Tonight, Church Lane celebrates its closure to traffic with music.
Busted Chops plays funk and soul between Spotted Horse and Urban Outfitters, from 6 to 9 p.m. Bring your friends — and masks!
Busted Chops takes over tonight, fro 6 to 9 p.m.
First there were planters. Now comes haiku.
This weekend, the Westport Arts Advisory Committee’s is placing 20 lawn signs throughout downtown. Each contains a photo of Westport, and a haiku by town poet laureate Diane Lowman.
Rotating lawn sign “art shows” are designed to keep downtown visitors inspired and smiling during the pandemic. Here are 2 signs — still packaged — for the first round.
Among the Westport Garden Club’s many roles: maintaining the “Beach Buds” garden at the entrance to Compo Beach.
Yesterday they added more color, through their #FridayFlowers bouquet. They came from Ginger Donaher’s garden.
So even if you arrive too late this weekend and find the parking lot closed, you’ll have something to smile about.
It’s a syrupy name, but it does the job. SuiteTooth — already active in New York City and the Hamptons — has just started working in Westport. They solve a big obstacle to visiting the dentist — it’s inconvenient (especially now, during the pandemic) — by offering at-home preventative dental care (cleanings, exams, X-rays and sealants), plus cosmetic services like whitenings.
Their mobile dental suite can be set up inside a home, outside, or in a pergola or pool house. (You do have a pergola, right?) They just need an 8×8 space, electricity, WiFi and a bathroom.
For more details, click here or call 347-256-1445.
And finally … it’s already August. Can September be far behind?
The Westport Arts Advisory Committee and Westport Library’s 8th annual TEA — that’s Thinkers, Educators, Artists — event is set for this Sunday (October 27, 2 p.m., Town Hall).
The topic is timely and relevant: “Breaking Barriers Through the Arts.”
Music, visual arts, performance and poetry artists will share personal stories of breaking boundaries through their work, in 3 20-minute conversations and performances.
There are special appearances by Westport poet laureate Diane Lowman and internationally renowned pianist Frederic Chiu — a local resident — plus an audience Q-and-A, and the presentation of a Horizon Award to a young area artist of note.
Noah Fox is the winner of that Horizon Award. The 2009 Staples High School graduate — he went by Noah Steinman then — studied photography at Staples, and studio art, art history and queer theory at Oberlin College; earned an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; worked as education manager at the Westport Arts Center, and now serves as coordinator of academic and public programs at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.
He’s made a name with a unique project: “transforming” educational books that are “alarmingly misogynistic, homophobic and racist.” Fox paints, draws, sculpts and uses collages to gouge out the books, and “reclaim” them. He “sheds light on the oppressive foundations of American culture, while exposing the ways in which these systems and rhetoric persist today.”
Fox will be joined on the TEA stage by:
Illustrator Ann Chernow of Westport, whose works evoke the images of female cinematic figures of the 1930s and ’40s
Westport conceptual artist and sculptor Jeanine Esposito, who co-founded Beechwood Arts salon, and now brings innovation to libraries, universities and non-profits
The Arts Advisory Committee is accepting applications for the position of town poet laureate.
The goal is to elevate poetry in our consciousness, and celebrate and continue Westport’s vibrant literary history.
Walt Whitman could not be our poet laureate. He did not live in Westport. Plus, he’s dead.
Our poet laureate will expand and promote our appreciation not just for poetry, but the spoken word and writing in general. He or she will advocate for poetry, literature and the arts, and contribute to our legacy through public reading and civic events.
The poet laureate will also “summon a spirit of celebration, reflection and healing,” and “utilize Westport’s natural and human resources to promote poetry in the community.”
Eligible candidates must be poets with a wide range of experience and knowledge; residents of Westport, at least 21 years old and willing to collaborate with the school district, library and cultural institutions. The position is for 2 years, and is unpaid.
Before he became a famous New York Times/CBS/Yahoo/PBS technology expert, David Pogue was a musical theater geek. Fun facts: His Yale degree is in music, and he spent his early year conducting and arranging Broadway musicals.
