On an air trip from Florida to New York several years back that turned into a 12-hour odyssey, the only things that helped me transcend the moment were memories of time shared with my family and the impromptu plane ride tracing Connecticut’s lush shoreline, from Greenwich to Stratford — the well-named “Gold Coast.”
The Gold Coast can have that effect on you. It’s a region where business, particularly the financial industry, culture, history and philanthropy intersect, as you’ll see in our opening essay/cover story. And it is the subject of much of May WAG, along with intriguing people doing intriguing things in the municipalities that dot the coastline.
Beginning in Greenwich, the Gold Coast’s cornerstone, we were privileged to cover Anita Hill’s inspirational talk at the April 22 fundraising luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich for Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, The Fund for Women & Girls. Hill may have been shaped by the controversial 1991 Senate hearings in which she testified that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her, but that explosive moment has not defined her as she has become a Brandeis University law professor, an author and an advocate for ending gender violence. She was a natural for The Fund for Women & Girls, the largest of its kind in New England, which has spent almost a quarter-century helping the underserved in Fairfield County. It’s also an example of how the Gold Coast is supporting its increasing diversity.
Staying with Greenwich, our house of the month on Cobb Island Drive offers a waterfront oasis. Then we move up the Gold Coast as Jeremy visits with Darien-based interior designer Prudence Bailey to consider a kitchen she created for a family in Hamilton, New York; Justin talks with Weston resident Cristina Villegas, who has relocated her children’s clothing/home goods boutique, Yoya, and interior design studio, Casa Yoya, to Westport; and Cami tells us how our homes can acquire some coastal chic of their own.
Staying with the Connecticut shoreline, Katie explores the Lyme Art Colony, centered in what is now the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme. It’s one of two 19th-century art colonies that helped put Connecticut on the map culturally, the other being the Cos Cob Art Colony. And Phil weighs in with stories on Mystic Aquarium’s on-site Milne Ocean Science and Conservation Center, which provides 24/7 medical care for sea creatures great and small, and The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk’s “Flutter Zone,” a butterfly exhibit in which visitors can flit Memorial Day through Labor Day (May 28 through Sept. 5).
We haven’t neglected Westchester County. This Gold Coast neighbor gets its due with three arts business stories. The return of Caramoor’s summer music festival to Katonah will mark the Caramoor debut of Brian Stokes Mitchell, a rare performer who combines powerhouse talent, social consciousness and business acumen as we discovered when we learned about his work as a founder of Black Theatre United and chairman of the board of The Actors Fund.
Copland House — a center for American music in the former Cortlandt Manor home of composer Aaron Copland — returns to performance in Westchester for the first time in two years with its Music From Copland House ensemble at the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck, its new home away from home. (And if you haven’t seen it, check out the evocative PBS “Now Hear This” episode on Copland, whose use of rangy, folk-flavored melodies and sprightly rhythms helped define American music in the 20th century and made him “the dean of American music.”) Meanwhile, the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers expands its footprint with a two-year, $12.3 million West Wing capital improvement project — and its outreach to the community and beyond.
Elsewhere, Jeremy has us screaming for a trip to the new Ice Cream Social in White Plains — can’t wait to try the lavender flavor — and then, because we have to be balanced, visits The Skinny Center in Harrison, where he learns about healthy weight loss. (OK, so maybe an occasional scoop of the lavender ice cream?)
We welcome Ed — Edward Arriaza — who bows in these pages with two fine stories. The first is about CBD Live Natural in Bedford Hills, which offers CBD products designed to improve the health of its clientele. While the jury is still out on the efficacy of these products for many critics, store owner Marcie Manfredonia-Siciliano found they alleviated her fibromyalgia and its resulting anxiety. His second piece is a heartwarmer about Hour Children, which enables incarcerated women, like those at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and the Taconic Correctional Facility, to reconnect with their offspring in a seven-day summer program that may include a camp this year.
It’s a reminder that one of our greatest joys at WAG is to bring you stories of people aiding others. Someone who always lent a helping hand was William M. “Billy” Losapio, the restaurateur of Sergio’s and Gregory’s fame on Central Avenue in Hartsdale and White Plains respectively who served as WAG’s adviser. As you’ll read in our tribute, Billy, who died April 18 of leukemia at age 80, was a class act — kind, gracious, at once serious and humorous — and as interested in helping you pursue your dreams as he was in his own. We remember all the elaborate, heartfelt toasts he made in the WAG lunches he hosted at Sapori, which occupies Gregory’s former home, and all the WAG events he supported. I see him sneaking into the reading I did at Bloomingdale’s White Plains when I published my first novel, “Water Music.” He came late, but he was there.
Now he’s no doubt playing golf in the Great Beyond — and suggesting how God could build a better fairway.
A 2020 YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester Visionary Award winner and a 2018 Folio Women in Media Award Winner, Georgette Gouveia is the author of “Burying the Dead,” “Daimon: A Novel of Alexander the Great” and “Seamless Sky” (JMS Books), as well as “The Penalty for Holding,” a 2018 Lambda Literary Award finalist (JMS Books), and “Water Music” (Greenleaf Book Group). They’re part of her series of novels, “The Games Men Play,” also the name of the sports/culture blog she writes.
Last year, her short story “The Glass Door” was published by JMS and exhibited in “Together apART: Creating During COVID” at ArtsWestchester in White Plains. Her latest story, “After Hopper,” is also available from JMS Books. For more, visit thegamesmenplay.com.