Tag Archives: Miggs Burroughs

“Main Street To Madison Avenue” Opens Tomorrow On Riverside

When the Westport Arts Center announced its next exhibition — “Main Street to Madison Avenue,” honoring Westporters’ involvement in advertising and art over the last 70 years — folks flocked to offer items.

Children, grandchildren and surviving spouses scoured studios, attics and basements to find sketches, paintings and storyboards. WAC officials had expected some interesting submissions. But they were stunned at how much had lain around, unnoticed and untouched for years.

One of the people was Miggs Burroughs. A noted artist and photographer himself, he hauled in his father’s portfolio. In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, Bernie Burroughs was one of those Westporters whose drawings helped influence consumer habits around the country — and eventually the world.

Miggs had not looked at some of his father’s work for decades. The Arts Center staff was fascinated by it.

After a couple of hours, Miggs casually mentioned Bernie’s van Heusen ad campaign — which Andy Warhol later appropriated.

That fit in perfectly with the “Main Street to Madison Avenue theme.” In addition to paying homage to Westporters, the show examines nationally known artists who were influenced by the iconic design and aesthetic of that era.

And when Warhol used Bernie Burroughs’ work, his model was Ronald Reagan.

“That’s the whole point of this show: making those connections,” WAC executive director Amanda Innes says.

“Van Heusen 356,” by Andy Warhol — based on work by Bernie Burroughs.

Miggs had another surprise for the WAC curators. He said that as a child, he’d go to the Westport station with his dad. When the train pulled in, Bernie would hand his portfolio to the conductor — along with some cash.

The conductor delivered it to Bernie’s New York ad agency. That was common practice, Miggs said.

“Conductor,” by Bernie Burroughs, is part of the Westport Arts Center show.

“That’s a great story about trust,” Innes says.

“But it also shows the anonymity of these artists. They created the work, but they didn’t sign them. They weren’t invited to ad meetings. They didn’t even own the art — the agencies did.”

Part of the reason for this show, she says, is to “honor the men who created so much of this iconic imaging and branding.” (And yes, everyone in this show — like nearly all of Madison Avenue then — is male.)

The Arts Center show opens tomorrow (Friday, April 21, reception from 6 to 8 p.m.). On display is original art and advertisements from illustrators like Bernie Burroughs, Al Parker and Bernie Fuchs. Hung alongside are works by artists like Andy Warhol, Walter Robinson and Richard Prince, who appropriated so much of that material.

Westport artist Bernie Fuchs painted this for Pepsi. He also created art for Coke. Both are displayed in the WAC show.

Innes has had a great time — and an excellent education — mounting the exhibit. For example, hearing it was in the works, Harold Levine headed over. He spent 2 hours regaling Innes about his career.

He had a lot to talk about. In addition to co-founding (with Chet Huntley) a legendary ad agency, he knew Warhol when the struggling young artist asked him for work.

Sadly, Levine will not be there tomorrow. He died in February, at 95.

But that gives you an idea of the kind of show it will be.

Part of Jonathan Horowitz’s “Coke/Pepsi,” on display at the Westport Arts Center. He draws upon the work of Andy Warhol — who in turn appropriated advertisements drawn by Westport artists.

Simultaneously, the WAC will showcase 30 works by high school students. The show is juried by treasured Westport artists Ann Chernow and Leonard Everett Fisher.

Tomorrow evening, a Westport student will receive the Tracy Sugarman Award — named for another of our most famous artists.

That award — and the entire show — is a great way to tie our artistic/advertising past in with our consumer culture present. It’s also a chance to highlight the next generation of local artists.

Some day, some may gain fame for their paintings. Some may toil anonymously, but have their works seen by millions.

And — like the professionals featured in the new Westport Arts Center show — some may do both.

(During tomorrow’s opening reception for “Main Street to Madison Avenue,” the video room will run a loop of advertisements — including some from Harold Levine’s agency. The show runs through June 22.)

Artwork, Books — And Miggs Burroughs — Downtown This Weekend

Some things about the Westport Fine Arts Festival never change.

