Tag Archives: Darcy Hicks

Wings4Peace Soar In Westport

Sandy Hook. Parkland. Buffalo.

After each new mass shooting, Americans express shock, outrage and sorrow. We think: Now something must change.

When nothing does, we wonder what we can do.

Lorie Lewis and Darcy Hicks are making wings. They want all the rest of us to make them too.

Darcy Hicks, with her “Wings4Peace.”

As communications and marketing director at the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County, Lori knows that the arts have a powerful impact on society. Theater, music and visual art have the power to get people thinking, talking — and eventually, creating change.

After the latest horror, in Uvalde, she had an idea: a nationwide art project, focused on wings.

Wings make things move. They propel us forward, safely and freely. Plus, they’re beautiful.

Lorie messaged David Hogg, the Parkland survivor and Harvard University student who has become one of the nation’s leading advocates for gun safety reform.

He loved the idea. Together, they created Wings4Peace.

The group put out a call to all Americans: “artists, non-artists, students, teachers, builders, artisans and activists.” On the 24th of each month*, from July through October, everyone is encouraged to create pieces of wing-themed public art. All 4 works will be displayed next to each other.

Each piece should incorporate special words, revealed each month on the Wings4Peace website. The first word, for July, was “peace.” The words for August are “in America.” The full message will be revealed at the end, right before the mid-term elections.

“Wings4Peace” in California …

Westport artist and longtime social justice advocate Darcy Hicks is all in.

“Social media is important,” the 1984 Staples High School graduate says. “But public art is live. It’s visual. It’s 3D. It really engages people.”

“Public art” is just that. It can appear on trees, ladders, poles,  fences, bridges, windows, yards, walls, sidewalk or rocks.

It can be any medium: a billboard, canvas, sculpture, projection, chalk or anything else.

… and Virginia.

Hicks’ work is displayed at the Westport Museum of History & Culture. She hopes local artists (and non-artists) will place their wings at spots like the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, Jesup Green, Veterans Green, beaches, public parks — wherever Westporters gather.

Among the local artists planning to join in: Miggs Burroughs.

Seeing wings all over Westport — and across America — won’t magically end gun violence. But, Darcy says, raising awareness through this project could lead to concrete action, like voter registration or letter-writing.

At the very least, she notes, “it will show kids that their community cares.”

Wings4Peace is not about taking away guns, she adds. It’s about safety.

“I haven’t met any gun owner or 2nd Amendment proponent who thinks that mass shootings are okay, or who wants children killed.

“This is a way for us to reflect, and hopefully act, in a positive way.”

*The 24th is the anniversary of the Uvalde shooting.

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“Rally Against Regression” Draws Hundreds To Bridge

For the 3rd time in less than 2 months, hundreds of residents thronged the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, to show support for reproductive rights.

(Photo/Charlie Scott)

This time, they protested what they only feared twice before. On Friday, the Supreme Court declared Roe v. Wade — for 49 years, settled law affirming a right to abortion — unconstitutional.

(Photo/Charlie Scott)

The rally marked the second time that Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman Jim Himes delivered forceful remarks about a woman’s right to choose to a Westport crowd.

Congressman Jim Himes speaks. Senator Richard Blumenthal and rally organizer Darcy Hicks look on. (Photo/Charlie Scott)

Other speakers included Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewiez, Governor Ned Lamont’s wife Annie, State Representative Stephanie Thomas, and DefenDemocracy rally co-organizer Darcy Hicks.

They spoke against a backdrop of flags of 193 nations — part of Westport’s annual jUNe Day celebration yesterday.

(Photo/Charlie Scott)

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker — who issued a statement yesterday affirming her commitment to protecting women’s rights to choose — was among the large crowd.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, at today’s rally. (Photo/Charlie Scott)

Protestors included men as well as women, and families with young children.

(Photo/Charlie Scott)

(Photo/David Vita)

They were all ages, too.

(Photo/David Vita)

(Photo/Charlie Scott)

Crowds gather early, on both sides of the bridge. (Drone photo/Charlie Scott)

(Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

(Photo/Charlie Scott)

(Drone photo/Charlie Scott)

(Photo/Charlie Scott)

Many drivers honked in support. This one had their own sign. (Photo/David Vita)

(Photo/Charlie Scott)

Hundreds Rally For Abortion Rights

Galvanized by news that the Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, 500 people gathered in downtown Westport today.

The crowd on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge included women and men; girls and boys; parents, grandparents and grandchildren, and Governor Lamont, Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Himes.

A portion of the crowd, near the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. Congressman Jim Himes (center, behind the blonde woman) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (right, blue jacket) mingled with attendees.

