Westport threw a party ... and everybody came.
Or maybe it just seemed that way Thursday evening, as a spirit of exuberant creativity filled Main Street for the opening of the public art celebration, "Art About Town."
Organized by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, some 75 pieces of art were displayed at local businesses. Drawing hundreds of people to Main Street, which was closed off to traffic to allow pedestrian browsing, the event also featured art demonstrations, live music, pop-up drink and food stations, stilt-walkers, face-painting, dancers and even a fire pit where visitors could roast marshmallows.
The artwork, which is available for purchase, will remain on display through June 17.
"This is the second year we are conducting this," said Steve DeSloge, the event co-chairman and owner of Rockwell Art & Framing. "Last year was an incredible success and the feedback from the public and town was great. This kicks off the month-long art show and is a way for merchants to attract people downtown to shop. We have more restaurants and build-outs this year than last and, outside Brooks Brothers is an expanded non-profits area."
The weather, gloomy and damp much of the week, was a concern to organizers, but the event was unscathed. "We were monitoring Weather.com for the last three days, right up until this afternoon," said DeSloge. "We saw a storm cell coming through, but it just missed us."
Added DeSloge's brother Chris, "It's like the guys at Indy who watch a cell and then declare it's a go."
Cathy Colgan, the DMA's special events producer, said, "Weather is always a very interesting part of planning events. You try to control every aspect. We lucked out. It's a street party and the stores are open -- if we got sprinkles, people can just duck in."
Duck in and out the crowd did -- zig-zagging to and from street displays, dancing, enjoying wine, sampling food, studying window art and watching art being created, such as two cars being sprayed with graffiti by Austin Brodsky.
It was a kick for store employees, like Banana Republic's Kristen Kashimer, to see all the activity. "We have an artist's work on display in store," she said. "She made paintings that coordinate with our summer clothing displays. This is a great way to merge art and retail, and bring shoppers downtown."
Among the street-party sights were a trio women dressed as tall pink flowers, another trio of belly dancers, a troupe on stilts that stepped gingerly and playfully through the crowd, and Lulu Lemon's Elissa Cretella doing splits in the window of the store.
Artists on hand included Sholeh Janati, creating a painting across from Athletica while also celebrating her birthday, and Monica Scarlato. "I've never done anything like this before," said Scarlato of participating in the event. "It's a good starting point and a fun showcase. My art blends well with the fashions here."