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Arts and Leisure

Arts and Leisure

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Artistic Pet

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Westport artist Nina Bentley today caresses one of her artistic animals from her “Adopt-A-Pet” collection on the final day of a three-artist exhibit at the Silvermine Arts Center, New Canaan. The exhibit, “Flights of Fantasy and Games Changes” also includes works by former Westport resident Jane Lubin, and Kim Hanna of Delaware. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

02/19/17 07:06 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, February 17, 2017

At 95, a New Career — Poet

Irene Backalenick, a former longtime Westport resident, has entered a new career at 95 — poet.

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Irene Backalenick with her new book of poetry, “Rueful Reflections.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo by Cynthia Mcguire

A former freelance journalist (New York Times, etc.) and noted 30-year theater critic, she calls herself a “beginner poet” and has just published her first book, “Rueful Reflections,” available at Amazon.com.

Now a resident of Bridgeport’s Watermark senior living facility, Backalenick said, “I’d never written a poem in my life until I moved here.”

Her profile on the back on the book elaborates: “It proved to be the perfect genre for retrospection.

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02/17/17 01:34 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Granger at the Movies: ‘Toni Erdmann,’ ‘A Dog’s Purpose,’ ‘Fifty Shades Darker’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

Going into the Oscar Foreign Language race as an overwhelming favorite, “Toni Erdmann,” German filmmaker Maren Ade’s poignant comedic-drama, revolves around a practical-joking father who tries to reconnect with his uptight daughter by creating an outrageous alter-ego.

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Within that context, Ade satirically tackles feminism, workplace sexism, international capitalism, and German arrogance within the European Union.

After his beloved dog dies, divorced, middle-aged Winifred Conradi (Peter Simonischek) feels totally lost. So he tries to reconnect with his only child — daughter Ines (Sandra Huller) — who is obsessive about her executive consulting work in Romania.

When Winifred, an eccentric prankster, turns up, unannounced, in Bucharest for the weekend, Ines is curt and obviously annoyed. “Are you really human?” he finally inquires.

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02/15/17 09:54 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Sunday, February 12, 2017

‘Love Notes’ in Honor of Valentine’s Day

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Duo Cantabile today performed “Love Notes” with piano and violin duets in honor of Valentine’s Day at the Westport Library. The program featured music, songs and stories of Frederic Chopin, Clara Schumann, Cesar Franck and George Gershwin performed by award-winning young artists Eric Siepkes and Akiko Kobayashi. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

02/12/17 04:20 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, February 10, 2017

Stars Align for Playhouse Women’s Day Event

The Westport Country Playhouse will host “Letters to Our Daughters,” a special community event honoring International Women’s day on Wednesday, March 8.

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Tony Award-winning actress and Westport mom Kelli O’Hara is one of the readers. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

The 7 p.m. event will feature a diverse group of performers and writers including Tony Award winners Joanna Gleason and Kelli O’Hara, and best-selling author Jane Green, an announcement said.

The program is curated by Samantha Goober and Anne Keefe, Playhouse artist. The evening is free-of-charge, by reservation with the Playhouse’s box office, 203-227-4177, or online at http://www.westportplayhouse.org. Seating is general admission. The program is geared for ages 14 and up.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, the announcement said. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

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02/10/17 07:06 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Granger at the Movies: ‘Split,’ ‘The Space Between Us,’ ‘The Bye Bye Man’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

M. Night Shyamalan burst onto the cinematic scene with audacious plot twists in “The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable” and “Signs.” But “The Lady in the Water,” “The Village,” “The Happening,” “The Last Airbender,” “After Earth” and “The Visit” were subsequent disappointments.

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Now he’s back with a vengeance, infusing “Split,” a horrifying abduction story, with preposterous pop psychology and surprise linking to one of his earlier films. No spoiler here. That’s tantalizing enough.

Psychologically disturbed Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) kidnaps three high school girls. According to his compassionate therapist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), he suffers from DID (dissociative identity disorder), manifesting 23 different personalities with a 24th, the Beast, about to surface.

