Tag Archives: Westport Artists Collective

Westport’s Newest Gallery Opens In Historic Space

A group of local artists is “drawing” plenty of attention. And they’re doing it in partnership with one of Westport’s oldest cultural institutions.

On Tuesday night, the Artists Collective of Westport met in the Lucille Lortel White Barn Center at the Westport Country Playhouse. The interior space has now been christened “The Gallery at the Westport Country Playhouse.”

The Westport Country Playhouse’s Lucille Lortel White Barn Center. Sure, it’s red. But it’s named for the legendary founder of the White Barn Theater on Newtown Turnpike — which really was white.

This was the Collective’s largest meeting in 3 years of existence. Almost 90 of the area’s top artists attended.

This is a great creative match. The Playhouse has agreed to host future meetings, as well as exhibits. There’s a lot to choose from: The Collective includes 150 artists, in a wide variety of mediums.

Westport Artists Collective members enjoying the new Playhouse gallery space are (from left) Susan Fehlinger, Nina Bentley (founder) Miggs Burroughs (founder),
Dale Najarian, Tammy Winser, Jen Greely, Dan Long and Eric Chiang.

The Playhouse has reached out to other artists in a big way too. The Friends of the Westport Public Art Collections will share the space with the Collective. WestPAC plans to show parts of their 1,500 works, in a series of public exhibits.

Playhouse executive director Michael Barker says the historic theater is excited to partner with Friends of the Westport Public Art Collections and the Artists Collective of Westport “to create a new visual arts exhibit space on the Playhouse campus.

“The Gallery at Westport Country Playhouse will showcase the varied and vibrant visual arts scene in Westport. In addition, it will celebrate the role of the Playhouse as one of the cultural centers of our  town.”

The Playhouse was founded 87 years ago, and has long been one of the country’s iconic regional theaters.

The Collective — now an official 501(c)(3) — has other partners too, including The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County, Westport Downtown Merchants Association, the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center, UNLOAD: Foundation, and the Westport Arts Center.

(To see the work of all Collective members, and for more information, click here. The group will host a kids’ activity booth at the Downtown Merchants Association’s WestobertFest on Elm Street, from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 13.)

Behind The Artists’ Studios: Take A Peek Inside

Face it: We’re all voyeurs.

We go on Holiday House and Secret Garden Tours to ogle homes we’d otherwise never be invited into. We stroll into real estate open houses with no intention of buying, because we always wondered what’s behind that door down the block.

On Saturday, May 5 we get a chance to indulge our inner voyeur and honor Westport’s artistic heritage. It’s a special yin and yang of house tours.

This one is special. The Westport Artists Collective is opening up 13 members’ studios to the public. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., any of us can wander into the work spaces of folks like Miggs Burroughs, Nina Bentley and Dale Najarian. We can poke around the paintbrushes, watch them as they create, and ask questions about the artistic process.

Nina Bentley, in her studio.

Some of the studios are very neat; others are messy. Some are spacious and light; others are stuffed into the corner of a basement.

All are fascinating.

The tour is the latest outreach effort from the Collective. Begun 4 years ago as a professional and social gathering space for artists, it’s grown to 150 members. They paint, draw, sculpt and work with metal and plastic. They’re struggling artists and accomplished names; they’ve lived here all their lives, and just relocated from New York.

They meet the last Wednesday of every month. Among their projects: the popular pop-up shows at the Westport Arts Center, quickly hung and just as speedily disassembled in between major exhibits.

“We’re really active. And we’re passionate about how art has impacted our lives. We want to share it as much as we can,” says Amy Kaplan, a Collective member who chairs the studio tour. Her studio is also one of those on the route.

Amy Kaplan’s studio will be on the May 5 tour …

The Collective is going all out to make this a fun day. It starts with a 10 a.m. brunch at The ‘Port restaurant. Artists will be there (mimosas, too). Maps and writeups about each studio will be available. Guests then head to as many studios as they wish, in whatever order they want.

“One thing we all share is our passion for the power and possibilities of art,” says Kaplan — speaking of both the Collective and the tour.

“We’re all aware of how the act of making art opens up a door inside, making us better versions of ourselves.”

That’s metaphorical. In a few days, they’ll open up their real doors.

They invite all of us to step inside.

… and so will Dale Najarian’s.

