Tag Archives: Martin West

Remembering Martin West

Martin West — actor, filmmaker, and for over 20 years the life partner of noted Westport artist Ann Chernow — died December 31. He was 82.

Martin West and Ann Chernow.

He first appeared on stage in New York in 1959, with George C. Scott in “the Andersonville Trial.” He also appeared in over 30 movies. As a documentary filmmaker, West earned an Emmy Award for “The Making of ‘My Fair Lady.'”

His television acting credits included 9 years as Dr. Brewer on “General Hospital,” and stints on “Perry Mason,” “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “Ironside,” “Dallas,” “Highway to Heaven,” “Matlock” and “L.A. Law.”

West moved to Connecticut in 1993. He joined Theatre Artists Workshop of Westport, acting in and directing many productions.

In 1999 Ann Sheffer commissioned him to produce “A Gathering of Glory,” a documentary about the history of the arts in Westport. The film included artist Paul Cadmus, actors Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Christopher Plummer, as well as Keir Dullea — West’s lifelong, and best, friend.

(From left): Dick Moore, Jane Powell, Martin West, Ann Chernow, Keir Dullea.

Over the next several years — while still acting — West became a key figure in the Westport arts scene. He was instrumental in expanding the Theatre Arts Workshop (founded by Dullea in 1983), and was part of the Westport Arts Center.

West’s growing interest in the local visual arts led him to develop a film project about artists over the age of 70, who still worked in Westport and Weston studios.

Years in the Making” (2009) celebrated 50 Westport aand Weston artists — some of them in their 90s — working in oil, charcoal, sculpture, photography and printmaking.

The film — made with fellow Westporter Kristen Fox McKinney — garnered several national film awards.

He also developed separate videos about each of the 50 artists. It’s all available now at the Westport Library.

Martin West (center) with photographer Larry Silver and arts advocate Mollie Donovan.

West continued working on new projects in Westport, including a documentary about his partner in life and art, Ann Chernow.

In addition to Chernow, he is survived by his children Jason Weixelbaum, Allie West and Gabriel West; stepson Paul Mend, and sister Gail Britt.

A memorial service is set for this Saturday (January 4, 2 to 5 p.m., Theatre Artists Workshop [Masonic Lodge], 5 Gregory Boulevard, Norwalk).

In lieu of flowers, donations in West’s name can be made to Theatre Artists Workshop.

 

Years In The Making

You’re sure to hear more about it in the weeks ahead.  But for now, save the date:  Sunday, November 8, 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

That’s when Westporters can see a remarkable new film:  “Years in the Making.”  In just 66 minutes, it pays homage to Westport’s heritage as an arts colony.  It honors 50 Westport and Weston artists, in mediums ranging from oil and charcoal to sculpture, photography and printmaking.

Jean Woodham, 81 (Photo by Kristin Rasich Fox)

Jean Woodham, 81 (Photo by Kristin Rasich Fox)

But it does far more.  All of the artists are over 70 — some well into their 90s.  But as they talk about their art and their lives — their educations, their careers, their creative processes and the lessons they’ve learned from it all — they serve as inspirations for us all.

This is a film about Westport and art, sure, but it’s also about the power of passion, and the potential we all have to keep getting better at whatever we do, every day of our lives.

Filmmaker Martin West — with great help from Ann Chernow, Kristin Rasich Fox and Ada Lambert — has created a work that anyone can relate to, and everyone should see.  There’s more to come — the finished product will include separate hour-long interviews and studio tours with each artist (50 DVDs in all) — but for now, mark your calendars for November 8.

“Years in the Making” has been years in the making — 90-plus, in some cases.  The wait is definitely worth it.

(An exhibit of the 50 artists’ recent works runs through September 7 at the Westport Historical Society.)

The hands of Howard Munce, 92 (Photo by Kristin Rasich Fox)

The artistic hands of Howard Munce, 92 (Photo by Kristin Rasich Fox)