They held signs. They chanted. They cheered when passing drivers honked in support.

They listened intently to speakers — not just politicians, but two obstetricians, and women with close experience with illegal abortions.

Educator Joy Colon addresses the crowd. Signs held up behind describe resources to help women in states with restrictive abortion laws.

Lamont — who will sign a first-in-the-nation bill protecting medical providers and patients seeking abortion care here, and expanding the type of practitioners eligible to perform abortion-related care in the state — noted that the downtown bridge is the site of many rallies. He called it “the conscience of Connecticut.”

“Keep your hands off our women, our doctors, our justice,” he warned those seeking to curtail abortion rights.

Lamont introduced State Representative Matt Blumenthal, who was a driving force behind the new Connecticut law, also spoke.

Blumenthal introduced his father. The US senator said he was “proud to be in this fight for decades.”

The crowd included many young people — including boys.

Himes said that people who “claim to be conservative want to overturn 50 years of settled law.” He praised 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker — standing at the front of the crowd — as a Republican ally. 

(From left): Governor Lamont and Senator Blumenthal listen to Congressman Jim Himes.

Rally organizer Darcy Hicks then noted that it was time for women to speak.

Rally organizer Darcy Hicks

Dr. Janet Lefkowitz — a Westport native, Staples High School graduate, and prominent OB/GYN and assistant professor at Brown University who provides abortion care in Southern states — recounted her difficult experiences in Mississippi and Alabama. She did not become a doctor to get involved in politics, she said — but it has become part of her patient care.

Fellow OB/GYN Dr. Shieva Ghofrany of Stamford said that people who are pro-choice “truly honor the living.” Noting that comprehensive sex education reduces unwanted pregnancies, she urged those who are pro-life to embrace education, maternal leave, and contraception.

Teacher and Trumbull Town Council member Joy Colon spoke of the impact of overturning Roe v. Wade on people of color. “People who look like me should not die because they don’t want to be pregnant,” she said.

(All photos/Dan Woog)

“Today, We Are All Ukrainians”

For decades, the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge and Jesup Green have been the site of political rallies.

Many are controversial: Vietnam. Iraq. Black Lives Matter.

Today’s drew more than 200 people, in a united show force. Democrats, Republicans, independents; men, women, children; Americans, Ukrainians, and immigrants centuries ago and yesterday from many other lands; a US Senator, a Congressman, and their constituents.

Congressman Jim Himes and Senator Richard Blumenthal, with constituents. One had a very pointed message. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

All had one message: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is abhorrent.

Holding signs supporting Ukraine, denouncing Vladimir Putin, and bearing QR codes with ways to support the invaded nation, they stood quietly but purposefully.

Listening intently at Jesup Green. (Photo)Susan Woog Wagner)

The past week has shocked the globe. In nearly every nation, people have gathered to express outrage and sorrow, and show solidarity.

Senator Richard Blumenthal met Ukrainian President Valodymyr Zelensky 6 weeks ago. “Putin has badly miscalculated this man,” Blumenthal said.

Senator Richard Blumenthal addresses the crowd. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Blumenthal added that he told Zelensky, “Your values are America’s values. And today, we are all Ukrainians.”

Congressman Jim Himes called Russia’s invasion “something we did not think we’d see in this century, or this world. This is not a distant fight. Our parents fought against communism. Our grandparents fought against fascism. It’s time now for us to do our part.”

Many came dressed in Ukrainian colors. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker said: “Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine as they fight for their country, their democracy and their lives. Their incredible courage and resolve, and that of President Zelensky and the Ukrainian government, has galvanized and inspired the world – and Westport.”

Other speakers included Westporter Stephan Taranko, who described the terrors his Ukrainian family felt previously at the hands of the Russian government, and Yaroslav Palylyk, president of the Westchester chapter of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.

Some attendees noted their Ukrainian roots, or of similar heritage.

Other nations have suffered under Russian rule too. These Georgians showed solidarity on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

This was not a large demonstration, like Times Square or Berlin. It did not require the bravery of last weekend’s protests in the streets of Moscow.

But it was Westport’s way of showing that we do not live in a bubble. And of doing our part to let the Ukrainian people know that we are one town among many that stands with them.

Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas and his daughters were at today’s rally, with a sunflower. It’s the national flower of Ukraine. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

(Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Darcy Hicks (shown here with her husband Josh Koskoff) helped organize today’s rally. Darcy’s brother Tyler Hicks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer, is chronicling the devastation.  (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Miggs Burroughs — who is of Ukrainian descent — holds a sign he designed. The QR code opens a link for donations to help Ukrainian relief organizations. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

(Photo/Jimmy Izzo)

The crowd on Jesup Green (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

(Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Saugatuck Elementary School students joined in too. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Westport artist Mark Yurkiw — whose parents fled the Ukraine in 1949 — decorated the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge with fabric. Blue and yellow are Ukraine’s national colors. (Photo/Dan Woog)

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Preach! (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

(Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Waiting Anxiously: Lynsey Addario And Tyler Hicks’ Loved Ones

As the news from Ukraine grows increasingly dire, the world relies on journalists and photographers to report what is happening.

Two of the best photojournalists are the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize winners Lynsey Addario and Tyler Hicks. Both are — incredibly — Staples High School graduates, just 3 classes apart (1991 and ’88).

They’ve reported from the globe’s most dangerous spots: Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and many more. This may be their most treacherous assignment yet.

Both are there because they want to be. But that does not make things any easier for their relatives here in Westport.

“It’s very tough,” admits Camille Addario, Lynsey’s mother. “To think that this fearless little girl has been all over the world, documenting tragedies.

“‘It’s what I do. Anything can happen anywhere,’ she always says. So I can only pray and support her, and hope that she gets home safely to her husband and 2 boys, and everyone who cares for her. The last thing she needs is guilt from her mother and sisters.”

Lauren, Lynsey, Lisa and Lesley Addario.

Lynsey FaceTimed Camille on Wednesday. She said the Times had put her up in a safe hotel.

However, Camille says, yesterday she moved to a more perilous spot.

“That’s Lynsey,” her mother says. “She’s right there.”

Camille does not watch much coverage of the conflict. Instead, she says, “I hope and pray that my mother is looking down, and has her hand on Lynsey’s shoulder. She’s always been her protector.”

Lynsey’s grandmother Louise Bonito died in November 2020 — at 107.

Louise “Nonnie” Bonito, surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Camille is in the front row, second from left.

Camille calls herself “blessed” by the support of family and friends. She has received many calls and texts. She thanks everyone for thinking of her and Lynsey.

And, she says, “like everyone, we’re just waiting for this awful thing to end.”

Waiting for trains out of the city at the main station in Kramatorsk yesterday. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for The New York Times)

Not far from Camille’s home, artist Darcy Hicks worries too. Her brother is Tyler Hicks.

“My mother, being an artist, brought me and her brother up with imagery. What you see in front of you, and how it makes you feel — that’s just true.

“So I think he and I both found ways — very different ways. — to express ourselves through imagery.

Tyler Hicks

“People are surprised when I tell them that Tyler is really not at all political, partly because he’s my brother [Darcy is active in progressive politics] and partly because he’s always covering warfare, which is of course politics.

“But he truly goes in with no preconceptions about the story he’s going to tell. He can’t go in looking for some piece of evidence that proves his point, ignoring the stuff that challenges his ideals.

“He just looks through the lens and shows us what is really going on. Imagine if we could all communicate that way. Seeing the gray, instead of finding a corner and an enemy.

“I’m very proud of him. But I will wring his neck when he gets out of there. Today, the world feels very unsustainable.”

In 2015, Camille Addario was interviewed by Time magazine about being the mother of a “war photographer.” Click here to read.)

Families boarding evacuation trains in Kramatorsk yesterday evening, bound for Kyiv and Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine. (Photo/Tyler Hicks for New York Times)

People. Politics. Planet.

People. Politics. Planet.

Everyone talks about those topics. Soon, a pop-up exhibition will bring those controversial topics downtown Westport — and everyone’s screen, anywhere in the world.

The show — called “2020: People Politics Planet” — opens at 23 Jesup Road (next to Green & Tonic) this Saturday (October 3). It will be available online too, at www.2020pppwestport.com.

Local artists Amy Kaplan, Darcy Hicks and Janine Brown organized the exhibit, which includes artists from all over southern Connecticut. They wanted a forum for artists to be heard on themes like climate change, political division, racial oppression and COVID-19 — and a place where others could contribute to the conversation.

2020 Collage #3 (Kerry Long): photography, film scans.

“Throughout history, artists have helped society to make sense of the world,” the organizers say.

“Artwork creates opportunities for communities to engage in safe dialogue. Some of us need the escape of beauty, and others need to feel the power of bold expression.

“This exhibit is a response to the need for humanity and closeness during a time of isolation and uncertainty when it has become clear to many of us how connected we really are. We turn to the arts to help us make sense of all that we are witnessing and experiencing, to teach us things we do not know, and cannot put into words easily.”

