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News : Entertainment Apr 6, 2012 - 5:18 AM

Westport's Gary Cosgrave to be honored at WAC's Warhol Ball

By Westport Arts Center

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Arts advocate Gary Cosgrave of Westport will be honored by Westport Arts Center on April 28
Arts advocate Gary Cosgrave of Westport will be honored for his significant contribution to the Westport Arts Center’s growth and direction at WAC’s first annual Art Affair, “The Warhol Ball – A Night at The Factory,” on Saturday, April 28, 8 p.m., at the Steel Shed, 140 Water Street, South Norwalk. Cosgrave is a two-time WAC past president and current board member.

Cosgrave joined the Westport Arts Center’s board of directors eight years ago. “The timing was right,” he said. “I had experience with non-profits and liked the creative aspect.”

When he came on board, Cosgrave felt that WAC “was at a critical point where it had to decide how to preserve its history while simultaneously transitioning to the next step in its evolution.”

As president of WAC’s board, Cosgrave brought people together on the Center’s future. “WAC had to change its structure, invest in its development, and broaden and diversify its Board to include more talent, diversity, and a youthful perspective. This is one of the cornerstones that set the successful new culture of the Arts Center today. It also had to blend the needs of local artists and the broader metropolitan arts community,” stated Cosgrave.

Cosgrave noted that it was “a difficult period in WAC’s history and a risky venture for a non-profit. I hope I was able to be a sounding board and a guiding light.” Long-time friend and WAC board member Joyce Thompson recalled, “As president, Gary helped put WAC on a new course of governance. We could always count on his counsel, business experience, and good humor to find the right path.” Thompson’s sentiments are echoed by another friend and WAC board member Elizabeth Strick, who said, “Gary has championed the arts in our community and has contributed significantly to the Arts Center’s growth. He is a much-respected presence at the Arts Center and we are so grateful for all he has done and continues to do.”

Growing up in a family that moved frequently until he was 19, Cosgrave was instilled with a love of travel and new experiences. He considered himself a wanderer throughout his 20s. “Once I found out who I was, I’ve tried to remain true to that and have considered Westport home,” he said.

In 1987, Cosgrave’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to purchase a sleepy family hardware business and turn it into a highly profitable group of five companies: Pro Hardware, GardenMaster and Farm Mart, supported by an advertising agency and a distribution business. Not wanting the business to cramp his artistic spirit, Cosgrave based the holding company, Pro Group Inc., in Westport, but moved the individual businesses to Denver in 1989. His goal was to empower his employees, giving him the freedom to think strategically and the time to pursue his interests.

Photography, Cosgrave’s primary artistic pursuit, developed through his attraction to water. “Always part of my life, water led to diving and snorkeling, then to photography. I started to take photos to communicate the mystery and beauty of the underwater experience.”

Fellow WAC board member Laura Maged credits a large portion of WAC’s current success to Cosgrave’s incredible efforts over the years. “Gary brings to the Westport Arts Center a combination of artistic passion and business savvy all wrapped up in his charismatic personality. He is both warm and fun to be around, while at the same time willing to roll up his sleeves and work hard to make all areas of WAC a success. Gary is always thinking about the big picture and the future of the Westport Arts Center.”

Cosgrave’s dream is for the Westport Arts Center to become one of the cultural cornerstones of the community, and, as the community changes, to continue as a player in shaping Westport’s future. “I feel like we’ve gotten to a place where we can only go forward; we can’t go back. We’ve accomplished too much.”

WAC’s “The Warhol Ball – A Night at The Factory” will be highlighted with unexpected intervals of film, art, new media, sculpture, music and dance. In addition, there will be live electric jazz, unique food offerings, rock music and an open bar. The fundraising event will feature a live auction of premier experiences and a silent auction of local artists’ photography. Proceeds will support WAC’s diverse, high-quality visual and performing arts programs that reach more than 11,000 people annually, including 4,000 school-aged children.

Ticket levels are $200, $350 and $500. The $500 VIP tickets will include a pre-event cocktail hour with delectable food from Garelick & Herbs, live jazz with Otis and the Hurricanes, and feature contemporary artist Brendan Cass, painting in action. Cass takes inspiration from postcards and travel brochures to create bold and brilliantly colorful, large-scale abstract landscapes.

The Factory Superstars Committee planning The Warhol Ball includes Nell Bernegger, Kristen Briner, Stacie Curran, Kara Edwards, Jodi Felton, Deanna Foster, Chrissey Hunt, Melissa Kane, Laura Maged, Erika Miller, Dale Najarian, Eileen O’Brien and Deirdre Price, all Westport residents.

Sponsors of The Warhol Ball include Westport Resources, Fairfield County Bank, US Trust-Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Bernstein Global Wealth Management, Cohen and Wolf, P.C., Gault, Inc., Greenwich Medical Skincare & Laser Spa, Land Rover of Milford, Low Cost Power - Verde Energy, Mitchell’s of Westport, Riverside Management Group LLC, Robinson and Cole, LLP, Thomas C. Hofstetter of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, Moffly Media, 4th Row Films, Royal Restrooms, and Westford Hill Distillers.

The not-for-profit 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 WAC gallery is open free of charge, seven days a week, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., at 51 Riverside Avenue, Westport, CT

For more information or tickets to The Warhol Ball, contact Westport Arts Center at 203-222-7070 or visit the website at

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