VersoFest 2023 will feature two headlining concerts and an array of experts in the fields of music, media, and more, providing a multitude of opportunities to explore and create over a four-day immersive experience.

And if they play their cards right, attendees could leave with an autographed album to boot.

Some of VersoFest’s headliners, including legendary producer Steve Lillywhite, Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler, and Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth will be autographing copies of their vinyl records that will be up for giveaway and auction during the festival.

Two of those albums will be part of the VersoFest record giveaway. Festivalgoers can submit their entries for the giveaway starting with the March 30 kickoff concert featuring rising American rock band Sunflower Bean, with submissions open through the festival’s completion on Sunday April 2 — a day that will include a record fair, presented by Record Riots, from 11 am to 4 pm, and a vinyl record panel brunch featuring WPKN DJ Alec Cumming, producer Dooley-O, Kraftjerkz Records’ Kid Ginseng, WFUV DJ and House of Wax host Eric Holland, New Haven Independent arts reporter Karen Ponzio, and moderated by the Zambonis’ Dave Schneider.

Additionally, there will be a silent auction held Saturday and Sunday of the festival (April 1-2). Those in attendance will be given an opportunity to bid on a wide variety of signed albums associated with several of the festival’s speakers and guests. The highest bidder will receive the signed copy, with all proceeds going to support future VersoFest endeavors.

“This is a really cool opportunity to bring home some of the best vinyl albums produced in the last 50 years,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “Beyond that, these signed copies are collector’s items — a keepsake to enjoy for its own sake, to commemorate what we think will an unforgettable four days celebrating music, media, and creativity, and a unique way to raise money so we can bring this festival back to Westport and the tri-state area next year and again in the years to come.”

To learn more about this year’s festival, including to buy concert tickets and register for workshops, visit the VersoFest 203 landing page

Hate crimes and hate incidents can be disturbing for those directly affected, and for the larger community as well. Unfortunately, neither the Town of Westport nor the State of Connecticut are immune from these incidents.

To tackle them head on, The Westport Library will host United Against Hate: Identifying, Reporting and Preventing Hate Crimes, an interactive learning program that will focus on the difference between a hate incident and a hate crime and alert participants on who to contact when an incident occurs — and why reporting is important.

The event will be held in person in the Library’s Trefz Forum on Tuesday, March 28. There will be a reception at 6 pm, followed by the program at 6:30 pm. Registration is required.

“The U.S. Attorney’s office stands with the LGBTQ+ community and anyone in Connecticut threatened by bigotry or hate,” said Vanessa Roberts Avery (pictured above), U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut and one of the event participants. “As part of our commitment to enforcing federal hate crime laws, we are using the Justice Department’s United Against Hate initiative to bring together community groups, community leaders, and law enforcement to educate, rebuild trust, and strengthen coordination in combatting acts of hate throughout our state.”

In addition to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, United Against Hate is being held in collaboration with Westport PRIDE, the chiefs of police from Westport and Norwalk, and the Connecticut State Police’s recently formed Hate Crimes Unit. It will feature members of law enforcement who understand the importance of reporting and connecting with the community, with the goal of building trust and strengthening coordination in combating acts of hate throughout the state.

“We’re honored to bring this important program to the Library and to team with such esteemed partners to do so,” said Bill Harmer, Westport Library executive director. “We hope that everyone who attends finds this session as enlightening as we do, and we look forward to working with all our patrons and partners to ensure that Westport continues to be an accepting, welcoming community.”

Event Information:

United Against Hate: Identifying, Reporting and Preventing Hate Crimes
Tuesday, March 28
6 pm (reception), 6:30 (program)
Trefz Forum, Westport Library (20 Jesup Road, Westport, CT)
Register here

Clockwise from top left: Kathy Soderholm, Tom Henske, Caroline Barney, and John Lanza

It’s an old adage, that many high school-age students can do advanced trigonometry but not balance a checkbook.

Tom Henske is out to change that.

