like past productions, it will earn a first-place national Drury High School Radio Award. (Staples has won every year since their inception in 2011.)

Entire families will enjoy this production. It uses the same 1952 script that was broadcast nationally, coinciding with Walt Disney’s release of his animated feature. And it features several stars from last fall’s “Mamma Mia!” mainstage.

The class has rehearsed 3 times a week since the school shut down. On Thursday you can hear them live: 90.3 FM, or streamed here.


Speaking of education: Westport Continuing Education has launched Online Learning classes and workshops for adults, teens and kids. Virtual “after school” programs include sports, babysitting, arts, film, horticulture, theater and more. Those for adults include business, cooking, gardening and personal finance. Click here for details.


They were all there at last night’s “Rise Up New York!” telethon: Tina Fey. Andrew Cuomo. Barbara Streisand. Ben Platt. Bette Midler. Jennifer Lopez. Bill de Blasio. Chris Rock. Danny Meyer. Eli Manning. Idina Menzel. Jake

Gyllenhaal. Jimmy Fallon. Lin-Manuel Miranda. Robert De Niro. Salt-N-Pepa. Spike Lee. Julianne Moore. Trevor Noah. Bon Jovi. Billy Joel. Mariah Carey.  Sting.

And Gold’s.

Momofuku’s David Chang said, “It’s impossible to overstate the importance of New York’s restaurant industry. It’s also impossible to overstate the crisis it’s currently facing.”

And then — first, among a number of dining spots — Westport’s popular deli appeared on screens, all around the nation. Chip Stephens captured the moment on camera:


And finally … listen to Peter Gabriel!

MoCA’s New Executive Director Pledges Outreach To Westport

Over the last few years, the Westport Arts Center lost its focus on supporting and promoting local artists.

Last year — with a name change to MoCA Westport (it stands for Museum of Contemporary Art), and a move from Riverside Avenue to the former Martha Stewart TV studio on Newtown Turnpike — the organization seemed to become even less connected to Westport.

MoCA, at 19 Newtown Turnpike.

The Artists’ Collective of Westport — developed as part of the WAC, by prominent artists like Miggs Burroughs and Nina Bentley — became the pre-eminent group in town. MoCA’s outreach to local educators and civic groups ground to a halt.

Recently, the handsome gallery space on the Norwalk border — and the educational, music and other programs MoCA sponsored — risked losing its Westport identity altogether.

All that may now change. Westport artists, educators and organizations will hear soon from Ruth Mannes.

Ruth Mannes (Photo/Kerry Long)

She’s MoCA’s new executive director. And one of her first priorities is outreach to the town where the Westport Arts Center began, 50 years ago.

Mannes took over Monday from Amanda Innes. She brings a 20-year career in publishing (including executive managing editor of HarperCollins) and 12 years of involvement with Westport schools (townwide PTA executive board, fundraising for Staples Players), along with a passion for art (ARTnews named her one of the top 30 young contemporary collectors in the country.)

She and her husband began collecting in their West Village apartment, before their children were born. They met artists, gallery owners and dealers. “Art made our lives,” Mannes says.

They knew Derek Goodman through the art world. Soon after moving to Westport, Mannes saw him selling lemonade with his kids. They were neighbors.

Now Goodman has helped bring Mannes to MoCA. The board understood the need for greater engagement with Westporters.

Ruth Mannes, by the MoCA gift shop.

“We’re bringing excellent shows. We have wonderful music programs.” Mannes says.

“We can be a beacon of art and film. But we really need to connect with Westport: the library, PTAs, Westport Public Art Collections — everyone. We want their thoughts on dynamic programming.

“Our art should be accessible. Westport is a community with really curious people. If we bring in great shows, they’ll be engaged.”

As a first step, she’ll reach out to teachers, senior citizens, organizations — and artists. She’ll also look at changes in areas like admission structure and member benefits.

She’s spent this week getting up to speed on all things MoCA: shows, concerts, even a children’s art class that runs during the current school vacation.