Imprisoned in a subterranean bunker, his teenage victims are terrified. There’s popular Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), her bestie Marcia (Jessica Sula) and their disconsolate classmate Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), a loner whose deeply disturbing back story is gradually revealed.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Learning From a Pro

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Staples Players were treated today to a visit from special guest, actor Nancy Opel. A veteran singer and actress who has performed in 14 Broadway shows, Opel shared stories of her career and offered advice to the student actors. She originated the role of Ms. Pennywise in the Broadway run of “Urinetown,” which Staples Players will produce in March. Opel grew up in the Kansas communities of Prairie Village and Leawood, and graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School. She trained at Juilliard. Tickets to the Staples Players production will be available beginning March 4 at http://www.staplesplayers.com. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo by Kerry Long

02/07/17 04:52 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Play With Your Food Applause

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Audience members today applaud actors Patricia Kalember (l) and Bethany Caputo after their performance in the Play With Your Food lunchtime play reading series at Westport’s Toquet Hall. Performances continue Wednesday and Thursday in Westport with later performances in Greenwich and Fairfield. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

02/07/17 03:02 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

PTA Reflections Arts Contest Winners Announced

Westport student winners of the 2016-2017 PTA Reflections Art Program were announced today.

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Coleytown Middle School Reflections PTA contest winners include (l-r) Ava Flynn, Julia Mellin, and Sophie Alcyone. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The nationwide arts contest sponsored by the PTA provides students with the opportunity for artistic creative expression and positive recognition for their efforts.

Students are recognized each year for their artistic ingenuity that brings a student theme to life in a way that is personal and meaningful. 

This year the theme “What is Your Story” lent itself to all six areas of creative interests including: dance choreography; film production; literature; musical composition; photography, and visual arts.

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02/07/17 02:29 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, February 06, 2017

Post-Performance Get-Together

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There was a reunion of Westport Country Playhouse theater veterans tonight at a post-performance gathering of a script in hand play reading of “The Supporting Cast.” Pictured with director and curator Anne Keefe (2nd l) are Kiera Naughton (l), who read the role of Sally; her real-life father, actor James Naughton, and actress Cynthia Wallace. Wallace performed in the Paul Newman production of “Our Town” at the Playhouse in 2002. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

02/06/17 10:11 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Getting Set for Tonight’s Play Reading

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Actors paused today during a rehearsal for tonight’s Westport Country Playhouse Script In Hand reading of “Supporting Cast” by the late George Furth, American librettist, playwright, and actor. The play, a comedy, revolves around the wife of a successful author who has written a book about friends who are spouses of celebrities and what it is like to be married to somebody famous. The reading will be directed by Anne Keefe, Playhouse associate artist and curator of the playreading series. Pictured: (seated, l-r) Deirdre Madigan, David Beach, Maggie Lacey and Keira Naughton. Kathleen McNenny was not available for the photo. Standing, Martha Stout, stage directions, and Anne Keefe, director. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

02/06/17 02:56 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Gallery: 18th Annual Crossword Puzzle Contest


Scenes from today’s 18th annual crossword puzzle contest at the Westport Library. Miggs Burroughs for WestportNow.com

02/04/17 05:34 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, February 03, 2017

Arts Center Gala Theme is ‘Martini Madness’

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“Martini Madness” is the gala theme. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The Westport Arts Center (WAC) has announced the theme of “Martini Madness” for its annual fundraiser gala that will take place on Saturday, May 20 at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport. Tickets will go on sale March 2.

The gala will pay tribute to “the role Westport played during the creative heyday of the 1950s and 1960s, celebrating Westport’s distinctive identity as a creative center steeped in a long history of artists, illustrators and creative executives,” an announcement said.

“Guests will be immersed in the iconic advertising created during this period, which continues to be recognized in both pop culture and contemporary art today.”

The event is co-chaired by Orly Angerthal and Erika Miller. Both are WAC board members and live in Westport.

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02/03/17 09:29 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Giving Peace a Chance ... of a Makeover

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There was a workshop and brainstorming session at the Westport Library today to redesign the 1958-born peace symbol. Miggs Burroughs, Westport artist, graphic designer, and artist-in-residence at the Library, led the effort. He showed off some of the logos he has designed over the years (the one at upper right look familiar?) Now a worldwide symbol, the peace sign was initially designed for the British nuclear disarmament movement. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

02/02/17 05:55 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

WYWL Members Give Input to Library

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Members of the Westport Young Woman’s League (WYWL) today met with Bill Harmer director of the Westport Library, and Mary Parmelee, the library’s director of youth services, to discuss enhancements that are planned for the children’s library as part of the library’s renovation project. The library sought input from the members, many of whom have children who use the library. The WYWL sponsors the library’s children’s summer reading program and is a longtime supporter of the library. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

02/01/17 09:45 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Granger at the Movies: ‘The Comedian,’ ‘20th Century Women’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

Back in 1983, Robert De Niro played a sociopathic wannabe celebrity in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” starring Jerry Lewis.  Obviously, the delusional character intrigued De Niro because in “The Comedian,” he’s a former TV sit-com star, Jackie Burke.