Favorite artists, sculptors, jewelry-makers and photographers return, with familiar work in an intriguing variety of styles. Westporters and visitors flock downtown; there is music and food. The weather is hot.

Some things are always different. There is new artwork. New bands play.

This year too, the Westport Library‘s new artist-in-residence lends his presence — and talents — to the 43rd annual Fine Arts Festival (Saturday and Sunday, July 16-17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Parker Harding Plaza).

Miggs Burroughs' official Westport Library "geek" portrait. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Miggs Burroughs’ official Westport Library “geek” portrait. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Miggs Burroughs co-presents his own artwork — along with others from the Westport Artists Collective — including Nina Bentley, Trace Burroughs, Linn Cassetta, Wilhelmina de Haas and Tammy Windsor.

Miggs will man an “Artist-in-Residence” booth, answering questions and providing information about the library’s connection with local artists, town arts organizations and events.

The Fine Arts Festival — sponsored by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — is one of the town’s signature summer events.

Of course, so is the Library’s annual book sale. It runs this weekend too: Saturday, July 16, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, July 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Monday, July 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (all items half price); Tuesday, July 19, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (all items free; contributions welcome).

The 2 events are big, fun and complementary.

Just think: It’s the Library’s biggest event of the year, and they share their artist-in-residence with the Arts Festival.

(For more information on the Fine Arts Festival, click here. To learn more about the Library’s book sale, click here.)

A mime and artist, both hard at work during the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

A mime and artist, both hard at work during the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

You can get just about anything at the Westport Library's book sale.

You can get just about anything at the Westport Library’s book sale.

Yankee Doodle Comes To Town

There are many reasons — probably more than 109 — to come to the 109th annual Yankee Doodle Fair.

But among the many — free admission! unlimited-ride wristbands! a bake sale with macaroons from 90-year-old Bev McArthur! — my favorite may be this:

Yankee Doodle himself is going.

The fictional colonial simpleton — who bears a striking resemblance to Westport artist Miggs Burroughs (designer of our town’s Minute Man flag) — will be there this week. In full costume.

With — of course — a feather in his cap.

Yankee Doodle, aka Miggs Burroughs.

Yankee Doodle, aka Miggs Burroughs.

For a $3 donation, you can take a selfie at the Yankee Doodle Fair (Westport Woman’s Club, 44 Imperial Avenue). With Yankee Doodle.

You gotta hand it to Miggs. When he borrowed his costume from fellow illustrator Ed Vebell, he realized it was a better fit for a 1776-size guy.

So Miggs found a tailoring kit, and fixed it himself.

Betsy Ross would be proud.

Which is not just a clever line. Fun fact: Miggs actually dated Betsy Ross.

No, not that one. He isn’t that old.

Miggs met this Betsy Ross in 1998, at a New Year’s party at Ann Sheffer and Bill Scheffler’s house. She grew up in Westport — as Betsy Peterken– and left Staples after 10th grade.

This is not the Betsy Ross whom Miggs Burroughs dated.

This is not the Betsy Ross whom Miggs Burroughs dated.

By the time she returned for that party she’d married and divorced Thomas McCaughey, married (and was in the process of separating from) wealthy investment banker Wilbur Ross — and was, in her own right (using the name Betsy McCaughey Ross) lieutenant governor of New York, under George Pataki.

A staunch conservative, she was also in the process of defecting to the Democratic Party — so she could run against Pataki. (She lost in the primary.)

Which brings us — in a roundabout way — back to Yankee Doodle.

The costume is hot. So Miggs will be in air-conditioned Bedford Hall — part of the Yankee Doodle Fair grounds — for limited hours: 6-8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, June 16-17; 4-7 p.m. Saturday, June 18, and 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, June 19.

After 109 years, this Yankee Doodle Fair promises to be a historic occasion.

(Full hours for the Yankee Doodle Fair: 6-10 p.m. June 16-17,  1-10 p.m. June 18; 1-5 p.m. June 19. All proceeds help fund Westport Woman’s Club grants and scholarships. For more details, click here.)