Click here for tickets to the Westport Artists Collective May 5 studio tour ($25 each; $15 for designers and students, free for those 16 and under). Proceeds benefit the Collective, and the Westport Arts Center’s community partner and outreach programs. A preview party on Friday, May 4 (6 to 8 p.m., Design Within Reach) featuring cocktails, live music and a pop-up art exhibit is free, and open to all. Questions? Email collectivestudiotours@gmail.com.

Artists opening their studios for the tour include Nina Bentley, Miggs Burroughs, Leonar Dao, Kat Evans, Scott Glaser, Veronica Hofstetter, Jana Ireijo, Amy Kaplan, Jane Lubin, Carole McClintock, Dale Najarian, Kris Toohey and Cynthia Whalen.

Pop Up Goes The Art Show

A few hundred Westporters thronged the Westport Arts Center last night.

They were there for the delayed-by-one-day opening of the Westport Artists Collective pop-up art show.

Okay — maybe some of them headed to the warm, welcoming Riverside Avenue gallery because they had no power electricity,  heat or internet at home.

Whatever the reason, they enjoyed a great show.

All 150 Collective members were invited to showcase one work of art. The result is an intriguing display of works, ranging from photographs and mixed media to sculpture and paintings.

Three works at the Westport Arts Center pop-up show (clockwise from bottom left): Trace Burroughs, Cindy Wagner and Jay Petrow. (Photo/Tammy Winser)

Westporters often debate whether this is still an “arts community.”

Stop by the WAC. The pop-up show answers definitively: Yes, it is.

But you’d better do it soon. The show is open until 5 p.m. today (Friday). And it ends tomorrow (Saturday) at 2.

Westport’s Ultimate Selfie

Church Lane was closed to vehicles today.

It was filled instead with budding Miggs Burroughses — and the actual artist himself.

Miggs Burroughs paints former first selectman and Westportnow founder Gordon Joseloff.

Miggs Burroughs paints former first selectman and WestportNow founder Gordon Joseloff.

Dozens of Westporters — and visitors from as far as Venezuela — traced family members, friends and random strangers on the blue construction fence surrounding the Bedford Square downtown development project.

Then they picked up paint brushes, and added color — lots of it. The fence will remain up for another 2 years.

There was paint for everyone on Church Lane today.

There was paint for everyone on Church Lane today.

The event — “Westport Paints the Town” — continues through 3 p.m. today. It’s co-sponsored by the Westport Arts Center, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Downtown Merchants Association. Turner Construction donated the paint.

Artists, models and supervisors, all hard at work on Church Lane.

Artists and supervisors, all hard at work on Church Lane.

Dereje Tarrant -- a rising 3rd grader at Saugatuck Elementary School -- waits for his mom Zoe to wash a brush. On the wall behind them are images of Dereje and his  dad Tom.

Dereje Tarrant — a rising 3rd grader at Saugatuck Elementary School — waits for his mom Zoe to wash a brush. On the wall behind them are images of Dereje and Zoe.

This little boy was so intent on his creation, he couldn't stop to give his name.

This little boy was so intent on his creation, he couldn’t stop to give his name.

Marla Velez is from Venezuela. She came to Westport with Maria Velez, from Shelton, just for the chance to paint the wall.

Marla Velez is from Venezuela. She came to Westport with Maria Velez, from Shelton, just for the chance to paint the wall.

Jahmane -- the member of the Westport Artists Collective who painted the Minute Man at the east end of the wall -- traced yours truly. In the shot above, he's adding a soccer ball to the wall.

Jahmane — the Westport Artists Collective member who painted the Minute Man at the east end of the wall — traced yours truly. In the shot above, he’s adding a soccer ball to the wall. (Photo/Helen Klisser During)

Alex Andra lives around the corner, on Main Street. She broke up the parade of people, by drawing a cat.

Alex Andra lives around the corner, on Main Street. She broke up the parade of people, drawing this creature.

Duvian Montoya honored the Saugatuck rowers with this painting. (Photo/Helen Klisser During)

Duvian Montoya honored the Saugatuck rowers with this painting. (Photo/Helen Klisser During)

Meanwhile, work continued on Bedford Square during the

Meanwhile, work continued on Bedford Square during the “Westport Paints the Town” event. Construction is expected to take 2 years.