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Aging Burke has hit hard times, unable to move beyond nostalgic references to “Eddie’s Home.” One night when an obnoxious heckler with a web-cam taunts him at a comedy club in Hicksville, Long Island, he clobbers the guy in a scuffle that winds up on YouTube.

After spending 30 days in the slammer, Jackie reports for community service at a homeless shelter, where he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann), who is also atoning for an angry outburst.

Despite their obvious age difference, they connect. He takes her to the Comedy Cellar and his lesbian niece’s wedding; she takes him to a birthday dinner for her domineering father (Harvey Keitel).

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02/01/17 10:10 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Afternoon of Music

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There was an afternoon of music today at a private Westport home by members of KEYS (Kids Empowered by Your Support) whose mission is to bring one-to-one instrument lessons and group music instruction to underserved children in Bridgeport, Pictured is Carolyn Smith, a KEYS student, with KEYS director Rob Silvan (r). Silvan, who founded KEYS in 2004, is a jazz musician and composer and has been a music educator for 40 years. For more information or to be involved, contact Silvan at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

01/29/17 06:10 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Gallery: WHS ‘School Days 1703-Present’ Opens


Scenes from today’s opening reception at the Westport Historical Society for its new exhibit, “School Days 1703-Present.” It runs through March 25. Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com and WestportNow.com photos

01/29/17 04:45 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Another Story Explorers Reading at the Library

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Brandi Briggs (r), president of the Westport Young Woman’s League (WYWL), and Adelka Polak, Westport Country Playhouse teaching artist, today read the children’s book “Twinkle Tames a Dragon” to nearly two dozen children at the Story Explorers program at the Westport Library. Free and open the public, Story Explorers is a new series which aims to promote childhood literacy while also enhancing children’s experiences of attending live theater. A live musical adaptation of “Twinkle Tames a Dragon” will be presented at the Playhouse on Sunday, Feb. 12. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Don Rebar for WestportNow.com

01/29/17 04:18 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Film Screening Followed by Personal Tale

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The Westport Cinema Initiative (WCI) today presented a screening of the 1997 film “In & Out” as part of the Westport Library’s WestportREADS “Bettyville” book selection. The book by George Hodgman explores the author’s identity as a gay man. The movie stars Kevin Kline who plays a popular teacher, who is gay, and is “outed” by a former student. After the Town Hall showing, Westport filmmaker Doug Tirola (l) discussed the film with Westport writer, author, and soccer coach Dan Woog, who described his own decision to disclose his homosexuality. While he was worried about the reaction, he said he was relieved to find that he received nothing but kind words. “I am sure things were said behind my back but most comments were of support,” Woog said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

01/28/17 07:28 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, January 27, 2017

‘As We Are!’ Exhibit Opens at Arts Center

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The Westport Arts Center tonight hosted a reception to mark the opening of its “As We Are!” exhibit. Led by artist Pamela Hovland, it is described as an art collaboration that presents perspectives on identity, stereotype and the power of words. Imran Hyder (r) was one who contributed a “I Am More Than…” postcard to the exhibit. His read: “I am more than a conservative.” He posed with Theo Silverman (l) and Julian Yu. The exhibit continues through March 11. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Leslie LaSala for WestportNow.com

01/27/17 08:50 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

‘I Am More Than…”

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Some of the “I am more than___” postcards on display tonight at the Westport Arts Center’s new exhibit, “As We Are!”  Among some of the responses to a request for submissions:  “I am more than ... my grades ... a housewife ... my bank account ... bi-polar ... gay ... Jewish ... a twin … middle-aged ... my pretty clothes ... a mailman ... a bald guy ... an immigrant … a nun.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Leslie LaSala for WestportNow.com

01/27/17 08:47 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Faces in the Crowd

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Among those at tonight’s opening reception for the Westport Arts Center (WAC) exhibit “As We Are!”  were (l-r) Price Snedeker, artist Pamela Hovland, Laura Perese, WAC board member, and Amanda Innes, WAC executive director. Hovland led the art collaboration for the exhibit that resulted from 500 contributed postcards responding to the prompt “I AM MORE THAN ___”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Leslie LaSala for WestportNow.com