On Sunday, March 26, Henske, Westport resident and a leader in the financial industry for nearly three decades, will bring his Total Cents program to the Library’s Trefz Forum for a talk, followed by a panel discussion with fellow experts. The goal: to help parents, grandparents, and guardians get comfortable with teaching their kids about money and the importance of finances.

The event, Raising Financially Savvy Kids with Tom Henske, will begin at 2 pm in the Library’s Trefz Forum. The event is free; registration is encouraged.

“It's fitting that The Westport Library jumped at the chance to bring financial literacy to the forefront of parents in our community,” said Henske. “Everyone sees the clear value and importance of developing good financial habits in our children. It's time for parents to take ownership of this part of their child's development, and that effort is going to start on March 26.

“My hope is that Westport becomes the epicenter for teaching parents how to talk to their kids about money, and in doing that, we will change the way our entire country addresses this important topic.”

Joining Henske in conversation will be Caroline Barney, author, inspirational speaker, and parent of two Staples High School students; John Lanza, author of The Art of Allowance and an expert of youth financial literacy; and Kathy Soderholm, former Wilton High School personal finance teacher and founder of The Good Bookkeeper, a full-service bookkeeping company specializing in nonprofit organizations.

[Related: See the Raising Financially Savvy Kids event listing for full bios on all the panelists.]

Henske's efforts with Total Cents include a book, It Makes Total Cents: 12 Conversations to Change Your Child’s Financial Future, published in 2022, and a podcast he developed in collaboration with the Library. Total Cents is also active on TikTok, with videos produced in collaboration with Total Cents interns from Staples High School.

“Tom’s knowledge and expertise is exceeded only by his passion for finance and teaching kids how to be responsible stewards of their own futures,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “Add that up and you have a session that promises to be informative, engaging, and fun. Plus, Tom brings with him an all-star panel well-versed on communicating to parents and with kids from the youngest ages. You won’t want to miss this event.”

Event information:

Raising Financially Savvy Kids with Tom Henske
Sunday, March 26, 2 pm
The Westport Library (20 Jesup Road)
Register here.

Graphic: Andrew Wilk Presents: Westport Library Medical Series

Over the years, Andrew Wilk has presented a number of specials at The Westport Library, including conversations with award-winning journalists and documentarians, concert performances, and even a discussion with deep sea explorer Robert Ballard.

Starting Tuesday, March 14, Wilk will offer up his latest partnership with the Library, a three-part series with renowned doctors focusing on cardiovascular health.

The first of these, set for 7 pm on March 14 in the Library’s Trefz Forum, will examine coronary artery disease, followed by heart valve disease on March 22 and atrial fibrillation on April 17. Each presentation will feature graphics and video depicting the topics being discussed and will include a question-and-answer period for the audience to engage.

Ed. Note (March 14, 2023): Due to inclement weather, the first event in this series was moved from March 14 to March 22. In turn, Part II has been rescheduled from March 22 to April 17, with Part III being rescheduled from April 17 to a date yet to be determined.

The participating physicians are Mitchell Dreisman, Ari Pollack, Chirag Shah, and Murali Chiravuri. Robert Altbaum, the longtime and noted Westport internist, will moderate the panel discussions.

“This is an opportunity for the community to learn about important medical issues in both a didactic and interactive setting,” said Altbaum. “These cardiac topics will be relevant to large segments of Fairfield County residents. Each discussion will provide a general review as well as state-of-the-art updates of the topic.”

Said Wilk, a five-time Emmy Award winner and the former executive producer of Live From Lincoln Center: “We hope it is informative, thought-provoking and, dare we say, fun.”

The first session will feature Altbaum, Dreisman, and Pollack, who will discuss cholesterol and its impact on cardiovascular disease. Shah will step in for Pollack in the second session, on March 22, to discuss what happens to the patient when the anatomy of heart valves is impaired. And closing out the series on April 17 will be Altbaum, Dreisman, and Chiravuri, an expert in electrophysiology, who will highlight the causes, medical complications, medical treatment, and newest ablation therapies for atrial fibrillation. 

