Tag Archives: Westport Fine Arts Festival

Roundup: Book Sale, Fine Arts Festival, Ben Casparius …

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Has the dreary weather got you down?

Think back to a year ago this Memorial Day weekend. Life was a lot worse. So go out and enjoy Westport’s 2 big events. They’re great. Many people have worked hard to make them happen. And they’re important to the sponsors.

The 48th annual Fine Arts Festival runs from now through 5 p.m. Artists on displya includes painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood, graphics and print making.

There’s music, food, and plenty of activities for children. Click here for more details.

Today is also the last day of the Westport Library Book Sale — which means all books, CDs and DVDs are half price.

Every customer gets a coupon for The Westport Book Shop (used book store on Jesup Green). The sale is open from noon to 5 p.m. And you’ll be dry: It’s all inside the library!

Westport LIbrary Book Sale

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The University of Connecticut baseball team plays in this afternoons Big East finals (1 p.m.).

Yesterday, Ben Casparius got them there.

The 2017 Staples High School state championship team captain and Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year pitched 7 innings great innings against Creighton. The Huskies won 2-0 in the conference semifinal, played in Mason, Ohio.

Casparius struck out 13, while allowing just 3 hits. After the game he said, “it was an awesome experience, an awesome day for us, and we’re ready to go [Sunday]. We’re not even close to done yet.” (Hat tip: David Goldstein)

Ben Casparius, in a post-game interview yesterday.

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Speaking of Staples grads: Class of 2012 alum Ellen Kempner leads Palehound, an indie rock duo. She met Melinda (who records as Jay Som) on tour

They realized they’re compatible — “two breathy-voiced songwriters whose music can be fragile or bruising, offering both vulnerability and resolve,” the New York Times‘ Jon Pareles writes — and joined forces.

In January 2020 they rented an Airbnb house for two weeks, and recorded an album. They called themselves Bachelor.

It’s been released as “Doomin’ Sun.” Pareles says:

Kempner and Duterte brought out the best in each other. In the songs they wrote together, satisfaction often stays just out of reach. They look at desire, estrangement, insecurity, pop fandom, shoplifting and, in the album’s title song, climate change. And they sing like sisters who know each other’s secrets.

Click here for the full Times story. (Hat tip: John Karrel)

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Up on Weston’s Kellogg Hill, Jolantha celebrates Memorial Day:

(Photo/Hans Wilhelm)

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On Friday night, MoCA Westport welcomed the Alexa Tarantino Quartet. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist performed a great set — including the Connectcut premiere of their “Firefly” album. Attendees enjoyed a Firefly aperitif too.

Next up in the Music at MoCA Series: Jocelyn and Chris, a sibling rock duo seen recently on “The Today Show.” They perform outdoors on June 11 (7 p.m.). Click here for tickets.

Alexa Tarantino Quartet, at MoCA Westport.

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Tina Green sent along today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, of a newly hatched peregrine falcon. She notes that the birds been nesting in the Saugatuck area for many years.

(Photo/Tina Green)

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And finally … in honor of Westport’s Fine Arts Festival:

 

Fine Arts Festival Debuts Downtown

Early rain kept crowds low, when the 48th annual Westport Fine Arts Festival opened this morning downtown.

But the showers stopped, the temperature rose, and traffic is picking up at the Westport Downtown Association event.

The show runs today (Saturday) until 5 p.m., and tomorrow 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Artists on displya includes painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood, graphics and print making.

There’s music, food, and plenty of activities for children. Plus: It’s nowhere near as hot as the usual mid-July oven!

Click here for more details.

Eric Heitmann of Hopewell Junction, New York was ready this morning, on the Post Road near Main Street. When the rain let up, he displayed more of his nature-oriented work. (Photo/John Karrel)

Fine Arts Festival Returns Next Weekend

Last year, the Westport Downtown Association moved its Fine Arts Festival from mid-July to Memorial Day weekend. The goal was more pleasant weather than the traditional bake-on-the-asphalt date, along with a holiday kickoff to summer.

It didn’t happen. COVID canceled the nearly-50-year-old event.

But the Westport Fine Arts Festival returns this year. It’s set for next weekend: May 29 and 30 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

And — quite by accident — it’s more than just the first townwide event of the season. It’s also the first big gathering since the lifting of most major COVID restrictions.

A scene from the 2019 Fine Arts Festival. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The 48th annual Fine Arts Festival draws artists from across the country to Main Street. Their works are available for sale at a wide range of prices.

The WDA is making this all-are-welcome show as local possible. All artists will receive gift cards to use at local restaurants and cafes.

There’s live music, and food from Don Memo and Walrus Alley. Children can take selfies at 3 murals painted specially for the festival by MoCA Westport, the Artists’ Collective of Westport and One River. The (very apt) theme of the murals is “New Beginnings.”

It’s a new beginning indeed. For a very old, and cherished, tradition.

Saugatuck Students And Art: It’s Elementary!

Austin Charise is a 5th grader at Saugatuck Elementary School. His sister Ashley is in 4th grade there. 

They created 2 graet projects they want to share with “06880” readers. As you read about them, you’ll realize: Our future is in good hands. Austin writes:

The first project was an effort to allow student artists to have their art seen and appreciated.

During COVID, I had a lot more stress. Art was a great way to help take my mind off things, but I really wanted to be able to share my art with others (and maybe even sell it!).

Because we were trying to limit electronics during COVID as much as possible, selling online wasn’t really an option, so I had the idea to get a booth with my sister at the Westport Fine Arts Festival May 29 and 30. We went a few years ago and really loved it.

We’ve had the idea since then. But we learned the festival is a serious show. You have to be invited!

Ashley and Austin Charise, and their art.

But the committee thought that if a local company sponsored a student artist booth, we might be able to make our idea happen. We worked with the Westport Downtown Association and my parents’ local businesses to sponsor an art booth for young artists.

Any Westport elementary school student can enter their art for exhibit and sale at the show. We’ve already arranged for the tent and have been able to borrow the exhibit panels from Mr. Miggs Burroughs with the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center!

The second project is one my whole family is working on. We are saving money to be able to build a school in Malawi, but it is quite expensive. My sister agreed to help raise part of the money in order to be able to do it. So, we put the 2 ideas together.

Student artists can pay a $20 exhibit fee for each piece of art they want to show. They also can name the price they would like for their art piece. If the art sells, they receive 80% of the proceeds and 20% will also go towards charity. All the money raised from entry fees and the sales percentage will go toward the charity BuildOn.

Students can submit art via this link (click here). The art and $20 entry fee (cash or check) can be submitted to 39 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT 06880. Venmo: @ChristyCharise.

Questions? Email christy.charise@nm.com, or call 917-414-8599.

Roundup: Starbucks; State Regulations; Fine Arts Festival; Townee T-shirts; More


Westporters gathered at Starbucks’ downtown location this morning, to show support for a popular employee. He’s been the target of racial harassment and stalking by a customer,

After a firestorm on social media, Starbucks has finally banned the customer from its property.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)


The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce reports:

While the state has paused its Phase 3 reopening, officials have made updates to  industry-specific rules.

The updates provide more specific guidance, and new recommendations for a broad range of sectors. Highlights include new rules for Indoor Recreation; expanded guidance for Outdoor and Indoor Events.

Changes impacting  Offices, Personal Services, Hair Salons & Barbershops,  Retail, Libraries, etc. include:

    • Non-essential businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask.
    • In the event an employee tests positive for COVID-19, it is recommended the business implement a 24-hour passive decontamination and follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting.

Changes impacting restaurants include:

      • Servers are no longer required to wear gloves.
      • Indoor performances are now allowed (with the exception of musical vocalists).

In addition, hotels are now permitted to provide non-essential services and amenities (valets, ice machines, etc.).


First, the downtown Fine Arts Festival was moved from always-hot July to much more pleasurable late May. Then the pandemic pushed it back to fall.

Now the Westport Downtown Merchants Association has reluctantly announced its cancellation. The next festival — with hundreds of artists, plus music, food, kids’ activities and more — is set for Memorial Day weekend of 2021 (May 29 – 30.

But you can still enjoy this year’s show. Click here for links to over 175 juried fine artists who would have attended, and will be welcomed back next year.

A scene from last year’s Fine Arts Festival.


Back in 2017, “06880” ran a story on Townee. The new company produced authentic, Westport-inspired t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and more.

This summer they’ve added hand-created tie-dye clothing. “It’s the perfect way to show town spirit and positivity,” say Nick Prior and Theo Vergakis. They’re rising juniors at Staples High School — and they’ll deliver your goods personally.