01/27/17 08:43 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, January 26, 2017

WHS Debuts ‘School Days’ on Sunday

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The Westport Historical Society presents a new exhibit highlighting the evolution of education in Westport from 1703 to the present.  The exhibit will bring back many school day memories as well as focus on Westport’s growth as an exceptional community for learning. The picture of the school on the banner was the Highway District School built in 1858. Members of the exhibits committees and (l-r) are Wally Woods, Barbara Peck, Katherine Ross, Susan Gold, Elizabeth Strick (in back) Nicole Carpenter and Bob Weingarten, the exhibit curator. The exhibit opens Sunday with a reception from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and runs through March 23. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com

01/26/17 09:41 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

‘In & Out’ Screening Set for Saturday

The Westport Cinema Initiative, dedicated to bringing a movie theater back to Westport, on Saturday presents the 1997 film “In & Out” as part of the Westport Library’s WestportREADS events this month.

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The screening will take place at Westport Town Hall at 4 p.m. and will be followed by a discussion.

In the film, a high school drama teacher (Kevin Kline) questions his sexuality in the midst of preparing for his wedding, after a former student makes a comment about him at the Academy Awards.

The romantic comedy film became one of mainstream Hollywood’s few attempts at a comedic “gay movie” of its era. Directed by Frank Oz, it stars Kline, Tom Selleck, Joan Cusack, Matt Dillon, Debbie Reynolds, and Wilford Brimley.

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01/26/17 08:59 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Jazz Night at 323 Restaurant

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Westport’s Melissa Newman performs at tonigh’s jazz night at the 323 Restaurant, 323 Main St. With her is Michael Philip Mossman on trumpet. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Granger at the Movies: ‘Gold,’ ‘A Monster Calls,’ ‘Live By Night’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

As a critic, I’m often asked, “Do you really stay ‘till the end of a movie, even if you know it’s not very good?”

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The answer is “Yes,” because you never can tell what surprises may surface — and that certainly applies to “Gold,” a twisted tale, chronicling the effects of greed and friendship.

In 1988, paunchy, whiskey-guzzling Kenny Wells (almost unrecognizably balding Matthew McConaughey) inherited his family’s once-profitable Washoe Mining Corporation in Reno, Nevada.

But it’s failing, so Kenny works the telephones out of a local bar where his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a waitress.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Westport’s Justin Paul Gets Two Oscar Nominations

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Westport’s Justin Paul (c), composer Justin Hurwitz (l) and fellow lyricist Benj Pasek won two Oscar nominations today for best original song award for “City of Stars” and “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” in the film “La La Land.”  “La La Land” had a total of 14 nominations, including best original score—a tie with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for the most in Academy Award history. Paul, a 2003 Staples High School graduate, also won a Golden Globe (above) last month for best original song for “City of Stars.” The Oscars will be broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 26. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo from NBC-TV

01/24/17 09:25 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Puppy Love

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Joker, a 3-month-old puppy from the Westport branch of the Connecticut Humane Society, today gives kisses to one of the guests at the Westport Country Playhouse Story Explorers presentation of the new musical “Biscuit.” Part of the Playhouse’s Family Festivities Series, the ArtsPower play about a puppy is based on the book by Alyssa Satin Capucilli with over 17 million copies in print. The Playhouse is partnering with the Westport Library and Westport Young Woman’s League to promote childhood literacy while also enhancing children’s experiences of attending the Playhouse’s Family Festivities shows. On Jan. 14, there was a reading of “Biscuit” at the library. (See WestportNow Jan.14, 2017) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

01/22/17 07:33 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, January 20, 2017

Installing ‘As We Are!’

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Artist Tom Berntsen today installs large scale portraits as part of the “As We Are!” exhibition at the Westport Arts Center opening Friday, Jan. 27. On view through March 11, “As We Are!” features a full gallery installation by Pamela Hovland reflecting the local perspective on identity, stereotype, and the power of words. It includes portraits of students, community leaders, business professionals, artists, immigrants, religious figures, cultural influencers and elected officials who have contributed personal material to express their individual views and experiences with labels and the power of words. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Xenia Gross for WestportNow.com

01/20/17 03:36 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

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