Tag Archives: Beechwood Arts Immersion Salon

Roundup: Wakeman Town Farm; Beechwood Arts; Barber And Bread Closings; More


The latest Westport institution to reopen is Wakeman Town Farm.

They’re doing it slowly. First they offer private farm visits, with a tour guide (optional).

Kids and parents will enjoy vegetable and pollinator gardens, beehives and animals (alpacas, goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, bunnies, even alpacas).

Tours are every Saturday morning through July, in 3 time slots: 9-9:45, 10-10:45 and 11-11:45.

Registration (click here) is first-come, first-served. The fee supports animal care and farm maintenance.

Justin Paul and his family enjoyed a recent Wakeman Town Farm tour.


The AMPLIFY Festival — Beechwood Arts’ supportive showcase for black artists and performers — continues this week. All performances begin at 7 p.m.

Today (Tuesday, June 22), Kahyree Jannah reads his poem “You’re Killing Me Again,” and violist Amadi Azikiwe performs works by Coleridge Taylor Perkinson and Jessie Montgomery.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 24), writer/actor Iyaba Ibo Mandingo shares the fears of a black father whose children live in “the crosshairs of America.” He’ll perform a piece inspired by, and performed under, Beechwood’s 400-year-old copper beech tree.

Thursday, June 25 features poetry slam champion Tarishi Midnight Shuler, as well as the Delphi Dance Company.

On Friday, June 26, jazz vocalist Frederick Johnson leads a conversation on bringing people together through the power of words and music.

Click here to access the performances — and see those still archived from last week’s AMPLIFY Festival.


Compo Barber Shop — an institution in Compo Shopping Center for nearly 60 years — is closing. The final day for business is this Friday (June 26).

Tommy Ghianuly opened the shop, and ran it until his death in January 2019. New owners took over the next month.

The good news is, all of Compo Barber’s staff is moving to Westport Hair & Co. That’s the salon next to now-closed Olympia Sports, a few yards east in the same Compo Shopping Center.

They look forward to carrying on the 6-decade leagcy in their new shared space.

And they made a deal with Compo Barber’s owner to keep Tommy’s old phone number: 203-227-9779.


Another closure, this one reported by a reader: Panera Bread in Westport.

A phone call to the Post Road East store went unanswered, as did an email sent to the corporate press office. If anyone knows anything about this location, please click “Comments” below.

The Panera Bread near HomeGoods.


And finally … all the recent talk about Confederate flags and monuments made me think of this:

Roundup: Governor Lamont; Dr. Jackson; Shel Silverstein; More


On Wednesday, Governor Ned Lamont spoke to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, by Zoom. He discussed a variety of topics, including (of course) business concerns, and took questions from listeneres. Click below to see his talk.


Parks and Recreation director Jen Fava says: “Based upon changes in the governor’s restrictions on gathering size and the Phase 2 reopening guidelines, athletic fields are now open to the general public unless a permit has been issued by the Parks and Recreation department.

“The department is working closely with local organizations like Westport Little League, Staples High School athletics, Continuing Education and others to ensure they have the proper protocols and self-certification in place to meet state requirements before permits are issued. This process is taking place for leagues as well as for other groups that utilize our facilities to run various clinics and summer programs.” 

All valid permits supersede general public use. Gathering size is limited to 100. PJ Romano (Saugatuck Elementary School) and Jinny Parker (Staples field hockey) fields remain closed for the summer due to construction.

Starting yesterday, the Longshore golf ldriving range and practice putting area are open as well. Driving range balls will be available at the ball machine only ($6 per basket). The machine accepts only $1 and $5 bills; exact change is required.

Starting Tuesday (June 23), an additional half hour of tee times will be available Mondays through Thursdays, starting at 7:30 a.m.

NOTE: Social distancing and face covering rules must be followed at all Westport Parks and Recreation facilities.

The Wakeman athletic fields are among those that have reopened.


Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson has an amazing story. She grew up in a tough New Haven neighborhood, developed her singing gift in church, walked to lessons at Yale, and is now an international opera star.

She has many ties to Westport. She has sung at the Unitarian Church, taught at Greens Farms Academy, spoken at the Arts Advisory Council’s “Tea Talk,” and been part of Beechwood’s Immersive Arts Salon.