So it didn’t take Einstein to enlist Pogue — a Westport resident — as moderator of this Sunday’s TEA (Thinkers, Educators, Artists) Talk (October 21, 2 p.m., Town Hall).
Nor was it a quantum leap to design a theme (“The Arts Go Viral!”) or find speakers like Jerry Goehring, (producer of the off-Broadway musical “Be More Chill,” which became a hit on viral media), and pianist/arts educator/ Westporter Frederic Chiu to dive into the pros and cons of how technology affects art (and vice versa).
But it is a stroke of genius that Sunday marks the official launch of Otocast. It’s a mobile tour app that lets any Westporter or visitor explore our town’s long arts, cultural and historic sites.
Like Sunday’s TEA Talk, Otocast is a project of the Westport Arts Advisory Committee. First unveiled in a soft launch at this summer’s Arts Festival, it’s now ready for prime time.
Otocast — available free for iPhones or Androids — includes audio, photos and info on a wide range of interesting sites. Location-based, it shows users whatever is closest to where they are.
Three separate “guides” are already live.
“Downtown Westport” offers details on Town Hall, Veterans Green, the Tunnel Vision arts installation, Westport Historical Society, Main Street, Saugatuck River, Jesup Green, the library, Levitt Pavilion, Westport Woman’s Club, Westport Country Playhouse and more.
“Our Creative Community” provides information on theater, film, non-profit organizations, schools and many other groups.
“From Saugatuck to Riverside” covers Westport’s original center, all the way to the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.
Westport artist Robert Lambdin’s “Saugatuck in the 19th Century” is the kind of artwork that can be seen — and heard about — on Otocast.
The app blends audio commentary (from well-known voices like 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, natives like Sam Gault and others) with maps, photos and artwork.
It draws extensively on Westport Public Art Collections. Users learn, for example, of Howard Munce’s Remarkable Book Shop painting, and one of the old Westlake restaurant. They hear about — and see — art at Town Hall, Fire Department headquarters, the Parks & Recreation office, and of course Westport schools.
They learn about the history of the Doughboy statue on Veterans Green, and the nearby Honor Roll — a painting of which hangs in 1st Selectman Jim Marpe’s office.
Stevan Dohanos’ “Honor Roll” painting has a place of honor in Town Hall. Now it’s on Otocast too.
They also watch a video of Sally’s Place — the beloved record shop — and see changing views of Main Street. They listen to Charles Reid talk about Famous Artists School.
Two more Otocast guides are in the works: one on Westport’s Natural Beauty (Compo Beach, mini-parks, Earthplace, the Saugatuck River, with compelling artwork from the 1930s through now), and one focused exclusively on the WESTPac collection.
Otocast is the perfect app for residents and visitors to tour Westport. Of course, you can also download it and enjoy it in the comfort of your home.
It’s great too for former Westporters, relatives who live elsewhere, and anyone anywhere in the world who wants to visit us virtually.
In other words, Otocast is a superb mix of art and technology. Just like Sunday’s TEA Talk.
(For more information on the TEA Talk, click here. To download the app, search for Otocast on the App Store or Google Play.)
Posted onOctober 27, 2017|Comments Off on TEA Talk Sunday Explores Art, Social Change
Everyone knows about TED Talks.
But here in Westport, we’ve got TEA Talks.
The Westport Arts Advisory Committee’s annual TEA — that’s Thinkers Educators Artists — event is set for this Sunday (October 29, 2 p.m., Town Hall).
The topic is timely and relevant: Art and Social Change.
Three 20-minute conversations among Westport arts professionals will explore how artists working in theater, art, writing and music can move popular thought, or sway public opinion.
In a nod to today’s fraught times, they’ll ask (and hopefully answer): “Does it take difficult times or momentous events for artists to create work that is a form of political and social currency?”
In the late 1960s, Naiad Einsel’s “Save Cockenoe Now” posters were a local symbol of the intersection of art and social change.
