Tag Archives: Westport Arts Awards

A Very Artsy Weekend Ahead

Who says Westport isn’t still an “arts colony”?

Oh. I did. Never mind.

Two upcoming events put the A-word front and center.

The first is this Saturday (October 26). The Westport Arts Advisory Committee and Westport PTA Council co-sponsor a guided tour of the Westport Public Schools Permanent Art Collection. A bus leaves the Westport Historical Society at 12:45 p.m., stopping at 4 schools and the firehouse.

Wheeler House, by Stevan Dohans. It's now the site of the Westport Historical Society -- where Saturday's tour begins.

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.

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 bbrauner@westporthistory.org. For more information on the Westport Arts Awards, click here.)

 

Sunday’s Arts Celebration Tinged With Sadness

Frank Jacoby was very excited about this coming Sunday.

At 2 p.m. at Town Hall, the 19th annual Westport Arts Awards will honor 12 of Westport’s most creative citizens. A Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Frank and his wife, Doris Storm.

Doris Storm and Frank Jacoby

Frank — a veteran of the “Golden Age” of television — helped put Channel 13 WATV on the air in 1948. He was soon hired by NBC as a network director.

Doris — his business partner in Jacoby/Storm Productions, and wife for 66 years — worked in early television as a writer, performer and co-producer with him, and on her own as a TV spokeswoman for many companies.

Sadly, Frank’s award will be presented posthumously. He died Thursday morning, of a heart attack.

The couple was looking very forward to the event, Doris said. They’d been to all 18 before this year, and felt honored to be in such august company.

The award is richly deserved. And — despite the tragedy — how nice that Frank knew he’d earned it.

Honoring Our Arts

The Westport calendar is filled with little events that should be big ones.

They’re the ones you vaguely hear about before they happen.  Afterward, someone tells you how great it was to be there.  You vow you’ll go next year — but don’t.

The Westport Arts Awards is one of those you-really-shouldn’t-miss events.  This year’s 19th annual ceremony is Sunday, October 21 (2 p.m., Town Hall).  If you want to see all that’s right with this town — its long-time residents, its young people, its support of creativity and achievement — save the date right now.

The event honors artists in 6 disciplines — art, music, film/new media, visual arts/photography, theater and literature — as well as 3 young people, 2 Westporters who work quietly in the background, and 10 artists with local ties who died this year.

Tyler Hicks

The biggest name is Tyler Hicks. The 1988 Staples grad — a staff photographer for the New York Times — has covered conflict in Kosovo, Chechnya, Congo, Ethiopia, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan, and been captured by the Libyan government. When Times correspondent Anthony Shahid died in Syria, Tyler carried his body across the border to Turkey.

In 2009 Tyler, fellow Times photographer (and Staples ’99 grad) Lynsey Addario, and the Times staff shared the Pulitzer Prize for “masterful, groundbreaking coverage” of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He’s the youngest recipient ever of a Westport Arts Award Lifetime Achievement Honor. He lives in Istanbul, so his mother will accept it for him.

Other Lifetime Achievements go to author, screenwriter and essayist Mary-Lou Weisman; Anne Keefe, artistic advisor at the Westport Country Playhouse; filmmakers Frank Jacoby and Doris Storm; English horn player Doris Goltzer, and artist, painter and printmaker Jak Kovatch.

Horizon Awards — presented to artists under the age of 32 who have already demonstrated excellence — are some of the most intriguing honors at the ceremony. This Sunday, there are 3.

Peter Duchan

Peter Duchan co-wrote the screenplay, and was associate producer for the South by Southwest film “Breaking Upwards.” He also wrote the book for the recent Off-Broadway musical “Dogfight” (scored by previous Westport Arts Award honoree Justin Paul).

Playwright, screenwriter and director Leslye Headland‘s credits include “Bachelorette,” “Assistance” and the rest of the “Seven Deadly Plays” series. She recently wrote a remake of “About Last Night” for Screen Gems. Like Peter, she is a Staples grad.

Nicholas Britell is a composer, pianist and producer. He scored the film “Gimme the Loot, ” which won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW last March. His music was featured in “New York, I Love You” and elsewhere. Nick is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard.

Longtime Westporter John Franklin will be honored as a Champion of the Arts. Former head of the Westport Arts Center, and a consistent and generous supporter of music, dance and the arts, he’s one of those real good guys who does so much for so many, so quietly.

Joan Miller

So does Joan Miller For her decades of  work on the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection — a pet project of Mollie Donovan — as well as many other volunteer efforts, Joan is an apt recipient of the Mollie Award, for tireless service.

