Tag Archives: Leonard Everett Fisher

Roundup: Wreaths, Annie, “Light A Fire” …

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Every year, the Westport Garden Club creates wreaths for 18 town properties.

Members gather natural elements from their own gardens to create unique designs that they display on town buildings and non-profit organizations, from the ABC House and Gillespie Center to Earthplace.

One recipients — the Westport Museum for History & Culture — houses club archives dating back to 1924. It’s also the site of an Outdoor Winter Market tomorrow (Saturday, December 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), where 25 original wreaths will be on sale to the public. Proceeds will help continue their projects around town.

Westport Garden Club members, with their gorgeous wreaths.

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The sun is not out very long these days. But it comes out this weekend for Bedford Middle School’s production of “Annie.”

The show opens tonight (Friday, December 3, 7:30 p.m.), then continues tomorrow (Saturday, December 4, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and Sunday (December 5, 2 p.m.).

The school’s first stage production since COVID will draw raves. For tickets, click here.

Plenty of action in “Annie.” (Photo/January Stewart)

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Moffly Media’s annual “Light a Fire” celebration of local heroes is always inspiring. The event honors Fairfield County residents who go above and beyond, to make a difference in the lives of others.

Last night’s honorees included Matt Jordan. The Staples High School senior works tirelessly on behalf of Kids in Crisis, helping other teens whose lives are less fortunate than his own.

The livestreamed ceremony was hosted by Weston actor and animal rights activist Jim Naughton. Click below to see. (Matt’s presentation begins at 29:22.)

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On stage last night at the Westport Library: noted restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson.

He was interviewed by CBS News justice and security correspondent (and 1988 Staples High School graduate) Jeff Pegues. It was part of the library’s compelling Trefz Newsmakers conversation.

The only thing missing: some of the chef’s creations.

Jeff Pegues (left) and Marcus Samuelsson. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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In this season of joy and good cheer, MoCA Westport took time last night to acknowledge serious issues: human right violations.

The panel discussion was part of programming for the museum’s “When Caged Birds Sing” exhibition.

(Photo/Leslie LaSala)

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Among next week’s highlights at the Westport Library:

Cartoonist Roz Chast and artist Karla Knight chat — and answer audience questions — in conjunction with Knight’s first solo museum exhibition (Tusday, December 7, 7 p.m.). Click here for both in-person and livestream tickets.

A reception for Leonard Everett Fisher’s exhibit, “A Life of Art,” is set for Thursday (December 9, 7 p.m.). He’ll speak about his work. The public is invited.

Leonard Everett Fisher

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Across Jesup Green from the library: Photographer Fruma Markowitz is this month’s featured artist at the Westport Book Shop.

She shows part of “Sara’s Trousseau,” an installation of 9 Cyanotype prints and collages of teacups she inherited from her mother, and crocheted and embroidered linens found at flea markets and tag sales.

Markowitz is a member of the Artists Collective of Westport. Her work is on display at the back of the used book shop, on Jesup Road.

Fruma Markowitz, and her photos.

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This shoe sure gets around. It’s been spotted — and photographed — at the Compo beach boardwalk, playground and concession stand. Now it’s made its way to the most iconic spot of all.

What’s next? Stay tuned!

(Photo/Jean Stevens)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” shot is a very serene one, of a favorite sight: Sherwood Mill Pond.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … to honor Matt Jordan and his “Light a Fire” award (above):

 

Memorial Day Photo Gallery: Part 2

Thanks to all who submitted photos of today’s Memorial Day parade and ceremony. I received hundreds, and can’t run them all.

Today meant a lot to Westporters. It touched our hearts. It made us think about who we are, and what we want to be. And it made us deeply proud of our neighbors, our community, and all who have sacrificed to make this day possible.

World War II veterans like Joe Schachter had a special place of honor … (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

… and there were several cars with them. (Photo/Molly Alger)

Navy veteran Rick Benson (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Leonard Everett Fisher (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Bill Vornkahl — a Korean War veteran — has organized over 65 Westport Memorial Day parades. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Boy Scouts honor the flag. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

The Fire Department held its annual ceremony, honoring its members who have served. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

1st Selectman Jim Marpe leads the political contingent … (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

… and the Blue Jays follow. (Photo/Whitney D’Angelo)

The Westport Paddle Club’s float echoed this year’s parade theme: Honoring Women in the Military. The WPC won “Most Creative Float” honors. (Photo/Robbie Guimond)

A Revolutionary War soldier (with sunglasses), aka Miggs Burroughs. One youngster — who really needs to learn history — asked, “Is he a pirate?” (Photo/Dan Woog)

Proud veterans, proud Westporters. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Besides publishing (and taking photos for) Westport Local Press and working as an educator Jaime Bairaktaris volunteers as an EMT. He marched proudly with them today — and wore out his shoes. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Remarkable Theater founder Doug Tirola (left) and Marine Corps veteran Michael Calise share a taste in shirt themes. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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.)