“As we confront the realities of the world we have created, now is the time to engage in productive conversations that create understanding among each other. Sometimes art can be a starting point for difficult conversations, and it is the hope of the organizers that this exhibit will show viewers something that is thought provoking or recognizable, even though we may have different experiences.”

“Listen BLM” (kHyal): assemblage with 100% recycled and upcycled objects,

The Drew Friedman Community Arts Center and Artists Collective of Westport sponsor the exhibit. The Westport Library is involved too, planning additional programming to continue the conversation.

Over 140 works were submitted; 35. Another 32 are on the website. Artists include:

  • Alicia Cobb
  • Dereje Tarrant
  • Guy Sealey
  • Jerri Graham
  • Kerry Long
  • kHyal
  • Louise Cadoux
  • Margaret Roleke
  • Mia Lipstick
  • Steven Parton
  • Trace Burroughs
  • Liz Squillace.

The gallery will be open Thursdays (2 to p.m.), and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (12 to 6 p.m.) through November 30. Masks are required, and capacity will be limited.

To continue the conversation: Comment on Instagram (@2020PPPwestport). Or create your own art, and tag it: #2020PPPwesetport.

“America is Full of Plastic” (Louise Cadoux): Mixed media sculpture.

After The Protests: Here’s How To Help

Sunday’s “United Against Racism” protest on Jesup Green was powerful and important.

But many of the several hundred attendees left feeling helpless. What can we actually do, besides march and speak? they wondered.

Darcy Hicks heard them. the co-organizer of the event — and a longtime social justice advocate — says, “I’m a big believer in protests and rallies. But not if they just stop there.”

On Monday, she went to work. She compiled a list of ways to help.

Downtown Bridgeport — there’s a lot going on.(Photo/Gary Pivot)

She focused on Bridgeport because she and her husband — attorney Josh Koskoff — both work there.

“We love the people,” Darcy says. “It’s a vibrant city with amazing history – yet 40% of children live below poverty level.

“Having a foot in both Westport and Bridgeport makes me realize that if all of us had that experience, we would think about their needs more. It’s hard to remember people in need of you don’t know them, or even see them.”

So, Darcy says, in addition to rallies and protests — or instead of, if you are concerned about COVID-19 — here is what you can do:


1. Drive to Bridgeport. It’s not far. It’s part of our extended neighborhood — and it’s important to interact in any way we can.

If you’ve been braving Starbucks, go to Bean N Batter instead one day. Treat yourself to waffles — available for curbside pickup. BONUS: It’s owned by Staples grad Will Hamer.

Instead of going to Dunkin’, surprise your family with a box of the real thing from Daybreak Doughnuts. Tired of the usual takeout? Wait until you feast on Brazilian churrascaria from Pantanal

2. Online shoppers: Here’s a better way to support your habit! https://www.fastcompany.com/…/7-black-owned-businesses-to-s…

3. Give. I know, some people say it’s inappropriate to ask for money these days. But for those of us fortunate enough to fill our carts with 700 rolls of toilet paper, we can spare something. The ACLU is always a good place to donate. So are https://bailproject.org and www.campaignzero.org.

Here’s a list of state and local organizations I’ve compiled, with the help of BPT Generation Now! (an amazing group of people, who are making great changes in Bridgeport):

Black Lives Matter
CTCore
Citywide Youth Coalition
Hearing Youth Voices
Students 4 Educational Justice
Connecticut Students 4 a Dream
Make the Road CT
Adam J. Lewis Academy
Neighborhood Studios

Some very happy Adam J. Lewis preschoolers.

4. Join these Facebook groups:
https://www.facebook.com/…/Justice-for-Jayson-155481706457…/
https://www.facebook.com/noahcalebfreedom/
https://www.facebook.com/nhvcrb/

5. When the quarantine is lifted and you find yourself filling your day back up with exercise classes, pick a day to volunteer for the Bridgeport Public Schools. They need visiting readers! https://www.bridgeportedu.net/SVAB.

Or volunteer to teach English to women at Mercy Learning Center. Or help kids with their homework at The Caroline House.

There’s so much more that can be done. If you know of more ways to close the socioeconomic gap that exacerbates racism and inequality in this area, please click “Comments” below.

Hundreds Unite Against Racism

Jesup Green — Westport’s historic site for anti-war, gun violence and other protests — drew several hundred people of all ages to another, this afternoon.

Organized in less than 48 hours following the national reaction to the death of George Floyd, it was as passionate as any in the past. But — coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — it also marked the first large gathering here since mid-March. Masks were mandatory. Speeches were short.

But the message was powerful.

Organizer Darcy Hicks noted “the tension between wanting to stay home and keep the community safe, and the bubbling need to do something.”