They also offer tie-dye workshops at small home camps in town. Kids pick their styles, then learn how to tie-dye. The cost is just $20.

For more information, click here or email nickprior04@gmail.com

Theo Vergakis, Nick Prior and Townee tie-dyed tees.


Last night, Westport Public Schools officials presented 3 options for reopening to the Board of Education.

Today at 5 p.m., Westport Magazine’s Dave Briggs interviews Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas, on Instagram Live. The former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox News anchor will ask about that topic, and other important issues.

Search for @westportmagazine on Instagram to hear the interview. Questions can be submitted live (@westportmagazine), or beforehand (@davebriggstv).


The other day, “06880” gave a shout-out to 2020 Connecticut Entrepreneur Award winners Sarah Deren of Experience Camps, Remarkable STEAM and Mark Mathias.

There’s another local honoree (with an asterisk).

FinTron invest placed first in the Venture (Pre-Revenue) category. Their office is on Franklin Street. But they moved from Fairfield in the beginning of March, so that town gets credit for them in the list of winners.

No problem. From here on, FinTron is ours.


Partly cloudy skies are predicted for this weekend. Temperatures will be in the 80s — well below last weekend’s sizzling weather.

No matter what the weather, Westport’s Parks & Recreation staff is ready to welcome beachgoers. They manage the crowds with efficiency and energy.

And smiles — even if you can’t see them, behind their masks!


The Westport Library Book Sale is not accepting any more donations this week. The donation shed is full. Next chance: next Thursday.


And finally … what better way to celebrate the end of another week than with this great put-on-a-smile-on-your-face song? One more reason to love Scotland!

COVID Roundup: Kayak, Paddle Rentals; Principal’s Personal Notes; Roly Poly; More


Longshore Sailing School opens today — in phases.

Phase 1 is kayak and paddleboard rentals online. Tomorrow (Monday, June 1), those rentals are available online, and for walk-ins.

Wednesday (June 3) is the first day for sailboat and catamaran rentals. Online reservations are suggested; walk-ins are first-come, first-served.

Click here to reserve. NOTE: Renters must present a license or photo ID at the office.

(Photo/Anne Bernier)


It’s been quite a first year for Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas.

No one could have predicted what happened in March — or since then. But in addition to shepherding the school through distance learning, keeping the lines of communication open with a series of warm, informative videos, and doing thousands of other things that no one ever taught in his education classes, the popular principal hand-wrote congratulatory notes to graduating seniors.

All 433 of them.

It doesn’t make up for what the Class of 2020 missed during their final 3 months. But if anyone still keeps scrapbooks, a note like that should go right in front.


As restaurants throughout Westport reopen, Roly Poly is closing.

Yesterday, employees were wrapping up the final wraps. The longtime franchise on Saugatuck Avenue could not make it through the COVID crisis.


The Fine Arts Festival was supposed to be this weekend. It’s been postponed. The new dates are October 17-18.

But you can still see and buy beautiful paintings, sculptures and photos from the artists who would have lined Main Street today.

Click here to browse. Then mark your calendars for the live event this fall.


One more piece of proof that Westport is on its way to reopening fully:

Our self-important, really obnoxious entitled bad parkers are back!

Compo Shopping Center (Photo/Michael Newman)

And finally … Tyrone Davis nails it:

COVID-19 Roundup: Beach Parking; Fine Arts Festival; PPE Drive; Lax Drive; More


Vehicle parking emblems (aka “stickers”) are required as of May 15 for entrance to the Compo Beach parking lots.

Because of COVID-19 limitations, emblems will be available for Westport and Weston residents only. No daily parking passes will be sold. Parking will be limited to 50% capacity until further notice, from 8 a.m. too 8 p.m. daily.

Longshore parking regulations also take effect May 15. The Old Mill lot remains open for residents of Old Mill and Compo Mill Cove only.

If you purchased emblems in prior years, you have an online account established. Click here (or here, then choose “Memberships”; in the search box type “Vehicle”).

All parking emblem purchases must be made online, and will be mailed within a week to 10 days.

If you forgot your login and/or password, email recreation@westportct.gov or call 203-341-5152,

Parks & Recreation officials may require a copy of your current vehicle registration and/or additional proof of your Westport/Weston residency.


The latest victim of the coronavirus is Westport’s Fine Arts Festival.

