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News : Entertainment Sep 6, 2011 - 4:58 AM

Westport Arts Center announces 2011 – 2012 season

By Westport Arts Center

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Christian Sands (10/2/11)
Westport Arts Center (WAC) announces its 2011-2012 season, including contemporary art exhibitions and integrated programming, jazz and chamber music concerts, film screenings, literary programs, and art education for people of all ages.

Peter Van Heerden, WAC’s executive director said, “It is hard to believe that over 200 programs will be bursting out of WAC this season, in fact it is wildly ambitious. The great news is that as the days get shorter and the nights longer we are bristling with excitement to bring to the community a wide and diverse range of artistic programs to enthrall, entertain and educate. Our 2011-2012 Season offers artistic experiences that aim to enrich the lives of individuals and the community as a whole, from Westport out into the greater Fairfield community; with high-quality programs in Chamber, Visual Arts, Jazz, Education and Film. Drop into our gallery for a visit, sign up as a member, browse our website, book a ticket for a program, just make sure you join us for a season of enriching artistic performances, programs and experiences.”

Visual Arts

Four, eight-week long exhibitions will be curated by WAC Director of Visual Arts Helen Klisser During, and will include integrated arts programs that make connections across disciplines.

The season will open in September with “Love: In The Eye Of The Beholder,” also featuring work by close to 100 WAC Members Artists. The exhibition will be juried by Whitney Museum Curator, David Kiehl, and is intended to complement the themes in Westport Country Playhouse’s fall production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night, or What You Will.” An opening reception will take place on Friday, September 16, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., and the show will run through Sunday, November 6. The exhibition will serve as a thematic springboard for a diverse range of unique and innovative integrated programming. WAC and the Playhouse will partner to present three programs that provide a platform for creating arts experiences that contribute to individual growth and enrich the community:

On Thursday, October 6, 7:00 p.m. the two organizations will host a “Love Night,” in the WAC Gallery. Led by WAC Director of Visual Arts, Helen Klisser During, and Playhouse Associate Artistic Director, David Kennedy, guests will explore the common language of visual art and theater. Actors, reading scenes from Shakespeare’s most beguiling and enjoyable masterpiece, “Twelfth Night,” will help to weave together conversations, and to make powerful connections between Shakespeare’s words and the artwork in WAC’s “Love,” exhibition.

A screening of the film “Shakespeare in Love” is scheduled for Friday, October 28, 7:00 p.m. “The plays of William Shakespeare have inspired innumerable film adaptations, but in John Madden’s ‘Shakespeare in Love’ it is the writer’s life that is re-imagined,” said David Kennedy. “This delightful concoction – full of heroes, villains, backstage intrigue, and even a loveable heroine disguised in male garb – won seven Academy Awards.” Kennedy will introduce and provide contexts to the themes explored in the film. This film is rated “R.”

"Malawi With Love" photo of the children working on the project. Photo by Gloria Simoneax (9/16/11)
Lastly, WAC and the Playhouse will host students from the Bridge Academy in Bridgeport (grades 9 - 12) for a Theater and Art Experience Day on Tuesday, November 2. The students will spend the morning in the WAC Gallery for a “Walk and Talk” with Director of Visual Arts, Helen During, and Member Artists from the “Love" exhibition. Then, the students will travel over to the Playhouse for a matinee performance of “Twelfth Night, Or What You Will,” followed by a pizza lunch. Finally, they will return back to WAC for an acting workshop hosted by members of the cast from “Twelfth Night.”

Running concurrently with “Love,” “Malawi With Love” is an exhibition in WAC’s Studio Gallery and art studio, presented by Save The Children. Educator’s from Save the Children’s Healing and Education Through The Arts (HEART) program were prompted by the Westport Arts Center to ask children participating in this program in Malawi, “What makes you feel loved?” The resulting exhibition is artwork that 11 - 14 year-olds created in response to this. The exhibition, along with “Love,” will open on September 16 and run through November 6. A public lecture by Save The Children CEO, Carolyn Miles, is scheduled for Friday, November 4, at 7:00 p.m. at the Westport Arts Center.

