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Art Takes Over Downtown Westport

Brian Olson, gallery manager at Rockwell Art and Framing on Post Road East in Westport, is just one of more than 50 downtown merchants helping to transform the area into a giant outdoor art gallery.

Beginning Thursday night, original works of art from more than 60 area artists will be on display in the windows and on the walls of 55 downtown shops and restaurants until June 26. All the artwork will be for sale during this monthlong exhibit, which is sponsored and organized by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association.

"It's been a longstanding tradition that Westport is an artists' community," said Art About Town Event Coordinator Cathy Colgan. "But as more of the corporate stores came in, people lost that feel. We wanted to resurrect it."

Also, the Downtown Merchants Association, a nonprofit organization of many downtown businesses, has a goal of bringing people to and making the downtown area more vibrant by hosting a variety of events, Colgan said.

Art About Town was inspired by a similar event held in Sconset Square last year called Art by Local.

"The event was well received," Colgan said. "People enjoyed it so much, we decided to do it again, but to make it more sprawling."

In kicking off this event, Westport's Main Street will be turned into a block party. From 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, the street will be closed to traffic. Instead of cars, the street will be filled street performers, music will fill the air, artists will show off their talent in open air "studios" and plenty of food and drink will be available.

Participating businesses will be open late, and some will even have their own in-store receptions, Colgan said. The event is free and open for all.

"People in Westport hunker down during the winter, especially with the one we just had. But when the weather gets nice, Westport shines — it's like a different version of itself," Colgan said. "We hope this is a great kickoff to the summer season, and we're hoping this [event] can be a prototype for some revitalization efforts." What do you think of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association's efforts to make downtown more vibrant? Please leave a comment below.

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