Art Town: Getting up-to-date about the Westport art collections
The Westport Public Arts Collections (WestPAC for short) are a cultural asset of our community and includes the following works:
The town of Westport portrait art collection — Paintings of first selectpersons and of groups involved in town activities from the history of Westport, which can mostly be seen in Town Hall.
The Works Project Administration — Drawings, paintings, murals and sculpture by Westport artists for the federal art programs of President Frankln Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal economic recovery plan. The commissioned artwork for town and school buildings helped artists survive the devastated economy.
The Bicentennial Collection — Assembled in 1976-78 by Westporter and arts reporter Shirley Land, who chose two sculptures and 13paintings by the following Westport artists: Diane Alexander, Ward Brackett, Bob Baxter, Ann Chernow, Walter Einsel, Peter Gish, Hardy Gramatky, Jak Kovatch, Suzanne Lemieux, Enid Munroe, Maggie Mckinnick, Ann Toulmin-Roth, Barbara Rothenberg, Lucy Sallick and Harvey Weiss.
The Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection — Begun in 1964 by Burt Chernow, then the art teacher at Greens Farms School. He envisioned an original art collection that would serve as a visual library for all the Westport schools. It began with a modest group of original works of art donated by renowned artists from the New York to Westport area, and over the decades has become the most important collection of over 10,000 original works in a United States public school system.
Much of the art work displayed in the schools is used as teaching tools by faculty members. As an example, the Drew Friedman Community Foundation recently provided funds to Friends of Westport Public Art Collections, a 501(c)3 to develop WestPAC Learning Galleries, spaces dedicated in each schoool, for special works of art that students will study within the currucula.
In the past two years, generous donations to WestPAC from individuals, artists, estates and collectors include: Steffi Friedman’s life sized bronze of ballet dancers, “Pas de Deux,” which will be installed in the courtyard at Staples and seen from the theatre lobby; work from the estate of Jak Kovatch; a Calder lithograph from the Sheffer/Scheffler family and a sculpture donated by the Sheffer/Scheffler family titled, “Rock Paper and Scissors,” to be installed on Jesup Green at the Westport Library.
Currently due to school security and COVID-19 restrictions, most of these artworks cannot be readily accessible to the public. Now, you can enjoy the collection through WestPAC’s new online exhibits at westportarts.org or via tour of Westport on the cellphone app OTOCAST.
Financial gifts to Friends of WestPAC are tax deductible and will help provide annual support to present artwork, to support educational programs, and to preserve works of art for future generations of Westport students and residents. Contact: email@example.com for further information.
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 an honorary member of the Artists Collective of Westport, member of the Westport Museum Committee and other arts organizations.