“Once again, Andrew has collected a series of brilliant minds to discuss a topic of interest to our community,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “We’re looking forward to welcoming Andrew, Dr. Altbaum, and all the accomplished panelists to the Library for this fascinating series.”

Staples High School students will be on hand at The Westport Library now through Thursday, April 27, for drop-in tutoring in a range of subjects for grades 2-8.

Tutoring will take place starting at 4 pm in the Children’s Library, on the Library’s second floor, covering the following days, grades, subjects, and times:

  • Mondays – Grades 2-8 – History and Math (4-6 pm), Language Arts (6-8 pm, starting on March 20)
  • Tuesdays – Grades 2-8 – Language Arts (4-5 pm), Math (5-6 pm)
  • Thursdays – Grades 2-5 – Language Arts and Math (4-6 pm)

Please bring homework for which and workbooks with which you need assistance. And check back to the day’s schedule on the Library’s website for any cancellations or changes in schedule.

Adults with students under the age of 12 are required to stay in the Children’s Library while their child is being tutored.

BOOKED for the evening, The Westport Library’s annual fundraiser, is proud to welcome award-winning theatre, film, and television actress Laura Linney as its guest of honor for 2023.

Linney will be appearing in person for the event, in the Library’s Trefz Forum, on Thursday evening, July 13. Tickets for the event will go on sale in May.

Now in its 24th year, BOOKED for the evening is the Library’s signature fundraising event, honoring an individual whose work reflects the purpose of the Library: to nurture a love of learning and to enhance our understanding of the world.

“Laura Linney is not only one of the great actresses of her generation, she is also a lifelong supporter of the power of the arts and creativity, a humanitarian lauded for her work on behalf of cancer patients and their families, and a champion for women in film,” said Bill Harmer, Westport Library executive director. “For all those reasons and more, we are honored to have her as our guest for the 24th annual BOOKED for the evening celebration.”

Linney has enjoyed remarkable success across stage and screen during her brilliant career.

Her film credits include Genius, Nocturnal Animals, Mr. Holmes, Kinsey, You Can Count on Me, Mystic River, Love Actually, and The Truman Show.Among her prominent Broadway productions are The Crucible, Time Stands Still, Sight Unseen, and Six Degrees of Separation. And on television, she has starred in the Showtime series The Big C and the HBO mini-series John Adams, as well as Tales of the City and Frasier. She currently features as Wendy Byrde in Ozark, a role for which she has earned Emmy and SAG Award nominations.

In all, Linney has been nominated three times for an Academy Award, five times for a Tony Award, once for a BAFTA Award, and eight times for a Golden Globe. She has won one SAG Award, one National Board of Review Award, two Golden Globes, and four Emmys.

Linney holds honorary doctorates from her alma maters, Brown University and The Julliard School. She has been honored for her work in cancer advocacy and is a sought-after speaker focusing on reconsidering the arts as essential for success, easing the pain of cancer and finding beauty in tragedy, and navigating gender inequality in the film industry. She also delivers master classes on acting and theatre.

Previous BOOKED for the evening award recipients include 2022 guest of honor Shonda Rhimes, CEO of the global media company Shondaland, as well as luminaries such as Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Wendy Wasserstein, Pete Hamill, Martin Scorsese, Arthur Mitchell, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Halberstam, Oscar Hijuelos, Adam Gopnik, Will Shortz, Patti Smith, Barry Levinson, Jon Meacham, Nile Rodgers, Lynsey Addario, Ron Chernow, Alan Alda, Justin Paul, Frederic Chiu, and Itzhak Perlman.

VersoFest is The Westport Library’s annual celebration of music, media, and creativity, four days of innovation, inspiration, and exploration. This year, it will have a special artistic component to match.

