Tag Archives: Westport Arts Advisory Committee

Roundup: Bear, Piglet, Poles …

====================================================

Westport’s most famous bear is dead.

Westport Local Press reports that “Bear 211” — the black bear tagged with that number by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and reported at various sites in northern Westport and environs over the past 2 months — was struck by a car and killed yesterday, on Route 136 in Easton. The driver left the scene.

Click here for the full story.

This was the scene off Weston Road recently. The bear has now been struck and killed. (Photo/Denny Galindo)

====================================================

The Westport Public Art Collections includes an astonishing array of 1,500 paintings, illustrations, photos and more. They hang in every public school, and buildings like Town Hall, the Parks & Recreation Department office, even fire headquarters.

But not everyone has access to schools. Town Hall is still pretty much closed. And when was the last time you were at the fire station?

This winter, there’s an exciting opportunity to see 40 or so outstanding works.

MoCA Westport and the Westport Arts Advisory Committee are collaborating on an exhibit, at MoCA’s expansive gallery space.

Two of the works are shown below. As for the few dozen others: well, you’ll have to see for yourself!

“Don’t Judge Me 2020” (Christa Forrest

From Larry Silver’s “Yangzhou, China 1997-2000” collection.

=====================================================

“06880”‘s favorite Piglet is actually a dog.

Piglet is the name of a deaf, blind pink dachshund/Chihuahua mix. He was rescued by Westport veterinarian Melissa Shapiro. (Click here for a 2017 story.)

She’s just written a book. “Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family” will be published August 3. Simon & Schuster calls it “a charming, inspirational memoir about empathy, resilience, kindness, and an adorable deaf blind pink dog.”

Click here for details. And watch “Good Morning America” this Saturday (July 31), for an interview with Melissa. (Hat tip: WEndy Bouthillier)

======================================================

It’s a little bit of vandalism: a couple of benches overturned by Ned Dimes Marina, off Compo Beach Road.

But the benches are memorials to real, much-loved human beings. Richard Webb — who says this is the second time it’s happened this month — notes that the perpetrators “might as well be turning over headstones.”

(Photo/Richard Webb)

======================================================

Mark Mathias writes:

“As I’ve been walking my dog recently, I noticed wood shavings at the bottom of most of the telephone, power, cable and such poles around town.

“I also recently saw a truck with 2 guys drilling holes in a pole, and wondered if it’s related.

“Upon further investigation, it appears that at least 3 holes have been drilled and then plugged.

“I also noticed a metal tag nailed into each pole saying “Maverick Inspected 2021 Cobra Rod.”

Any idea what this is for?

Nope. But I’m sure at least one alert “06880” reader does. Click “Comments,” to let us all know.

Plugged hole (below) and metal tag (above). (Photo/Mark Mathias)

=======================================================

These sunflowers graced Peter Wormser‘s memorial service Sunday, at Cedar Point Yacht Club. The architect, cook, outdoorsman — and avid gardener — died earlier this month.

The service was moving and memorable. And Nanette Hausman thought this “Naturally … Westport” photo epitomized Peter’s love of beauty and life.

=======================================================

And finally … in honor of Melissa Shapiro’s new book (above):

 

New Artwork Hangs At CMS

It snowed this past week. Westport schools were on winter break.

But Coleytown Middle School was filled. Busily and happily, volunteers hung art.

After renovation was completed in January, the Westport Public Art Collections committee got ready to reinstall over 70 works that were removed last year.

Town arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz noticed a beautifully refurbished, vast empty wall in the main staircase. It screamed for a giant piece to fill it

WestPAC  had none. But Bennewitz and Westport Arts Advisory Committee chair Nancy Diamond had a plan.

Eric Chiang

WAAC member artist Eric Chiang — who lives near CMS — creates large, multi-canvas acrylic paintings depicting themes like love, connection and hope. Many are colorful and fantastical — perfect for middle schoolers and a big, blank wall.

Could Chiang loan the school one of his pieces?

Of course!

Chiang measured the wall, photoshopped a few images onto it, then suggested possibilities for consideration.

CMS Principal Kris Szebo created a survey to engage students and teachers in the decision-making process. A vote was taken.

The winner: Are We Born Connected? The triptych acrylic on canvas measures 4 feet by 15 feet.

Eric Chiang (center) with his triptych. CMS building chair Don O’Day looks on.

Chiang notes, “The sound of the cello is in the same range of that of human beings. I used cellos to represent humans, emphasizing their voices. The big cello in the foreground faces two choices: Sing a solo dirge like those floating cellos on the left, or band together for Ode to Joy and celebrate the existences together like those cellos on the right. We are wounded, we are in despair, but we have each other. We are born connected, and can sing together.”

Are We Born Connected? is on loan to CMS until the end of the school year. The fanciful work will greet the students when they come back from vacation tomorrow.

The artwork is hung. From left: team member Scott Bennewitz, Westport arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz, artist Eric Chiang, CMS building chair Don O’Day.

The public may not visit, due to security protocols and COVID. But the piece can be viewed on the WAAC website — along with more than 1,500 other works from Westport’s extensive public collection.

(Click here for more of Eric Chiang’s work. Hat tip: Nancy Diamond.)

Roundup: Busted Chops, Haiku, Suite Tooth, More


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.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)


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?

 

TEA Talk Sunday: Breaking Barriers Through Arts

Everyone knows about TED Talks.

But here in Westport, we’ve got TEA Talks.

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

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
  • Westport director, producer, dramatic coloratura and private voice teacher Wendy Morgan-Hunter
  • Ecuadorean-born violinist, educator and social entrepreneur Angelica Durrell
  • Groundbreaking classical and jazz singer, inspirational teacher, body builder and nutrition specialist Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson.

The TEA Talk is free, and open to the public. A reception follows immediately afterward. Registration is encouraged; click here.

Roses Are Red. Violets Are Blue. We Need A Poet Laureate. How About You?

Move over, Robert Frost.

Take a hike, Maya Angelou.

Westport is looking for a real poet.

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.

For more information, click here. To apply, click here. The deadline is May 31.

TEA Talk, Otocast Blend Art And Technology

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.

David Pogue

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.)

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.

 

Ryan Lester: Arts Honoree’s Career Began Here

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.

tea-talkThe 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.

ryan-lister

Ryan Lester

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.

westport-arts-advisory-committee-logo

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.)


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Sunday’s TEA Talk: Where Are Our Arts?

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.

WAAC

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.

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.)

TEA Talk Time

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.

Gina Rattan

Gina Rattan

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.

Nick DeBerardino

Nick DeBerardino

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.

(Both events are free, and open to the public. For more information, click on www.westportarts.org)