Tag Archives: Levitt Pavilion

Memorial Fund, Tribute Concert Honor Charlie Karp

Charlie Karp’s death last week stunned and saddened music lovers throughout Fairfield County. The guitarist/songwriter/teacher/mentor — a free spirit who left Staples High School at 16 to play and record with Buddy Miles, then led a rollicking, music-filled life that included stints with great area bands like White Chocolate and Slo Leak — succumbed to liver cancer. He was 65.

But friends and admirers are making sure his name and legacy live on.

A Charlie Karp Memorial Fund has been established to benefit a promising young area musician every year. In addition to funds, it’s been augmented by generous donations of recording studio time by Carriage House Recording Studios of Stamford and Horizon Recording Studios of West Haven.

Tax-deductible checks made payable to Fairfield County’s Community Foundation (put “Charlie Karp Memorial Fund” in the memo) can be sent to Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, 40 Richards Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854.

Donations may also be made online at www.CharlieKarp.com. Follow instructions under the donation tab.

In addition, arrangements are being made for a memorial concert at the Levitt Pavilion this summer. Nationally recognized and local musicians are already committed. Details will be announced soon..

Other events honoring are being planned too. For more on Charlie Karp, click here.

(Hat tip: Genie Schomer)

Pics Of The Day #686

It wasn’t the biggest snowfall. It shouldn’t have caused as many power outages as it did.

But it sure was pretty.

Here are some scenes, captured around Westport by alert “06880” photographers.

And now — okay. It’s March. We’re ready for some spring shots!

This yard on Roseville Road sparkled (Photo/Gregg Bromberg)

Marion Road (Photo/Anne Bernier)

Winslow Park (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Levitt Pavilion (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Kings Highway Elementary School (Photo/Maggie Gomez)

Playhouse condos, from Winslow Park (Photo/Molly Alger)

Old Mill Beach (Photo/Matt Murray)

The train station last night, in the thick of the storm (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Remembering Mimi Levitt

Annemarie “Mimi” Gratzinger Levitt — patron of the arts and historic preservation, longtime Westporter, and the namesake (with her husband) of the pavilion and organization that has provided free summer entertainment here for over 40 years — died of natural causes earlier today, in New York. She was 97.

Mimi Levitt

The Levitt Foundation sends this obituary:

Known for her intelligence, grace and hands-on approach to philanthropy and activism, Mimi believed in the arts as a source for positive social change and left a lasting legacy of generosity and service to the causes she supported.

Born in Vienna, Austria, Mimi’s childhood was filled with opera and other musical experiences. She emigrated to the United States with her mother at the outbreak of World War II, and soon after attended Pomona College in California. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in French iterature.

Fluent in 5 languages, she was a translator at the Nuremberg trials. I

n 1947, she became senior assistant to Alfred Barr, Jr., the first director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She met rags-to-riches clothier and The Custom Shop founder Mortimer Levitt (1907-2005) at a Manhattan art gallery opening, where they had a spirited debate over a painting (Mimi favored abstraction; Mortimer preferred realism).

Following a brief courtship, they married on June 18, 1948, and together became philanthropists supporting youth music programs, performing arts organizations and educational institutions. Mimi and Mortimer were known for nurturing the careers of aspiring young musicians by hosting salons at their Manhattan brownstone.

An imaginative and meticulous hostess, Mimi threw memorable charity events and family celebrations. She often opened her home to artists and musicians.

In 1963, Mimi and her husband established the Mortimer Levitt Foundation (renamed the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation in 2012 in honor of her contributions). The main focus is to empower communities nationwide to transform underused public spaces into welcoming destinations through the power of free, live music. It now supports free outdoor concerts in 26 towns and cities.

The first Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts opened in Westport in 1974, the result of a community-driven effort to create an outdoor music venue as a community gathering place in the heart of town. As summer residents of Westport, the Levitts gave seminal support to the project and became the campaign’s largest private contributors.

Mimi served on the Levitt Pavilion board for decades, helping the nonprofit flourish and become a community treasure. Following her husband’s passing in 2005, Mimi became president of the Levitt Foundation and supported the growth of the Levitt program nationwide. In 2011, she was honored at the Westport Arts Awards as a “Champion of the Arts.”

Well into her 90s, she attended many Levitt Pavilion events.

The Levitt Pavilion is a Westport treasure. (Drone photo/Dave Curtis, HDFA Photography.com)

An active and loyal benefactor of the Bard Music Festival, Mimi served on the board of directors for 15 years (1998-2013), and for many years underwrote the Festival’s annual opening night dinner. An avid lover of opera, she supported opera workshops in the Conservatory’s Vocal Arts Program directed by Dawn Upshaw and helped commission one act operas. She also funded scholarships for Conservatory students and started the first endowment for the Bard

Music Festival in 2005.

Mimi was also passionately committed to historic preservation. In the 1970s she spearheaded the Neighborhood Association to Preserve Fifth Avenue Houses that successfully championed the creation of the Metropolitan Museum Historic District in New York City, designated in 1977. Her involvement grew from concern about protecting the distinctive character of her Upper East Side neighborhood, which in the 1970s was undergoing significant change.

She was one of the earliest supporters of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and served on its board from 1978-2014. Mimi was honored by the Conservancy in 2011 for her 30 years of service.

Mimi Levitt

In 1995, Mimi and her husband donated 564 acres of wildlife habitat near Half Moon Bay to the Peninsula Open Space Trust in Marin County, California. The second largest gift in the county’s history, it provides an invaluable boost to ecological conservation efforts.