She knows that when WAC/MoCA moved from near downtown to the midst of a residential neighborhood, it risked a loss of visibility.

But Mannes points to Beacon, New York as an example. An old train building was converted into a center for minimalist art. It now attracts art lovers from far away. “People sit, have coffee, see art and educational programs,” she says. “Community thrives there.”

Can that happen at out-of-the-way Newtown Turnpike?

“The other day, 3 French people knocked on our door,” Mannes says. “They were in Westport for a business meeting, but wanted to see what we have. They were disappointed we were closed between shows.” (A Helmut Lang exhibition opens March 15.)

Getting ready to hang the Helmut Lang show.

“We have benches outside. We’ll make our cafe area more attractive. If this place is dynamic, people will come. We don’t want it to be an ivory tower.”

Mannes says that MoCA’s educational programs are ready to “explode.” She’s eager to bring back adult programming that was dropped or weeded out.

Mannes says the board — including Westporters like Tom Hofstetter and Michael Kalman — is committed to addressing the alienation that some local artists, and other Westporters, have felt.

“It’s a fresh start,” she says.

(MoCA’s annual gala has a new date: April 25. For details, click here. For more information about MoCA, including exhibitions, programs and other events, click here.)

Remembering Dan Long

Dan Long — noted artist, beloved diving coach, civic volunteer and longtime Westporter — died last month, while on vacation in Italy with his wife Priscilla.

They celebrated their 45th anniversary last summer. Dan would have been 71 years old on June 10. His daughter Kerry, and son-in-law David Roth, are co-directors of Staples Players.

Dan and Priscilla Long (Photo/Kerry Long)

Priscilla shares these remembrances of Dan, with his many friends and fans.

Dan Long was a good Midwestern guy. He was born on June 10, 1948, and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Son of a talented well-known regional landscape and portrait artist, Dan was exposed to art early in life. He also spent much time in the woods with his dad and brother Steve, learning to use their rifles and hunt food for dinner. It was a typical 1950’s way of life in Michigan.

Dan was a great swimmer. He took advantage of his small physique and started diving for his high school swim team. He was an amazing, fearless diver who was elected to the all-state team during his senior year at Ottawa Hills High School. He was the undefeated city diving champion. Dan loved Coach Collins.

Dan couldn’t afford a 4-year university, so after graduation in 1966 he went to the local junior college. He transferred to the University of Michigan for the remainder of his college career, and graduated with a BS in design in 1972.

A few days after graduation, Dan packed up his 1965 Fiat and drove east to New Haven. An ad firm there had offered him a job, based on a class project Dan had completed for Olin Skis. So began his 30-year career as adman (creative director).

Dan Long (Photo/Kerry Long)

Dan’s work spanned many agencies including NW Ayer, BBDO, Backer and Spielvogel, Lintas and Grey. He traveled the world creating award-winning TV commercials for the US Army, Lowenbrau, Miller Beer, Dodge, GE, Diet Coke, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Campbell Soup, Starburst candy, Hasbro Toys and many others.

Although Dan was working and traveling during all those years, he still found time to draw and paint – often winning awards at the shows he entered.

This all ended abruptly in 2001 – and that is when Dan ‘s life really began.

He managed to create his own business and secure a lucrative account so that the bills could get paid and food was on the table. But he also took a giant leap of faith in 2003, when someone he met at a party in Fairfield learned he had been a diver, and said that Fairfield Ludlowe and Warde High Schools needed a coach.

Remembering how much he loved Coach Collins, as well as how much he loved flying through the air diving, he jumped in. He started coaching for Fairfield immediately, both girls and boys.

The following year he added the University of Bridgeport, plus a summer club or two. He was hooked. And what a coach he was!

A couple of years later, he added Staples High School to his plate. For many years he coached all 3 boys and girls  high school teams – even though they were competitors.

Dan Long, with 3 Staples High School divers.

It was his glory. He thrived, and the kids did as well. There is no question that coaching was what Dan was born to do. He cared about the whole kid: Not just their dives, but what was going on in their lives – their families, their hopes and dreams. He connected with kids on so many levels. It was wonderful to watch.