Ten names will be added to the Heritage Honor Roll.  J.D. Salinger, Hilton Kramer, David Levine, Natalie Maynard, Arlene Skutch, Albert Goltzer, Paul Rand, Marianne Liberatore, Burry Fredrik and Jerome Kilty were all connected to Westport. All died in within the past year, or were not honored while alive.

If you think the Westport Arts Awards are a dull, stand-up-and-give-a-speech affair:  think again.

These are creative people.  There are short videos, along with brief presentations.

And, of course, a reception afterward.

The Westport Arts Awards are Westport at its best.

Its artistic, photographic, musical, theatrical, literary — and very, very talented — best.

Calling All Artists

The number of Staples graduates who go on to careers in the arts is astonishing. From Eric von Schmidt and Christopher Lloyd, through Brian Keane and Bradley Jones on through Ari Edelson, Daryl Wein, Gina Rattan — and the hundreds more whose parents will respond wrathfully because I did not name them — Westporters make their marks as actors, artists, musicians, choreographers, stage managers, cinematographers, sound engineers, and in countless other ways.

But they’re not the subject of this post.

Thousands of other Westport students were exposed to music, visual arts, theater and literature, then moved on to careers in law, medicine, technology, blogging, insider trading, and god knows what else.

Yet they still remain involved in the arts.

They act in community theater. Serve on symphony boards. Sing with a church choir. Etc., etc., etc.

Many towns have community theater groups, where non-professional actors continue to take the stage. This scene is from a recent Westport Community Theater production of “The Seafarer.”

Every October, the Westport Arts Advisory Committee honors notable and rising young “artists” (in the broad sense of the word). The brochure — detailing new and past awardees — makes for fascinating reading.

In 2013 — for the 20th anniversary of the awards — the WAAC wants to include as many “non-professionals” as they can find.

That information — recounting the impact the arts had on these bankers, engineers, CEOs and whatnot long after Staples — could be even more intriguing than the usual stuff.

First, though, the committee must find them.

If you — or someone you know — is still involved in the arts, in a non-make-your-living-at-it way, email Ann Chernow at ctfinearts@sbcglobal.net, or Sandy Lefkowitz at homehome@optonline.net.

And, just for fun, click “Comments” and let “06880” readers know too. We shouldn’t have to wait 17 months to hear about the arts’ influence on non-artists’ lives.

Nick Ordway: “The Arts Are Oxygen”

Last Sunday, Nick Ordway received a Horizon Award — as an emerging young artist — at the Westport Arts Awards.

It was a great ceremony.  And even though he’s still “emerging,” the Oscar-nominated filmmaker — a Staples grad, Princeton and NYU grad — spoke with the wisdom of the ages.

In his brief speech, he told the Town Hall crowd:

I had a very happy adolescence here in Westport, and I think I can attribute much of that to the prominent role that art had in my life and in this community.

Nick Ordway

When a community supports and fosters the arts, it’s as if it’s planting a new stand of trees.  Everyone can see that trees are beautiful, but what people forget is how much vital oxygen they provide for everyone.

The arts produce a different kind of oxygen, absolutely essential yet equally invisible — so much so that art’s true worth is oftentimes overlooked, and funding and support for the arts are missing on society’s balance sheet.

While some art might have substantial commercial value, much of the arts exists beyond the marketplace.  That’s because the arts have a worth beyond the quantifiable.

The beauty and truth of the arts serve as a consistent reminder of what matters in our lives, and what it means to be human.  They give some people a sense of purpose, and help others just to get through the day.  And they bring us together as a community — they even did so today.

Rather than a commodity to be bought and sold, art is, rather, a gift to be shared and enjoyed.  As an artist, I am merely trying to give back both to art itself, for inspiring and transforming me in so many ways, and to the communities and very special family that helped expose me to the arts in the first place.

So thank you Westport, thank you teachers and parents and friends and other members of this vital community; thank you for recognizing me today. I only hope that through my art I can continue to give back what you’ve given to me.

Honoring Our Arts

The Westport calendar is filled with little events that should be big ones.

They’re the ones you vaguely hear about before they happen.  Afterward, someone tells you how great it was to be there.  You vow you’ll go next year — but don’t.

The Westport Arts Awards is one of those you-really-shouldn’t-miss events.  This year’s 18th annual ceremony is Sunday, October 23 (2 p.m., Town Hall).  If you want to see all that’s right with this town — its long-time residents, its young people, its support of creativity and achievement — save the date right now.

The event honors artists in 4 disciplines — music, film/theater, visual arts and literature — as well as 3 young people, 2 Westporters who work quietly in the background, and 6 local artists who died this year.

