That's how elated Felton, a Weston resident, philanthropist and one of the arts center's leading supporters, was to be honored at this year's signature fundraiser, He has been an active volunteer board member of the center for more than a decade, and is the chairman of the nominating committee.
"I'm involved in the arts center because it gives to so many people," Felton said. He elaborating by talking about the many opportunities for artists and audiences provided by the center, as well as "to so many people in need, who don't understand the full benefits of owning art and being involved in art. It's part of our well-being."
The center's "programming has touched the lives of thousands in multi-generations, and its impact continues to be more and more important," Felton said. The programs include educational outreach for children, seniors and veterans.
The evidence of those programs was found throughout the Steel Shed in South Norwalk, where the Art Noir Ball was held Saturday night. Long red ribbons dangled from the ceiling to create a Giving Tree Chandelier that featured silk-screened cards created by seniors at Bridge Academy, a Bridgeport magnet high school.
Also dangling from the ceiling was aerialist Shaunna Kotka of Las Vegas, who entertained the crowd of about 500 people with her gymnastic and balletic moves performed on a hoop suspended in air. Performing artists strolled throughout the Steel Shed on stilts, wearing colorful costumes, interacting with guests and joining them on the dance floor.
This year's Art Noir Ball was a dazzling feast for the senses, an evening full of spectacle and surprise, where guests were invited to dress edgy or elegant and explore the boundaries of shadow and light as represented by the evening's unique performances and interactive installations.
Those at the ball also got to create art of their own. With guidance from Venezuelan artist Eduardo Agelvis they added to a three-paneled, multi-media work of art by adding paint, applying gold leaf and drawing squiggles with white chalk.
"The arts center does fabulous events. They're insanely creative, intensely immersive events, so they make a lasting impression. They resonate," said Carleigh Welsh of Westport, a ball attendee who contributed to the community art project.
The event built on the success of WAC's 2012 Warhol Ball, according to Peter Van Heerden, the center's executive director. "We want to have fun while giving back to the community, give them a night to remember. It's a night for supporters," he said. Van Heerden said it is also a way to celebrate all that the center does as an arts organization, including programs involving visual, performing and other forms of art. "It covers the spectrum of what we do and represents our organization. We have five or six diverse streams," he said.
Danielle Ogden, WAC's director of education, said the organization "reaches out beyond our footprint to our neighboring communities."
For more information about the Westport Arts Center and its programs, call 203-222-7070 or check www.westportartscenter.org. The Westport Arts Center gallery is open seven days a week, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m., at 51 Riverside Ave.