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.
The 2020 ACE Awards will have a distinctly Westport-Weston look.
The event — the acronym is for Arts & Culture Empowerment, and it’s sponsored by the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County — is set for October 22 (5:30 p.m., online). Registration is free.
Westporter Miggs Burroughs earns the Artist honors. Local residents Harold Bailey and Bernicestine McLeod receive the Citizen award.
Burroughs — a native Westporter and Staples High School graduate — has designed hundreds of logos, ads, brochures and websites for commercial and non-profit clients since 1972. His lenticular photos that explore change and transition are displayed at shows and galleries, and in tunnels like Parker Harding Plaza and the Wesetport train station.
A founding member of the Artists Collective of Westport and the first artist-in-residence at the Westport Library, Burroughs actually designed the actual ACE award — which was 3D-printed in the library’s MakerSpace.
Bailey and McLeod — both Brown University graduates and trustees — are committed to civic work and philanthropy. Bailey is a former IBM vice president, who chairs TEAM Westport — the town’s multicultural commission. McLeod — president of an IT consulting firm — serves as treasurer.
Harold Bailey and Bernicestine McLeod
Bailey is also a board member of the Westport Country Playhouse, and a founder of Stamford’s 100 Black Men organization.McLeod has served on many boards, including the Westport Library and Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.
Weston’s Jim Naughton hosts the event. Tony Award winner Joanna Gleason — who works often with Staples Players — will talk about the essential role of music and arts education.
Videos for the virtual event are produced by Westporter Doug Tirola, president of 4th Row Films, and the guiding light behind the Remarkable Theater.
To register for the free event, click here. For more information, including sponsorships, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Growing up in Appalachian southeastern Ohio, Christie Stanger vividly remembers the Bookmobile.
Stepping into a rehabbed school bus, she could borrow any book on board. The arrival of the Bookmobile was as exciting as the ice cream truck (and that’s saying something).
The Remarkable Bookcycle is Westport’s version of the Bookmobile. The brainchild of international best-selling author Jane Green, it’s a mobile version of a free library.
Jane Green and the Remarkable Bookcycle, at Savvy + Grace downtown.
Jane (or her husband Ian Warburg) pedal it from their Owenoke home to Compo Beach, and other spots in town. Anyone is free to take a book — or leave one. It’s a brilliant idea, made even more “remarkable” by its homage to Westport’s favorite lost store, the Remarkable Book Shop.
(Click here for the Bookcycle’s amazing back story. It includes the factoid that Jane asked noted artist Miggs Burroughs to paint the book store’s “dancing man” logo on the Bookcycle — without knowing that Miggs’ mother Esta had worked at the store, from the day it opened to when it closed.)
Like Jane, Christie now lives in Westport. Also like Jane, her love of books has never wavered. So when Jane Green announced she was looking for a custodian for the Remarkable Bookcycle for the coming year, while Jane, Ian and their family is in England, Christie immediately typed “ME!!!”
Other Westporters offered to help, in other ways. Ryan Peterson — who as a recent Staples graduate 2 years ago transformed Jane’s cargo tricycle into the Bookcycle — gave it a touch-up. Ethan Olmstead fixed the emergency brake. And a small band of librarians will restock its shelves.
Remarkable Bookcycle librarians (from left): Kate Parente, Christie Stanger, Sue Goldman, Margo Amgott and Jennie Lupinacci. (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)
As Westport rolls into autumn, the group is excited. They’ve got big plans, including creating a children’s Bookcycle from an old-fashioned tricycle owned by Christie’s mother-in-law.
Also ahead: a collaboration with the “People Politics Planet” downtown art show, set for early October.
You can follow the Bookcycle — including its stops around town — on Instagram (@remarkablebookcycle) and Facebook (@TheRemarkableBookcycle). For the next few weeks, it will be parked at Compo Beach.
Neither Christie nor Jane visited the Remarkable Book Shop. But — thanks to both women — Westport’s long love affair with books, in out-of-the-ordinary but way-cool settings — lives on.