Happy 95th Birthday, Leonard Everett Fisher!

Leonard Everett Fisher is a Westport icon.

One of our our town’s most cherished artist/illustrators, he’s designed 10 US postage stamps. His works hang in the collections of the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Yale Art Gallery and New Britain Museum of Art.

He’s also a World War II veteran. Between 1942 and ’46, as a topographical mapmaker he planned, edited and produced maps for campaigns in Italy, France, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the aborted invasion and occupation of Japan. In 2013 he served as grand marshal of Westport’s Memorial Day parade.

A longtime Westporter, Fisher just turned 95. Last night, at the Westport Arts Center — of which he’s a founding member, past president and current board member — friends, fans and family members celebrated his birthday.

Leonard Everett Fisher, last night at the Westport Arts Center.

Fisher has seen the WAC in and through many incarnations, from an itinerant organization, to its home at the then-closed Greens Farms Elementary School, to its current home on Riverside Avenue.

Now, the Westport Arts Center is on the move again. It will relocate soon to new digs at 19 Newtown Turnpike.

Fisher looks forward to being there for the grand opening. And for many shows and events to come.

Leonard Everett Fisher’s “GI Jews” Film Airs Nationally

Leonard Everett Fisher is a Westport icon.

One of our our town’s most cherished artist/illustrators, he’s designed 10 US postage stamps. His works hang in the collections of the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Yale Art Gallery and New Britain Museum of Art.

At 93 — and a member of the Westport Arts Center’s board of directors — he’s working hard to create a Westport Artists Museum at Baron’s South.

But just as important to Fisher was his service in World War II. Between 1942 and ’46 he was a topographical mapmaker. He planned, edited and produced ground maps for invasions and campaigns in Italy, France, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the aborted invasion and occupation of Japan.

Leonard Everett Fisher at Westport’s Memorial Day last year.

More than 70 years after the war, his contributions are finally drawing national attention.

This Wednesday (April 11, 10 p.m.), PBS airs “GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II.” Fisher is one of the interviews in the film.

He’s in good company. Henry Kissinger, Mel Brooks and other Jewish Americans — some famous, others unknown — share their experience as part of the 550,000 men and women who fought for their nation, struggled with anti-Semitism in their ranks, and emerged transformed, to fight for equality and justice at home.

The film has already been shown at the Westchester Jewish Film Festival, and the Center for Jewish History. It will be screened this Tuesday (April 10), at the JCC Manhattan.

Fisher is one of the oldest living World War II veterans in Westport. Every one has an intriguing story.

But only Fisher’s will be told on national television this week.

(For more information on “GI Jews,” click here.)

Jarret Liotta’s Movies Hit Home

Jarret Liotta has a love-hate relationship with Westport.

After college, the Staples High School graduate spent years in Los Angeles. The journalist was a regular New York Times correspondent, and contributed to 100 publications.

But in 2008, he returned to give his kids some suburban experience.

Now — with nearly a decade back home, as a freelance writer and photographer — he’s gained a new appreciation for Westport’s uniqueness. He’s deepened old relationships, and made new acquaintances.

Jarret Liotta

“Sad to say, many of us are so paralyzed by the fear-based myths of being ‘practical’ that we shun the directions our hearts want to lead us,” he says.

“Instead we waste time talking ourselves into believing we’re happily situated in our work life.”

Two years ago, he decided to go all-in pursuing film and video — interests he’d had since dabbling in them decades ago at Coleytown Junior High.

He wrote “Home Movie,” a feature-length dark comedy. Filmed entirely in Westport, it’s the story of a young woman’s trip back to her hometown after her father dies.

But the title also refers to the help Liotta got from many local people and groups, including the Westport Woman’s Club, Senior Center, Police Department, Kaia Yoga, 323 restaurant, Gold’s Deli, even the Harding Funeral Home.

A Kickstarter campaign — running through Thanksgiving — will help him place “Home Movie” in film festivals.

