Art Town: An introduction to the Westport Arts Advisory Committee
Now that Westport Arts Center has moved and is operating under another name, what better time to introduce you to the other “whack” — with the initials WAAC, it is known as the Westport Arts Advisory Committee.
WAAC is the organization overseeing the visual arts in Westport. It was founded in 1994 by Burt Chernow, whose primary vision was to host a yearly celebration of Arts Awards given to accomplished artists in the fields of visual arts, theater, literature and music who lived and worked in Westport and Weston.
Among the renowned visual artists honored from 1964 to 2004 were Arthur Dove, John Steuart Curry, Paul Cadmus, Bernie Fuchs and 45 other notables in the field. For a full listing of awardees in all categories, go to www.WestportArts.org.
After 20 years of holding these awards, and despite the many artists who were not yet recognized, WAAC decided to revise the focus, but retain the Horizon Award, given to a Westport artist, writer, musician or actor under the age of 30 who was considered to be on the horizon of an outstanding career.
Among the amazing group of young artists who have been recognized so far are photographers Lindsay Addario and Tyler Hicks, writer Justin Paul and violin virtuoso Igor Pikayzen — all of whom are having extraordinary careers.
A few years ago, WAAC initiated an annual program called TEA Talks (TEA is an acronym for Thinkers. Educators, Artists). TEA Talks are 90-minute programs with panel discussions on topics relevant to artists and the community, and have been met with great success.
During the past three years, TEA Talks have included “The Arts Go Viral,” “Arts and Social Change,” and “Earnings vs Yearnings.” For a complete list of the TEA talks and videos for each, year, visit www.WestportArts.org. The subject of this year’s TEA Talk is “Breaking Barriers through the Arts” and will be held at Westport’s Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, from 2 to 4 p.m. on Oct. 27.
Panelists include filmmaker Chris Bolan and producer Wendy Morgan Hunter, artists Ann Chernow and this year’s Horizon awardee Noah Steinman, gallerist Jeanine Esposito and singer Tiffany Jackson. The afternoon is free to public and promises to be one of the best TEA Talks yet . A reception is held afterwards in the Town Hall lobby.
The Arts Advisory Committee is an all-volunteer organization appointed by the first selectman. Its mission is to increase public awareness of Westport’s cultural resources, to advise on the preservation of Westport’s legacy as an arts community, oversee Westport’s public art collection (under the acronym “WestPAC”) and initiate ways to increase the visibility of the arts in our community.
The present committee is co-chaired by Nancy Diamond and Richard Epstein. Each member has a connection to the arts and/or arts education and include Kathie Motes Bennewitz, Miggs Burroughs, Eric Chiang, Frederic Chiu, John Dodig,Lee Goldstein, Wendy Morgan Hunter, Sandra Lefkowitz, Deirdre Price, Kelle Ruden, Carole Schweid and Elizabeth Strick.
WAAC meets on the second Tuesday each month at noon at Town Hall. Notice of the meeting with room number is posted in the lobby. The public is invited to attend these meetings.
If you are a Westport resident, and want to help work with this stellar committee, contact them at email@example.com.
Miggs Burroughs is a lifelong Westport resident and full-time graphic artist since 1972. He is co-founder of The Artists Collective of Westport and a member of the Westport Arts Advisory Committee among other accomplishments.
Ann Chernow has been a Westport resident since 1968. Her artwork has been exhibited locally and worldwide. Chernow is a member of the Westport Arts Center, the Westport Museum Committee and other arts organizations.
Art Town would like to acknowledgement Nancy Diamond for her input to this column.