Carole Schweid (actor/director, Play With Your Food) and Michael Barker (managing director, Westport Country Playhouse) will address theater’s historical role addressing social issues.
Miggs Burroughs (artist/graphic designer/no further introduction needed) and Mark Yurkiw (artist/entrerpreneur) will discuss the influence of visual art on social change.
Haris Durrani (Photo/Miggs Burroughs)
And John Dodig (former Staples principal) will chat with 2011 graduate Haris Durrani about the young writer’s fiction novella, “Technologies of the Self,” about the life of a young American Muslim after 9/11.
Durrani will also be presented with the Horizon Award, given annually by the Arts Advisory Committee to a Westport artist under the age of 32 who shows extraordinary accomplishment and potential.
Rounding out the afternoon are professional performances of songs expressing socially conscious messages, from yesterday (Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific”) and today (Pasek and Westport’s Justin Paul’s “Dear Evan Hansen.”)
A reception follows the intriguing TEA talks, at the Westport Historical Society across from Town Hall.
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These days, Westport is a town of hedge funds (and their managers), ginormous new houses (even as the housing market for them slows) and a TV show featuring our 2nd fattest housewife.
You may think we’ve strayed from our artists’ colony roots.
But you would be wrong.
Tomorrow (Sunday, October 23, 2 p.m., Town Hall), the Westport Arts Advisory Committee presents its 4th TEA Talk.
The acronym stands for Thinkers Educators Artists. The program features remarks on our town’s arts heritage, and a panel including author/lyricist Tom Greenwald, writer/radio commentator Jessica Bram, multimedia artist Sooo-Z Mastropietro, artist/photographer Miggs Burroughs, musician Frederic Chiu, and composer Ryan Lester.
Ryan epitomizes Westport’s arts past, present and future. A 2007 Staples High School grad, he receives the Horizon Award at tomorrow’s event. It’s given annually to a Westport artist under the age of 32, who shows “extraordinary accomplishment and potential.”
It’s a great honor, and Ryan is flying in from Los Angeles to receive it. That’s his home now, where he composes music for film, TV, video games and the concert stage.
For the past 6 years, Ryan has composed for “The Daily Show.” NBC Universal recently asked him to score their animated sitcom “Mystery Island.” He’s worked as an orchestrator and synth on the NBC thriller “Crossbones,” the feature film “Barely Lethal” and Discovery Channel’s “Harley and the Davidsons.” Ryan is currently scoring “Confessions of a Boxman,” for early 2017 release.
He studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Royal College of Music in London, and the Juilliard School.
But Ryan’s path to a musical career began in 4th grade, when Long Lots Elementary School teacher Betsy Tucker introduced him to the recorder and steel drums. At age 10, he began writing music.
The next year, Frank Coppola encouraged him to play trombone. Then came middle school jazz bands with James Forgey and Gregg Winters. Both teachers stoked his enthusiasm for that unique art form.
Important Staples influences also included Candi Innaco, Nick Mariconda, Adele Valovich and Alice Lipson. “Westport was a ridiculously great place to grow up, musically,” Ryan says.
Staples Players’ pit orchestra exposed him to a whole different side of music. A decade later, he says he draws on that experience for much of his work. In fact, he notes, “Westport schools were a lot more influential on what I do now than college.”
“I always knew I wanted to compose,” Ryan adds. “I just didn’t know if I could make it a career.”
He certainly has. And tomorrow — back home — Ryan Lester will be honored at what is still the start of his musical career.
His horizon is limitless.
(Tomorrow’s TEA Talk is free. A reception follows at the Westport Historical Society. For more information, click here.)
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You’ve heard of TED Talks. They cover global topics, in intriguing, inspiring ways.
Westport’s TEA Talks are just as important. And they touch on topics that, while broad in scope, are intensely personal.
This Sunday’s event (November 15, 2 p.m., Town Hall, free, with reception to follow) focuses on the arts. Specifically, it examines how changes in the state mandate toward STEM — science, technology, education and math — might affect our school district’s flexibility to take full advantage of the strong arts curriculum and programming we’ve spent decades nurturing.
