WESTPORT — As Nick Visconti walked along the black display panels, he paused often.
“Once you get involved in these kind of things, you can’t walk away,” he said, as he pointed with pride Thursday morning to dozens of art pieces on those panels created by members of the Westport community. They will be on view Thursday, May 17 only at the Westport Womans Club, during an event hosted by the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center foundation.
Visconti is the chairman of the nonprofit, which was the dream of its namesake. Friedman, a Westport real estate developer who died in 2016, left $500,000 toward the foundation. A supporter and admirer of the arts and creativity, Friedman had talked for decades about providing opportunities and financial support to the arts in Westport and Weston, Visconti said.
Visconti has worked to manifest his former business partner’s dream by getting the foundation up and running, and getting dollars out to the community. Late last year, Visconti teamed with artist and longtime Westport resident Miggs Burroughs, who is a volunteer board member for the foundation, to establish continuing arts workshops for underserved local artists. The result of those efforts is most of the work on display tonight.
A more than $30,000 investment has been made into the continuing arts workshops, which pays for instructors from the Westport Arts Center Westport Artists Collective to work with people served by CLASP Homes, Homes with Hope and Project Return, nonprofits that work to find homes and opportunities for people with developmental disabilities and those who are homeless, as well as young women in crisis. There also is work from participants in programs at the Westport Arts Center and Westport Historical Society. Those workshops have been under way since late last year.
Four scholarships, funded by the foundation and presented by the Westport Womans Club, also will be handed out at the event. Katelyn Loucas, Whitney O’Reardon, Lilianna Giaume and Zoe Molina, all art students at Staples High School, will receive $5,000 each.
Tonight’s art show is as much a chance to spotlight the artists and community partners as it is to introduce the community to the foundation’s hopes for the future. The ultimate goal is to establish an arts center, named Hearts Open Wide, which will provide resources and space for artists of all abilities and means to meet and create. Visconti is hopeful that too soon will be realized.
“He would have loved this,” said Visconti, of tonight’s free art show, which will run from 5 to 8 p.m. at the club, located at 44 Imperial Ave. “I want to take his vision and move it further. I want to use art as a doorway to better things.”
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