Tag Archives: Painting With a Twist

Roundup: Betty Lou Cummings, Wizard Of Oz, Painting With A Twist, More

Back in the day — the mid-1950s — Betty Lou Cummings was a Michigan State University cheerleader — one of the first female cheerleaders in the entire Big Ten.

After moving to Westport, she became a cheerleader for Westport. She volunteered with a host of organizations — the Westport Library, Senior Center, CLASP Homes — and led the fall Apple Festival for 2 decades. She was elected to the Representative Town Meeting.

In the 1990s, she served as Westport’s 2nd selectman. She ran as a Republican, with Joe Arcudi.

In 2011, the Republicans gained control of several town boards and commissions, after a 14-year hiatus. “We’re back!” Betty Lou told WestportNow.

Now 86, Betty Lou Cummings still cheers for causes that are important to her. Yesterday, Michigan State played Rutgers in football. She dressed in green, gamely grinning through the bad loss.

She also cheered for her presidential candidate. But the longtime Republican is not supporting President Trump.

She’s a Joe Biden fan — as the sign outside her Saugatuck Shores home proudly shows.

In fact, the former Republican 2nd selectman is now a registered Democrat.

When Staples Players fans around the world turn in to tonight’s broadcast of “The Wizard of Oz” (6 p.m., WWPT, 90.3 FM; for the livestream, click here ), they’ll enjoy an old-fashioned radio broadcast, complete with sound effects, music and local ads.

Actors who normally perform on stage have been rehearsing — via Zoom, and occasionally together — for weeks. But other members of the high school’s award-winning troupe have been hard at work too.

Players head of computer sound effects/sound designer Brandon Malin sends along these behind-the-scenes photos. Here’s the live sound effects equipment in the WWPT-FM radio studio:

And here is the control room, where all the magic happens:

(Photos/Brandon Malin)

Painting With a Twist — the fun, quirky, do-it-yourself-together spot in the Julian’s Post Road shopping center near South Maple — is closing. Their last day after 7 years is December 12.

In a note to their fans, they say “the plaza where we are located is being converted for another use.”

They add:

We have had such fun, rewarding experiences with all of you and we carry so many happy memories of helping you celebrate your personal milestones, your festive gatherings with friends and family, and your creative nights out. We hope we have given all of you an escape from your cares and some joyful, festive time that has inspired you and uplifted your spirits.

The artists and I will all miss seeing your smiling faces and spending time in our beautiful studio, surrounded by all our colorful art and all the great music that ignites the soul.

But we still have almost 2 more months! So we hope you’ll come and enjoy some time with us. Plan your girls night out, holiday party, company team building event, date night, child’s birthday party, or just join a public class to forget your concerns and have some fun!

If you’d rather, you can paint in the comfort of home with one of our Twist at Home kits.

And finally … Jerry Jeff Walker died Friday, of complications from throat cancer. He was 78.

Best known for writing “Mr. Bojangles” after spending a night in a New Orleans drunk tank — though the song was not, as many people think, about the legendary tap dancer/actor/singer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson — Walker was also an enormously influential figure in the Austin music scene. He helped create “outlaw country,” popularized as well by Willie Nelson and others.

Art (And More) About Town

Tonight’s Art About Town opening party drew hundreds of folks to Main Street.

Plenty of actual art was displayed, on sidewalks and in store windows. But there were other art forms too: street performers, musicians, face painters and more.

Plus (of course) food.

The annual event is sponsored by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association. Artwork will remain in stores — and available for purchase — through June 19.

Painting with a Twist had a booth -- including (just like at their art sessions) a bottle of wine.

Painting with a Twist’s booth included (just like their sessions) a bottle of wine.

But is it art?

But is it art?

Builders Beyond Borders showed mosaics. This one was made out of pieces of photos, taken on a recent service trip.

Builders Beyond Borders offered mosaics. This one was constructed from thousands of photos, taken on a recent service trip.

Little kids can make art out of anything. Including sand.

Little kids can make art out of anything. Including sand.

Art About Town - 2 ladies 1

Two ladies.

Haitian artist Jean Benoit -- now living in Stratford -- showed off his works near The Gap.

Haitian artist Jean Benoit — now living in Stratford — showed his works near The Gap.



Jeera Thai was among many downtown restaurants offering dinner.

Jeera Thai was among many downtown restaurants offering dinner.

Art is all about free expression.

Art is all about free expression.



Painting With A Twist (And With Wine)

Here in the US, the largest employer of artists is: our schools.

The 2nd largest? “Painting With a Twist.”

Those are 2 great facts I learned from Ellen Meehan Jent.

Here’s another: She and longtime friend Janice McGuire are opening up the 98th “Painting With a Twist” franchise here in Westport, this Friday.

If you think that’s worthy of a toast, you’re the person Ellen and Janice have in mind. “Painting With a Twist” is a place where people get together to paint. To discover their inner artist. And to do it while listening to music and sipping nice, art-inspiring wine.

“Painting With a Twist” is located in the Pier 1 shopping center (behind the old V restaurant).  Soon, Ellen and Janice hope, the large space will be hopping as all kinds of groups gather to do something  artistic. Something fun. Something definitely different.

Painting With a Twist -- ready for painters, and a twist.

Painting With a Twist — ready for painters, and a twist.

The women met when their kids were in pre-school. Janice and Ellen joined the Young Women’s League, gravitating toward projects that bring people together.

When they met the founder of “Painting With a Twist,” they had an aha! moment. What better time than now — and better place than fast-paced Westport — to offer “Painting With a Twist”?

In New Orleans — the franchise headquarters — the Westporters sat in on a session. At the next table were 2 nurses. Nearby were 2 younger women; 1 was pregnant. “Normally, I’d never have talked with them,” Ellen says.

When “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” came on, the women started bopping. “We made a connection with them,” Ellen notes. “There was a real transformation. It’s a left brain/right brain thing. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.” She describes the scene as “not a bar, not a home — something very different.”

Janice calls the concept “transformational.”

There’s a deep relaxation that comes from focusing on your color mixing and brushstrokes. By the end of a class, a room full of strangers has little by little become united as they laugh, sing along with the music, and sometimes make fun of their own painting skills. It’s about the process, not the product.  But everyone comes away feeling relaxed and inspired, and proud of their masterpieces.  It can become addictive, relaxing like yoga, fun like a party, and inspiring like a fresh idea.

The 2 women have worked together before. After 9/11 they created a Women’s Circle. They were empowerment seminars, breaking into small groups for part of the session for connection and sharing. Now, they look forward to a fun atmosphere, and an activity that gets people out of the house for something beyond dinner or drinks.

Janice McGuire (left) and Ellen Meehan Jent.

Janice McGuire (left) and Ellen Meehan Jent.

Each “Painting With a Twist” session is run by an artist/facilitator who helps explain the process, encourages conversation and stimulates creativity and laughter. The first 4 to sign on in Westport have intriguing backgrounds. One is a high school art teacher and professional comic. Another is a part-Jewish, part-African American minister who leads empowerment training for girls. The 3rd works in fashion. The 4th is a furniture painter.

The space can be booked for 2- or 3-hour parties — for holidays, birthdays, corporate outings, Sweet 16s, bachelorettes, girls’ night out, special events and more.

You paint on bare 16″ by 20″ canvases (paint and brushes are provided). You choose the art you want to paint — landscapes, cityscapes, flowers, abstracts, whatever — and the music playlist. (You also choose the wine, since it’s BYOB.)

Oh, yeah. You get to keep your artwork, too.

(For more information, click here or call 203-955-1855.)