Is there a future for the Westport Art Museum?

A few years ago, we wrote about the nearly 50-year-old dream that artists Leonard Fisher and Burt Chernow had of creating an art museum in Westport. A committee of artists, hosted by the now defunct Westport Arts Center and headed by Leonard Fisher, was formed, and over the next two years this esteemed group curated a group of works by renowned artists of Westport from the past, and an exciting exhibition has been planned. Fisher created a video showing the importance of these artists in making Westport a community nationally recognized as a renowned art town. Fisher’s video also spoke to many contemporary artists who continue to keep Westport at the forefront of the arts.

The very compelling video was shown at a zoning board meeting at City Hall, along with a full plan for a permanent home for the museum and ongoing exhibits on the city property known as the Baron’s South. The committee presentation was well received and approved, so hopes were high.

When it was later discovered that the Westport Arts Center, the sponsoring organization, had misrepresented some of its abilities to support such a museum, as well as the city’s resistance to making certain changes to the interior or outside the property, the project was later rejected. . The director of the Westport Art Center at the time disbanded the committee, left her post, and the dream of a museum seemed lost forever.

Enter Westport residents Emily Blau and Robert Cohen, offering the chance to inject new life into the possibility of the Westport Art Museum. They began researching and compiling material regarding the history of Westport’s artistic community. The couple live in a magnificent property called “Blau House and Gardens”, designed by the famous set designer and Broadway architect, Ralph Alswang.

Blau and Cohen recently received a “CT Cultural Fund Operating Support Grant” from CT Humanities and are conducting a cultural history project on the local creative community encompassing Westport’s rich artistic heritage. They are now identifying historians from all facets of the arts and plan to hold roundtables with artists, writers, theater people and others associated with supporting the arts in Westport.

The first group of visual artists included Leeann and Randal Enos, Niki Ketchman, Larry Silver, Miggs Burroughs and Ann Chernow, who met with Blau and Cohen to discuss their vision for the project, as well as to share their individual perspectives on the Westport’s contribution to the arts. The goal is to establish and define connections between all members of the creative community.

Blau and Cohen seek to acquire and transform Blau House and Gardens into a community resource dedicated to becoming a cultural haven and destination. It’s a daunting concept that requires the participation of many artists, writers, and people interested in the arts, but the concept may well lead to a new and improved arts museum.

If you are interested in getting involved in this project, contact Robert Cohen at [email protected]

Miggs Burroughs has been a permanent resident of Westport and a full-time graphic designer since 1972. He is a co-founder of The Artists Collective of Westport and a member of the Westport Arts Advisory Committee, among other accomplishments.

Ann Chernow has been a resident of Westport since 1968. Her work has been exhibited locally and internationally. Chernow is an honorary member of the Westport Artists Collective, a board member of the Westport Museum and other arts organizations.

Mildred D. Field