Melody Stanger touches up The Remarkable Guy. (Photo/Christie Stanger)
During his 50-plus years in Westport, Paul Newman was everywhere in town.
We saw him in supermarkets, shops and restaurants. He picked up hitchhikers. When I played summer soccer, his helicopter landed on the Coleytown Junior High School field (we scattered first). “Hi boys!” he said as he hopped out — wearing shorts, carrying a briefcase — and walked around the corner to his home.
Paul Newman, in a photo project promoting community involvement. (Photo by Robert Satter)
The actor/philanthropist/race car driver/all-around great guy died in 2008. But this Saturday, he returns to Main Street.
Once again, he’ll do something great — for his town and his country.
Newman’s daughter Melissa is a giver in her own right. For 20 yeas, she volunteered at a woman’s prison.
She was casual friends with a social worker there. For 2 years, he said he had a present for her. Finally — a decade or so ago — he handed her the gift.
It was a framed poster of her father. Looking straight at the camera — and pointing sternly — the young actor urged all “Young Citizens for Johnson” to register to vote.
Melissa had never seen that poster. “It was one of the best presents I ever got,” she says. She hung it on her kitchen wall. It’s been there ever since.
Melissa always wanted to share the poster’s message — register and vote! — with a broader audience. Now she’s got her chance.
In these polarized times, she wants the poster to be non-partisan. Besides, LBJ is no longer on the ballot.
So Melissa enlisted her friend Miggs Burroughs to help. The talented graphic designer changed the message to “Research. Register. Vote.”
Last weekend, Melissa handed out copies of the poster on Main Street, near Brooks Corner. She’ll be there this Saturday (August 29) too, at 12;30 p.m. — complete with mask and hand sanitizer.
“I’m literally a poster child for voting,” she laughs.
She hopes everyone — whatever their political affiliation — will pick up a flyer, reminding themselves to register and vote.
And why not? It’s one more Paul Newman/Westport story to add to our list.
Melissa Newman last weekend, with her poster on Main Street near Elm.
The Westport Library’s limited reopening begins Monday (July 13).
In-person services include borrowing of books, audiobooks, movies, and magazines; visits to the Children’s Library to borrow materials; access to Express computers for 20-minute sessions, and in-person reference and reader’s advisory services.
Hours are weekdays 2 to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 12 to 4 p.m.
Precautions will keep staff and patrons safe. Patrons must wear masks, and are asked to keep visits short.
Meeting and conference rooms, the café and store will not be available. Most seatin ghas been removed from the media studios and MakerSpace, and near scanners, copiers and printers. Newspapers will not be available, but magazines can be checked out. For more information, click here.
If it had nothing else going for it besides its name, “Oh, Brother, Not Another Podcast!” should be in the Media Hall of Fame.
But there’s plenty more. Miggs Burroughs and his (of course) brother (and fellow artist) Trace regularly regale listeners with interesting banter and plenty of surprises.
They might outdo themselves on Thursday, July 23 (7 p.m.). They’re hosting a special event, live from the Westport Library.
Of course, anyone anywhere in the world can tune it. There are great guests, videos, interactive quizzes, and a few “celebrity” surprises.
This week’s #FridayFlowers enhance the entrance to the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum, off Stonybrook Road adjacent to Earthplace.
It’s fitting. In the 1950s the land was made available to the town by Wadsworth, an artist, sculptor, philanthropist and member of the Westport Garden Club — the organization responsible for each week’s flower arrangement, somewhere in town.
Both the arboretum and Earthplace have walking trails, and are open to the public.
And finally … On this day in 1962, the satellite Telstar was launched from Cape Canaveral. It beamed live television from Europe to the United States.
Throughout the pandemic — and now, the latest social upheaval — you’ve sent us your work. Your many moods are reflected in your paintings, collages, sketches, photos, sculptures, cartoons and videos.
Please keep ’em coming. Professional, amateur, old, young — we want it all. Student submissions are particularly welcome!
The only rule: It must be inspired by, reflective of, or otherwise related to the times we’re going through. Email email@example.com.
“Worldwide Riots for Justice” (Amy Schneider)
Untitled (Allegra Bockhaus, age 13)
For the past 25 years, Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli has lived in Missoula, Montana. She graduated from Staples High School in 1974, and has “great memories” of her Staples, Long Lots Junior High and Greens Farms Elementary School art teachers. She says hello to her home town.
“The Day Westport Closed” (Deborah Johnson)
Miggs Burroughs says, “This was completely accidental. As I took my daily COVID anxiety run, my iPhone snapped photos of my other hand as it clawed its way through the stress on my path to some sortof peace with it all.”
A couple of weeks ago, “06880” put out a call. Readers could help design a fun, creative local coloring book.
The idea came from Mark Potts. The 1974 Staples High School graduate lives in Lawrence, Kansas now, and sent his mother — renowned Westport historian Eve Potts — an article about a coloring book created there.
Eve thought it was a wonderful, creative way to bring our community — of all ages — together during this crisis.
Artists of all types — professionals, doodlers, everyone in between — were invited to submit a page of their favorite Westport scene. They’d all be turned into a PDF, for anyone to print out and color.
Now — with the help (of course!) of Miggs Burroughs — we present “Color Us Westport.” The 24 page book of historic, iconic and fun spots around town includes contributions from Miggs, Eve, Mark, Kathie Motes Bennewitz, Claire England, Kris Jandora, Penny Pearlman and Melanie Yates.
The other day Janet Nevas stood outside Gold’s, awaiting her order.
Others — spaced appropriately — stood waiting for theirs. She turned to one man, said she was having trouble finding a face mask, and asked where he’d bought his.
Another person stood by her car; her husband sat behind the wheel. Suddenly, he drove away.
The woman told Janet that they’d overheard her conversation. They live around the corner, so he was headed home to bring her a couple of masks.
Janet could not believe someone would do that for a stranger. The woman explained that she had a family member involved in healthcare, so they knew the importance. They were happy to share extra masks.
Soon the man returned, with 4 masks — in a plastic bag — for Janet.
“Unfortunately, I did not get their names,” Janet says. “But I know we in Westport will get through this difficult time together. What a great place to live!”
Urlist Shopping has just opened in Westport.
College students pick up groceries, and deliver the next day (except Sunday).
The website is very user-friendly. You can also text your order to 786-606-0992 or 516-998-6438, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
The site offers shopping options at Stop & Shop and Stew Leonard’s — or “other.” Payment is by Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, check or credit card (3% surcharge for cards).
Urlist charges $20 for orders under $100; $5 delivery fee plus 15% charge on orders between $100 and $200, and a 15% charge (with free delivery) on orders over $200.
Staples High School graduates Zach Feinstein and Uri Cattan say, “We follow extremely strict COVID-19 guidelines when we shop to stay germ-free and healthy. Every driver wears a mask and gloves to ensure that he does not risk safety.”
Urlist shoppers make sure you don’t have to face crowds at local supermarkets.
In these unpredictable times, one thing is certain: Miggs Burroughs comes through.
Among his many side gigs, Westport’s favorite graphic designer hosts a very entertaining podcast with his brother, fellow artist/Staples High School graduate Trace Burroughs.
“Oh, Brother, Not Another Podcast!” is not just the best-named show on the planet. It also informs, educates and enlightens.
Yesterday, the Burroughs boys taped a great show with 3 of Westport’s most important officials: 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and Director of Human Services Elaine Daignault. They talk about how they’re responding to the virus, and its impact on our community. Click here to listen.
For a couple of weeks, yarn bombs have been spotted downtown.