The Artists Collective of Westport will be celebrating music through visual arts with a two-part exhibition that will encompass all three of the Library’s galleries — Music to Our Eyes residing in the Sheffer Gallery and the Jesup Gallery, and Piece by Piece in the South Gallery.

The exhibits will run March 4 through May 9, with the reveal of Piece by Piece to be held during a special reception held March 8 from 6 to 8 pm.

Music to Our Eyes, and its companion exhibit, Piece by Piece, was conceived as a way to add a visual arts component to the VersoFest musical experience,” said Westport Library Exhibit Curator Carole Erger-Fass. “I am thrilled to have the Artists Collective of Westport partner with the Library in this all-member exhibit, which showcases the myriad of ways that artists are inspired by music.”

Piece by Piece is a 6-foot by 10-foot art installation composed of the work of 60 Artists Collective members. Each artist received a 12-inch by 12-inch blank panel along with a 6-inch square section randomly selected from a single iconic music-themed painting. The artists created their individual piece, replicating a part of the larger painting in their own style, without knowing what the final painting will look like until it is revealed at the opening reception.

“The end result,” said Artists Collective founding member and longtime Library supporter Miggs Burroughs, “is an entertaining exercise in community, creativity, and collaboration.”

In addition to Burroughs, those contributing to Piece by Piece include Katherine Ross, Michael Brennecke, Nina Bentley, Susan Fehlinger, Eric Chiang, and Elizabeth DeVoll.

For Music to Our Eyes, each of the Artists Collective members were invited to display a work in the medium of their choice, interpreting music through painting, drawing, photography, and collage.

“The history of visual art has been fundamentally tethered to the history of music,” said Fehlinger. “Many famous artists have credited music as a muse for their work, while some musicians have revealed that art or an artist has been their inspiration. Since antiquity, artists have found inspiration in the songs, instruments, and musicians of their eras for inspiration to push the visual arts forward.

“In this show, over 50 local artists will be exhibiting their musically themed paintings in the Library’s Sheffer Gallery. Some artworks were inspired by a style of music, and some were inspired by a specific piece, but all are related to the artists’ musical experience.”

Each 12-inch by 12-inch “piece” of Piece by Piece will be available for purchase starting the night of the reception. Each square will be $100, with 50% of the proceeds supporting the Library’s art programs and 50% going to the artist. The additional artworks on display in the Sheffer and Jesup Galleries will also be available for purchase, with a percentage of the proceeds going to benefit the Library.

The Artists Collective of Westport is a group of creative individuals who have joined forces to discuss, create, and develop dynamic experiences for the Fairfield County community. The collective is open to all active artists in pursuit of expanding their careers and in developing a strong, diverse arts community. 

Exhibit support is provided by The Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.


Related: Video from the 2021 Piece by Piece exhibition:

Piece by Piece Unveiling, 2021
Elle DesMarteau in the Children's Library.

Elle DesMarteau grew up in Westport, spending hours and hours in the Children’s Library in the cozy chairs overlooking the Saugatuck River and participating in the summer reading program. Now a freshman at Scripps University, where she is studying biology, Elle has added a new chapter to her Library story: donor. As of early March, there will be a commemorative plaque affixed to the Mo Willems bookshelf in the Children’s Library, celebrating one of her family’s favorites.

We recently caught up with Elle — who describes her passions as reading, music, art, and food — to talk about why she chose to give back to the Library, what the Library means to her, and more.

Westport Library: How did you first get involved with the Library?

Elle DesMarteau: I started going to the Children’s Library and programs when I was 3 years old.

How did that involvement evolve into engagement and giving?

I loved the Library so much and spent so many hours enjoying the space and programs that I wanted to give back.

In your view, why do libraries matter?

Libraries matter because it’s important to have a space for everybody in the community to learn and connect.

Why do you give to support The Westport Library?

I am happy to give to The Westport Library because it is one of my favorite places in Westport.

What does the Library mean to you and your family?

