Every year, organizers pick 175 artists from around the country. Every mid-July they fill Main Street with their painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood and graphics.
Making the cut is tough. So is the juried competition that follows.
So this year — on July 20 and 21 — the 46th annual event will embrace artists you may not yet have heard about.
But with the Fine Arts Festival’s help, you certainly will.
Plenty of art — and art lovers — at Westport’s Fine Arts Festival.
The WDMA is partnering with the Drew Friedman Foundation and Silvermine Arts Center to highlight 3 young artists.
The Foundation — part of the bequest of the late downtown landlord, restaurateur and arts lover — will award one $3,000 prize, and two more of $1,000 each. Applicants are artists currently enrolled in MFA programs, or recent graduates of one.
The first prize winner in the Emerging Artists Program — chosen by a professional jury — will also be exhibited at Silvermine. The 97-year-old New Canaan organization encompasses an art school, educational programs, artists’ guild, permanent collection and 5 galleries.
This year’s Fine Arts Festival outreach also includes the Westport Library.
In recent years, the Festival coincided with the annual book sale on Jesup Green. Recognizing that the audiences for art and books often overlaps — and that the downtown venues are complementary too — both institutions have strengthened their ties.
Now — with the Library’s transformation project complete — the Fine Arts Festival will set up a tent on the riverwalk. The young artists’ work will be exhibited there on Friday night. There’s a reception in the library’s new café.
They’re invited too to the established artists’ Saturday night reception. Also honored there: several high school student artists, who will receive $5,000 Drew Friedman Foundation scholarships.
WDMA president Randy Herbertson and Silvermine board vice chair Robin Jaffee Frank are excited about the chance to encourage — and showcase — emerging artists.
Check out their work next month. In a few years, you can say “I knew them when.”
(For more information on the Fine Arts Festival, click here.)
For many Westport parents, kids’ activities — sports, arts, organizations, lessons, you name it — are easy to access. And there are gazillions of them.
For parents with special needs children, it’s not as easy. There are many excellent programs, but they can be hard to find.
And even though the PTAs’ SpED (Special Education) committee spreads the word through an info-filled weekly email — including options outside of school, and resources for parents too — plenty of Westporters don’t even know they can join that list.
Some of the programs — here and in nearby towns — are inclusive. Others are adapted, making them attainable to those who did not think they could participate.
So how can parents learn what’s out there?
Westporter Johanna Kiev has compiled a massive database of material. She’s shared it with “06880” — which is honored to offer it to our readers.
(Johanna has also developed a Facebook resource page — click here to see it).
Thanks, Johanna. And everyone: Feel free to forward this far and wide!
About the Westport SpED Committee
Westport SpED PTA committee representatives work closely with each school’s administration, and the district’s assistant superintendent of pupil services. They meet monthly. Co-chairs are Julie McMahon and Kate Grijns.
Members are parents of children who receive special education services. The committee hosts social events and shares information, such as:
Sip ’N Chat – informal parent coffees held monthly at Panera Bread
Community Fun Day each November
Teen Nights at the Westport Weston Family Y
Parent education seminars on topics like “Navigating Your IEP” and “Assistive Technology”
Weekly emails with information about local events and activities, plus summer opportunities and post-high school transition options
The committee also works with local agencies like the Parks & Recreation Department and Westport Library, for advocacy and programming.
To be added to the PTA SpED mailing list — or if you would like to add information about a program not listed below, or are a business that can help — email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Programming Options for Children with Special Needs:
The Westport Weston Family Y sponsors:
Swim Team: The program includes participation in Connecticut Special Olympics summer games. Fee: $100 (September-June)
Basketball: Junior Team (8 -12 years): Saturdays 8:45 to 9:30 p.m.
Senior Team (13+ years): Saturdays 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
This program includes participation in the CT Unified Sports tournament. Fee: $65 (September-February)
Track & Field: This program includes participation in the Connecticut Special Olympics summer games. Fee: $45 (March-June)
Floor Hockey: This began for the first time last month. Fee: $45 (December-March)
Smiles all around on the Y’s Special Olympics swim team.
Special Needs Swim Lessons: The Y offers private and semi-private swim lessons at a greatly reduced rate for children with special needs. Lessons can be booked at any time, but because the pool can get noisy and distracting, instructors are also available during quieter hours (evenings, Fridays, early Saturday and Sunday morning). Rates: Private 30-minute lesson, $25; 2-person 30-minute lesson, $15 each.
Long Distance Running: This program is for children who are interested in completing a 5k (combination of walking and running). Practice times: Tuesdays, 4-4:45 p.m.; Saturdays, 10:45 to 11:30 a.m.
