Drew Friedman’s $500,000 is the gift that keeps on giving.
The downtown landowner and co-founder of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association died in February 2016, at 86. His very generous bequest set up the Drew Friedman Foundation.
It’s already distributed money to Homes With Hope, CLASP, the Westport Arts Center and Westport Historical Society. It has funded art classes and activities for under-served students and young adults. This spring, an art exhibit at the Westport Woman’s Club showcased their work — and included presentations of scholarships to arts colleges.
The newest Drew Friedman Foundation initiative is a series of small art events at Old Mill Beach. The goal is to bring art opportunities and education to community members who are often overlooked.
The first one took place Wednesday afternoon. Clients from Project Return and Homes with Hope — the group home for teenage girls and young women, and Westport’s supportive housing organization respectively — enjoyed a day at the beach.
They learned about watercolor painting and shell decoration, with Westport artist Katherine Ross.
Fruma Markowitz showed them how to make contact photo prints with found objects and their own bodies. “The results were amazing,” says Drew Friedman Foundation art advisor Miggs Burroughs.
The day ended with a lavish dinner at Nick Visconti’s Sherwood Mill Pond home. He was Friedman’s longtime business partner (and — importantly, for the food — former owner of Onion Alley. He cooked every dish himself.).
Project Return program director Tessa Gilmore-Barnes says that on the way home, one of the ladies felt “deep contentment.” Though shy at first, she relaxed and loved everything: the art, food, people and setting.
More events are planned, with these and other organizations.
Art is alive and well all over Westport — thanks in part to the late, and very generous, Drew Friedman.