Tag Archives: Beechwood Arts

Roundup: “Kim’s Convenience,” David Hidalgo, Trash & Blight …

“06880” has reported several times on the progress of David Hidalgo.

He’s the very talented, always-smiling and very hard-working carpenter/ painter/jack of all trades beloved by many Westporters.

He’s battled 2 separate leukemia diagnoses with a positive attitude. But his situation is now more challenging.

After a bone marrow transplant this spring, David had complications. He was hospitalized with a fever for over 2 weeks. There’s now a blood clot in his leg, and continued nausea. He has lost 60 pounds.  

It has been a trying time for the whole family. His wife Haiying is caring for David and trying to clean houses when she can, while caring for 2 young children.

Money from an initial fundraising campaign is almost all gone. Any support that can be offered to David and his family is greatly appreciated. Click here for a GoFundMe link. Click here to help with gift cards for a meal train.

David Hidalgo with his children Santiago and Annika on Fathers Day.

=======================================================

A brilliant afternoon beckoned, but a large crowd stayed inside after yesterday’s Westport Country Playhouse matinee performance of “Kim’s Convenience.”

Playwright Ins Choi chatted with WCP associate director David Kennedy about the poignant, family-affirming comedy that moved from Toronto Fringe Festival sensation to Netflix TV smash.

Choi noted the play’s genesis as a way during a time of anti-Asian hate crimes. “The proactive part was continuing to write and share stories with heart, humor, and craft so people listen, laugh, and can’t deny how similar we all are.” he said.

The show runs through Sunday (July 17.) Click here for tickets and more information. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)

“Kim’s Convenience” playwright Ins Choi, (right) and David Kennedy, in conversation on the Westport Country Playhouse stage. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

======================================================

Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup noted the enormous amount of trash generated by this weekend’s multi-state lacrosse tournament at the Staples and Wakeman fields.

But athletes and their parents aren’t the only slobs.

This was the scene yesterday afternoon, at the Compo Beach pavilion:

(Photo/Dan Woog)

I saw it, and tried to imagine what went through the minds of whoever is (ir)responsible for this.

Did they think: “Wow! This is one of the most amazing days of the summer! It’s a perfect Sunday. The sun is shining, it’s not too hot, I’m at a beautiful beach, surrounded by so many people enjoying themselvs.

“So I think I’ll just leave my pile of garbage, instead of walking 3 steps to the trash can, so someone else can pick up after me?”

Or did they just not think at all?

=======================================================

Carl Swanson spent years volunteering in Houston, helping disadvantaged people find and keep lodging. He understands their plight.

But he’s concerned about a house on Maple Avenue North, near Old Road. The siding is falling off; the garage is full of trash, and the windows are shielded by newspapers. The resident appears to be living in his van in the driveway, Carl says.

Carl notes that the situation has gone on for quite a while. He worries that the home is both an eyesore and a health hazard. He hopes town officials can remedy the situation — and help the owner.

Maple Avenue North house. (Photo/Carl A. Swanson)

======================================================

Some exciting news for Westport baseball!

Defending state champion Westport beat Fairfield National yesterday 9-3, to win the district 2 championship.

The sectional tournament begins Thursday.

Congratulations to players Dylan Burdeshaw, Miles Delorier, Henry Ellis, Justin Goldshore, Wyatt Johnson, Christopher Lambert, Chase Landgraf, Jack McGrath, Luke Moneyhon, Torrey Rossetter, Toby Slavin, Grant Theisinger and Nolan Walters, manager Justin Walters and coaches Marc Theisinger and Jon Ellis.

District champs!

=======================================================

Beechwood — the intimate, innovative and immersive arts salon on Weston Road — is postponing its 11th “Beechwood Open,” scheduled for July 31. The namesake Beechwood House, built in 1806, is undergoing extensive repairs.