A scene from “Home Movie” …

While working on that project, Liotta talked with Bill Harmer. The Westport Library director mentioned that his previous library in Michigan was involved with films on local subjects.

Bob Mitchell of the Westport Historical Society heard that Liotta was interested in a Westport-based documentary. He suggested veterans.

“I’ve always been a dove,” Liotta says. “I’ve had relatively set ideas about the military, and what I imagined was a typical veteran.”

But he liked the idea. After each interview, his impressions evolved.

“On a personal level, it was very enlightening,” he explains. “I found myself understanding many positive aspects about the involvement I wouldn’t otherwise have considered.”

… and one from his veterans’ documentary.

Liotta started with World War II veterans, including well-known Westporters Leonard Everett Fisher, Ted Diamond and Bob Satter. Some he knew personally. Others, he says, “I had the good fortune to meet.”

While he still considers any kind of military machine “repugnant” — though “perhaps necessary” — he now has a different perspective on those who choose to serve.

“The people I interviewed seem to recognize the tremendous value in living a service attitude — giving back or taking responsibility to help their larger community,” Liotta says.

“That’s a brilliant and honorable concept. To me, that’s really the core reason to honor veterans.”

Right now, Liotta is editing the film. It’s called “Community & Country: A Spirit of Service.” It will be shown at Town Hall on Monday, November 13 (7 p.m.)

He hopes the library and Historical Society will make copies available after it’s screened.

That will be their — and his — way of giving back, just as our veterans have done.

Leonard Everett Fisher: Back In Charge, Backing The Arts

In 1965, Ruth Steinkraus Cohen began organizing a community-wide arts council.

But the Westport philanthropist/activist focused primarily on music. Noted illustrator Leonard Everett Fisher urged her to include the visual arts.

Cohen had been invited to testify in Hartford, on hearings about establishing a statewide arts commission. She invited him to come along.

Those discussions led to the formation of the Westport Arts Council — one of the first in any town, anywhere. Cohen served as chair. Fisher was an original board member, and its 2nd president.

But the executive director was “a total failure,” Fisher recalls. “We never got much traction.”

He turned his energy to the Westport Library. He served 3 terms as president, and helped plan the “new” building, on the landfill site near the Levitt Pavilion.

Leonard Everett Fisher

The Westport Arts Center, meanwhile, developed and grew on its own. Fisher — busy with his professional and personal life — had little to do with it. He showed his works occasionally. But, as he admits, “I was not a great contributor.”

A while back, then-director Helen Klisser During offered Fisher a one-man retrospective. It was well deserved. In his 70+ year career, Fisher illustrated 250 books for young readers; designed 10 US postage stamps, and had his works shown in the Smithsonian, the New York Public Library, Yale, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and in museums around the world. He’s listed as one of the 2000 Outstanding Artists and Designers of the 20th Century.

The show brought him closer to the WAC. But he still had no time for the board.

A year ago, artist Ann Chernow called. She said that 1st Selectman Jim Marpe had a plan for Golden Shadows — the main house on the town-owned Baron’s South property.

Marpe asked 3rd Selectman Helen Garten to head up a committee to explore restoring the decrepit house as a Westport Artists Museum. Other groups had their eyes on the property too.

The Planning & Zoning Commission eventually gave tacit approval to an arts campus on Baron’s South. But commissioners did not want to deal with multiple entities.

Golden Shadows: the centerpiece of the Westport Arts Center Baron’s South plan.
(Photo/Wendy Crowther)

The Westport Arts Center agreed to take over the museum plan. Who better to help than Fisher?

So — at 93 years young — Fisher has joined the Westport Arts Center board.

If all goes well, he says, the WAC/Baron’s South project can be completed a year from now.

Fisher is in excellent physical shape. His mind is clear and sharp.

“So long as I put one foot in front of the other, this gives me energy and excitement,” he says.

“What we’re doing is wonderful for the town. I think people will be very surprised at what they see.”

At which point Leonard Everett Fisher will do what he’s done ever since moving here, more than half a century ago. He’ll turn his attention to a new project, benefiting the arts and all the citizens of Westport.

Arts Campus On Baron’s South? P&Z Draws The Line.

The Westport Arts Center is a wonderful, vibrant place.

It’s also wholly inadequate.

Essentially one long room on Riverside Avenue — with a spectacular view of the Saugatuck River — it functions as a small studio and gallery. But it can host only one meeting, lecture, concert, class or exhibit at a time.