Now the idea has spread to Compo Beach. The parking lot may be closed, but walkers, joggers and bikers can enjoy this as they pass by. (Hat tip: Karen Como)
Due to unsafe parking at and usage of Trout Brook Valley on Bradley Road in Weston, the trail system and parking is shut down until further notice. That leaves both Trout Brook and Devil’s Den in Weston closed for public use.
And finally … one of the few items on my bucket list I have not yet accomplished is being invited to Keith Richards’ house to hang. Like many Westporters, my encounters with him have been limited to a few sightings around town.
But on Saturday, I got a glimpse inside his Weston home. Sure, it was via YouTube. Still, it was fun. And the Stones’ message was surely apt, in these COVID-filled days.
No, you can’t always get what you want. But eventually all this will pass. And — because Keith will live forever — there’s still a chance that someday he’ll invite me over.
Marley Brown is a clever — and now homebound — Staples High School freshman.
Last week she challenged her family to a week of “theme nights.” Everyone had 30 minutes to create their own costume. Then they took a photo together, and ate dinner dressed up.
Themes included Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Gala, Movies and Broadway. “Gala night” ended up with a dance party. On Sunday her brother, Pierce, picked the winner. (It was his 13th birthday.)
“It was a great idea to break up the monotony of our days, and give us a way to jump start our creativity each evening,” says her mom, Shandley McMurray.
What’s your family doing to break up routine? Email email@example.com!
A typical night in the Brown house.
Years ago, Miggs Burroughs wrote a book. The What If? Book of Questions is a quick and simple read — but it’s hardly quick and simple. The thought-provoking, inspirational work gets you thinking in random, odd ways. You think about things you’ve thought of often, and things you never imagined would enter your brain. For example:
What if the most important moment in your life is this one? Can you handle the power it gives you to choose how you will spend the next one?
Westport knows Miggs as a brilliant graphic artist and photographer. He is the go-to guy for designing company and non-profit logos, t-shirts, even the town flag. He is very generous with his pro bono work.
Once again, Miggs’ generosity knows no bounds. Though What If? is still available on Amazon he’s now providing a free digital version. It’s “a way to offer a small distraction and meditation on our current situation.”
Click here to download, at no cost. Then, What If you have your own questions about the crisis? Just click “Comments” below!
Like many of us, Peter Saverine knows the importance of wearing a mask.
His day job is director of development at STAR Lighting the Way. But he may have a second career as a designer.
He created his own (very) inexpensive mask using a cheap coffee filter, 2 rubber bands and scotch tape. Then he let his imagination run wild.
The result is below. Enjoy — and to show off your own creations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staples High School 2004 graduate Brittney Levine hosts a podcast: “Be My Neighbor.”
Yesterday, her guest was Rebecca Boas — a neighbor, and a Staples 2005 grad.
What makes this particularly COVID Roundup-worthy is that Rebecca is now Dr. Boas. She’s an assistant professor of medicine at NYU.
These days, she’s very busy. But she took time out of her Sunday to answer all kinds of listeners’ questions about treatment, masks, etc., etc., etc. Click below for the fascinating segment.
Beechwood Arts’ next immersive, interactive event is this Wednesday, April 8 (6 to 7 p.m.). The theme is “Homebodies,” which should resonate with every Westporter. There’s live music, art and special guests. For more information — including how to log in — click the video below.
Still wondering where to order a Passover or Easter meal? Click on the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s 2 great lists of restaurants, grocery stores and markets that may offer them (scroll down on the home page). OneWestport is another site with similar information.
Statewide, CTBites has its own lists too (including a few caterers).
The crowd may be smaller this year. But the food can be as good as ever.
They should call it “Face the Nation Featuring Scott Gottlieb.” For the 2nd straight week — and 3rd time in 4 — the former FDA commissioner was on the CBS Sunday morning show.
Once again, he appeared live from his Westport home. Click below; jump to 5:58 to see our neighbor. (Hat tip: Dennis Jackson)
And finally, an opera singer serenaded residents of a retirement community in Santa Cruz, California. But he wasn’t the only one there who could sing!
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