It’s now combined with the very fun “Secrets of Beechwood” Scavenger Hunt (September 18, 2 p.m.).

e have hosted The Beechwood Open every year since we started. One of our most popular events, it is outdoors under the Copper Beech and full of unexpected art, music and community and is often the event that introduces new people to Beechwood. Last year’s Beechwood Open was a record-breaker for attendance.

Beechwood House, with a magnificent copper beech tree, was built in 1806.

======================================================

Fred Cantor moved to Westport from Queens, when he was in elementary school.

In all the years since, he’d never seen a New York City yellow cab at Compo Beach.

Until yesterday.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

Fred notes: “That must be one expensive fare. But Compo is worth it, right?”

=====================================================

The Beardsley Zoo is 100 years old!

The Bridgeport institution’s centennial celebration is set for this fall. It will be big — and it’s got some key Westport connections.

The event is October 29, at the Inn at Longshore. It’s c0-chaired by Westporter Claudette Kunkes. She’s on the board of directors for the Connecticut Zoological Society, which oversees the non-profit zoo.

For more information, including tickets and sponsorships, click here, or email jtaylor@beardsleyzoo.org.

Claudette Kunkes

======================================================

Seen at the Kitchen Dwellers’ Levitt Pavilion show last week:

(Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

Yo, dude: We’re tryin’.

======================================================

One more note on tonight’s “Caddyshack” showing (Remarkable Drive-In, Imperial Avenue parking lot, 7:30 p.m. gates open, 8:30 film).

Movie-goers are invited to wear their “wildest Caddyshack-inspired” costumes Prizes donated by ASF will be awarded before the film begins.

=======================================================

Everyone sees something different in today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, taken of Long Island Sound.

Photographer Roseann Spengler wonders: “Who mows the grass?”

(Photo/Roseann Spengler)

=======================================================

And finally … in honor of the Beardsley Zoo’s 100th anniversary:

(“06880” relies on reader support. Please click here to contribute!)

Roundup: Medical Supplies, Vanishing Mural, Dumpling House …

=======================================================

Last week, “06880” reported that Wakeman Town Farm, Lachat Town Farm in Weston and Wilton’s Ambler Farm are collecting medical supplies to send to Ukraine. An Amazon link made ordering easy.

Ted Horowitz notes that the huge retailer is out of certain items, and says others will not be available to meet the March 18 deadline for shipping to the farms.

However, he found a website that seems able to ship medical items in time. Click here to help. Click here, then scroll down, for more information on donations through Wakeman, Lachat and Ambler.

======================================================

Last summer, 5 members of the Artists Collective of Westport — Susan Fehlinger, Jana Irejo, Day Moore, Dale Najarian and Tammy Winser — headed to Beechwood Arts, the non-profit on Weston Road.

They painted a “vanishing mural” of endangered native species of butterflies, birds, bees and plants, to highlight the Green Corridor and Pollinator Pathway projects that Beechwood had committed to follow. (Aspetuck Land Trust gave free native species plants to attendees).

Checking on the mural during the last snowstorm, Beechwood founders Jeanine Esposito and Frederic Chiu found it quite vibrant.

“It’s a good reminder for people to look up those initiatives as they plant new gardens for spring, to help save our local pollinators and native species,” Jeanine says.

Beechwood Arts’ vanishing mural.

=======================================================

An “06880” reader nails it: “I sure hope all those people waiting with their motors running on the Post Road for their $5 lattes at Starbucks aren’t the ones complaining about $4 gas.”

(Photo/Robert Hauck)

=====================================================

Gery Grove — one of the organizers of Experience Camp’s great “Day of Champions” — is a 2nd-generation Westporter. Her mother attended kindergarten through 3rd grade here, way back in the day.

Gery’s mother and her 4 siblings lived in a house designed and built by her her father, at 1 Timber Lane. Whenever she visits Gery, she drives past it.

The other day, Gery planned to meet an art dealer, who had sold her a photograph. He said he’d be coming from Westport, where his mother lives.

Gery asked where. “A little road off Roseville — Timber Lane,” he said.

