Westport to honor local artists, performers Oct. 24
Published 3:26 pm, Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Nine artists -- some young, others established -- will be honored by the Westport Arts Advisory Committee at the Westport Arts Awards at 2 p.m. Oct. 24. The annual ceremony will be held at the Town Hall auditorium and, in addition to the presentation of the awards, there will be a musical performance by one of the winners.
The awards have been handed out since 1994 to honor Westporters for a variety of contributions to the arts, from musical talents to writing. Awards are given in five categories: literature, film/television, music, visual arts and the Horizon Award, given to artists under the age of 32.
Pikayzen is a violinist who was born in Moscow and moved to Westport in 1999. He has performed with the Moscow Radio Symphony and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, achieving both feats before the age of 12. He attended public schools in Westport, went on to the Manhattan School of Music and then the Juilliard School. He is currently studying at the Yale School of Music.
Murphy is an animator who graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. He is a motion editor at Giant Studios in Los Angeles, where he has worked on applying captured human motion to film characters in "Mummy 3," "The Incredible Hulk" and "Prince Caspian." Most notably, Murphy served as a camera assistant to director James Cameron on the film "Avatar."
The 2010 literature award winner is Frank Deford, a veteran sports writer and author of 16 books, both of fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing a weekly column for the Westport News, he is a commentator on NPR's "Morning Edition" and a senior correspondent for the HBO Show, "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel." He is also a senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated.
The Film/Theater award this year will be presented to Susan Granger, a former child actress in movies with Abbott and Costello, Red Skelton and Lucille Ball. She has spent more than 25 years as an entertainment critic, television commentator and radio commentator, including movie reviews for Brooks Community Newspapers.
The music award for 2010 will be given to Natalie Ryshna Maynard, a concert pianist, educator and lecturer. A graduate of the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard Graduate School, she has toured nationally as a performer. Maynard returned to Westport in 1976 and since has continued to play in concerts. She has served as the president of the South Shore Music Club and Performers of Connecticut.
Edward Vebell, an illustrator for United States magazines since 1941, will be honored for his contributions to the visual arts. He specializes in sports and historical subjects. He was the primary staff and combat artist for Stars and Stripes during World War II and was the courtroom artist for the 1945 Nuremburg Trials. The collection of those works are on display in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Musuem in Washington, D.C. He has lived in Westport for 56 years.
The Mollie Award, recognizing extraordinary volunteerism in the arts, will be given to Joyce Thompson, a member of the Westport Arts Center since its start in 1982. She has worked to bring new programs and exhibits to the center, has organized events like the Jazz Series and art trips to museums, ballet and theater and encouraged the publication of "A Community of Artists," a reference book of visual artists in Westport and Weston from 1900 to 1985.
Two "Champion of the Arts" awards will be given this year. The first goes to Harold Levine, the founder of an advertising firm who has also devoted his energy to supporting local art organizations. The second goes to Marianne Liberatore, a lifelong music lover and performing arts advocate who has worked to bring live performances to the town's schools since her children were there in the 1970s.
The Westport Arts Advisory Committee was founded in 1994, the brainchild of Burt Chernow with a goal to increase the public's awareness of the town's artistic heritage. The WAAC established the awards ceremony to honor artists with ties to the town. The organization also makes recommendations regarding gifts of artwork to the town, assures that funds are budgeted for the upkeep of all town-owned artwork and acts as a facilitator and advocate for arts in Westport.
Pikayzen and a Staples High School a capella singing group under the direction of Justin Miller will perform during the ceremony. All are invited to a reception following it at the Westport Historical Society.