SPED Teen Fun Nights: Offered on various dates.
For more information or to register for any Westport Weston YMCA special needs activity, click here or call 203-226-8981
Earthplace provides necessary resources to allow children to access and enjoy all programming. For more information or to register, click here or call 203-557-4400.
MusicWorks! Individual Music Therapy Sessions for Children with Special Needs
MusicWorks! (Westport School of Music, 18 Woods Grove Road) sessions employ structured and improvised musical activities including singing, instrument playing, rhythm and movement, songwriting, listening, imaging and relaxation to meet individual needs. Activities are specifically designed for cognitive, emotional, psychological, physical and social concerns. They are facilitated by board-certified music therapist Patricia Ashford, who encourages children and adults to express themselves without judgment and to grow in creativity and self-confidence.
For more information or to register, call director Sarah Miller: 203-227-4931.
Music Works! is specially designed for children with special needs.
“Break an Egg – The Social Kitchen”:
Break an Egg – The Social Kitchen” builds the communication skills of people with special needs through the motivating element of food. Each participant in the cooking class prepares a new recipe each week. The fall/winter program includes pumpkin muffins, apple berry salsa with cinnamon chips, garlic and lemon butternut squash noodles, and apple stir fry with whipped cream. Dietary needs can be accommodated.
Classes are taught by licensed speech and language pathologist Shari Goldstein, and Penney Parkes, a food technologist and mom of a special needs young adult.
Classes are held in Fairfield on Tuesdays and Saturdays. They can be held at home kitchens if parents form a group of youngsters to cook together. There are classes for elementary, middle and high school students. A preschool class could be organized too.
The Drew Friedman Foundation: New Arts Program for Kids
The Foundation introduces a pilot youth arts program for children with special needs this month in Westport. The hands-on program, conducted by local artists, includes 10 to 15 children around ages 8 to 16 to work on a mosaic-type project.
Saturdays, 11am to 11:45am (through February 9) at the Westport PAL Rink at Longshore.
Individual and group instruction in basic skills is offered at the Westport PAL Rink at Longshore. Parents are encouraged to skate with their children. The program runs Saturdays through February 9 (11 to 11:45 a.m.). To register, click here.
Little League Baseball – Challenger Program
This program pairs young volunteers with children with special needs. Details on the spring season will be available soon; click here.
Hillary Lipper shares a laugh with Coach Scott, during the 2013 Challenger season.
Circle of Friends
Norwalk-based Circle of Friends includes many Westporters. The organization matches special needs children with teenage volunteers for play dates. The group also organizes monthly gatherings for youngsters with special needs. For more information, click here.
The Jewish Community Center of Stamford
The JCC offers winter programs designed to improve children’s social skills and build positive peer interactions:
Music, Movement & Yoga – fun and interactive for all ability levels.
Music Mania – provides opportunities for children to explore their creativity, using music to improve skills.
Zumba Kids Jr – kid-friendly routines based on original Zumba choreography.
Ready, Set, Move – enables children to engage their muscles by moving through an obstacle course and yoga positions.
(Have we missed any programs? Click “Comments” below!)
It’s already distributed money to Homes With Hope, CLASP, the Westport Arts Center and Westport Historical Society. It has funded art classes and activities for under-served students and young adults. This spring, an art exhibit at the Westport Woman’s Club showcased their work — and included presentations of scholarships to arts colleges.
The newest Drew Friedman Foundation initiative is a series of small art events at Old Mill Beach. The goal is to bring art opportunities and education to community members who are often overlooked.
The first one took place Wednesday afternoon. Clients from Project Return and Homes with Hope — the group home for teenage girls and young women, and Westport’s supportive housing organization respectively — enjoyed a day at the beach.
Making art at Old Mill Beach.
They learned about watercolor painting and shell decoration, with Westport artist Katherine Ross.
Fruma Markowitz showed them how to make contact photo prints with found objects and their own bodies. “The results were amazing,” says Drew Friedman Foundation art advisor Miggs Burroughs.
Some of the finished works.
The day ended with a lavish dinner at Nick Visconti’s Sherwood Mill Pond home. He was Friedman’s longtime business partner (and — importantly, for the food — former owner of Onion Alley. He cooked every dish himself.).
Project Return program director Tessa Gilmore-Barnes says that on the way home, one of the ladies felt “deep contentment.” Though shy at first, she relaxed and loved everything: the art, food, people and setting.
More events are planned, with these and other organizations.
Art is alive and well all over Westport — thanks in part to the late, and very generous, Drew Friedman.
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