Tag Archives: Bankside Contemporary

Walking Tour Of Downtown Art Galleries

We joke about the number of women’s clothing stores in downtown Westport.

But there are nearly as many art galleries — places to buy paintings, sculpture and  more — as there are spots for skirts, shoes and Spandex.

Six galleries hug both banks of the river. Each has its own style. Taken together, they reinforce Westport’s reputation as an arts town.

Amy Simon Fine Art recently moved from Southport to 123 Post Road East. A dealer with over 30 years’ experience at places like the Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum of Art (and with the estate of Jackson Pollock), Amy showcases work by established and emerging artists, Chinese contemporary art, and limited edition prints by the likes of Warhol, Rauschenberg and Lichtenstein.

Amy Simon Fine Art

Around the corner on Church lane is Sorelle Gallery, a recent arrival from New Canaan. The women-owned and managed business (the name means “sisters” in Italian) — which also has a robust online presence — includes plenty of reasonably priced work. (NOTE: Today at 1 p.m., Sorelle is hosting a reception — with Prosecco. All are welcome.)

Sorelle Gallery

Perhaps Westport’s best known — and most visible — gallery is Pop’TArt, at the head of Main Street by the Post Road. Originally a pop-up, it focuses on contemporary American art that pushes visitors to think about current headlines. All artists live in or have ties to Fairfield County. Pop’TArt hosted the hugely successful Aware breast cancer campaign, and currently exhibits statues by Bolek.

Pop’TArt

Three galleries lie just across the Saugatuck River. Bankside Contemporary by historic National Hall calls itself more than just a gallery. It’s a “communal gathering space,” offering a relaxed, casual atmosphere along with art.

Artwork by Steve Lyons at Bankside Contemporary (Photo/Phil Nourie)

Around the corner on Wilton Road is Quidley and Company Fine Art. Open by appointment now, with a focus on only one or two artists at a time, it features landscapes, portraits and figurative works, marine and still lifes. Owner Chris Quidley owns another gallery in Nantucket.

Quidley and Company

Across the street, Westport River Gallery at the corner of the Post Road and Riverside opened in 2004. Owners Ken and Pat Warren carry international fine art, and work with collectors, corporate clients and decorators from across the nation.

Westport River Gallery

That’s not all the art in the area, either. The Artists Collective of Westport has organized shows in the 47 Main Street storefront. The Downtown Merchants plan special events soon.

Keep your eye on this space. And on all those galleries too.

(Hat tip: Rebecca Mace)

Pic Of The Day #1064

New artwork by Steve Lyons arrives at the Bankside Contemporary gallery on Post Road West (Photo/Phil Nourie)

The Art Of Changing Careers

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.

Steve Lyons

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.

Grandma Moses, eat your heart out.

(For Steve Lyons’ website, click here.)