Aside from coaching and advertising, Dan dove headfirst into his art. He joined Rowayton Art Center, the Carriage Barn in New Canaan, and most recently the Artists’ Collective of Westport. He often won awards for his intricate drawings of old, gnarly trees (which he drew to come to terms with his own aging).

“Strangled Web,” by Dan Long

Dan also was an active member of Saugatuck Congregational Church. He served as a deacon for nearly 8 years. Most recently, he was vice moderator.

Dan was a good, kind Midwestern guy, with a great twinkle in his blue eyes. He loved beauty, nature, and most of all his family. His granddaughter Lucy was his heart.

(A memorial service for Dan Long is set for Saturday, June 15, 11 a.m. at Greens Farms Congregational Church. A reception will follow directly afterward, at Saugatuck Congregational Church. His art will be on display there.

(In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Saugatuck Congregational Church for Missions Work, 245 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880, or Staples Tuition Grants in memory of Dan Long, PO Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881-5159.)


Fellow Arts Collective member Miggs Burroughs adds:

I am proud to call myself one of Dan Long’s newest best friends. I met him only 7 or 8 years ago, but he had a great knack for making everyone he liked feel like family.

He created amazing pen and ink drawings of trees in crazy minute detail,  perhaps because he himself was a mighty oak of a man. Not necessarily a “towering” oak, (forgive me Dan), but a mighty one to be sure.

Sturdy and robust, he stood tall against so many of life’s challenges. Oak trees are not meant to disappear overnight. It is still so hard to believe that this man of such considerable talent, loyalty and kindness has left us.

His roots ran deep in the community, through his family, his church, the diving  team, and the Artists Collective of Westport, which cherished his dedication to the group (and his devilish sense of humor). We are all heartbroken.

Pop-Up Gallery And Studio Tour: Artists Collective’s Inspiring Draws

It’s been a great year for the Artists Collective of Westport.

The dynamic group of more than 150 men and women — from internationally known to emerging, working in a wide range of mediums — partnered with several local organizations, including the Westport Country Playhouse.

They meet monthly to plan public events, exhibitions and stimulating experiences. They also tutor, volunteer, and curate art-related activities.

Now they’re gearing up for 2 of their biggest events of the year.

This Sunday (April 28, 2 to 4 p.m., 47 Main Street), a pop-up Preview Gallery highlights art from 45 artists (plus drinks, refreshments and music). The show remains open all next week.

Exhibitors include 10 artists who then welcome folks to the Collective’s Studio Tour (Saturday, May 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.): Charles Douthat, Árpád Krizsán, Judith Lambertson, Julie Leff, Steve Parton, Guy Phillips, Katherine Ross, Anthony Santamauro, Marlene Siff and Cindy Wagner.

Guy Phillip opens his studio to guests on the Artists Collective tour …

The tour is a special (and self-guided) treat through Westport, Weston, Fairfield and Norwalk. The Collective’s artists range from contemporary to traditional; their studios vary from light-filled lofts to backyard cottages to basement caves.

Each artist followed a different career path. But all make fantastic art. And all look forward to showing off their work, and the space in which they create it.

Tickets to the Studio Tour include a brunch at Tavern on Main (Saturday, May 4, 10 a.m. to noon).

… as does Julie Leff …

The Artists Collective of Westport thrives on the concept of artists helping artists. So it’s natural that this year’s Studio Tour benefits in part Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County, the Bridgeport-based non-profit that helps youngsters gain confidence in their own ideas and creativity.

A collective is a powerful idea. With its pop-up gallery and Studio Tour, the Artists Collective highlights the power of art in Westport.

(For more information, click here. Studio Tour tickets are $35, $20 for designers, free for children 13 and under, and available online — click here. Tickets at the door are $40, $25 for designers. This Sunday’s pop-up gallery preview at 47 Main Street is free.)

… and Marlene Siff.

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.)