Tag Archives: Silvermine Arts Center

Roundup: Splatz, Immigration, Turkey Dogs, More …


Kids don’t have a lot to laugh about these days. And — let’s face it — Harvard and MIT scientists are not usual much for giggles.

But Westport mom Alli DiVincenzo — an accomplished entrepreneurial designer — has joined forced with those university researchers. They’ve created playful personal care products for kids, turning “ordinary tasks into extraordinary experiences.”

The first product from One Fun Company is a hand soap called Splatz. A gentle squeeze makes a “splat.” Each Splatz soap bubble “turns this essential, often tedious task into good clean fun,” Alli says.

She should know. Her son did not like washing his hands. But he enjoyed playing with slime, and anything else tactile.

She tracked down those scientists, and pitched them the idea for a popping hand soap. They loved it. For a couple of years they all tinkered in their kitchens.

When Alli dropped off 100 samples with friends, kids used up the entire test bottles in a day. She and the scientists knew they were on to something.

For the holidays, One Fun has teamed up with WestportMoms’ Local Love initiative, and Westport elementary schools’ Pay It Forward campaign. And in conjunction with the upcoming Small Business Saturday, One Fun offers 10% off Splatz all weekend long. Just click here, and use the code WOOG10.

PS: Keeping it local, Splatz’s packaging and distribution comes courtesy of Randy Herbertson’s The Visual Brand.


How’s this for a provocative title: The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America.

 That’s Daniel Okrent’s latest book. The insightful observer of American politics and history — and the first New York Times public editor — will be featured in a virtual talk December 2 (7 p.m.).

He’ll discuss his new work. It’s a chilling tale of how anti-immigration activists of the early 20th century — most of them well-born, many of them progressives –used the bogus science of eugenics to justify closing the immigration door in 1924.

Okrent’s appearance is sponsored by the Westport Library and Silvermine Arts Center. The center’s current exhibit, “The Golden Door” — an exploration of the complex histories and cultural identities that define and enrich contemporary America — runs through January 16.

Click here to register for Okrent’s free virtual talk.

Daniel Okrent

In other Library news:

The Westport Book Sale is temporarily suspending book donations effective today, until further notice. The decision is a result of rising COVID cases, and concern for volunteers who stand in the cold for hours accepting donations.

They invite everyone — in Westport and beyond — to shop the Online Holiday and Winter Book Sale.


I don’t know if Winslow Park Animal Hospital treats turkeys, as well as dogs.

But the Post Road East veterinary clinic always manages to mark holidays well.

(Photo/Rowene Weems)

And finally … on this day in 1859, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species.

 

Fine Arts Festival Focuses On Future

It’s not easy getting into the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

Every year, organizers pick 175 artists from around the country. Every mid-July they fill Main Street with their painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood and graphics.

Making the cut is tough. So is the juried competition that follows.

But the festival sponsor — the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — recognizes its responsibility to nurture up-and-coming artists too.

So this year — on July 20 and 21 — the 46th annual event will embrace artists you may not yet have heard about.

But with the Fine Arts Festival’s help, you certainly will.

Plenty of art — and art lovers — at Westport’s Fine Arts Festival.

The WDMA is partnering with the Drew Friedman Foundation and Silvermine Arts Center to highlight 3 young artists.

The Foundation — part of the bequest of the late downtown landlord, restaurateur and arts lover — will award one $3,000 prize, and two more of $1,000 each. Applicants are artists currently enrolled in MFA programs, or recent graduates of one.

The first prize winner in the Emerging Artists Program — chosen by a professional jury — will also be exhibited at Silvermine. The 97-year-old New Canaan organization encompasses an art school, educational programs, artists’ guild, permanent collection and 5 galleries.

This year’s Fine Arts Festival outreach also includes the Westport Library.

In recent years, the Festival coincided with the annual book sale on Jesup Green. Recognizing that the audiences for art and books often overlaps — and that the downtown venues are complementary too — both institutions have strengthened their ties.

Now — with the Library’s transformation project complete — the Fine Arts Festival will set up a tent on the riverwalk. The young artists’ work will be exhibited there on Friday night. There’s a reception in the library’s new café.

They’re invited too to the established artists’ Saturday night reception. Also honored there: several high school student artists, who will receive $5,000 Drew Friedman Foundation scholarships.

WDMA president Randy Herbertson and Silvermine board vice chair Robin Jaffee Frank are excited about the chance to encourage — and showcase — emerging artists.

Check out their work next month. In a few years, you can say “I knew them when.”

(For more information on the Fine Arts Festival, click here.)

Werner Liepolt Picks Up Painting

Some folks retire with no clue what comes next.

Werner Liepolt was not one of them.

After 42 years as an English teacher at Staples High and Bedford Middle Schools, he knew immediately what he wanted to do.

His daughter Jordan — a Rhode Island School of Design graduate, working now as director of design for an international textile company — had left boxes of art material in her parents’ home.

She thought no one would use them.

But Liepolt — whose previous art experience consisted of doodling during English department meetings — did not want the supplies to just sit there.

He pulled out 2 boxes of pastels, and enrolled in Tom Brenner’s course at the Silvermine Arts Center.

Liepolt drew upon his Bridge Street neighborhood, his garden, his hiking experiences in Maine and the Adirondacks, and boating on Long Island Sound. He loved those places, and wanted to show them to others.

The Bridge Street Bridge inspired this work by Werner Liepolt.

Early recognition came at Seven Arts Gallery in Ridgefield. Fellow Westport teacher Paul Fernandez included 5 of Liepolt’s botanical illustrations in a show.

Liepolt — a longtime visitor to Mount Desert Island — submitted several pastel works to a juried competition sponsored by the Rockefeller Land & Garden Preserve there. Two were accepted. They’ll be shown starting Tuesday (August 8).

Great Marsh in Acadia National Park, by Werner Liepolt.

He also participated in an invitation plein air “Paint the Adirondacks” conference with 80 top artists at Lower St. Regis Lake.

Underneath his daughter’s boxes of pastels, Liepolt found water colors. Last spring, he began studying with Kristie Gallagher at Silvermine.

He notes, “I’ve had the good fortune to teach in a community that supports good education. I’ve found a receptive audience for my plays and screenwriting, and am enjoying the rewards of expressing my take on the world through visual expression.”

Werner Liepolt at work.

As an undergraduate, Liepolt heard John Cage speak. The composer cautioned students not to succumb to a corporate job.

“What will you do when there is no one to tell you what to do?” he asked.

Perhaps paint.

Werner Liepolt painted his son fishing in the Rockies.

Get Shot; Help Haiti

(Photo by Katherine Hooper)

Two Westport moms — Katherine Hooper and Moira Lynch — are taking a photography course at Silvermine Arts Center.

Both are very troubled by the plight of earthquake victims in Haiti.  They’re putting their photographic skills to use — by raising money for Oxfam America.

For a minimum $50 donation, the 2 women will meet you at your house, the beach — anyplace you wish.  They’ll photograph you, your family, your pets — whatever you want — and upload the shots to a Kodak Gallery album that can be viewed only by you, and whoever you give the password to.  Inexpensive prints can also be ordered.

“We’re not professionals — but we’re working on it!” Katherine says.  “We’re taking courses, and we need practice.  So help Haiti, and help us too.  Hopefully we’ll get some great shots — and you’re donating to a good cause.”

(For more information, and to schedule a session, email hoopermom@gmail.com or mois49@hotmail.com.  Be sure to ask your employer about matching your contribution.)

(Photograph by Katherine Hooper)