2016 Art Show Roots Reach Waaaaay Back

As signs go, the ones advertising this weekend’s art show may not be the most artistic:

Art show sign

So Westporters may be forgiven for not realizing that for several reasons, this year’s event is special.

For one, it’s dedicated to Howard Munce and his wife Gerry, a longtime WWC member and community volunteer.

When Howard died recently at 100, his place as one of Westport’s foremost artists was secure.

Howard’s roots here date back to the Great Depression. At that time, Westport supposedly had the largest per capita population of unemployed professional artists in the country.

Many were married to Woman’s Club members. To help, the WWC held art shows in Bedford House, the 2nd floor of the downtown YMCA.

Howard was no starving artist. He went on to great fame. But he showed his appreciation for the Woman’s Club by participating in art shows through the 1980s, long after the organization moved to its 44 Imperial Avenue home.

In 2007 — when the WWC celebrated its centennial — Howard designed the logo.

Gerry and Howard Munce. This weekend's Westport Woman's Club art show is dedicated to them.

Gerry and Howard Munce. This weekend’s Westport Woman’s Club art show is dedicated to them.

Howard and Gerry were friends with another civic-minded local family, the Burroughses. Bernie (an artist) and his wife Esta (of Remarkable Book Shop fame) raised 2 artist sons, Miggs and Trace.

This weekend’s art show — curated by Miggs — will be held in the Woman’s Club’s new Bedford Hall. It’s a few steps — and many years — away from the Y’s old “Bedford House.”

The Westport Woman’s Club art show venue has changed, since the Depression.

Howard Munce — for the first time since then — won’t be there this year.

But the show itself hasn’t changed much. It’s still fun, and still an important fundraiser.

And Howard and Gerry will be there for sure, in Westport arts colony spirit.

Miggs Burroughs: Time For Merle Haggard

Most Westporters knew Merle Haggard — if they knew him at all — as the singer-songwriter of the proud-to-be-a-hippie-hater “Okie From Muskogee.”

But Miggs Burroughs knew Haggard — who died Wednesday, on his 79th birthday — in a different way.

More than 40 years ago — in June of 1973 — Time Magazine asked the 27-year-old artist to create the cover for a story on the country music “outlaw hero.”

“I wasn’t a fan at the time,” Miggs recalls.

“I painted it on real barn siding to make it look as haggard as possible. I liked it, they liked it, and proofs were printed.”

The Time cover readers never saw.

The Time cover readers never saw.

But Merle complained, and the editors swapped Miggs’ artwork out for a photographic cover.

He sighs. “Then it was me who looked haggard.”

PS: 14 months later, Miggs painted another Time cover — the one announcing Richard Nixon’s resignation. The disgraced president didn’t like hippies either.

Mina De Haas: Artist In Residence

If you listen to longtime residents — or read “06880” — you probably think Westport has lost its artistic mojo. With Howard Munce gone — and apart from Miggs Burroughs — when was the last time you heard of a home studio?

Happily, there’s at least one left.

The other day I visited Mina de Haas in her small, 2nd-floor apartment. There — in the shadow of I-95 — she creates acrylic paintings, decoupage and digital collages. She’s not our only in-home artist — but she sure seems a throwback.

A 1979 Weston High School graduate (and direct descendant of the famous Dutch landscape-paining Koekkoek family) who studied fashion merchandising at the University of Bridgeport, Mina worked as a graphic artist for advertising firms and a pharmaceutical company before joining a Norwalk market research company.

When she's not painting, Mina de Haas attends car shows.

When she’s not painting, Mina de Haas attends car shows.

But this story is about her studio.

Heavily influenced by Dali, Picasso, Warhol and — especially Hieronymus Bosch — Mina wants her art to make people feel a bit uncomfortable.

“Anyone can look at a pretty picture of a sailboat,” she says. “I want people to look at my work and wonder ‘What’s going on there?’ And make their own interpretation of what my artwork means to them personally.”

She points to a 3D work called “Stripper Barbie.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: the famous doll in a cage with a stripper pole. Crumpled bills lie on the floor.