Given Westport’s long arts heritage — and the interest of so many Westporters, from senior citizens to kids, in art in all its forms — it’s no wonder the WAC has sought more suitable digs.

Last fall, town representatives approached the organization. Would the WAC be interested in preserving and using Golden Shadows — the main building on the southeast corner of 23-acre Baron’s South (named for the perfume developed by its previous owner, Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff) — for exhibits and performances?

Golden Shadows. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

The town soon came back with a new question: Would the WAC like to take over the other 3 long-neglected buildings there too?

Meanwhile, a group of veteran, well-respected local artists and photographers — including Leonard Everett Fisher, Ann Chernow, Miggs Burroughs, Niki Ketchman and Larry Silver — had been meeting regularly to discuss their own idea.

These “deans” of the Westport arts scene wanted a dedicated museum-type space to preserve the town’s artistic legacy.

And at the same time, folks like Burroughs, Westport arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz, RTM moderator Eileen Lavigne Flug and the Westport Historical  Society’s Bob Mitchell were seeking ways to involve the WAC more fully with other arts organizations in town.

The result was a public/private partnership to create a “community arts campus” at Baron’s South.

As presented last night by 3rd Selectman Helen Garten, at a Planning & Zoning Commission pre-application meeting, there would be 3 phases:

  1. The Westport Arts Center would lease and restore Golden Shadows, retaining most of its decorative interior, for use as offices, classrooms and gallery space.
  2. The WAC would lease and restore the  Tudor revival guest house at 70 Compo Road South as additional gallery space.
  3. They would lease the 2 units at 52 and 52B Compo Road South, for use as artists’ residences.

The house next door to Golden Shadows. The plan would have leased it to artists.

“Leasing all 4 buildings to a single user is the best way to ensure minimal impact on the public open space and surrounding neighborhood,” Garten said.

“Instead of 4 separate buildings, each accessed by its own roadway and each with its own use, there will be a single integrated property.” It would function much as the baron’s estate did, decades ago.

However, P&Z members gave the arts campus plan a frosty reception last night. A pre-app meeting is intended to give applicants a sense of what the zoning board feels about a plan. Commissioners insisted that the concept is too intense for the “light use” zoning of Baron’s South. It’s zoned as “passive recreational open space.”

Arts advocates were unsure last night what their next step will be.

Back to the drawing board they go.

A view into Golden Shadows’ central parlor shows a chandelier and handsome circular staircase. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

The town currently owns 72 Compo Road South, on the eastern edge of Baron’s South. This was planned to be gallery space.

Weather Or Not: Memorial Day 2016

The threatened heavy rain never materialized. But the forecast moved today’s Memorial Day ceremony into Town Hall.

An overflow crowd jammed Town Hall, for the Memorial Day celebration. It was powerful, impactful — and for everyone there, from World War II veterans to youngsters born in the 21st century — very, very important.

(All photos by Dan Woog unless otherwise noted.)

Memorial Day - Town Hall flag - 2016

92-year-old Leonard Everett Fisher -- a former grand marshal -- wears his World War Ii uniform proudly.

92-year-old Leonard Everett Fisher — a former grand marshal — wears his World War Ii uniform proudly.

Troop 39 Boy Scouts lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

Troop 39 Boy Scouts lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

Grand marshal Joe Schachter -- a 90-year-old World War II vet -- poses with a patriotic fan. (Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

Grand marshal Joe Schachter — a 90-year-old World War II vet — poses with a patriotic fan. (Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

Grand marshal Joe Schachter asked all the veterans in the auditorium to stand. Two former comrades shook hands.

Grand marshal Joe Schachter asked all the veterans in the auditorium to stand. Bob Satter and Sam Brody delightedly shook hands.

The color guard stands stock still, at attention.

The color guard stands at attention.

A Vietnam veteran takes in the ceremony.

An Army veteran takes in the ceremony.

Bill Vornkahl has been organizing Westport's Memorial Day parade for 46 years. That's about 40 years longer than these fife and drum corps members have been alive.

Bill Vornkahl has organized Westport’s Memorial Day parade for 46 years. That’s several decades longer than these fife and drum corps members have been alive.

Navy veteran John Brandt stands as the Staples High School band plays "Anchors Aweigh"...

Navy veteran John Brandt stands as the Staples High School band plays “Anchors Aweigh”…

...and an Army veteran does the same for "The Caisson Song."

