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50 Years of Fine Arts

Westport Fine Arts Festival Celebrates It's Half Century Mark

Ask why Westport is, was, and will be a mecca for art and you’ll get a number of worthy answers.

But Sue Brown Gordon’s may be the most unusual – and inspiring.

“It’s the water. It’s a water town,” says the artist's director of the Westport Fine Arts Festival, celebrating its 50th year in 2023. “Water towns have movement. They have excitement. They have transitions. 

“That beauty and that perpetual energy attracts artists.”

That will certainly be true this Memorial Day Weekend when 125 of the nation’s top working artists will converge on downtown exhibiting art of all kinds – from painting and photography to music, dance and an immersive installation by two local luminaries.

This year’s festival, expected to draw 10,000 aficionados over two days, will feature a full slate of performances and demonstrations, food vendors, a full bar and expanded children’s activities, said Event Director Jill Dunn of the Westport Downtown Association.

“We want to create a place people want to go to see things, taste things, feel things, create art and go home covered with paint, if that’s what they want to do,” she laughs.

Long a highlight of the festival calendar for both collectors and residents from New England, the tri-state region and beyond, the free, juried event drew more than 250 entries this year. Those chosen will exhibit painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood and graphics.

 “These are the best,” Sue noted. “The A-listers.” 

Among the standouts will be returning 2022 photography winner Andrew Sovjani and Best in Show winner Dean DiMarzo. Standing tall – about 19 feet high by 30 feet wide – will be a massive art installation by Emily Teall and Lily Morgan, both of whom have worked and exhibited at The Norwalk Art Space. Lily is one of the current resident artists and Emily was part of the Class of 2021-22.

The show is special because town art lovers and artists form a symbiotic relationship that grows naturally from the festival. The artists, who enjoy the camaraderie of a lovely dinner together on Saturday night, return because they feel appreciated, Sue, an artist herself, believes.

As the organizer for more than a dozen art festivals across the region, she’s always tickled when people unaware of her affiliation recommend the Westport festival to her as a great place to exhibit her jewelry and mixed media creations.

“It’s definitely a community,” she says. “People decorate their homes from this show. I’ll go into homes in Westport and see them feathering their nests with treasures acquired from the festival and making relationships with the artists. They end up collectors for life.”

The 50th annual Westport Fine Arts Festival runs downtown on May 27 & 28, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Much of the action, including music, food vendors and a children’s area, will take place in the Elm Street parking lot. Admission is free. For more information on exhibiting artists, the performance schedule and food and drink vendors, visit westportdowntown.com/fine-arts-festival.

“It’s definitely a community.” People decorate their homes from this show. I’ll go into homes in Westport and see them feathering their nests with treasures acquired from the festival and making relationships with the artists. They end up collectors for life.”

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