Together with Mortimer, Mimi also supported the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Mercy College, Museum of Television and Radio, New York City Opera, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park Conservancy, The Joyce Theater, New Victory Theater, Lincoln Center’s Film Society, Hunter College, Music Center of Los Angeles, School of American Ballet, American Red Cross, and Young Concert Artists. She was a member of the Mayor’s Commission on Drug Addiction under Mayor Koch, a former trustee of the Town School in Manhattan and the Branch Libraries of the New York Public Library, and a children’s literacy volunteer in Harlem.

A beloved mother, aunt, step-grandmother and step-great-grandmother, Mimi cherished her family and their time together. She is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth “Liz” Levitt Hirsch of Los Angeles,who now serves as board president of the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, and her son, Peter Levitt of New York, who also serves on the Levitt Foundation board.

A private funeral will be followed by a public memorial service, to take place at a later date. For details regarding the public memorial, please email memorial@levitt.org. In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Mimi may be made to the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.

Levitt Pavilion, before the crowds (Photo/Katherine Bruan)

Pic Of The Day #565

Loeffler Field — home of the Staples High School boys and girls soccer teams … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… and Saugatuck River reflections (Photo/Nicola Sharian)

 

Pic Of The Day #545

Red sky this morning (Photo/Nicola Sharian)

Pic Of The Day #522

Levitt Pavilion at low tide (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Blues Views & BBQ News

The Blues Views & BBQ Festival is a uniquely Westport tradition.

And it’s one that reaches far beyond our borders.

Now in its 11th year, the Labor Day weekend event brings Southern- inspired food, nationally recognized music, and good ol’ family fun to downtown.

You may not think of Westport as a blues town. With Bobby Q’s gone, there ain’t much barbecue left.

But the Festival — set for this Saturday and Sunday (September 1-2) — brings out our inner blues and BBQ. It draws thousands of non-Westporters who really understand that kind of music and food to places they otherwise might never go: the Levitt Pavilion, Library parking lot and Imperial Avenue commuter lot.

People come from around the state — New York and New Jersey too — to hear fantastic performers at the Levitt, and on 2 auxiliary stages. This year’s lineup of 20 bands includes funk powerhouse Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Grammy Award winner Fantastic Negrito, Sister Sparrow and Carolyn Wonderland.

Fantastic Negrito comes to the Blues Views & BBQ Festival this weekend.

Blues, Views and BBQ introduces up-and-coming and local talent too, like first-time performers Alpaca Gnomes, Mingo Fishtrap, Cris Jacobs and Ruby Velle & Soulphonics.

All that listening whips up an appetite. A BBQ competition, cooking demos, rib- and pie-eating contests, and plenty of food trucks and stands take care of the heartiest eaters.

Throw in 6 bounce houses, car painting, touch-a-truck, airbrush tattoos and more kids’ fun, and Blues, Views and BBQ is something you just don’t see every day. Particularly in Westport.

Enjoying a great day of blues at the Levitt Pavilion. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

This year, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce takes over the event from the Downtown Merchants Association. They spent 2 years making the transition, so it will be seamless.

This year too, the event has expanded to fill the entire Imperial Avenue lot. Folks will wander from there to the Levitt, library parking lot and back. Fantastic music and amazing BBQ aromas will fill the air.

… and, of course, BBQ in the parking lot nearby.

“06880”‘s tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.” This weekend, Blues, Views and BBQ shows some of the special ways we do it.

(For more information on the Blues Views & BBQ Festival, click here. For tickets, click here.)

Pics Of The Day #496

The Levitt Pavilion, during last night’s Melissa Etheridge concert… (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

… and a closer view. (Photo/Paul Rossi)

Tonight’s show was the last of the 2018 season — its 45th summer, with nearly 60 nights of free entertainment. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

“06880” Readers Pick The Worst Signs In Town

The other day, I posted a photo of my choice for Worst Sign in Westport. The message — “When Flashing School Bus Stopped Ahead” — is both grammatically challenged and bizarre. In Westport, a school bus is always stopped ahead.

I asked “06880” readers to send in their least favorite signs. A wide variety get our goats — and for many different reasons. Here are a few:

(Photo/Eric Bosch)

The Little League diamond on North Compo is not exactly Eric Bosch’s field of dreams. He says:

“There are 64 of these large advertising signs (specifically positioned for maximum road traffic visibility) on Westport town property. I guess the town’s rules aren’t enforced when business ads make money. Get ready to see the political banner-size signs to go up in this space soon.”

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

Chip Stephens does not care for this faded, passive-aggressive sign near Whole Foods near the Norwalk border, “welcoming” drivers to Westport.

(Photo/Brian Porter)

Brian Porter admits that the sign above — at the steps to Old Mill Beach, off Hillspoint Road — may not be the worst. However, it is confusing. “If you ignore one sign, please comply with the other and clean up after Fido,” he writes.

An anonymous contributor sent the image above, from the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. I agree: You should definitely not park that way, ever.

(Photo/Chris Woods)

For over a decade, this sign — and the accompanying traffic light — near the VFW at the Riverside/Saugatuck/Treadwall Avenue intersection has been Chris Woods’ pet peeve. Chris adds, “The 3-lights-for-2-lanes going the other direction are equally confusing.”

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

JP Vellotti offers this innocuous-looking sign, from a recent Levitt Pavilion show. He explains: “The au pairs all sat together. The woman in charge brought the sign. Funny, because I’ve been in big groups there. We figured out how to sit together without something that looked like a free ad. At least it wasn’t a politician running for office meet-up!”

Thanks for all the submissions. But I still think mine is the worst:

“Don’t Worry, Honey. I Can Fit In There. Then Just Scoot Out The Driver’s Side Door After Me.”

Spotted — and photographed — by JP Vellotti at Sunday’s Levitt Pavilion show: