Tag Archives: Westport Public Art Collections

Roundup: Sunday Beach Service, Henry Wynne, Cannons …

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Summer Sunday beach services return tomorrow (June 27).

All season long, parishioners and clergy from 4 Congregational churches (Saugatuck, Greens Farms Congregational, Norfield and Wilton), plus United Methodist Church, gather on Sundays at 8:30 a.m., at Compo Beach near the cannons.

It’s BYOC (bring your own chair). You don’t need a beach sticker — just tell the gate attendant you’re attending the service. Dress code is casual; flip-flops and nice shorts are fine. (Hat tip: Karen Como)

Sunday morning service at Compo Beach. (Photo courtesy of Saugatuck Congregational Church)

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Henry Wynne stumbled in the Olympic Trials 1500 meter race. But the 2013 Staples High School and 2017 University of Virginia graduate — now sponsored by Brooks Running — qualified for the finals nonetheless.

The big race is tomorrow (Sunday, June 27, 7:40 p.m. EDT). NBC Sports airs it live. Westporters will be tuning it, to watch Henry reach his Tokyo dreams.

Henry Wynne (Photo/Will Hoffman for Runner’s World)

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Every 2 years, Art Committee members conduct a town- and school-wide inventory of every object in the Westport Public Art Collections.

This year is the most comprehensive yet. They’re not only updating locations, but also measuring every object in the database and cared for by the town.

Including the Compo Beach cannons!

(From left) Eve Potts and her sister Marion Morra take the measure of the Compo cannons. (Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

Can guess the width, length and depth of the entire monument? Click “Comments: below.

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Aspetuck Land Trust is about to get more land.

On July 1, the non-profit organization — currently focused on Westport, Weston, Easton and Fairfield — merges with the Monroe Land Trust and Tree Conservancy.

That adds another 20 acres to ALT. They will own or manage more than 2,000 acres of conserved land, with a total membership of over 1,700 people.

Land trusts preserve land through purchase, conservation easements or donations of property. Preserved properties are important habitats for plants and wildlife. They protect water quality, agricultural land, and scenic and historic places. For more information, click here.

Aspetuck River, at the Newman-Poses Preserve (Photo/Seth Schachter)

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The Planning & Zoning Commission has some interesting proposals to consider.

On Wednesday (June 30, 12 noon), the Regulation Review Subcommittee will discuss possible changes related to improved recreational opportunities and amenities, to complement the Senior Center.

They’ll also talk about expanded outdoor dining regulation impacts, in consideration of creating more permanent rules. Click here for more information.

On July 8 (6 p.m.), they’ll review a text amendment and application to redevelop 1460 Post Road East — the current site of Julian’s Pizza, BevMax and more — to accommodate a new medical office tenant. The existing medical marijuana dispensary would remain. Click here for more information.

1460 Post Road East. Rio Bravo restaurant closed last summer.

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Tomorrow (Sunday, June 27) is National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day. To raise awareness, Westport’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 399 is supporting a 10-mile march.

It begins at 8:30 a.m. at Darien VFW Post 6933, and ends at the Westport VFW Post on Riverside Avenue. Click here to donate.

VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399.

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This week’s #FridayFlowers project has special resonance for the Westport Garden Club.

Their latest work, at the Nevada Hitchcock Park on the corner of Cross Highway and Weston Road, includes perennials from members’ gardens. The flowers promote pollination — and the park commemorates Nevada Hitchcock, a founding member of the club.

#FridayFlowers at Nevada Hitchcock Park.

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“The Breakfast Club” is the quintessential high school film. More than 35 years after its release, it still nails the experience.

Of course, some things have changed since 1985. You can learn how on Monday. The classic movie is Monday’s (June 28, 8:45 p.m.) Remarkable Theater feature. It will be preceded by a short video starring 12 graduates from Staples High School’s Class of 2021. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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On Thursday, MoCA Westport hosted a reception for its summer exhibitions: “Love Wins” (a mural created in conjunction with Westport Pride), “Unfit for Print” (including Staples High School graduate Noah Fox), and “Élan Vital” (with the works of 11 artists selected by Staples alum Max Teicher and Emily White). Works of the Congressional Art Competition are also on view.

The exhibitions run through August 21. Click here for details.

Noah Fox, with his work. (Photo/Maddy Martin)

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There are 3 days left in Pride Month. And 3 days left to buy Pride products, like hoodies and coffee cups, from Finding Westport.

10% of all proceeds are donated to Westport Pride. Click here to see what’s available, and order.

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Happy 1st anniversary to Don Memo!

Owner Bill Taibe took a risk — opening a new restaurant in the midst of a pandemic — but it’s paid off. His fun, creative take on Mexican fare packs in crowds every night next to Barnes & Noble. (Or, as much older Westporters remember it, in “the old Town Hall”).

There’s plenty of room for outdoor dining. Plenty of music. And plenty of great food!

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Lauri Weiser calls today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo “Lurking in the Grasses.” How much wildlife can you spot?

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … happy 78th birthday to the great British jazz/rock/R&B musician Georgie Fame. He’s still performing, with the likes of Van Morrison, Bill Wyman and Alan Price.

He’s probably best known for his “Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde.” But my favorite is this 1964 classic, “Yeh Yeh”:

PS: Yeh, yeh, it’s hard to hear the lyrics. Here you go:

Every evening, when all my day’s work is through
I call my baby, and ask her what shall we do
I mention movies, but she don’t seem to dig that
And then she asks me, why don’t I come to her flat
And have some supper and let the evening pass by
By playing records besides a groovy hi-fi
I say yeh yeh, and that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh

My baby loves me, she gets a feeling so fine
And when she love me, she makes me know that she’s mine
And when she kisses, I feel the fire get hot
She never misses, she gives it all that she’s got
And when she asks me if everything is okay
I got my answer, the only thing I can say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh

We’ll play a melody and
Turn the lights down low so that none can see
We gotta do that, we gotta do that
We gotta do that, we gotta do that
And there’ll be no one else alive
In all the world ‘cept you and me
Yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh
Yeh yeh, yeh yeh

Pretty baby, I never knew such a thrill
Just thought I’d tell you, because I’m trembling still
But pretty baby, I want you all for my own
I think I’m ready to leave those others alone
Don’t need to ask me if everything is OK
I got my answer, the only thing I can say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh

We’ll play a melody and
Turn the lights down low so that none can see
We gotta do that, we gotta do that
We gotta do that, we gotta do that
And there’ll be no one else alive
In all the world ‘cept you and me
Yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh yeh, yeh yeh

Oh pretty baby, I never knew such a thrill
Just thought I’d tell you, because I’m trembling still
But pretty baby, I want you all for my own
I think I’m ready to leave those others alone
Don’t need to ask me if everything is okay
I got my answer, the only thing I can say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh, that’s what I say
I say yeh yeh
That’s what I say, I say yeh yeh
That’s what I say, I say yeh yeh
That’s what I say, yeah

Drew Friedman’s Gift Keeps On Giving. So Does WestPAC.

Despite its name, the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center is not a place.

It’s an organization, named for a bequest by the longtime restaurant owner (Onion Alley, Cobb’s Mill Inn, Stonehenge Inn) and downtown landlord (much of Main Street).

His first wife, Bobbie, was an accomplished artist who died in 2011. Drew was a great supporter of her work, and her many local artist friends.

After his death in 2016, his estate funded the Community Arts Center. Administered by Drew’s business partner Nick Visconti, it supports non-profit art programs, with a special emphasis on youth.

One of its centerpieces is a scholarship program. For the 3rd year in a row, Friedman’s endowment has provided college grants — totaling $25,000 — to 4 Westport students.

The committee has chosen well. Here are samples of the works of the 4 awardees.

Thanks to Drew Friedman, the Westport school system — and our entire arts-loving town — the creative future is in great hands.

Alexandra Lam graduates next month from Staples High School. She will study at the School for Visual Arts in New York.

Staples graduate Whitney O’Reardon is a rising senior at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

Staples High School 2019 graduate Margot Liotta will study at Berklee College in Boston.

Staples graduate Sam Mann is a rising senior at Southern Connecticut State University.

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Meanwhile, in other art news, the Board of Selectmen voted this week to accept 30 works of art sought by Westport’s Public Art Collections.

This is the first time the Westport Arts Advisory Committee — which oversees WestPAC — has purchased items for the collection.

Until now, donations have enabled more than 1,500 artworks to hang in public buildings. Schools, Town Hall, the Senior Center, Parks & Rec office — everywhere in Westport, you see public art.

Now, the WAAC is proactively contemporizing and updating the collection. Most of the 30 works accepted by the selectmen this week were donations. They include the mixed media collage “Village @ Ntonso” by 1965 Staples High School graduate and retired North Carolina State University professor of design Charles Joyner.

“Village @ Ntonso” (Charles Joyner 2020, mixed media)

However, 4 were purchased, thanks to Friends of WestPAC. Two are by Westport photographer Jerri Graham; one is by Stamford painter Christa Forrest, the other by nationally renowned photographer Adger Cowans of Bridgeport.

“Sisters” (Jerri Graham, 2020) , Taken at the George Floyd memorial protest on Westport’s  Jesup Green,

The goal of the purchasing program is for “residents, students, and school and town staff to be able to see themselves reflected in – and inspired by – a more diverse range of original works of art,” says town arts curator Kathie Bennewitz.

“We hope too that these works will help foster community dialogues.” 

To learn more about how to donate art, or make tax-deductible contributions to WestPAC, click here.

“Three Shadows – The Bronx” (Adger Cowans 1968, 1977 silver gelatin print)

Roundup: Car Thefts, Downtown, Melissa Bernstein …

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Lock your cars doors! Even — especially — in your driveway!

That’s the advice (it should be a command) from the Westport Police Department.

Four vehicles have been stolen here since Saturday. All 4 times, the doors were unlocked — and the keys were left in the cars.

Police have also responded to 15 vehicle break-ins in the past 6 days. Items were stolen from all cars — and again, the doors were unlocked.

The department reminds residents to lock all cars, and bring keys inside. Take valuables out of your car for the night too — cash, purses, wallets and electronics. It’s a good idea too to keep outside lights on, and motion lights activated.

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“Westport Downtown Merchants Association” was always a mouthful.

So chew on this: The organization has a new name.

From now on, it’s the “Westport Downtown Association.”

Sleeker. More inclusive. And it does not sound like it’s a radio station (WDMA).

But, the WDA says, they’ll still enhance the downtown experience for shoppers, diners and other visitors.

And they’ll still work with business owners, landlords — and merchants! — to improve the commerce and culture of downtown Westport.

Their website is http://www.westportdowntown.com. As easy to remember as it is to shop and dine.

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Since going public about her battle with existential anguish and depression, Melissa Bernstein has been interviewed by every major American media outlet.

Tonight (Thursday, May 6) she talks to a different audience: her neighbors.

Former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox News anchor Dave Briggs — also a Westporter — interviews the Melissa & Doug toy company co-founder today, on Instagram Live.

Melissa will talk about her life, and LifeLines: the project she and her husband Doug have created, to educate and empower people. The conversation is particularly apt now; May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

It’s available tonight at 8 p.m. on Instagram Live (@Westport Magazine). You can ask questions during the segment, or send them now: DM @DaveBriggsTV.

Melissa Bernstein

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Anne Craig no longer reports the news for Fox 5 New York and Channel 8 New Haven. She’s concentrating on her family, here in Westport.

But she continues to make must-see videos. (Remember this one on the yarn bomber?)

Now — right before Mother’s Day — she turns her camera on another inspiring local mom.