She is an expert at taking existing paintings, photos and other images, and manipulating them in new ways — for example, in her interpretation of Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights.”

Mina de Haas' homage to Hieronymus Bosch.

Mina de Haas’ homage to Hieronymus Bosch.

A favorite subject is cars. She looks at their lines and angles in fresh ways, placing familiar vehicles in intriguing and innovative contexts.

One of Mina’s favorite paintings is “Seine River Bleeds.” Done right after November’s Paris attacks, the famed river is bright red. The lights of the Eiffel Tower look like the souls of the murdered victims.

"Seine River Bleeds"

“Seine River Bleeds,” by Mina de Haas.

Mina de Haas is not well known. She exhibited in a small local gallery, and will soon show several pieces at a UB alumni art show.

She hopes to get into a Westport Arts Center emerging artists exhibit. She’d love to sell through restaurants and retail stores here.

Mina does not think there is a real “artistic community” in Westport — at least, not one she feels part of it.

But she’s undeterred.

She does what she loves. In her 2nd floor apartment studio, she creates art.

Just as Westport artists have done, for well over a century.

(To see more of Mina de Haas’ work, click here.)

Another digital collage, by Mina de Haas.

Another digital collage, by Mina de Haas.

Miggs Burroughs, Rush Limbaugh, And The Brainwashing Of My Dad

In the 1980s, Miggs Burroughs listened to Rush Limbaugh on WABC.

The Westport artist — already a local celebrity — did not agree with the radio host’s politics. But Miggs found him funny, and appreciated his insights into what was percolating (“or not”) in conservatives’ minds.

(“This was way before he coined ‘femi-Nazi’ or became the offensive, pandering ultra-conservative he is today,” Miggs notes.)

Rush Limbaugh today.

Rush Limbaugh today.

In 1988, when Limbaugh went national — with more than 100 radio stations — Miggs invited him onto his public-access cable TV show, “MiggsB on TV.” (His interview subjects included folks like Westporters Martha Stewart and Patty Hearst.)

Miggs asked Rush via postcard, requesting he check one of several wacky reasons like “My career will implode” and “I will know what it’s like to have no one listen for a change.”

A week later in Grand Union, a woman breathlessly told Miggs, “Rush Limbaugh is talking about you on the radio!”

Miggs Burroughs today.

Miggs Burroughs today.

Rush had read Miggs’ postcard on the air, and asked his audience to vote on whether or not he should do the show.

Everyone said no — it was a stupid public access show, or Miggs was boring.

To his credit as a contrarian, Miggs says, Rush agreed. There was one stipulation: Miggs had to supply transportation to and from New York.

A friend of Miggs’ owned a limo company, so the deal was done.

On a freezing January night, they got ready to talk. Someone called in a bomb threat to Cablevision, so the two huddled outside for an hour. Rush had not worn an overcoat.

“He was a good sport, and very courteous,” Miggs recalls.

Rush Limbaugh and Miggs Burroughs, on the set in 1988.

Rush Limbaugh and Miggs Burroughs, on the set in 1988.

Because Rush had recently ranted about the homeless in New York, Miggs had set up a 3rd chair. He set a mannequin there, with a sign saying “Hug me, I’m homeless.”

Miggs also asked Westport prankster Alan Abel to call in with recipes for cooking the homeless that Rush would pull off the streets. Rush was a bit peeved, but stayed to the end.

That was that — or so Miggs thought.

About 2 years ago, movie director Jen Senko found Miggs’ interview with Rush on YouTube, and asked for the original tape. Miggs had no idea why.

Turns out she was researching her next film. “The Brainwashing of My Dad” is about how the media influenced her Democratic father to become a conservative.

Miggs forgot about the request, and went back to being Westport’s favorite pro bono graphic designer.

Then last year, Westporters Jim and Chris Corgel told Miggs they’d seen him in a movie at a film festival in Chicago. Yikes! he thought.

