The weather couldn’t have been better for touring New Haven on Saturday for their 14th Annual City-Wide Open Studios event. I saw great art, met really terrific people and got into the spirit of navigating that city to explore artists’ studios.

One of my favorite stops was the studio of Thuan Vu. This is a painting of him and his brother as young immigrants from Viet Nam.

He took quite a bit of time to talk to me. He teaches painting and drawing at Southern Connecticut State University. His card said Associate Professor, but the Associate had been crossed out with an inked slash mark, and there was an exclamation point at the end. He’d just attained Professor status this week.

I also spent a good deal of time at the ultra-cool home/studio of Susan McCaslin and her husband George Corsillo. She’s actually the reason I knew about the event. I’d spoken for the New Haven Arts Council in September, had met Susan and heard about her involvement and enthusiasm for this weekend.  It didn’t disappoint. Her personal and moving drawings covered the walls of their home, and George’s Kee-Aw-Kee product prototypes filled a large table-top with inviting satchels, t-shirts and other items I wanted to touch and ogle.

On Sunday I joined an audience at Westport Town Hall honoring talented men and women at the 18th Celebration of the Westport Arts Awards. My friend and Artsy Girls colleague Naiad Einsel was receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for Art, her specialty being illustration.

The program was exceptionally well done with entertainment by Suzuki students as well as award recipients. Speeches were kept brief, the honorees were introduced with enough description and powerpoint visuals to inform, and the love and admiration in the auditorium was palpable.

My biggest take-aways from the awards ceremony:

Miggs Burroughs has contributed enormous amounts of time and talent to making Westport the graphically cool town that it is. He laughingly said, during his acceptance speech, “I thought that pro bono was Latin for ‘boatloads of money.’ When asked “What’s next?” said the man who has clearly given more than his fair share, he quipped, “An unlisted phone number!”

Hans Wilhelm, who has 40+ million books in print was honored in the Literature category. He, too, had something truly memorable to add. He talked about how sad he was when the Westport Arts Center had to leave its location on Morningside Drive. The elementary school it had inhabited for years was being re-purposed for its original intent as the student population escalated, forcing Wilhelm to find a new studio. Turns out, he found just the right space in Weston, fell in love with the landlady and was celebrating his 13th anniversary that day. “It wouldn’t have happened if the Arts Center had stayed where it was.”

 

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