Yes — his 81-year-old mother lives in Gery’s grandfather’s house. The art dealer said his mother would welcome Gery’s mother any time she is in town.

1 Timber Lane

====================================================

Little Dumpling House — the popular takeout-only spot behind Cycle Dynamics, near Carvel — is now open for lunch. They’ve added plenty of new items, too.

Among them: Katsu Sando (Chicken katsu on a buttermilk biscuit, curry mayo, sesame slaw); Poke Bowl (big-eye tuna, sweet sesame ponzu, cucumber, avocado, edamame, watermelon radish, cilantro, scallion, sushi rice, wasabi mayo) and Szechuan tofu shiitake dumplings. 

Click here for the menu, or check out Instagram: @little_dumpling_house.

Katsu Sando at Little Dumpling House.

===================================================

Staples High School’s boys indoor track team earned its 2nd All-America performance in 3 days yesterday, at the New Balance national meet at the New York Armory.

The 4 x 800 meter relay team of Rory Tarsy, Ben Lorenz, Bruno Guiduli and Jalen St. Fort finished 6th overall, in a blazing 7:51.28. Guiduli and St. Fort had already earned All-America status, finishing 6th in Friday’s sprint medley relay.

Clockwise from upper left Ben Lorenz, Rory Tarsy, Bruno Guiduli, Jalen St. Fort.

======================================================

Speaking of sports: Shane Lowery’s hole-in-one at the Players Championship yesterday was a feat shared by only a handful of PGA players.

Carl Addison Swanson notes that one of them was Brian Claar. The 1976 Staples High School graduate carded his ace in 1991.

Claar went on to be a rules official for the Senior PGA tour. These days, Swanson says, he’s a marathon runner, finishing high in his age group at the Boston Marathon.

Brian Claar

=======================================================

Monsignor Andrew Varga, a well-respected pastor of St. Luke’s Parish in Westport, died last Monday. He was 69 years.

The Bridgeport native was baptized at Saint Stephen Church there. He made his First Holy Communion and received the Sacrament of Confirmation at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Stratford.

He attended Fairfield Prep and Fairfield University, where he earned a bachelor of arts in psychology. Msgr. Varga received his priestly formation at Catholic University, receiving a master of arts in theology. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Bridgeport by the Most Reverend Walter W. Curtis at Saint Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport in 1978.

His first assignment was as associate pastor of St. Matthew Church in Norwalk. In 1983 he was transferred to St/ Theresa Church in Trumbull, where he had served as deacon. Subsequent assignments included St. Leo Church in Stamford and St. Joseph Parish in Brookfield. He began his last assignment as pastor of St. Luke Church in 1997, a position he held for 25 years.

In 1982, he was awarded a doctor of ministry degree from Catholic University. Throughout his years of priestly ministry in the Diocese, Msgr. Varga served on the Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors. Bishop Caggiano appointed Monsignor Varga as Territorial Vicar for Vicariate II in 2014.

He chaired the Diocesan Liturgical Commission for many years, served on the Sacred Arts Committee and was an active team member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, speaking at workshops around the country. In addition, Msgr. Varga taught homiletics in the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program for many years. He was a member of the committee appointed by Bishop William Lori for the preparation and catechesis for the new English translation of the Roman Missal in 2011.

In 2008, Msgr. Varga was named Chaplain to His Holiness.

He was a gifted liturgist and homilist, though what energized him most was ministering to the people in his parish communities. He shared willingly in their joys and challenges. He journeyed full circle with many of those he baptized who later came to him for marriage and the baptism of their own children, and laying to rest their parents and loved ones.

He loved a good joke and could tell a great story, a talent which could bring a smile or lighten a burden.

Msgr. Varga’s body will lie in repose at St. Luke Church on Thursday (March 17) from 3 to 7 p.m., when Mass will be celebrated. The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, will celebrate the Funeral Mass on Friday, March 18 (11 a.m). Interment will be private.

