Art is back at the Westport Country Playhouse

WESTPORT — Art finds a way, and the Artists Collective of Westport continues to prove that.

Its quarterly in-person pop-up show finally returned to the Lucille Lortel White Barn Center at Westport Country Playhouse — The Gallery — Saturday afternoon following a yearlong hiatus due to the pandemic.

“The playhouse has been a wonderful partner since the beginning,” said Westport artist Miggs Burroughs, one of the founders of the collective.

Works by 13 artists from the 150-member group were on display as part of one of the smaller quarterly shows the collective puts on. Each year, the collective also holds a show featuring the work of all its members.

“I’m so proud of these people for staying loyal to what’s really the essence of this town,” said collector Donald Cohen, noting Westport’s long history as a creative community.

Founded in 2014, the collective was the brainchild of Helen Klisser During, who was then the artistic director for the now-defunct Westport Arts Center. Along with Burroughs, original members included Nina Bentley, Duvian Montoya, Jahmane West and Tammy Winser.

The goal of the collective is to promote the work of local artists, as well as provide a community for creators.

“We have a real community of people who get together and help each other,” explained member Lynn Carlson. “It’s just wonderful to be back and to be able to do something like this.”

Burroughs said that the last show scheduled for this location, featuring these same artists and their work, was suddenly canceled by the pandemic last March.

“We hung this show March 11, 2020,” he said, “which was the day the governor shut it down … We hung the show and had to take it down the next day.”

He made note that the playhouse has been a welcoming host to the collective, which began holding pop-up shows there after the arts center closed down on Riverside Avenue.

“I think this space is great,” noted Andrew Bentley of Westport, whose mother co-founded the group. “I love that the playhouse has sort of cross-pollinated with the collective.”