Rosie Jon is an outstanding artist who overcame what could be a major obstacle: She was born without arms.

Rosie is upbeat, optimistic, and very talented. Click below to enjoy Anne’s great tribute:

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Neighbors and Newcomers of Westport is one of the town’s great — and greatly unknown — organizations.

Far from a “welcome wagon” — longtime residents are as welcome as recent arrivals — it’s a fun, active group. Members enjoy clam bakes, coffees, holiday parties, kayaking, barbecues, happy hours, wine tastings and TGIF get-togethers.

They play canasta. They go hiking and to movies. There is a book club, culinary group and luncheon club. There are trips to museums, baby and toddler play groups, and girls’ nights out.

Well, they did all that before COVID. The pandemic forced every activity onto Zoom, or hiatus.

But as Westport opens up, the group is returning to in-person events. “With the energy of spring in the air, we are trying our best to serve our community,” they say. “We will of course continue to follow town guidelines in all activities.”

The first monthly event is tomorrow (Friday, May 7, noon): lunch outdoors at Arezzo.

In the works: Book Club (May 27, 7 p.m.), kayaking, and free Pure Barre classes for members.

Click here to learn more. Click here for the Facebook page; For membership information, email membershipnnwestport@gmail.com. For other questions, email presidentnnwestport@gmail.com.

Neighbors & Newcomers enjoy a hike.

 

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Calling all young artists!

Westport Public Art Collections seeks submissions from K-12 students for the 2021-22 school calendar. That’s the one that hangs in every kitchen. It lists all school events — and is decorated handsomely with student art.

Drawings, paintings, photos and computer-generated graphics will be considered (landscape orientation, please).

Artwork scanned at high res (600 dpi — JPG or PDF format file) or a good photo can be mailed to WestportSchoolCalendar@gmail.com. Include the student’s name, email, school and grade. Keep the original art, in case a re-scan is needed.

The deadline is May 28. Click here for more details, and to preorder a calendar.

The cover of the 2020-21 Westport Public Schools calendar was drawn by Sophia Sheng, Coleytown Elementary School 5th grader.

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Bedford Middle School 8th grader Ryan Tzou learned yesterday he was a winner in the Women’s History Month essay contest.

He found out in a great way: State Representative Stephanie Thomas surprised him during social studies class.

“Ryan told the triumphant story of his grandmother, a Chinese immigrant who experienced countless obstacles in her life that she never let hinder her dreams and goals,” Thomas said. “Ryan’s love and admiration for his grandmother poured through the carefully constructed words in his essay, which made it both inspirational and heart-warming to read.”

Ryan Tzou with State Representative Stephanie Thomas (left) and Bedford Middle School social studies teacher Gabrielle Tripuzzi. He holds a citation for his essay.

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The other day, “06880” reported on Staples High 9th grader Cameron Mann’s current gig: He’s part of HBO Max’s “Mare of Easttown” cast.

Three years ago he was part of a 2018 workshop: “The Secret Garden.” Presented for top Broadway professionals and theatre owners, it was directed by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, and starred notable actors.

The production is being streamed tonight (Thursday, May 6), and will be available on demand May 7-9. Proceeds go to the Dramatists Guild Foundation and The Actors Fund. Click here for details.

Cameron Mann

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Two photos. Call them “Beauty and the Beast”?

First: Spring colors continue to dazzle Westport:

(Photo/Rowene Weems Photography)

Next: Fertilization project underway at Compo Beach:

(Photo/Les Dinkin)

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And finally … on this day in 1954, Roger Bannister became the first human being to run a mile in under 4 minutes (3:59.4).

At least 2 Westport runners (Steve Wheeler and Henry Wynne) have beaten Bannister’s record.

The current world record is 3:43.13, by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco. Who knew?!

 

 

 

Roundup: Friday – P&Z, CBD, Kelp …

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Last night, the Planning & Zoning Commission approved new regulations regarding accessory apartments (units in a principal dwelling) and “accessory dwelling units” (those in attached structures).

