Tag Archives: Charles Joyner

“The Westport Idea” Emerges At MoCA

Two of Westport’s powerhouse arts institutions — MoCA and the Westport Public Art Collections — join forces soon.

“The Westport Idea” debuts at MoCA January 28. The exhibit features selections from WestPAC’s 2,000-work collection. Most are housed in public schools and town buildings.

They’re amazing treasures. But even before COVID, because of their locations they were not easily accessible to the public.

The exhibit includes several 2021 acquisitions by artists of color and under-represented groups. Examples include “Village @ Ntonso,” filled with colors and patterns from African symbols, architectures and textiles, by internationally known (and Staples High School graduate) Charles Joyner; “Three Shadows” by photographer Adger Cowans of Harlem’s’ Kamoinge Workshop, and “Don’t Judge Me” by Stamford artist Christa Forrest.

“Village @ Ntonso” (Charles Joyner)

The Westport Public Art Collections’ origins date back to 1910. But it became more fully evolved in 1965, thanks to the vision of artist and educator Burt Chernow. His “idea” was to collect original fine art, for students to experience daily.

Simultaneously with “The Westport Idea,” MoCA will showcase the works of students from around the region, in its annual high school exhibition. This year’s title is “Identity.”

It features over 100 works based on the memories, experiences, relationships and values that create one’s sense of self. High school students were invited to submit drawings, paintings, digital and graphic images, photos, sculptures and videos.

“Facing Myself” (Tessa Moore, Staples High School senior)

Many familiar names will be highlighted in the main “Westport Idea” show. Among the artists included in the exhibit: Lynsey Addario, Ann Chernow, Charles Daugherty, James H. Daugherty, Lisa Daugherty, Stevan Dohanos, Walter Einsel, Leonard Everett Fisher, Jerri Graham, Hardie Gramatky, Robert Indiana, Estelle Margolis, Henri Matisse, Norma Minkowitz, Enid Munroe, Baroness Hilla von Rebay, Robert Rauschenberg and Larry Silver.

“Six Dancers, Children at Yangzhou School for the Deaf and Blind” (Larry Silver)

The opening reception is January 28 (6 to 8 p.m.). The exhibit runs through March 12. Admission is free, thanks to an anonymous gift.

Supporting programming for “The Westport Idea” includes a talk by co-curator Kathleen Motes Bennewitz (February 3); an in-depth discussion on Tom Wesselmann (February 17), an ekphrastic writing workshop with Westport poet laureate Diane Lowman (February 24)m, and a WestPAC teaching gallery talk (March 3).

All programs run from 6 to 7 p.m. Click here to register.

“Portrait of Joseph Mortimer Lichtenauer” (James Henry Daugherty)

Westport Arts: Adding Diversity, Color

Westport’s arts scene has a long, vibrant history.

Okay, to be honest: It’s a long, vibrant, white history.

The men and women who — from the early 1900s on — made our town a magnet for illustrators, painters, sculptors and others were (like the rest of the town) largely Caucasian.

But our town’s heritage includes important contributions from (and exploitation of) people of color. The arts today must reflect more than one perspective.

The Westport Arts Advisory Committee is addressing those issues in two big ways.

In the alley between Main Street and Bedford Square are floodgates no longer in use. David Waldman — the developer of the mixed-use center between Main Street and Church Lane — asked the WAAC how the gates could look more attractive.

The arts organization commissioned 5 artists to turn them into a history of our town: Westporters Eric Chiang, Jana Irejo and Rebecca Ross, Norwalk’s Hernan Garcia and Iyaba Mandingo of Bridgeport.

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 16, the WAAC will unveil their 5 paintings at the Main Street entrance to the Bedford Square courtyard. The works include early life among Native Americans, and Black life and culture here.

A “concept slide” of what the floodgate art might look like. These are not the finished pieces.

In addition, the WAAC — working with the Westport Public Art Collections — has acquired several pieces by artists of color.

Among them: art by Charles Joyner.

A professor at North Carolina State University College of Art and Design, and a noted collagist whose colorful, culturally symbolic work incorporates themes from his extensive travels to Ghana, he’s no stranger to Westport.

In 1964 he came to Westport through an American Friends Service program that brought 35 Southern students to the North to promote integration. Joyner lived with the Ader family.

After graduating from Staples High School he headed to Iowa State University on a football scholarship, transferred to North Carolina A&T, then earned a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Joyner’s, and other newly acquired art, will be part of the WPAC’s first-ever public showing of dozens of works at MoCA Westport. The event opens January 28, and runs through March 13.

Charles Joyner’s mixed media work “Village @ Ntoso” has been acquired by the Westport Public Art Collections.

Artists In Residences: Step Into My Studio …

Any ol’ place can have an artist in residence.

Leave it to the Westport Library to have “Artists in Residences.”

That’s the clever name for an equally clever project. COVID-19 has closed the library’s 3 rotating galleries — popular spaces that were booked nearly 2 years ahead.

So exhibit curator Carole Erger-Fass and artist/library supporter/creative guru Miggs Burroughs — whose “Artist to Artist” discussion series was also shelved — devised a new way to connect artists and art-loving patrons.

The Zoom series provides peeks into otherwise-hidden spaces: artists’ studios.

The first episode was with Nancy Moore. Her “Unconventional Women” exhibit was scheduled to be installed the day the library shut down in March.

Instead, Nancy invited a crew into her airy workplace. She shared her works in progress, showed off the tools of her trade and discussed the inspiration for her vibrantly patterned paintings that no one could now enjoy in person.

The series blossomed into a living document of the state of the arts — and artists — in Westport. Twenty-four episodes have already been recorded. More are in the works.

They feature sculptors, painters, photographers, and digital and collage artists. Some have experimented with new mediums. Others have had the luxury of time to delve deeper into their genres.

Some have been inspired anew by the pandemic. Others have been stymied.

All speak eloquently about their craft. Particularly moving are Westport legends like Ann Chernow, Leonard Everett Fisher, Roe Halper, Nina Bentley, Judith Katz and Niki Ketchman. Their age makes them vulnerable to the coronavirus — but they steam ahead creatively.

The most recent episode features Charles Joyner. His intricate, layered collages meld colors, patterns and symbols inspired by his growing up in rural North Carolina, and his extensive travels to Ghana.

So how is the longtime Carolinian a “Westport artist”?

In 1964, he came to Westport through an American Friends Service program that brought 35 Southern students to the North to promote integration. He lived with the Ader family.

After graduating from Staples High School he headed to Iowa State University on a football scholarship, transferred to North Carolina A&T, then earned a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Joyner spent many years as a tenured professor in the North Carolina State University College of Art and Design. He is also an outstanding jazz drummer.

His interview with the “Artists in Residences” program is fascinating. Click below to see. Then click here for all interviews.

(Carole Erger-Fass talks about “Artists in Residences” on WPKN-FM 89.5 “Open Book” show, at noon on November 30.)