This TEA Talk — it stands for Thinkers, Educators, Artists — is sponsored by the Westport Arts Advisory Committee. They celebrate our wonderful artistic and cultural heritage — and keep them thriving.
Where will the arts fit in our schools? Will future students have the same opportunity to embrace them? What about students in neighboring communities, not as fortunate as ours? Those are some of the questions Sunday’s TEA Talk will address.
Despite Common Core requirements, Westport educators have found ingenious ways to enhance the curriculum even more, in subjects far beyond visual art. In subjects like math, English and social studies, teachers are utilizing town collections to develop students’ analytical thinking and communication skills.
For example, starting this year every Westport 3rd grader will look at Robert Lambdin’s “Saugatuck in the 19th Century” mural. They’ll explore the painting, and tie it in with many aspects of their curriculum. For instance: How have our town and Connecticut changed — and stayed the same — over time? And what influence does geography play on development?
Robert Lambdin’s Saugatuck mural.
Sunday’s TEA Talk includes the state commissioner of education; 2 Westport educators, and world-renowned pianist (and local resident) Frederic Chiu. He’ll lead a discussion of the differences in music education in Westport and less affluent districts.
Anyone can watch a TED Talk on the web. But TEA Talks — those are what make this town (like our arts) special.
(For more information on Sunday’s TEA Talks, click here.)
Comments Off on Sunday’s TEA Talk: Where Are Our Arts?
You’ve heard of TED Talks. The 18-minute, internet-addictive presentations cover a broad range of topics. Originally, TED stood for Technology, Entertainment and Design.
Get ready for Westport’s version: TEA Talk. This Sunday (October 26, 2 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) the Westport Arts Advisory Committee is sponsoring 3 20-minute conversations. Because this is Westport, the focus is on Thinkers, Educators and Artists.
And because this is Westport, the TEA Talk features a combination of rising young talent, and well-established thinkers, educators and artists.
Gina Rattan — a Staples grad who’s working now on the live broadcast of NBC’s “Peter Pan,” and is the resident director of the Broadway musical “Matilda The Musical” — will discuss the impact of technology on Broadway with Carole Schweid.
She directs the “Play With Your Food” series, and was an original Broadway cast member of “A Chorus Line.” This segment will include video clips of some wizardry behind Broadway shows.
Nick DeBerardino — another Staples grad and Rhodes Scholar pursuing a master’s in music at Yale, and the co-founder of Princeton’s Undergraduate Composers Collective — will explore the integration of recent technology into music composition and performance.
He’ll chat with Richard Epstein, professional bassoonist and host for 38 years of WPKN’s “Sometimes Classical.”
The program kicks off with Bill Derry — head of innovation at the Westport Library — discussing and demonstrating 3D printing’s application to the visual arts. Joining him is Thomas Bernstein, a photographer and sculptor best known for his “Dancing Leaves” series.
Both Gina and Nick will be presented with “Horizon Awards,” as up-and-coming artists (and movers and shakers).
The TEA Talk is followed by a reception, across the street at the Westport Historical Society. They’ll serve hors d’oeuvres — and tea.
Wheeler House, by Stevan Dohans. It’s now the site of the Westport Historical Society — where Saturday’s tour begins.
It’s a phenomenal treasure, ranging from WPA murals created by Westport artists during the Depression, to galleries by the likes of Alexander Calder and Roy Lichtenstein.
At Kings Highway Elementary School, tour-goers will see John Steuart Curry’s “Tragedy” and “Comedy” frescoes. Green’s Farms School features works by Andy Warhol and Robert Motherwell, plus the intriguing “Fountain” installation.
Bedford Middle School hosts murals from Ralph Boyer’s “History of Fire” series, while Staples High is filled with paintings, photos, etchings, watercolors and lithographs by Westporters like Stevan Dohanos, Leonard Everett Fisher, Howard Munce, Lynsey Addario and Miggs Burroughs. There are also 40 student-curated works, with recorded audio commentary.
Igor Pikayzen. master violinist.