It has played an essential role in my love for learning and reading — and was a happy place that my family and I could spend time together.

What would you tell others considering donating to support the Library?

Just do it!

The idea for Firekeeper’s Daughter percolated with Angeline Boulley for years, before she became a first-time novelist in her early 50s with its publication. It was worth the wait. Firekeeper’s Daughter was one of the best-reviewed books of 2021, earning raves from NPR, TIME, Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, and Publishers Weekly, among many others. In addition, it received the Printz Medal and the Morris Award, was named a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club YA Pick, and has been optioned for a Netflix show by Higher Ground, the production company of Barack and Michelle Obama.

One week from today, Boulley will join us in the Library’s Trefz Forum to discuss her debut novel, which is this year’s WestportREADS selection. Before her appearance, Boulley, whose second book, Warrior Girl Unearthed, comes out in May, took some time to answer our questions on coming to the Library, her favorite books, and more.

[Related: ‘Firekeeper’s Daughter' by Angeline Boulley Named 2023 WestportREADS Book Selection]

Westport Library: What was your reaction to Firekeeper’s Daughter being named our WestportREADS pick for 2023?

Angeline Boulley: I was absolutely thrilled to be named your 2023 WestportREADS book! Community reading programs are such a great way for people to come together and discuss different perspectives. I especially love intergenerational events that bring teens, parents, and grandparents together. 

What are your general thoughts on coming to The Westport Library to speak to our community?

I am excited to visit The Westport Library. A library says a lot about a community — it's evident that Westport values artistic expression and views the Library as the heart of its community. Also, I'm curious about your Seed Library.

There is so much information out there now and so many things to do and places to visit. Against that landscape, why do you think libraries still matter?

Libraries bring people together and foster engagement as a community. It's a place where everyone can access resources and ideas, and [where they] are valued as community members rather than as customers or consumers.    

What are your favorite or most influential books?


1. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline 

2. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork 

3. The Round House by Louise Erdrich

4. The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve

5. Chemistry by Weike Wang

6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

8. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

9. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

10. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

I'm also a huge fan of audiobooks. Here are my favorites (fiction):

1. Sadie by Courtney Summers

2. The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe

3. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo 

4. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir 

5. The Martian by Andy Weir

6. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

7. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

8. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

9. Tara Road by Maeve Binchy

10. The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan

And I listen to a lot of memoir/biography/autobiography/essays:

1. Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

2. What Remains by Carole Radziwill

3. Hunger by Roxane Gay

4. Diana: Her True Story by Andrew Morton

5. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

6. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

7. Becoming by Michelle Obama

8. Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

9. God Said, "Ha!" by Julia Sweeney

10. The Drummond Girls by Mardi Jo Link

What music/musicians/albums inspire you?


Florence + The Machine

Luther Vandross

Martina McBride


One Republic

Patty Loveless

Sister Hazel

Vienna Teng


[Related: Westport Library WestportREADS 2023 Freegal Playlist]

The stage is set, with the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. One of them will be the NFL’s 2023 champion. But neither will match the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

On Thursday, February 9, at 7 pm, longtime ESPN reporter and E60 host Jeremy Schaap will return to The Westport Library to screen his new filmThe Perfect Machine, a look back at the ’72 Dolphins, who a half-century ago won Super Bowl VII to complete the only undefeated season in NFL history.

Schaap, an 11-time Emmy Award winner for his work as a sports reporter and investigative journalist, will also host a talk after the screening, to be held in the Library’s Trefz Forum.

Those interested in attending can reserve their seats here. The event is free of charge to all patrons.

“We're thrilled to present this special screening of The Perfect Machine, about the only undefeated team ever in the NFL,” Schaap said. “More than a great team, the 1972 Dolphins were also a collection of great personalities — and director Dan Lindberg captured the essence of it all.”