The summer event — which this year had moved to an earlier, less-than-broiling May date, from its longtime mid-July slot — has been postponed.

The sponsoring Westport Downtown Merchants Association will announce a new date soon. That will be welcome news to the 170 fine artists who display their art, photography and sculpture — and the thousands of visitors who flock to their booths, and enjoy live music, great food and family activities too.


Next Saturday (May 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., railroad station parking lot across from Mystic Market), the Westport Police Department Benevolent Association hosts a PPE collection drive.

But it’s not for them.

They ask for unopened and unused items like gloves, masks, gowns, face shields, hand sanitizer, bleach wipes, etc., as well as monetary donations. All supplies collected and money raised will benefit front line health care workers at Westport EMS and Norwalk Hospital.

Funds are also being raised through a GoFundMe page. Click here — and thank you!


The good news from Staples High School keeps on coming.

Thanks to an outpouring of support from the community, the boys lacrosse team delivered 1,000 items of food and cleaning supplies to the Gillespie Center yesterday — along with a $1,000 check for Homes With Hope today. These guys are winners on and off the field!


And finally … Phil Collins released this is 1981. Nearly 4 decades later, the first line says it all.

 

Fine Arts Festival: Calling All Kids (And Adults)!

Westport’s Fine Arts Festival draws painters, photographers, sculptors — and art lovers — from around the country.

Plenty of residents browse stroll the stalls on Main Street.

But for a town that prides itself on its arts heritage, the number of local artists showing is limited.

This weekend (July 20 and 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), we’ll get our fill.

Following last year’s successful pilot, the Artists Collective of Westport hosts 2 activity tents for kids and parents. Set up at at Brooks Corner, they’re a spot for kids to show off their creatives sides. Drawing, rock painting, origami — you name it, it’s there for children to do.

Action in last year’s Fine Arts Festival children’s tent.

New this year, the Collective will set up a giant Art Experience tent on Taylor Place, near Tiffany.

Over 20 Collective artists have volunteered. There will be several at a time, leading interactive projects and demonstrating techniques and media. Among them: clam shells, eggs, ceramics, murals, wire, camera-less photos, Band-Aids, folded paper, paint and more. Susan Fehlinger is the Collectivist in chair.

Westport Artists Collective co-founder Miggs Burroughs remembers when he was a boy. His father Bernie was president of the Westport Artists Club. Miggs, his brother Trace, and many other local kids grew up surrounded by art. Illustrators, cartoonists and painters seemed to be everywhere — always giving back to the community.

“I have a great sense of pride carrying out his legacy, in some small part, by helping the Collective keep the visual arts alive and lively for generations to come.”

Some of this art may be featured in the Experience Tent.

Miggs will be in the tent, at the 46th annual Fine Arts Festival. He and many others will be working with youngsters at  Brooks Corner too.

Odds are good they’ll inspire at least one young artist. In 2083 — at Westport’s 109th Festival — he or she may be giving back to the next generation, just like Miggs and his very talented colleagues will do this weekend.

(The Fine Arts Festival — and the Westport Artists’ Collective participation in it — is a partnership with the Westport Downtown Merchants Association. For more information on the Festival, click here.) 

Book Sale Begins Soon; Volunteers Needed

The Westport Library is transformed. But the annual book sale will be as familiar as your favorite novel.

Beginning Saturday, July 20 — the same weekend as the Fine Arts Festival — the 27th annual event features tens of thousands of books, in every category imaginable: art, children’s, graphic novels, foreign language, gardening, history, humor, music, mystery, nature, photography, poetry, religion, science fiction, sports, teens, travel.

That’s just the Jesup Green tent. Inside the library you’ll find DVDs, CDs, vinyl and paperbacks.

One scene from last year’s Book Sale.

This year’s specials include books from Ed Vebell, the famed illustrator whose heirs have donated much of his collection of military, American West and Native American objects, plus literature from Manny Margolis, the prominent civil rights attorney.

The Book Sale — whose proceeds benefit the library — needs over 300 volunteers. Set-up (starting July 15), sales, shelving, greeting, security, clean-up — there’s a job for everyone, of any physical ability.

If you’re a teenager, retiree or anyone in between, click here to sign up.

Book it!

(The Westport Library’s Book Sale is Saturday, July 20 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, July 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, July 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday, July 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Fine Arts Festival is Saturday and Sunday, July 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

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.)