WAC’s exhibition schedule will continue with “On Duty: Weegee, Metinides, and Odermatt” opening Friday, November 18 and running through Sunday, January 15. The show will feature 60 photographs by three important historic photographers – a Swiss policeman, Arnold Odermatt; a Mexican photojournalist, Enrique Metinides; and New York’s Arthur Fellig, known as “Weegee.” All three, while on duty in their respective professions, crossed the line of simply documenting accidents and day-to-day mayhem. The content of the imagery, often tragic, transcends the rawness of the event and moves into the realm of a modernist aesthetic that is both profound and thought provoking. These photographs will be on loan from the Andrew and Christine Hall Foundation.

The final exhibition of the season, “Toy Stories,” will include 20 major artists who work with toys in a range of media, including Alexander Calder, Jeff Koons, Nick Cave, Charles Ray, Takashi Murakami, D. Dominick Lombardi, Nina Bentley, Dan Hernandez, Tom Friedman, and Peter Drake. The work in the show will present how people relate to toys and how the memories and connections they make to them have played an immeasurable role in contemporary culture. “Toy Stories” will be on view from January 27 - March 18, 2012.

The Westport Arts Center Gallery is open seven days a week, and is free-of-charge. Group tours are available with prior registration. In addition to the gallery exhibitions, WAC hosts a virtual gallery space on its website that features the work of over 100 member artists. Free weekly gallery programs include ArtCafé, every Friday, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., and a Wednesdays Brown Bag Artist Lunch Series from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Performing Arts

The Brant Foundation - Josh Smith installation (9/13/11)
WAC’s 2011-2012 Chamber Music Series is presented under the artistic leadership of Russell Platt, a composer and a senior editor for classical music at “The New Yorker.” Chamber music audiences will hear in-depth and engaging programs at five season concerts:

The New York-based chamber orchestra, The Knights, will open the Season with a dramatic performance on Saturday, September 17, 8:00 p.m. at Saugatuck Congregational Church. Nine members of this outstanding group will play music by Ginastera, Schubert, along with a new composition by Russell Platt.

On Sunday, November 6 at 3:00 p.m., a flute, viola, and harp trio called Janus will perform in the Westport Arts Center Gallery. 2012 is the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Debussy, and his “Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp” will be the cornerstone of this concert.

As a supporter for Chamber Music in the area, WAC will help to present the 40th Annual Heida Hermanns International Piano Competition on November 19 and 20 at Westport Town Hall. The Competition, presented by Connecticut Alliance for Music, attracts contestants from all over the world, ages 19 - 30, including many foreign musicians studying or working in the US. Piano and voice alternates every year. The free Semi-Finals concert, where close to 20 musicians will perform, is scheduled for Saturday, November 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Finals is slated for Sunday, November 20, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Georgetown, CT resident, Janina Fialkowska, will play a solo piano concert on the stage of the Pequot Library in Southport on Sunday, February, 26, 3:00 p.m. Fialkowska is one of the world’s most poetic pianists, having enchanted audiences for over thirty years with her glorious lyrical sound, sterling musicianship, and musical integrity.

The violist of the Pacifica Quartet (Masumi Per Rostad), the cellist of the Daedalus Quartet (Raman Ramakrishnan), and a top New York freelance violinist (Jesse Mills), have combined to form an elite string trio. The trio will perform masterworks by Mozart and Dohnányi, along with a contemporary piece on Sunday, May 20, 4:00 p.m. in the WAC Gallery as the closing concert for the season.

Jazz musician and educator, Brian Torff, will begin his third season as WAC’s Artistic Director for Jazz. “Our theme this Season is jazz meets soul, from the pulpit to the bandstand,” said Torff. “We will explore the spiritual connections between jazz, gospel and soul music. Renowned musicians will perform soul, jazz, and gospel-influenced music that evolved into funk styles and beyond."

The Jazz Season kick-off is a piano concert with rising star Christian Sands. Performing a tribute to Jazz pianist and composer Dr. Bill Taylor, Sands will be joined on stage by Torff on bass and a drummer to be announced on Sunday, October 2, 3:00 p.m. at the Pequot Library in Southport.

Continuing its popular Jazz Thursday program that began last year, WAC will present eight jam sessions in the Gallery. These sessions are intended to be a spontaneous exploration of Jazz, Blues, and other music styles, and both students and semi-professionals are encouraged to drop in and jam for free. Jazz Thursdays will begin at 7:00 p.m. on September 22, November 3, December 15, January 12, March 1, April 12, May 17 and June 14.