The Perfect Machine is an E60 production featuring live footage of the 1972 season mixed with live interviews. In all, Schaap spoke with 16 living members of the team as well as a number of NFL luminaries, a group that included Pro Football Hall of Famers Paul Warfield, Larry Csonka, Larry Little, Bob Griese, and Joe Namath.

“To this day, the 1972 Dolphins remain one of the most famous teams in sports history,” said Bill Harmer, Westport Library executive director. “To have Jeremy back at the Library to share their story with our patrons, and just days before Super Bowl LVII, is an awesome experience for anyone who follows football and everyone who loves sports and great storytelling.”

Those looking to learn more about the Super Bowl can check out the Library’s newest reference guide covering the game and its history.

Blue Coupe (credit: Rock Revele)

The Westport Library is gearing up for VersoFest 2023 with a trio of legendary musicians.

Blue Coupe, the supergroup formed of Alice Cooper group bassist Dennis Dunaway and Blue Öyster Cult founders Joe and Albert Bouchard will take over the Library’s Trefz Forum on Friday, March 10, at 7 pm.

Proceeds from the show will go to benefit this year’s VersoFest, which runs March 30 to April 2 and features live performances by Sunflower Bean, Amilia K Spicer, and the Smithereens, as well as a full set of programs and workshops featuring music luminaries and those behind the scenes who will come to the Library to inform, inspire, and entertain. Renowned producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Rolling Stones, Talking Heads) will provide the keynote address on Saturday, April 1.

Sisters Tish and Snooky Bellomo of Manic Panic will be joining Blue Coupe for the show. DJ B The T Sr. starts the night on Verso Studios vinyl DJ decks, spinning the formative rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, and blues music that influenced and informed bands like Alice Cooper and Blue Öyster Cult.

“There aren’t many bands like Blue Coupe making music today,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer, “and we’re thrilled to have them perform in the Trefz Forum. This is a good old fashioned rock band that delivers hits you know and hits you’ll come to love. It’s a really cool experience for our visitors and the perfect show to get us ready for VersoFest.”

Said Dunaway, “We're thrilled to be performing at The Westport Library because they excel in enriching the community in knowledge and all varieties of the arts.”

Blue Coupe’s live concerts are a mix of the best-known songs from their respective groups as well as new music from their studio albums. The band’s website describes the amalgam as “a powerful legacy of music that makes for a dynamic and exciting show.” 

L to R: Albert Bouchard, Tish Bellomo, Dennis Dunaway, Snooky Bellomo, Joe Bouchard (credit: Jim Marchese)

Dunaway is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who co-wrote Alice Cooper band hits including “I’m 18,” “School's Out,” and “Under My Wheels.” Multi-instrumentalist Joe Bouchard — a VersoFest 2022 alum — and drummer Albert Bouchard founded Blue Öyster Cult and served as co-writers and arrangers of many of the band’s biggest songs, including “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll,” “Hot Rails to Hell,” and “Astronomy.”

All told, Dunaway and the Bouchard brothers have sold 15 million-plus albums and have been awarded more than 30 gold and platinum records worldwide.

Blue Coupe has made three albums since its inception, including its most recent offering, ELEVEN EVEN, released in 2019 and recorded to have the feeling of a live show. “The stage is our second home,” said Dunaway, “so we all write songs with an arena feel.”

Also in 2019, Blue Coupe performed at the Sweden Rock Festival to rave reviews. The band followed that with the Great South Bay Music Festival in Long Island, New York, and a tour of the Midwest that culminated with a live-streamed interview from the main stage in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

DJ B The T Sr. was station manager and program director of WNHU from 1977 to 1981, where he helped break new bands like X, Blondie, U2, and the Motels, and fostered a burgeoning community of independent and original New Haven bands. After many years hunkered over his basement mixtape laboratory, he has reemerged with lively DJ appearances at Berlinetta Brewing in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Tickets to see Blue Coupe live in the Trez Forum are available on Eventbrite. All VersoFest 2023 concerts are co-produced with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

Before he was musician, and long before he was a rock star, Richard Butler was a painter. He studied at Epsom Art School outside London and brought that work to bear in the artwork and designs for his band, the Psychedelic Furs, with whom he has gained international acclaim.