Condolences can be sent to Monsignor’s sister, Elizabeth Robinson (15 Andre Drive, Succasunna, NJ 07876). In lieu of flowers, give of your time, talents and/or treasures to your local parish and community. To sign his online guest registry, click here.

Monsignor Andrew Varga

================================================

Crockett Johnson’s 1955 children’s book “Harold and the Purple Crayon” — about a young boy with a magical crayon — is being developed into a stage musical.

Both Johnson — who also wrote the comic strip “Barnaby” — and his wife, writer Ruth Krauss, lived in Westport. (Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

=====================================================

What better way to start off the “Westport … Naturally” week than with this hopeful photo from Matt Murray:

(Photo/Matt Murray)

=======================================================

And finally … news of William Hurt’s death yesterday made me think of his role as a troubled Vietnam vet in “The Big Chill.” It’s a great film, with a fantastic soundtrack — particularly if that’s the music you grew up with.

Here are 3 of its most memorable songs:

Beechwood Amplifies Arts, Social Issues

Beechwood Arts is one of Westport’s most important — and cutting-edge — cultural institutions. Through salons and workshops, in collaboration with artists, musicians, performers, filmmakers and many others, Frederic Chiu and his wife Jeanine Esposito inspire, illuminate and provoke a wide array of audiences, in often unexpected ways.

One of Frederic and Jeanine’s guiding principles is that art is an intimate part of the broader world. Beechwood always makes those  connections clear — but never more so than today. Frederic and Jeanine say:

An important part of Beechwood’s mission over the last 10 years has been to build a collaborative community of artists, performers and audiences across the divisions of age, gender, race, cultural backgrounds and lifestyles.

Jeanine Esposito and Frederic Chiu, at their Beechwood Arts home.

We have been honored to welcome a diverse community across all of our events, including a large number of black artists, performers and audience members. We’ve been heartbroken and horrified by the many violent instances of black lives being extinguished and the evidence of enduring, systemic racism in our communities and our country. We stand in support of identifying and eliminating systemic racism and replacing it with respect and equal opportunity.

In these past tragic weeks, we have reached out to the members of our Beechwood community that are directly affected by these issues to discuss, collaborate and develop together a way for Beechwood to use our resources and our mission to best support them.

The answer that emerged is AMPLIFY. The goal of AMPLIFY is to use Beechwood’s resources to support black artists and the black community by giving them control of the narrative and amplifying their voice, while standing with them in support and solidarity.

For the next 2 weeks, we have invited black members of our creative community to participate with other artists they invite to collaboratively create visual art and to perform (and stream) from our Music Room or under the Copper Beech to share their voice in whatever way they choose through the lens of the arts. Juneteenth falls in the middle of this period. We will have a special performance that evening, from 7 to 9 p.m. (see below).

All activities will run for 2 weeks (June 14-28), on either side of Juneteenth (June 19), the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.’

In addition, Beechwood purchased 40 plain black lawn signs to post along the road on our property. We’ve invited black artists from our community to pick up a sign, create an artwork on one side, then pass it along to a supportive fellow artist of their choice to paint the other side and drop it off at Beechwood. As the plain black signs are replaced with finished artwork, a river of amplified artistic voices will emerge.

Beechwood Arts’ signs, before artists’ creations.

Although Beechwood on Weston Road is not yet reopened to the public, we have invited black performing artists from our community to record and stream performances of music, theater, spoken word, live art, etc. from Beechwood’s Music Room or under the embrace of the Copper Beech.

Performers will stream from Beechwood’s Facebook Live platform, and receive donations to support them and their work, and share with other supportive organizations as they choose. The schedule will be revealed as performers sign up.

For example, there is a special, poignant and powerful performance by Tiffany Renee Jackson’s “From The Hood To The Ivy League (and Back)” about her extraordinary journey as a black woman, on June 19 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson

Dr. Jackson sings and performs the story of her life journey – from growing up in a tough New Haven neighborhoods, to the development of her singing gift in the black church, to walking to lessons at Yale, to becoming an international opera star (she has sung several times at Beechwood!), to teaching at private schools including Greens Farms Academy, to finally returning to New Haven to teach and lift up young black voices.