As “06880” reported earlier this month, the new rules will open up our housing stock. They could add a small number of affordable housing units, and provide added income for residents going through life changes — the loss of a job, say, or divorce, or those whose children have moved away and who want to move into a smaller place on their own property, while renting out their larger home.

Also last night, Neil Cohn moved from alternate to full member of the P&Z, He replaces Greg Rutstein, who resigned Wednesday due to increased business responsibilities in a new job. Both are Democrats.

Rutstein praised chair Danielle Dobin, his fellow commissioners and Planning & Zoning Department head Mary Young. Noting that the board faces many important decisions, he said, “I want to make sure that I allow others who have the time to carefully consider these issues to serve the town that I love so dearly.”  

Dobin said, “In 3 short years, Greg has had a meaningful impact on Westport. He worked tirelessly to make the P&Z more efficient — cutting through red tape, and saving residents and businesses time and fees. His insightful questions, positive energy and good humor will be deeply missed by all of us.

“We warmly welcome Neil Cohn, one of our longstanding alternate commissioners in Greg’s place. Through his work chairing the Economic Growth Subcommittee, which he founded, Neil is playing an integral part in ensuring P&Z regulations promote a vibrant Westport.”

Neil Cohn

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Westport men and women can shop for CBD at 2 downtown stores literally around the corner from each other.

But what about man’s best friend?

We got that too.

Local resident Joseph Sequenzia just launched an all-natural hemp-derived  CBD dog treat. YUP PUP is part of a growing interest in pet wellness. The CEO says that dogs experience anxiety relief from CBD — a chemical compound in cannabis — along with health benefits like joint pain, digestion and healthy coats.

His mission is to “treat our pets to the same health and happiness they treat us to,” Sequenzia says. YUP PUP comes in Tasty Bacon Treats, Peanut Butter Bites and Savory Salmon Snacks. For more information, click here.

Joseph Sequenzia and his family — including dogs Wally and Otto.

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Yesterday was Earth Day. But New England Kelp Harvest Week runs all the way through Sunday.

Local restaurants and shops from Greenwich to Westerly, Rhode Island are participating in the first-ever event celebrating our region’s most sustainable crop: sugar kelp.

Kelp requires no fertilizers or fresh water to grow, and absorbs carbon trapped in the sea. Westporters can support local farms and restaurants, and fight climate change — all in one meal.

Food and beverages featuring kelp are available at The Whelk, Kawa Ni, OKO, Don Memo and The Cottage. To experiment in your own kitchen, buy local dried kelp at Fjord Fish Market.

The festival’s Instagram account offers food and beverage ideas, and information about kelp. Click here for a list of all participating restaurants, breweries, cafes and shops. Click here for links to virtual events. (Hat tip: Craig D.B. Patton)

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Ospreys love Westport. But for years, the platform to the right of the Burying Hill Beach entrance road has been vacant. It’s been speculated that it is too low for ospreys’ tastes.

But at least one pair thinks it’s fine. The platform in the New Creek saltmarsh was busy yesterday, with new occupants building their nest.

Perhaps — like other newcomers to town — they realized that in a tight real estate market, sometimes you have to grab whatever property is available.

(Photo/Chris Swan)

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For decades, Walter and Naiad Einsel painted in their Victorian farmhouse, across from Greens Farms Elementary School. Two of Westport’s most noted artists, they documented their nearly 5-decade romance with clever “Art from the Heart” valentines.

Long ago, in 1947 — 6 years before they married – Walter painted Naiad’s portrait.

Bob and Karen Weingarten bought the painting in 2016. It hung in their Greens Farms home. Now they’ve donated it to the Westport Public Art Collections.

WestPAC works hang all over town. Perhaps this one is destined for Greens Farms El.

Naiad Einsel, painted by Walter Einsel (1947)

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Westport resident Anne Boberski recently completed a video project for the Housatonic Museum of Art.