Miggs Burroughs

You should go to the ceremony if for no other reason than to pay tribute to Miggs Burroughs.  For 4 decades, the 1963 Staples grad has shared his graphic design talents — often gratis — with countless area organizations.

The Westport town flag; Levitt Pavilion, Westport Historical Society, Westport Y, Project Return logos; every First Night button; t-shirts for local races — all are Miggs’ creations.

That’s in addition to his postage stamps, Time Magazine covers, lenticular images, cable TV show…  No wonder Miggs has earned the “Mollie Award,” named for the indefatigable arts advocate Mollie Donovan.

Mimi Levitt

Speaking of the Levitt Pavilion, Mimi Levitt will receive the “Champion of the Arts” award.  The Austrian native — who served as a translator at the Nuremberg war trials — was, with her husband, a major benefactor of the outdoor performing arts center when it was founded on the Saugatuck River in 1973.  She still serves on its governing committee.

The Arts Awards span all ages, from 90-year-old Mimi Levitt to a trio who are just beginning what will be spectacular careers.

Drew McKeon

“Horizon Awards” — to emerging artists under 32 — will be presented to drummer Drew McKeon (he’s toured with Hall & Oates and Jimmy Buffett, and played off-Broadway); filmmaker Nick Ordway (whose “God of Love” earned an Oscar for Best Live-Action Short), and dancer Katrina Gould (she’s performed with the Boston and Los Angeles Ballet companies).

Lifetime Achievement Awards will go to Naiad Einsel (art), Hans Wilhelm (literature), Millette Alexander (music), and Maureen Anderman and Frank Converse (theater/film).

Six names will be added to the Heritage Honor Roll.  Sculptor Stanley Bleifeld, violist Keith Conant, artist Tony Marino, architect Abe Rothenberg, author Max Wilk — and of course uber-volunteer Mollie Donovan — all passed away recently.

If you think the Westport Arts Awards are a dull, stand-up-and-give-a-speech affair:  think again.

These are creative people.  There are short videos, along with brief dance and music presentations.

And, of course, a reception afterward.

The Westport Arts Awards are Westport at its best.

Its artistic, musical, theatrical, literary — and very, very talented — best.

Honoring Our Artists

Daryl Wein

Daryl Wein

Westport is an arts hotbed.  Not a weekend passes without exhibits, performances and shows.  We attract hgh-powered names; for a small town, we’re a big player.

But 1 of my favorite events is pretty simple.  Each year Westport’s Arts Advisory Committee honors our own.  There are low-key speeches, a slide show, live performances, and heartfelt applause from neighbors and friends.

This year’s 16th annual Arts Awards take place 2 p.m. Sunday (Town Hall).  All Westporters are invited.  You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy it.

Horizon Awards will be presented to 2 rising young artists — both Staples graduates.  Daryl Wein (SHS ’02) is an uber-talented actor/filmmaker.  His documentary “Sex Positive” has won prizes, and been released in 9 countries.  He is an NYU Tisch School and USC Film and Television grad.

Josh Frank (SHS ’00) is a trumpeter, composer and music producer.  He has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera and recorded with the  American Brass Quintet.  He is a Juilliard graduate.

Sally White

Sally White

Champion of the Arts recipients include Howard Aibel (longtime advocate of the arts, as a director, board member and concert sponsor); Suszanne Sherman Propp (singer/songwriter and music teacher extraordinaire), and — a truly inspired choice — Sally White (longtime owner of Sally’s Place, perhaps the last great music store on the planet).

Heritage Awards will be presented posthumously to 3 giants:  Dorothy Bryce (actress); Mel Casson (cartoonist), and Barbara Wilk (artist).

There are many ways to enjoy a Sunday afternoon in Westport.  Honoring our arts heritage — with our own supremely talented artists, musicians and filmmakers — might just be the best.

Dorothy Bryce

Dorothy Bryce

Honoring Up-And-Coming Artists

When the 16th annual Westport Arts Awards are presented this fall, some honorees may be not much older than the honors themselves.

The Westport Arts Advisory Committee is seeking recommendations from the community, for its Horizon Awards.  They’ll go to rising artists who were raised in Westport, or now live here.  Candidates can be involved in visual arts, literary arts, film, theater, dance or music.

Ari Edelson, 2005 Horizon Award honoree

Ari Edelson, 2005 Horizon Award honoree (Photo by Emily Hamilton Laux)

They must be younger than 32 years old, and have already “demonstrated excellence” in their field.

Candidates — or those who nominate them — should send a resume, and visual sample if applicable, to:  horizonaward@gmail.com.  The deadline is June 15.