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:
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.
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!
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):
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 646-299-6167.
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: email@example.com.
Westporters keep coming up with great ideas to stay connected.
The latest is as simple as its name: WestportConnected.
The goal is to go beyond the usual social media platforms. Organizers Marcy Sansolo, Darcy Hicks, Lisa Newman, Jaime Bairaktaris and Melissa Kane — a who’s who of creative, concerned and well-connected neighbors — invite fellow Westporters to share a message by sending either a photo (of yourself and/or your family and/or pets), or a video (no longer than 10 seconds!).
Want to say hi to everyone? Send a photo! (Photo courtesy of Bob Weingarten)
You can also offer services or support, as a professional or someone willing to help. Just take a photo or video, holding up a poster with what you can do, and your contact info.
Need ideas? Organizers suggest:
Messages of love and support to fellow Westporters
An activity that you or your family is doing to keep sane
Services you can offer for people who can’t leave their homes: lawn work, shopping, outdoor repairs, etc.
Support contacts to get help for depression, spousal abuse, addiction, etc. If you are a professional or sponsor who can offer support, let people know how to reach you
Share lessons via Zoom or other virtual conferencing appointments: music or art lessons, meditation sessions, workout routines, etc.
Are you a therapist who can meet clients online? Let us know!
There aren’t many rules. Just be positive!
Organizers say, “this is an attempt to recover some of the life we’re missing due to quarantine. It’s a reminder for all of us that no one is alone.”
Of course, “06880” is happy to help. Messages will be made into a video — and it will be posted here on Monday (March 30).
Send your photos and videos to WestportConnected@gmail.com. The deadline is 4 p.m. this Friday (March 27).
Connect now. Then get ready to be uplifted on Monday!
The New York Times summed up the full life of a remarkable man in its lead paragraph:
Michael Koskoff, a renowned and dogged Connecticut litigator who defended Black Panthers, won record malpractice awards, mounted racial job-discrimination battles and sued gunmakers whose weapons were used in the Sandy Hook school massacre, died on Wednesday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 77.
The story details many more achievements of the longtime Westporter, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer.
He collaborated with his son Jacob on the screenplay for “Marshall,” the 2017 film about a major civil rights case — in Bridgeport – litigated by future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall. (Click here for the complete “06880” story.)
Michael Koskoff’s son Josh was a partner in their law firm. This photo was taken as they worked on an important gun rights case just a month before Michael died.
With his other son, Westport resident Josh — a senior partner in the law firm Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder — he won an important gun rights case last month. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that manufacturers of guns used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre can be held liable, in a suit brought by victims’ families.
Another celebrated case — involving hiring quotas in Bridgeport for black and Hispanic police officers — led to similar suits elsewhere. The result was more minorities being hired by police and fire departments across the country.
Michael Koskoff also “pioneered the use of vivid courtroom videos delivered in a documentary format,” the Times said.
He is survived by Rosalind Jacobs, his wife of 56 years; sons Josh and Jacob; daughters Sarah (an actress and screenwriter) and Juliet (a lawyer in New York); 2 sisters, and 8 grandsons.
Roz and Michael Koskoff
Michael Koskoff was a very devoted father and grandfather. In a torrent of tributes, some of the most eloquent were posted on social media by those closest to him.
The day after his father died, Jacob wrote:
Over the past 24 hours many have said they are sorry for our loss, and I haven’t been able to pinpoint why that hasn’t sounded right. But the answer is obvious: from the very beginning, it was just so incredibly unfair how fortunate we were to have had him as a father.
A month earlier, on his father’s birthday, Jacob had said:
Soon after he got his diagnosis, my dad and I were walking in downtown Westport waiting for our takeout. It was dark and cold, and he was slow, and I was holding a box of cupcakes — students were raising money for something that I’m pretty sure was never explained to us. For the first time I asked him how he was feeling, in the greater sense. He took one breath and said, “I’m just glad this happened after the movie came out. If it had been before, I’d be seriously pissed.”
He has 8 grandsons, and each one is his favorite.
Eyes on the Prize. Wild Strawberries. Shakespeare at The Public Theater. He took me to see Annie when I was 8. Henry IV parts 1 and 2 a few years later. He is the most unpretentious, socially conscious, opera-loving wine connoisseur you’ll ever meet.
Michael and Jake Koskoff, collaborating on “Marshall.”
