Chefs have sponsored one-night-only restaurants and flash mobs have staged short-lived "spontaneous" events. On Thursday, the Westport Arts Center's newly established Westport Artisty Collective celebrated local artists with its inaugural Pop-Up art show. and judging by the turnout, the concept was a hit.

More than 300 people attended the ephemeral exhibit viewing 90 paintings, sculptures, photographs and other works by 15 Fairfield County artists, including the five founding members of the collective: Tammy Winser, Miggs Burroughs and Nina Bentley, all of Westport, Jahmane West of Norwalk and Norwalk native Duvian Montoya.

Winser designed the collective's logo, which depicts a piece of bread popping up from a toaster. Five toasters were provided at the event, allowing viewers to create their own edible pop-up works of art. They toasted breads, bagels, waffles and Pop Tarts, and spread them with nut butters, jams and chocolate spread.

Visitors had only three hours to walk through the exhibit, which was to be dismantled Friday morning.

"It's coming down tomorrow. They should really be up four or five days to justify the effort," said Richard Bentley, Nina Bentley's husband, who used his name tag as a message board saying, "I do not beat my wife," a response to several of her seemingly anti-marriage pieces included in the show. "She tells me not to take her art personally," he said.

Others thought the exhibit's time frame worked well.

"It definitely gives a sense of urgency. You've got to go now or it's gone," said Deborah Hammarskjold of Westport.

Another woman said it forced her into action. With longer shows there is the temptation to think, "I'll get to it. Then a month goes by and, oh rats, I missed it," she said.

"Spontaneous and more organic is something that the community was asking and looking for. The turnout proves that," West said.

Derek Blackburn said it was "world-class art by local artists" who don't always have an opportunity to showcase their creative talents. The Westport Artist Collective aims to address that.

While participants in flash mobs perform their role and then go their separate ways, Helen Klisser During, the nonprofit WAC's visual arts director, envisions the collective as a sustained group of creative individuals who gather together to discuss art, share ideas, critique each other's work, develop artistic forums and Pop-Up exhibitions that focus on public engagement, and develop opportunities and experiences with WAC serving as the heartbeat for the collective.

"The life of the center is the artists here," she said.

The arts center is known for bringing together art on both global and local scales, and During said she looks forward to expanding the center's role by providing a place for artists to come together and create their own community.

"We are looking beyond the familiar gaggle of artists in the area, to give them, and the public, a venue for less formal exhibitions, dialogue and camaraderie. Isn't life just one huge popup event, anyway?" Burroughs said.

The collective is open to all active artists in pursuit of expanding their careers and in developing a strong, diverse arts community. Artists will meet on the last Wednesday of every month at the Westport Arts Center.

For more information about WAC and the Westport Artist Collective, visit