Dr. Jackson has developed an inspiring one-woman show: “From The Hood To The Ivy League (and Back).” Tonight (Friday, June 19, 7 to 9 p.m.) — in honor of Juneteenth — she sings and performs that show, as part of Beechwood’s Amplify Festival. Click here for tonight’s Facebook Live stream.

Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson


With the Westport Library and Levitt Pavilion closed, it may be a while since you’ve been to the Riverwalk.

But the next time you’re at that beautiful, calm-in-the-midst-of-downtown spot, check out the Storybook Project.

Created by Anne Ferguson, with thanks to the library and Westport Parks & Recreation, it’s a series of 30 or so charmingly illustrated pages from Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving.”

Spaced appropriately more than 6 feet apart, the installation runs the length of the Riverwalk and garden. The pages recount the friendship and conversation between a small boy and a tree. Both lonely, they share their innermost thoughts.

The pages are attached to sticks in the ground, and the intervals encourage visitors onward to read each page as they walk. The black and white sketches are beautiful, and begin below the steps at the back of the library. (Hat tip: Jill Amadio)


This week’s #FridayFlowers can be found on the steps of Christ & Holy Trinity Church.

The beautiful arrangement was created by Dottie Fincher and Janet Wolgast, longtime Westport Garden Club members.


For months, the few people parking at or passing through the railroad station eastbound parking lot have seen a red Ford Escort, plunked in the middle of the lot. It never moved.

Folks were worried. What happened to the owner? Was he okay? A month ago, “06880” ran a photo.

Now, Wendy Cusick reports, the car is gone. Which brings up more questions: Did the owner finally return? Was it towed? Again: What about the driver?

If anyone knows, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Caroly Van Duyn)


Just published: About that Wine I Gave You: Dreams of Love, Life and Death in the Vineyard. The novel — about winemaking in San Diego, with themes of friendship, survival, love, aging, immigration, theology and racism — is the debut work of Craig Justice.

A 1977 graduate of Staples High School, he’s had a varied career. After Duke he interned with NATO; learned to speak French, German, Russian and Japanese; wrote for the International Herald Tribune; earned an MBA, and embarked on a career in the projector industry.

He and his wife began making wine in their California garage in 2004. They now have 1,000 vines.

Growing up here, Justice worked at Chez Pierre restaurant. The staff came from around the world, giving him an open-minded world view that he retains today.

Whenever he’s back east he heads to Westport. He walks on the beach, then heads to a coffee shop or library to write (when that’s allowed).

For more information — including how to order Justice’s book — click here.

Craig Justice


And finally … as Westport opens up, this seems like the perfect up-tempo tune. The next time you go inside for some java, think of Al Hirt.

Sneak Peaks Set For Beechwood Arts Kickoff

If you’ve never been to a Beechwood Arts Immersion Salon — or seen the namesake Beechwood farmhouse — here’s your chance.

This Sunday (October 14, 2 to 5 p.m.) marks the start of the 2018-19 series.  Beechwood is both the name of Frederic Chiu and Jeanine Esposito’s 1806 renovated farmhouse, and the series there  that brings artists, musicians and other creative types together in unique and compelling ways.

The intimate house setting encourages performances that could not happen elsewhere. That results in interactions between performers and audiences that are also impossible to replicate anywhere else.

Beechwood House, with its magnificent copper beech tree.

This Sunday, Beechwood presents sneak peaks into 2 works in progress. Chiu is particularly excited about “Romeo & Juliet: The Choice.” He co-created this re-imagining of the popular classical ballet. Innovative and immersive — just like the salon — it debuts in Philadelphia next month.

Chiu will play the piano version of Prokofiev’s beautiful score, while actor Samantha Rehr — a Weston native — does dramatic readings from the play.

There’s another sneak peek on Sunday too. This one is of a musical theater piece in creation. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Madeleine Blais is turning her memoir “Uphill Walker” into a musical, in collaboration with singer/composer Sharon Spinettii.

If you can’t make it this Sunday, you’ll have other Beechwood opportunities. A Ben Franklin Dinner — where creative people share special ideas — follows on October 19. There’s also an Art Open House on November 1.

(Click here for tickets, and more information. Click here for an interview with Frederic Chiu about “Romeo and Juliet.”)

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.