Available online, “See, Think, Wonder: Bridgeport” includes four 25-minute video episodes and a printable Teacher Toolkit. It’s designed to support curriculum in grades 5-8. Students examine maps, seals, artifacts and architecture, meet community leaders, and learn that history is local.

The art museum is on the Housatonic Community College campus. But anyone can click here to see “See, Think, Wonder: Bridgeport.”

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And finally …  today in 1985, Coca-Cola changed its formula. The reaction to New Coke was swift, strong, and overwhelmingly negative. The original formula returned less than 3 months later.

 

 

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: School Calendar And Kudos, Fitness, Fishing, More


The start of school may look unfamiliar — including the calendar.

But when you look at the Westport School Student Art calendar, you’ll realize that some things never change. Fortunately.

Despite disruption, the Westport Public Art Collections has produced its 2020-21 calendar. As always, it features great K-12 student art

Calendars can be purchased online (click here) and at ASF Sports & Outdoors (1560 Post Road East).

As always, proceeds support the care and maintenance of the fabulous Westport Public Art Collections. Works hang in all public buildings and are placed in outdoor parks. The most recent addition: the “Rock, Paper, Scissors” sculpture donated by Staples graduates Ann Sheffer and Bill Scheffler, to be installed soon near the Westport Library.

The cover of the 2020-21 Westport Public Schools calendar was drawn by Sophia Sheng, Coleytown Elementary School 5th grader.


Speaker of back-to-school: Staples High School teachers Deirdre Flores and Sarah Stanley spotted this sign on Pumpkin Hill Road.

As they stopped to take a picture, the homeowner cheered them — and thanked them from her porch. It made their day — and made them proud of what they do, and where they do it.


Missing your fitness? Wondering how you’ll survive whatever’s ahead when the weather turns cooler? Thought about taking a fitness class, but uncertain about how they work?

Head downtown on Saturday, September 12.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association sponsors its first Health and Fitness Expo. JoyRide, RowHouse, Pure Barre and Athleta will all stage live classes outdoors, on Main Street. All will include levels of fitness and ability. All will of course follow COVID-19 requirements.

Vendors will also present health and fitness concepts. Church Lane merchants may join in too.

For more information — including how your business can participate — email events1@westportdma.com.


As summer ends, a shout-out to Alec Udell. Son of Staples grad Jeff Udell, he was visiting his grandmother Judy and went fishing at Compo, on the jetty by the cannons.

Using very light tackle, he caught this 30-inch striped bass. After a photo op, Alec released it safely back into the water.


And finally … today in 1888, George Eastman patented the first roll-film camera, and registered the name “Kodak.”

Westport Public Art Collection: Now Just A Click Away

By the fall of 1932, 25% of Connecticut’s workforce was unemployed.

As Governor Wilbur Cross accompanied presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt to a campaign address in Bridgeport, both men knew that jobs creation was a key means to provide economic relief and hope.

Many New Deal projects — including the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration — depended on state and local government cooperation.

Between 1934 and 1937, 1st Selectman King W. Mansfield and the Westport Art Committee secured funding for 16 artists to produce works for 8 public buildings here.

“Westport Organized 1835-1935),” Howard Heath (1879-1969), oil on masonite, hangs at Town Hall.Created in 1936 — one year after Westport’s centennial — the mural is a decorative map showing the principal roads, brooks and historical points of interest circa 1835. The artist’s inscription reads, “Dedicated to the sturdy traders, farmers and builders who settled and developed the Town of Westport. May the pioneer spirit of courage, independence and resourcefulness be ever alive and vigorous.”

Westport’s WPA collections form a historically significant portion of the Westport Public Art Collections. But with schools and town buildings closed due to COVID-19, the great WestPAC works are also unavailable.

No problem! WestPAC is bringing the public art collections to the community virtually — and to art lovers everywhere, far beyond 06880.

Two new exhibits were just launched. The first highlights the WPA works. (Click here to view.)