He still does not know which clip is used. He’s only seen the trailer:

But Miggs has high hopes. Senko has a good track record. Actor Matthew Modine (“Birdy, “Hotel New Hampshire,” “Weeds”) is one of the producers. The film has already won film festival prizes.

It premieres at the Cinema Village theater in New York on March 18. It will also be released on iTunes.

No word on whether Rush Limbaugh will mention it — or Miggs — on his show.

For Miggs Burroughs’ full interview with Rush Limbaugh, click below:

Brainwashing of My Dad

Time For A Mystery

Over a year ago — as Max’s Art Supplies was ready to close, and everything inside was for sale — I posted a story.

Miggs Burroughs wanted the iconic Karron’s Jewelry clock. Rescued once from another Westport store, it had served for years as a symbol of the famed art store.

He was a minute late. Sherri Wolfgang — a close friend — had already bought it. She told Miggs she’d wanted it since she was 8 years old, and bought her first sketch pad at Max’s.

At least Miggs got this memorable photo:

Max's famous Karron's clock with (from left) Nina Royce, Rita Ross Englebardt, Sherri Wolfgang, Shirley Mellor and Jay Cimbak.

Max’s famous Karron’s clock with (from left) Nina Royce, Rita Ross Englebardt, Sherri Wolfgang, Shirley Mellor and Jay Cimbak.

After staying in one spot for decades, the clock has now taken on a life of its own.

The other day, Ron Hofaker emailed me. He is not an alert “06880” reader. The only reason he knows about this blog is because — well, let him tell it:

Recently a friend called me at home in Hannacroix, New York. He said he was at a sale in Pleasant Valley, New York. I have been in the market for vintage midget race car parts. He believed he had found some.

He hadn’t. Not wanting to leave empty-handed after my hour-plus drive, I spotted a clock in the kitchen. After a bit of negotiation I purchased it.

Curious about its origin, I googled the name and found your site. Wish I had more to tell you about it.

Ron sent a photo. It sure looks like the same clock:

Karron's clock

It has no sentimental value for Ron . He’s offering it to any Westporter (or former resident) who wants it.

If you’re interested, email me: dwoog@optonline.net.

But Miggs gets first dibs.

Our Tax Dollars At Work

Alert “06880” reader/photographer/man about town Miggs Burroughs writes:

After petitioning the state for years, they have finally established a break-dancing zone on Route 33 near the Bartaco parking lot.

Who says government doesn’t listen?

(Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

(Photo/Miggs Burroughs)


Down By The Old Mill Art Show

Two of Westport’s identities — arts town and beach town — meet this Saturday and Sunday (August 29-30). Clark Hanford presents his annual Old Mill Beach Art Show.

Westport is also a hedge fund town. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a billionaire to buy some great art at this show.

It’s a wonderful, funky event. There’s a neighborhood feel, but everyone is welcome.

Clark — a 1962 Staples High School graduate — is a very talented artist. (If you’ve ever wandered by his house — the yellow gingerbread-style home bordering the Old Mill path to Compo cove — you’ve probably admired some of his work, in and around his yard. You’ve also seen his old-time electric car, but that’s another “06880” post.)

Clark Hanford advertises his art show, in front of his gingerbread-style house.

Clark Hanford advertises his art show, in front of his gingerbread-style house.

This year, Clark’s added a few others to his show. There’s noted designer (and 1965 Staples grad) Miggs Burroughs; whimsical clockmaker Steve Lunt; Westporter Ade Van Duyn; Compo Cove artist Greg Puhy; Old Mill artist Isaac Sonsino, and Claudia Schattman, whose mosaics decorate (among other things) the old-time parking garage behind Old Mill. (Click here to see her very cool work.)

The works will be spread out on Clark’s lawn, and hung on his front and side gates and fence. Every piece is unique. It’s all for sale — including this great wooden doghouse advertisement Clark created just for the show:

Clark Hanford - Old Mill Art Show

(The Old Mill Beach Art show runs Saturday and Sunday, August 29 and 30, 10 a.m.-5  p.m. The address is 31 Old Mill. Of course, parking is very, very tight.)