Drumming Legend, Bernard Purdie, accompanied by his quartet on Sunday, November 20, 3:00 p.m. Purdie is a living legend that has been a regular guest in the studios of more than 3,000 Jazz, Soul, and Rock stars such as Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, and Larry Coryell. Colleagues describe his style as the “funkiest soul beat” in the business.

On Sunday, January 15, 3:00 p.m., WAC will present gifted composer, arranger, and guitarist, Peter Hand and his quartet. On this winter evening, Hand will perform the music of legendary pianist and composer, Horace Silver – a local Connecticut musician who gained international fame through his hard Bop and Soul Jazz compositions.

The season closer will be an educational discussion and concert entitled “What is Gospel Music?” on Sunday, April 29, 3:00 p.m. Participants will be able to learn the origins and evolution of gospel music during a pre-concert discussion, followed by a soul-stirring and inspiring performance delivered on piano and vocals by three local masters – Angela Clemmons, Wanda Jackson, and Michael Brown.

All jazz concerts will be in the Westport Arts Center’s Gallery unless otherwise noted. Tickets to the WAC concert series are available online, phone, or available on the day of the event starting 30 minutes before show time. In an effort to accommodate younger audiences, the Arts Center offers $10 tickets for students college age or younger. A limited number of discount tickets for chamber music programs are available for seniors at the Westport Center for Senior Activities two weeks before each concert.

Art Education

The Westport Arts Center education programs, under the guidance of Director of Education, Danielle Ogden, enhance the lives of more than 4,000 children each year. “We are listening to feedback from parents and are growing our youth education programs to meet the demand of the community,” said Ogden. Programs include tours for school groups, after-school, vacation day and weekend art classes, and family-friendly workshops with a talented and dynamic group of teaching artists.

Ogden reported that the popular “WACky Family Days,” which started off as a small idea in a committee meeting, have become very significant arts events for families in the area. The program is generously supported by toy company sponsor Melissa & Doug, which hosts a play zone at each event. A “WACky Costume Party” on Sunday, October 23, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., will kick off the season. Children and their parents, grandparents, and caregivers are invited to come in costume and create wild and wacky haunted houses and Halloween masks. “WACKy Family Days” will continue in the WAC Gallery with a toys-focused program on Sunday, March 11.

For adult audiences, Ogden will host “WAC This Way,” a series of guided tours of significant arts destinations throughout New York and Connecticut. The program provides insider access to public and private art collections for individuals interested in learning more about modern and contemporary art. The fall series will begin on Monday, September 13, 11:00 a.m. with a tour of The Brant Foundation in Greenwich, CT. A trip to the residence of Richard and Lisa Baker in Greenwich will give participants a unique view to a private fiber optic light installation created by renowned artist, James Turrell, on Tuesday, September 20, 11:00 a.m. A November 4 excursion to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. WAC’s Director of Visual Arts, Helen Klisser During will be joined by a Whitney Museum Educator to lead viewers through a tour of “Real/Surreal,” a unique presentation of 120 paintings, drawings, photographs, and prints from the Whitney’s collection of American Art from the 1920s - 1940s.

Literary Arts

In the literary arts, WAC has partnered with Ina Chadwick and Gabi Coastworth of Westport’s MouseMuse Productions to offer a monthly writers gathering in the Gallery, called “Writers Artists Collaborative.” On October 19, November 30, December 14, January 11, February 15, March 14, April 11, May 16, and June 13, from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m., Writers from Westport and nearby communities can come together to share useful information, publishing resources, successes, and creative struggles. “The camaraderie is invigorating, as is the Westport tradition of supporting artists,” said Chadwick. At this free program, WAC will provide coffee and guests are encouraged to bring their own lunch.

The Westport Arts Center is a visual and performing arts organization dedicated to creating arts experiences that enrich the lives of area residents and the entire community. The Westport Arts Center is supported with funds from the Arthur and Heida Hermanns Holde Foundation, Inc., the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, 4th Row Films, Thomas and Jeanne Elmezzi Private Foundation, Fairfield County Bank, Fairfield County Community Foundation, Gault, Inc., GWAY Marketing Gymnasium, Melissa and Doug, Moffly Media, New Alliance Bank, Pepperidge Farm, Inc., U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Westport Resources, Westport Sunrise Rotary, Young Voices Program, Xerox Foundation, and WSHU Public Radio Group.

For more information, contact Westport Arts Center at 203-222-7070, Gallery hours are Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., at 51 Riverside Avenue, Westport, CT.

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