The next day (Sunday, Oct. 27, 2 p.m.), Town Hall is the site for the 20th anniversary celebration of the Arts Advisory Committee. There will be readings from works by John Hersey, Evan Hunter, Sinclair Lewis and Peter DeVries; film selections by Ring Lardner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Howard Fast and Max Shulman; performances by John Corigliano Jr. and Igor Pikayzen, and appearances by Scott Bryce and Joanna Gleason. All are Westporters or former residents.
Afterwards, everyone is invited to a reception across the street. The Westport Historical Society hosts an exhibition honoring former Visual Arts Awards recipients.
It’s an arts-filled weekend. Just like back in the day, when Westport was definitely an “artists’ colony.”
(For more information on the bus tour, call 203-222-1424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Westport Arts Awards, click here.)
Who knew, for example, that swimming and lifeguarding would help propel Kathie Bennewitz — 35 years later — to her new position as Westport’s 1st-ever town curator?
Yet that’s what happened, after Kathie Motes moved to Westport in the summer of 1978 — just before her senior year at a new school, Staples High.
Kathie joined the swim team, took art classes, and befriended Ellise Fuchs, whose father Bernie was a world-famous illustrator. Kathie posed for him, pretending to receive a medal for an Olympic scene.
At Princeton, she majored in art history. “I’m not a fine artist,” she claims. “But I love the process, and the way art reflects who we are.”
One summer, lifeguarding at Compo, she met Scott Bennewitz. He was a beach security guard — and a fellow Princetonian.
They married, and lived in Dallas, Minneapolis and Holland. She’d earned a masters in art history. Everywhere they moved, she worked in museums.
She also was appointed tri-chair of the Permanent Art Collection, and served on the Westport Arts Advisory Committee. The 2 organizations gave her a broad perspective on the arts here.
So, when a group of people — including Ann Sheffer, David Rubinstein, Leslie Greene, Carole Erger-Fass and Joan Miller — floated the idea of a town curator, she was intrigued.
So was First Selectman Gordon Joseloff. “We already have a town historian, Allen Raymond,” Kathie notes. “This is a natural counterpoint.”
The doughboy statue on Veteran’s Green is part of Westport’s art and sculpture collection.
In her new post, she’s responsible for advising the town on the care of its art and sculpture collection. Westport owns several hundred works of art, displayed in Town Hall, the Senior Center, Parks & Rec headquarters — even the Fire Department. Statues include the Minuteman and Doughboy on Veterans Green.
Kathie will also serve as liaison to the 1,100-piece Permanent Art Collection, and the Westport Library, with its own murals, paintings and illustrations.
“So many other communities lose their treasures,” she says. “But thanks to Burt and Ann Chernow, and so many others, we have ours. They’ve created a platform we can spring off of, and do even more.”
That “more” includes plenty. Kathie envisions self-guided tours of the schools’ collections. A “museum on the street,” with Howard Munce’s Remarkable Book Shop work displayed outside that old store (most recently Talbots). Robert Lambdin’s “Battle of Compo” mounted near the cannons.
She’ll be involved in the rehanging of art at Town Hall — something last done in 1976.
Kathie would also like to open up hard-to-see parts of the town’s art collection — like the amazing fire station mural — to the public.
“Pageant of Juvenile Literature” — a 1934 work by Robert Lambdin — hangs in the Westport Library’s Great Hall. This is part of that mural.
She is eager to get started. But she won’t be alone.
“I’m a team player. I enjoy working with people in groups. We need everyone’s help.”
Among those helping: Marie-Neloise Egipto, a Staples senior who will do her spring internship with the Permanent Art Collection.
“I’m honored to serve the town,” Kathie says. “This is different from the other positions I’ve held. It really validates all the decades of work done by the Mollies, the Eves and the Anns who have advocated for, and celebrated, our arts community and legacy.
“Very few communities have the public, school and library collections that we do. Westport should be very, very proud.”
Just as we all should be proud that Kathie Bennewitz is our 1st-ever “town curator.”
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