RTM member Andrew Colabella and civic activist Darcy Hicks.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas read yesterday’s statement from his department condemning Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis officers.

Then he went further.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas (far right) with, from left, TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. The town’s other 2 selectman were there too.

He apologized personally to the Floyd family, for the way their loved one was treated by police.

“I am never embarrassed, and always proud, to wear this uniform,” Koskinas said. “But Mr. Floyd’s death was devastating to this department.”

He then introduced Harold Bailey, TEAM Westport chair. The head of the town’s multicultural committee said that for every George Floyd, there are “thousands of other victims, in the dark and out of sight.” Indifference, he said, is just another way of sanctioning such acts.

Bailey added that TEAM Westport is partnering with the police, Westport Library, Interfaith Clergy Association and schools, on community forums and projects.

Hicks spoke last. “As a white, privileged person, I am complicit in the death of George Floyd and others,” she said.

“I have not always been engaged in fighting racism and economic inequality.” It is not enough to be “not a racist,” she said. “People have to do things.”

 

The protest ended with a long moment of silence: 4 minutes, 23 seconds. But, Hicks noted, that was only half the amount of time George Floyd’s neck was pinned underneath a police officer’s knee.

The silence seemed to go on forever.

And it spoke volumes.

(Photo/David Vita)

(Photo/David Vita)

(All photos/Dan Woog unless otherwise noted)

I’ll Take “Art For $200.”

Artists sustain us in tough times. But these days, artists (and arts organizations) are in dire straits themselves.

Of course, artists are creative. (Duh.) So leave it to several of them to create a way to help themselves, arts groups — and all the rest of us.

At a time when some folks are not making money, and others have nothing to spend money on, #ArtsAliveWestport draws us all in.

Artists Amy Kaplan, Liz Leggett and Darcy Hicks, along with 3rd Selectwoman Melissa Kane, have a simple plan. Artists offer their work (priced no higher than $200).

When they reach $1,000 in sales, they invest 20% back to the arts by buying a work from another artist, or donating to a local arts non-profit (for example, The Artists Collective of Westport, MoCA Westport, Westport Country Playhouse, Beechwood Arts, Westport Community Theater, Levitt Pavilion, Connecticut Alliance for Music, Fairfield County Alliance for the Arts, or others).

Artists post an image of their work on Instagram or Facebook, with details like price, materials and dimensions, plus the hashtag #ArtsAlivewestport.

Buyers search for art using that same hashtag — #ArtsAliveWestport — on Instagram and Facebook. Available works show up in their feed. They can contact the artist directly (direct message or in the “Comments” section) to arrange purchase, payment, and pickup or shipment.

Art of all kinds is available through the #ArtsAliveWestport hashtag.

During last year’s exhibit, Kaplan says, artists and community members came together to experience art and exchange ideas. Now, during the pandemic, they’ve found solace in their studios — but miss the “sharing, the conversations and the connections that we search for by making that art.”

This project excites her because it “wraps back again, strengthening bonds as artists re-invest back into the community.”

The hashtag “conveys the vitality of our arts scene, and the continuity of that thread in the fabric of our town.”

Hicks adds, “When art and money are traded this way, the whole local economy benefits. And our spirits are lifted when we buy art. It is an intimate way of sharing and supporting each other.”

Leggett says #ArtsAliveWestport resembles the “6 degrees of separation” idea that always comforts her. “We have more in common than not,” she notes. “Connections that may seem small can emanate throughout this world. In this time of isolation and uncertainty, that idea is crucial for well-being — individually, and as a community.”

Questions? Email artsalivewestport@gmail.com, or call 646-299-6167.

#WestportConnected: What A Way To Start The Week!

What began as a little idea — hey, let’s make a video to connect Westporters! — has turned into something big and bold.

And very, very cool.

In just one week, 5 passionate Westporters

  • Honed their concept
  • Put out the word
  • Got submissions, and
  • Created a video that everyone should watch right now. Or at least, within the next few minutes.

The first video — released this morning — shows a wide array of Westporters. Through photos and videos, they provide messages of hope; offers their services as therapists, piano teachers, lawyers, Pilates instructors and Zoom party planners; give thanks to heroes, and talk about pets. There’s even a much-needed dose of humor.

This is the first of several “WestportConnected” videos. I’m sure it will spread like, um, a virus, and many more folks will join in.

Thank you Marcy Sansolo, Darcy Hicks, Lisa Newman, Jaime Bairaktaris and Melissa Kane.

Now click below. Connect. And smile!

Have a message of good energy, love or support? Want to advertise your business’s creative deal? Send along a submission for next week’s video: westportconnected@gmail.com.