…and Army veteran Sam Brody does the same for “The Caisson Song.”

A Vietnam veteran stands silently in the Town Hall lobby. (Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

A Vietnam veteran stands silently. (Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

Many organizations worked for days on their floats. The parade cancellation was disappointing — but here’s a chance for “06880” readers to see what they missed:

The Westport Woman's Club float included Miggs Burroughs as George Washington (or is it Yankee Doodle?). (Photo/courtesy of Dorothy Curran)

The Westport Woman’s Club float included Miggs Burroughs as George Washington (or is it Yankee Doodle?). (Photo/courtesy of Dorothy Curran)

Westport's state champion 10-and-under softball team, and the 12-and-under runnersup, were all set to march (well, ride).

Westport’s state champion 10-and-under softball team, and the 12-and-under runnersup, were all set to march (well, ride). (Photo/courtesy of Steve Axthelm)

The Y's Men usually win the float competition. This year's theme was "Tomb of the Unknowns." (Photo/courtesy of John Brandt)

The Y’s Men usually win the float competition. This year’s theme was “Tomb of the Unknowns.” (Photo/courtesy of John Brandt)

Finally, if you really missed this year’s parade — take a look at this one video. It’s from 2005, courtesy of Doug Harrison.

Howard Munce Turns 100!

Westport’s famous artists — and Famous Artists School — have come and gone.

The “Mad Men” era — the real 1950s and ’60s ad agency scene, and the TV show celebrating it — are both just memories.

But Howard Munce endures.

Howard Munce, in his 90s. (Photo/Kristen Rasich Fox)

Howard Munce, in his 90s. (Photo/Kristen Rasich Fox)

In a town long known for its great artists, illustrators and painters, he’s a towering figure. Advertising director, graphic designer, sculptor, cartoonist, book author, teacher — and, above all, longtime and beloved civic volunteer — Munce turns 100 on November 27.

The Westport Historical Society — one of the many organizations he’s served so well for so long — has the perfect gift: his own show.

“Howard Munce at 100: A Centennial Celebration” opened June 29. A gala reception is set for this Sunday (July 12, 4-6 p.m.).

Howard Munce at work.

Howard Munce at work.

It’s hard to capture a century of life — and 8 decades of professional work and life in Westport — in the walls of one building. But the WHS tries.

The exhibit is curated by Leonard Everett Fisher, Munce’s longtime friend. In his 90s himself, he’s the perfect choice to organize the show.

There are 2 parts. The Sheffer Gallery showcases Munce’s paintings, drawings, illustrations and sculptures.

The Mollie Donovan Gallery chronicles his Westport connections as a young artist (he first came here in 1935); his military service, when he sent illustrated letters to his Westport artist friend Stevan Dohanos; Munce’s Pulitzer Prize nomination for his essay on the folly of war; his role in a legendary ad campaign for Rheingold beer, and his community involvement.

The exhibit includes documentary films, interviews, photographs by Laurence Untermeyer, and a lenticular photo of Munce by Miggs Burroughs.

It’s dedicated to Munce’s wife Gerry. She died in November, but her memory is vivid to all who knew and loved her.

Howard Munce has worn many hats. (Photo by Brian Ferry for Harry's)

Howard Munce has worn many hats. (Photo by Brian Ferry for Harry’s)

Munce’s resume is beyond impressive. Trained at Pratt Institute, he was a Young & Rubicam art director beginning in the late 1940s — after World War II, when he saw action as a Marine platoon sergeant at Guadalcanal.

Munce is professor emeritus at Paier College of Art; honorary president of the Society of Illustrators in New York City, and an honorary board member of the Westport Arts Center. For over 25 years, he volunteered as graphics director for the Westport Library, and — with Fisher — co-curated the black-and-white drawings by Westport artists in its McManus Room.

But those are facts. Far more important is Munce’s humanity.

Whenever he is asked to help — donating dozens of paintings and illustrations to the Permanent Art Collection; curating exhibits for the WHS; mentoring young artists — he always says “of course.” With a sparkle in his eye, a smile on his face, and a handshake as firm as a 20-year-old’s.

Until a couple of years ago, he clambered up ladders to make sure every exhibit he oversaw was properly hung.

At 99, Howard Munce no longer climbs ladders. Then again, he doesn’t have to.

He long ago reached the top.

BONUS FACT: In 2008, Howard Munce was grand marshal of the Memorial Day parade. Here’s his speech: