Tag Archives: MoCA Westport

Roundup: Christmas Tunes, Food, Tree And More


The Senior Center is filled with fascinating people.

High on the list: pianist Irwin Lebish. A veterinarian since 1954, he is still — in his 90s —  a general practitioner at Schulhof Animal Hospital.

That’s not all. He also plays piano with the hands of 20-year-old.

The other day, Dr. Lebish recorded a Holiday Piano Recital — jazz, standards and more — for the Senior Center. He was joined by a young whippersnapper: his son Scott, on bass.

Jim Honeycutt and Nick Pisarro videotaped it all. Click below to enjoy!


Everyone knows about stress eating. But what about stress cooking?

If the thought of making another — or any — holiday meal fills you with dread, click here.

The WestportMoms’ Food Delivery & Catering Guide is filled with businesses that have pivoted during the pandemic to provide — in addition to their usual delicious fare — catering, weekly meal plans, delivery and curbside pickup.

No cooking? No problem! Click here.


MoCA Westport invites all high school students to submit works of art for a student exhibit. “Hindsight is 2020” will run open January 23, and run through March 6.

This is the first student in-person show at MoCA’s Newtown Turnpike space. The museum presented an online student exhibition in July.

“Hindsight is 2020” will feature submissions created this challenging, unique year.

All high school students may submit 1 work, of any kind. The deadline is January 8. Cash prizes of $500, $300 and $100 will be awarded by judges. Click here for details, or email liz@mocawestport.org.


Downtown’s newest Christmas tree stands outside Savvy + Grace, near the steps to the old Tavern on Main.

Check it out — and don’t worry. It will be trimmed soon!


And finally … happy 55th birthday to Björk! Now — can anyone name another Icelandic singer-songwriter?!

Roundup: Open House, Fundraising, Food, More


There will be far fewer open houses this holiday season.

But MoCA Westport has plenty of space. They’re doing theirs early in December — nearly 3 weeks before Christmas. And they’re taking every COVID precaution they can.

MoCA’s Holiday Open House is set for Saturday, December 5 (12 to 5 p.m.). The event includes caroling by (small groups of) Staples Orphenians. They too will perform far less often than usual this year, so catch ’em while you can.

There’s free hot chocolate and doughnuts, plus food to purchase from the Melt Truck and Bubble & Brew.

Visitors can also enjoy the “World Peace” exhibit. Entry is timed, and limited to small groups.

The Westport School of Music — now housed on the 2nd floor will offer timed, small-group tours of its new space. Musicians will perform too, on the Steinway piano in the MoCA gallery.

The open house is run in conjunction with the Westport Police Department’s annual toy drive. Attendees can bring an unwrapped toy (or more) to add to the box.


The fate of the Staples High School wrestling team’s winter season is uncertain. But — COVID or no — the squad is fundraising for any eventuality, this year or next.

They’ve teamed up with BD Provisions in Fairfield’s Brick Walk, to sell bags of coffee. It’s roasted personally — and wonderfully — by owner (and Westporter) Tara DiPippa.

Coffees include Midnight Joe, Toasted Coconut, Organic Ethiopia and Colombian Decaf. For more information and to order, email FraasL@yahoo.com.

Tara DiPippa roasting BD Provisions coffee.


Neighborhood Studios — the fantastic after-school, weekend and summer music and arts programs serving 1,600 Bridgeport students a year — is raising much-needed funds with a virtual concert.

And plenty of Westporters are involved.

The event — “Great Songs for Hard Times” — kicks off this Friday (November 20, 8 p.m.). Performers include many familiar names: Rob Morton (aka Rob Schlossberg), Lorraine Watkins, Lynn Flaster, Lori Brasher, and Laurie and Jeffrey Gross.

Click here for tickets, or to make a donation.


Here’s a food drive. It’s for the Open Doors Foundation, a non-profit providing academic, athletic and enrichment programs for low-income students in Fairfield County and the Caribbean.

Non-perishable items can be dropped off at the Body Pulse Fitness Center (10 Bay Street, Westport). Monetary donations are great too; click here to help.

The Open Doors Foundation educates, enlightens and empowers.


And finally … one year ago today, the first known case of COVID-19 was traced to a 55-year-old man. He had visited a market in Wuhan, China.

Roundup: Justin Paul, MoCA, STAR Award, More


Justin Paul already won a Tony Award for “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Now the 2003 Staples High School graduate has an Olivier too.

On Sunday, the show — which opened in London last November — earned 2 prestigious Laurence Olivier Awards. They’re the British equivalent of Tonys, for plays performed there.

Paul and his writing partner Benj Pasek were honored for “Best Original Score.” “Dear Evan Hansen” was also named Best New Musical.

The ceremony was originally scheduled for April, in Royal Albert Hall. After COVID, it was postponed to Sunday. Most of the ceremony was pre-taped, at the London Palladium. Click here for full details.

Justin Paul (Photo/Dan Woog)


Stress levels are high leading to Election Day. Even after voting, many residents will no doubt feel anxious.

So how about feeding your soul with some art? “World Peace” — the current exhibit at MoCA Westport, a multi-media show including photography, sculpture, video works and art that address the culture of American politics will be free, and open to the public, on Election Day (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Just show your “I Voted” sticker (or mention you voted by absentee ballot). Click here for more about the exhibit.

MoCA is also hosting an Election Day workshop for children and teenagers, featuring voting-related projects related to the show. There are 2 sessions: 10 a.m. to noon, and 2-4 p.m. Click here for details.


For nearly 70 years, STAR Lighting the Way has provided services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.

Services include education, after-school and summer camp programs, behavioral interventions, advocacy, job training, residential support, and much, much more.

STAR is a shining light in Fairfield County. I am honored, through “06880,” to spotlight so many good things the organization does.

So I was especially proud to receive this year’s “Media Partner of the Year” award from STAR. The handsome glass award sits on my desk, a reminder of what a wonderful community we are all part of.


Among Martha Aasen’s many passions, Martha Aasen was particularly loyal to the Westport Library.

To honor the longtime civic volunteer, who died last week at 90, the library as created a Martha Aasen Memorial Fund.

Contributions will help fund ongoing programs and projects. A plaque near the daily newspapers will honor her commitment to the community. Click here to contribute.

Martha Aasen and her husband Larry.


Brittany Berlin graduated from Staples High School in 2012, and Georgetown University 4 years later.

She began a corporate career, then began a blog to share her passion for wholesome recipes accessible to people with food allergies and specific dietary concerns. The Banana Diaries features goodies with a healthy twist.

Simon & Schuster just published her first book. Baked with Love includes over 100 allergy-friendly vegan desserts — all developed and tested by Brittany. She took all the photos too.

Click here for details and ordering information. (Hat tip: Nathalie Fonteyne)


Sure, it’s another in what seems like a series of endless gray days.

But the sun shone (briefly) the other day. And Lori Lustig snapped this gorgeous reminder of why nothing — anywhere! — compares to autumn in New England:

(Photo/Lori Lustig)

And finally … in honor of Justin Paul’s Olivier Award:

 

An Artsy Saturday

Who says Westport is no longer an artists’ colony?

Yesterday, store windows all across town were transformed into Halloween-worthy works of art.

The paintings were done by local youngsters. The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event — which was also a contest. MoCA’s Anne Greenberg and Ruth Mannes judged the windows today. Winners will be announced tomorrow.

Calvin Carreras (1st grade, center) was helped by Julian Carreras and Aaron Slomich.

Elsie Mergenthaler (6th grade)

Julia Natarajan (3rd grade)

Sally Nathan

Sophie Jacques (6th grade)

Meanwhile, over at MoCA, Westport artist Trace Burroughs led families as they pained an 8’10” x 20′ canvas. It was part of the the Guinness Book’s world’s largest abstract painting.

The style was all Jackson Pollock. And that’s who held the previous record!

Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell (left) helping validate the painting’s size …

… while young artists work …

… and the finished product!

Not An Abstract Idea: MoCA Goes For Guinness World Record

Want to be part of the Guinness World Record book?

On Saturday, October 24 (1 to 3 p.m.), Westport artist Trace Burroughs leads families in an attempt to create the world’s largest abstract painting. The size is 8 feet, 10 inches by 20 feet.

The site is MoCA Westport. Families are encouraged to come (masked). The painting is big enough — and MoCA’s outdoor property big enough — for plenty of social distancing (and fun).

Trace Burroughs (left) leads an abstract painting project, in non-COVID times.

The event includes a concert by “New York City singing cowboy” Hopalong Andrew. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for the show.

Families can also bring their own food and drinks, or purchase them from an onsite food truck.

So what record is MoCA trying to beat?

It was 8 feet, 10 inches wide as well — but only 17 feet, 6 inches high.

The artist? Some guy named Jackson Pollack.

Click here to sign up, or call 203-222-7070.

Roundup: Jim Belushi, Trader Joe’s, Joe Biden, More


Everyone knew that yesterday’s Saugatuck Survive-OARS “River of Roses” breast cancer benefit would be great.

But Jim Belushi made it even greater.

The actor/comedian/musician played a 30-minute set with the Fake ID band, at the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

Jim Belushi, in action yesterday.


Jim Belushi was not the only big name in town this weekend.

On Friday night, MoCA Westport hosted Wynton Marsalis, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet. It was a wonderful evening of music and community — under the stars.

Wynton Marsalis at MoCA. (Photo/John Brody)

Younger artists were highlighted too. The audience was wowed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra High School Academy warmup band, featuring Staples High School senior Dylan Goodman on drums.

(Photo/Leslie LaSala)


An “06880” reader writes:

I was out yesterday doing errands. I wore my mask at Stop & Shop and the post office, but forgot to put it on when I entered Trader Joe’s.

I shopped for 10 minutes, then went through checkout. As I exited the store, I saw another customer walk in and realized, “I forgot to wear my mask!”

No one said a word to me in the store. In fact, I chatted with a nice woman for a few minutes while we waited for the register.

I wish someone had said something to me. I would have dashed outside immediately to get my mask. I felt terrible about it.


Two Old Hill neighborhood residents report Biden/Harris signs being stolen from their property.

Vicki Volper is ” very frustrated and disappointed.” She says a friend elsewhere in Westport had her yard sign taken too.

Nancy Diamond says she will simply purchase a new one — giving even more money to the campaign the thief presumably opposes.


For nearly 50 years, CLASP Homes has created and supported family environments for people with autism and intellectual disabilities.

COVID forced the cancelation of the great Taste of Westport fundraiser. A second big event is usually held indoors, at FTC. That’s no longer possible either.

But the show goes on — outdoors. “Flashback to the ’80s & ’90s” is safe, fun, family-friendly entertainment — and it’s live.

Band Central musicians is partnering with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce for the October 15 show at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Tailgating begins at 4:30 p.m. The show kicks off at 6. Click here for tickets ($150 per car; 70 car limit in the lot).


Today should have been Mercy Learning Center’s big fundraising gala. Instead, it’s postponed a year. The new date is October 3, 2021 at Shorehaven Golf Club.

But the Bridgeport agency — which educates underserved women — has huge needs, now and in the coming months.

  • $50+ purchases school supplies, such as notebooks, pencils, and a calculator for 1 woman.
  • $100+ provides emergency social-service needs for 1 woman.
  • $250+ provides instructional materials for 1 tutored student.
  • $500+ provides instructional materials for 1 Intensive Study Program student.
  • $1,500+ provides for 1 student in the National External Diploma Program.
  • $2,500+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for a child in the MLC Early Childhood Education Program.
  • $5,000+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for 1 full-time Intensive Study Program student.
  • $7,500+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for 1 full-time Intensive Study Program student and her child in the Early Childhood Education Program.
  • $10,000+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for 10 tutored students.

Checks can be sent to Mercy Learning Center, 637 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604. Click here to donate online.


And finally … in case you missed Jim Belushi yesterday at the Saugatuck Rowing Club:

All That Jazz: Wynton Marsalis Plays In Westport

Earlier this month, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz Alexa Tarantino Quartet performed at MoCA Westport.

The outdoor concert — properly socially distanced, of course — was sold out, and well received.

Turns out, it was just a warm-up act.

On October 2, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet with Wynton Marsalis comes to town. The world-renowned trumpeter and composer — the managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center — is the only artist to win classical and jazz Grammys in the same year. And he’s done it twice.

The Septet’s program — “The Sound of Democracy” — features new music, played in Connecticut for the first time.

Tickets are on sale now (click here). Proceeds support the museum, and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Wynton Marsalis (Photo/Piper Ferguson)

Roundup: Jazz, Food, Black History, More


Outdoor entertainment returned to MoCA Westport last night. A socially distanced crowd enjoyed Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Alexa Tarantino Quartet.

More concerts will be announced soon.

Outdoors at MoCA.

With food insecurity still a serious issue, the Westport Woman’s Club Food Closet is grateful for a nice donation from Westport National Bank.

Any organizations or family can donate food to neighbors in need. Bring non-perishable donations to the WWC 44 Imperial Avenue) from 9 a.m. to onoon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If the clubhouse is locked, call 203-227-4240.

Monetary donations are also welcome. Click here, or send a check made out to Westport Woman’s Club to WWC, 44 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT  06880.

At the Westport Woman’s Club food pantry (from left); Wendy McKeon, WWC food closet co-chair; Robin Clark, WWC member and Westport National Bank vice president; Selma Blue, WNB head teller.


The “hidden history of Black Westport” will be visible to Westporters next Saturday (September 12, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.)

As a follow-up to the Westport Museum of History & Culture’s “Remembered: The History of African Americans in Westport” exhibit, guides will lead tour groups (maximum of 10 people) throughout downtown.

They’ll describe local history, from enslaved people to soldiers, sailors, activists, artists, and respected residents, through existing buildings and long destroyed sites.

Tickets are $10. Reservations are required; click here to register. Foe moew information, email programs@westporthistory.org.


Aarti Khosla needs help in providing chocolate hearts to every Westport and Weston educator, as a show of thanks for all they do. 10% of all proceeds benefit another educational institution: Mercy Learning Center.

Click here to purchase hearts ($8 each). You can also stop by Aarti’s store, Le Rouge Chocolates (190 Main Street).

 


The final (and 15th) #FridayFlowers are on display at the Compo Beach lifeguard station. The Westport Garden Club — sponsor of the summer-long floral project — is grateful to the guards, and everyone at Westport Parks & Rec — for keeping our beaches safe and fun.

Pictured below (from left): David Levy, Noah Ross, Mia Parkes, Ella Thompson and Avery Tucker.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)

RTM representative and Westport Writers Workshop founder Jessica Bram undergoes brain surgery at Yale University Hospital this morning.

Doctors will drain excess hydration to reverse motor, cognitive and memory impairment resulting from a recent fall.

Jessica sends affection and high regard to the Westport community, past and current writing students, RTM colleagues, and Webb Road neighbors.


And finally … today is National Be Late for Something Day. I’ll have a song for you later. Maybe.

Westport School Of Music: A New Tune On Newtown Turnpike

In 1938, Marguerite Maxwell opened the Westport School of Music on Hillspoint Road. With 2 teachers and 40 students, it was a cultural and educational addition to what was already a burgeoning artists’ community.

In 1946, Maxwell purchased property on Woods Grove Road. The school moved there, with 9 faculty and over 100 students. Her rapport with children, organizational skills and administrative ability all helped drive the WSM’s growth.

Concert pianist Richard Gregor joined the faculty as artist-teacher in 1958. He created the first Scholarship Fund Benefit Concert 2 years later. Since then, more than 500 students have been granted over $140, 000 in aid.

Gregor took over as director following Maxwell’s death in 1972. As a teacher, administrator and performer, he too left his mark on the school.