We went to dozens of Mets games together. He coached my Little League teams with his friend Terry Smith. They would sometimes pick the batting lineup out of a hat. He knew little about how the game was played and had no business coaching a team of 13-15-year-olds. He’d hit fielding practice and say “third base,” then weakly ground the ball to first. He had devoted himself to the sport, had humbled himself, only to be closer to me. Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around?
Joan Baez taught him how to play the guitar in Harvard Square.
He once lent a car he wasn’t using to an acquaintance. Not even a friend, just someone he knew who needed a car. He never saw the car again. Not only did my dad not report it to the police, but for years he paid the guy’s parking tickets.
What’s the opposite of self-pity? Right, gratitude. That’s his religion: live with grace and kindness, persistence, generosity, and always, whenever possible, with gratitude.
Michael Koskoff and Barack Obama share smiles.
Michael’s daughter Juliet Koskoff Diamond added:
He died as he lived, with grace and gratitude for all the gifts he has been giving. In the end he was surrounded by his family, listening, to Mozart and quoting Shakespeare. He was able to say goodbye and was at peace.
And Josh’s wife, Darcy Hicks, wrote:
My father-in-law, Mike Koskoff, spent 77 years blasting this earth with love and justice. Knowing him made your life easier. He made it easy to become a part of his amazing family. He made it easier to laugh when you thought you weren’t in the mood. He made it easier to see the path to justice when no one thought there was one.
And mostly, he made it easy to love everyone- because through his eyes, empathy spilled and cleaned the view, so everyone who knew him could see how to live better. There’s only one thing he made impossible: doing that deifying thing we do about someone when they die. He just didn’t leave us any room to embellish him.
(Click here for the full New York Times obituary.)
Darcy Hicks, Amy Kaplan, Liz Leggett and Tammy Winser are talented Westport artists. Many of their works address their experiences as women in today’s world.
As they talked last fall, they realized they were creating pieces in response to the Kavanaugh hearings, to stories of abuse, and to the joys, challenges and humor of motherhood.
“F— You, Hormones,” by Tammy Winser.
They also realized that they were keeping some of their work hidden.
“Westport has a long, rich history of art and writing,” Darcy notes. “But it’s small. Unlike New York, there is no security of anonymity.”
The women also realized that even if they took that big step into the open, there was no place to show their work.
Now there is.
On Saturday, April 27, a pop-up show — “Uncovered: What She Hides” — opens at 1 Main Street (the corner of Post Road East, where Calypso once was). It runs through June 1.
“Despite progress, women adhere to an ingrained societal protocol of accommodation and editing,” saysLeggett.
“The art and accompanying events in this exhibit will embolden viewers to converse and connect around shared stories.”
“Untitled,” by Barbara Ringer.
The pop-up show — which also features Westporters Chloe Blythe, Julie Gannon, Sarah Koskoff, Melissa Newman and Barbara Ringer — includes several inter-generational events.
Students from the Women’s Studies class at Staples High School will run an artists’ panel discussion on May 5. There are also coffees, interpretive dance, and an adult drawing and writing class (novices welcome).
“Art generates conversations and compassion,” Hicks says. “While allowing for varying perspectives, it can be the glue that holds a community together.”
(The grand opening celebration is Thursday, May 2, 6 to 8 p.m. A portion of sales throughout the show will be donated to Project Return — Westport’s residence for homeless young women — and the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force. For more information on “Uncovered: What She Hides,” including the schedule of events, click here.)
Yesterday, Richard Blumenthal was in Texas. He toured a border processing center, and a detention center packed with 250 boys.
Today, Connecticut’s senior senator was in Westport. Standing on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, lined with the flags of dozens of nations, he pointed to America’s stars and stripes flying directly overhead.
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal on the Post Road bridge this afternoon. He pointed to the American flag — flying with many others — and said its values are more important than ever.
This country’s values are very important, he said told a crowd of about 100. They gathered to protest President Trump’s immigration policies.
But those values are under attack, Blumenthal continued. And, he warned, darker days may lie ahead.
Before he spoke, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (far left) stood with the crowd on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. They listened as protest organizer Darcy Hicks described the important of speaking up against President Trump’s immigration policies.
The senator spoke of his own father — an immigrant fleeing Nazi Germany. The current president, he said, would have turned that 17-year-old away.
Blumenthal thanked Westporters for caring, and for speaking out and standing up. Those values, he said, are more important than ever.
One of the signs seen at today’s protest.
This message counters the one worn on a jacket his past week, by First Lady Melania Trump. It read: “I really don’t care, do u?” (All photos/Dan Woog)
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