“Battle of Compo Hill,” Eugene Hannan (1875-1945), plaster bas-relief, on view at Saugatuck Elementary School. The sculptor was commissioned to produce 2 low-relief panels to commemorate the patriots who stood against the British invasion of April 25-28, 1777, for what was then Staples High School on Riverside Avenue. This scene depicts Brigadier General Benedict Arnold as he leads the patriots to intercept the British at the foot of Compo Hill.

The pop art collection is also now online. (Click here to view.)

Not a lot of good things have come out of the pandemic. The chance to view the astonishing Westport Public Art Collections — perhaps unparalleled by any suburban town anywhere — from the comfort of your self-isolating home is one of them.

For more information on WestPAC — and to search the entire collection — click here.

“Eskimo Children at Play,” Colcord Heurlin (1895-1986), oil on masonite, on view at Saugatuck Elementary School. Throughout the early 20th century, technological advancements in transportation and communication brought the world closer together. Here, the artist brings the ways of life of children in Alaska to Westport.

Townwide Youth Concert Adds Chinese Art

Tonight is the townwide Youth Concert. The annual cross-cultural, collaborative event involves every school’s music department, plus teachers in departments like world language.

This year’s focus is on China. It’s part of the school district’s global initiative project.

Which means there is plenty of opportunity for visual arts too.

Beginning last year, Westport Public Art Collections’ exhibition — “Ties that Bind: Yangzhou and Westport” was displayed in every town elementary school.

The exhibit features ink landscape paintings by a pair of Chinese artists, donated to Westport in 2005 by our sister city. It also includes photos by famed local photographer Larry Silver, who first visited Yangzhou with a town delegation in 1996.

The Chinese government invited him back 3 years later. Both times, Silver took hundreds of black and white photos of the people and places he saw. A little more than 2 decades later, that way of life is very much changed.

Viewing, discussing and doing classroom projects with that artwork has been a great way for students to learn about China, before the youth concert.

Using WestPAC art to teach about China.

Dr. Ive Covaci, an Asian art scholar, adjunct professor at Fairfield University and WestPAC education chair, led professional development sessions with K-12 art teachers.

Then, elementary school students explored — via discussions and projects — the millenniums-old art of Chinese painting. They also compared the painters’ mountain landscapes to Silver’s photos of natural scenery.

Coleytown Elementary School students — who practiced writing Chinese characters, using an actual calligraphy brush — shared their activities on the school blog.

Practicing calligraphy in the Westport schools.

The public can see “The Ties That Bind” at tonight’s Youth Concert (7 p.m., Staples High School auditorium). Its tour ends at Town Hall, this spring.

(For more information on the Westport Public Art Collections, email westpac@westportps.org. The next open meeting is Friday, February 7, 9 9 a.m. in Town Hall Room 201.)

School Calendar Showcases Student Art

The 2019-20 school year is underway.

But it hasn’t really started unless you’ve gotten your Westport Public Schools calendar.

How else will you know every concert, play and meeting, at every school in town?

Not to mention — far more importantly — every vacation, day off, even half days?

This year’s Westport edition — published by Friends of Westport Public Art Collections — is on sale now. (Including at Back to School Nights. Even without the calendar, you know when those are — right? It’s in last year’s calendar. Every year’s calendar runs 13 months: September to September.)


The cover of the 2019-20 Westport School Calendar was designed by Coleytown Elementary School kindergartner Beatrice Anderson. Her colorful image shows the a variety of school mascots.

The calendar is as Westport as it gets. Works from young local artists and photographers — representing every school — fill the pages. They’re culled from a record 646 entries (up from 178 in 2018!). They show our water, sunsets, woods, wildlife and more.

In addition to Back to School Night, you can order the Westport Schools Calendar online (click here). It’s available too at ASF, Earthplace and the Westport Library.

All proceeds support the Westport Public Art Collections.

The back cover — showing National Hall — is courtesy of Saugatuck Elementary School 3rd grader Liam Harrison.