The next director — Martha Hisey — ​used funds raised from Newman’s Own Foundation, Near And Far Aid Organization, The Fairfield County Foundation, and generous parents and donors to begin the WSM MusicWorks! music therapy program for students with special needs. She also developed chamber music series.

Sarah Miller became the 4th director in 2017. She continues the WSM tradition of excellence, while incorporating new initiatives like community partnerships and collaborations.

They include student performances for residents in long-term care faiclities, a partnership with Norwalk Housing Authority to bring 4th and 5th graders to a chorus/movement program, a Celtic music workshop for string players, and a chorus pilot project with the Senior Center.

Now the Westport School of Music is making another major change.

The Woods Grove property that for 74 years has been the school’s home has been showing its age. Repair and maintenance needs have increased.

The Westport School of Music on Woods Grove Road.

Last fall, Miller visited MoCA Westport to see if their exhibit space would work for yearly recitals and biannual student chamber concerts.

Executive director Ruth Mannes gave her a tour of MoCA’s new 19 Newtown Turnpike space. The 2nd floor was not in use.

Voila! That floor will soon be the new home of Westport School of Music. Like MoCA, they are a tenant of what was once Martha Stewart’s TV studio; the 2 organizations are not merging.

But the synergy of two cultural organizations in close physical proximity — with common goals of building new audiences, exploring collaborative projects and strengthening community ties — is exciting.

WSM students, faculty and families can be engaged with MoCA exhibits and programs. Similarly, the museum’s artists, students and visitors can be engaged with the music school’s offerings.

Westport School of Music takes over the 2nd floor at 19 Newtown Turnpike.

WSM begins its 83rd school year September 21. Since mid-March, instruction has been online.

Miller praises her staff’s ability to pivot quickly and professionally. Parents have praised their continued focus on a strong technical foundation, self-discipline and creativity. Virtual end-of-year recitals were well received too.

The 2020-21 school year opens with 3 weeks of online lessons. If it’s safe to do so, in-person instruction begins the week of October 12.

Piano, violin, viola, cello, string and electric bass, and acoustic guitar will be offered in the new location. Woodwind and voice instruction will be online, in step with the latest research on aerosol spread of COVID-19.

Virtual instruction on all instruments is an option for any student whose parents are not comfortable with in-person learning.

From the woods of Woods Grove, to the woods of Newtown Turnpike, this marks an exciting new adventure for the Westport School of Music. For information on programs and offerings, click here.

MoCA Offers Pod Learning Program For Kids

Distance and hybrid learning is a challenge for everyone.

MoCA Westport wants to help.

A new “Pod Learning Program” provides supplemental educational support to Westport students, as they navigate distance and hybrid learning.

The program offers support to students ages 6-11 in math and literacy, along with a robust art curriculum.

MoCA says, “In this challenging time, our program will ensure that foundational concepts introduced in elementary school classrooms will be reviewed, students’ homework will be completed, 1-on-1 tutoring sessions will be readily available, and art education will be woven throughout.

“As an active contemporary art museum, students will also have the opportunity to directly explore and engage with MoCA Westport’s exhibitions. The arts-focused portion of the curriculum will go beyond arts and crafts to include in-depth projects consistent with current exhibition themes.”

MoCA’s outdoor space will allow students to play outside and social safely. Modern indoor spaces will be used too.

Students will be grouped in consistent “pods,” with others from their school and grade. Parents are encouraged to form a pod from their school, and register as a group of 6 students.

Morning and afternoon sessions are available, with 1-way transportation provided. Students attending in the morning will receive transportation to their school post-session; afternoon students will receive transportation from their school to MoCA Westport.

Youngsters enjoying a MoCA arts program last February.

The program’s core curriculum teachers are accredited and established
teachers with experience in traditional classroom settings. Arts education
teachers are established instructors with a depth and range of projects that “create dialogue, build creativity, and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for the arts.”

All health and safety measures will be explicitly followed including physical
distancing and wearing face masks indoors at all times.

For details on MoCA Westport’s Pod Learning Program, click here, email anne@mocawestport.org, or call 203-222-7070. Scholarship opportunities are available; email ruth@mocawestport.org.