An artist in the truest sense — both as a painter and a musician — Butler will serve as the guest of honor at the February 2023 Malloy Lecture in the Arts, to be held in The Westport Library’s Trefz Forum on Tuesday, February 28, at 7 pm.

Butler’s appearance is the first of two Malloy lectures planned for 2023, following a brief hiatus; the normally annual series was last held in November 2021, featuring Broadway star Kelli O’Hara in conversation with renowned American theater director Bartlett Sher. The second 2023 lecture will be held in the late fall or early winter.

The Malloy Lecture in the Arts is made possible by a generous contribution from Westport artist Susan Malloy. The Westport Library created the lecture series in 2002 as a free, public discussion by an individual who has had a significant cultural influence and whose work has enhanced the understanding and appreciation of the arts.

“It is an honor beyond measure to welcome Richard to our forum and our stage,” said Bill Harmer, executive director of The Westport Library. “He is, without question, the ideal guest for our reprisal of the Malloy Lecture in the Arts — perhaps best known for his time with the Psychedelic Furs but also an artist of great acclaim and immeasurable talent. I can’t wait for our community to get to hear from him.”

Butler will be joined at the Library by famed American musician, record producer, and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Chris Frantz, the drummer for both Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club, which he co-founded with wife and Talking Heads bassist Tina Weymouth.

“I have known Richard since 1980, when the Psychedelic Furs toured with Talking Heads,” said Frantz. “They were a darn good band then and still are. Having seen Richard’s paintings in his New York gallery and in his studio, he brings something great and unique unto himself to the work. I look forward to our conversation and learning more about what inspires him and how making music and painting continue to turn him on.”

Butler rose to international fame with the Psychedelic Furs starting in the late 1970s and into the 1980s, with the Furs emerging as one of London’s leading post-punk bands. Their self-titled debut, produced by VersoFest headliner Steve Lillywhite, was Top 20 on the UK Albums Chart, and their run of success continued with six subsequent albums released between 1981 and 1991, including Talk Talk Talk and Forever Now.

Butler put his painting on the backburner to accommodate the Furs’ record promotion and worldwide touring, returning to his first love when the band took an extended hiatus in the early 90s. Since then, he’s kept at it and found a balance between the two endeavors.

With his daughter as his muse, Butler produces expressionistic portraits of female subjects who he said serve as ciphers for himself, smudging, distorting, and overlaying patterns onto his models’ faces to create what has been described as “dynamic compositions that are at once naturalistic and hallucinatory.”

“In a way," said Butler, “I think all of my paintings are self-portraits in that, though the face I am painting may not be my own, the feeling I get back from the painting is certainly an important element of my own psyche.”

Butler’s work has been featured worldwide, with the artist having launched exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Berlin, and at other prestigious galleries across the globe.

Despite the shift in artistic expression, Butler has continued to create music with several side projects. He also released a solo album in 2006, and in 2020 he put out the first new Psychedelic Furs album in nearly 30 years, which was met with international chart success and rave reviews from both fans and critics alike.

In addition to O’Hara and Sher, past Malloy Lecture programs have included Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; distinguished playwright Arthur Miller; artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude; musicians Joshua Bell and Frederic Chiu; U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins; Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation; author Joyce Carol Oates; cartoonist Roz Chast; actor Christopher Plummer; stage, film, and theater star John Lithgow; preeminent classical dancer Jacques d'Amboise; music legend Clive Davis; author Salman Rushdie; Falsettos: In Conversation; Bernstein on Broadway; and playwright, actor, and educator Anna Deavere Smith.

All seats have already been reserved for the in-person component of the February 2023 Malloy Lecture in the Arts. There will be a livestream of the conversation, however, and a recording will be featured afterward on The Westport Library YouTube channel.

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