Once all the art is in and performances have begun, we will work with the artists to forge partnerships with other venues and organizations. The goal is to expand ways to show the art and use the performances to have dialogue and conversations that bring awareness, understanding and support of Black Lives Matter issues. Please email contact@beechwoodarts.org with any suggestions, or if your organization wants to be involved.

We’d also like to share some history about the copper beech tree on Beechwood Arts’ property. Estimated at close to 400 years old, it has been witness to the history of black lives in America since the beginning of slavery.

Beechwood’s main house was built in 1806 — possibly earlier. Inside is a door that, when opened, appears to be a shallow closet, but whose side wall is a narrow entrance to a 4-room underground basement. It is believed to have played a role in the Underground Railroad.

It is reported that President Lincoln saw that tree when visiting Morris Ketchum, who owned Beechwood when it was part of the Hockanum estate.

Beechwood House, with its magnificent copper beech tree.

We did not know this history when we purchased Beechwood and set our mission to share the arts with the surrounding community by building a collaborative community of artists, performers and audiences, or when we included collaboration and community conversation in our mission to explore meaningful, and sometimes difficult and complex, themes through the arts.

But we believe that a space retains the energy of its history to influence its future!

(For more information on AMPLIFY, click here.)

Beechwood Arts Celebrates Mentors

In 2014, recenet Staples High School graduate Noah Johnson bonded quickly with Carnegie Mellon University roommate Scott Krulcik, a brilliant tech engineer.

After college, Noah was hired by Accenture. Scott worked for Google. Both were in New York City, and remained close.

Scott Krulcik

Last December Scott died of a rare, previously undiagnosed congenital heart condition. His service was filled with stories of how he had helped, encouraged and mentored many people to do more than they thought they could.

He had mentored those younger — and older — than himself. Most were on completely different life paths. He accomplished much in his short 22 years — for himself, and so many others.

Scott’s life and death gave Noah’s parents — Frederic Chiu and Jeanine Esposito — an idea. They want to encourage people to become mentors.

Frederic and Jeanine have the perfect platform to make their plan a reality. They’re the founders and hosts of Beechwood. The series — named for their their 1806 renovated farmhouse on Weston Road — brings artists, musicians and other creative types together in unique and compelling ways.

Karl Schulz

“Beechwood Arts Celebrates Mentorship” is set for this Sunday (May 5, 3 to 6 p.m.). The salon features a special pairing: noted jazz and gospel composer/ pianist/singer/ teacher/choir director Chris  Coogan, and 14-year-old jazz pianist prodigy Karl Schulz.

Scott’s mother, father and sister are coming from upstate New York and California, to join Frederic, Jeanine and scores of others at the event.

The Beechwood Arts theme for this season is “Journeys.” It will be explored — via music, visual art, sculpture, performance, film and culinary arts — in all its forms, real and metaphorical. Click here for more information, and tickets.

Going forward, Frederic and Jeanine will provide seats to all events for 1 mentor, and 1 mentee. Email contact@beechwoodarts.org for nominations.

In honor of the mentorship celebration, Frederic and Jeanine offer these thoughts — from Scott — on what all humans should strive for, to help others:

  • Share your knowledge to help others achieve their dreams.
  • Encourage them that they can do it.
  • Celebrate them and have joy for their accomplishments.
  • Make time. Help others, in spite of your busy schedule.
  • Make things — and share what you make.
  • Give out smiles generously. You can always make more!
  • Say thank you, for all things big and small.
  • Value and honor friends and family. Show up.
  • Be accepting. Be generous. Be humble.
  • Accept the challenge — and do your best.

Beechwood House — with its magnificent copper beech tree — is the site of fascinating salons.