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Seen and Heard in Norwalk: A little paint, a little vino…

Bella Zadure of New Haven enjoys giving her first art class in the South Norwalk location of Art Plus Studios Friday.

NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some items of interest that were seen or heard recently in Norwalk:

Wine, pizza and paint

There’s a new spectacle on North Main Street – time your passby right and you’ll be able to gawk at up to 20 people painting the same picture at once with, perhaps, a tall woman from Brazil leading them step by step.

Or not. Reportedly there will be nude models to work from, so a curtain will be hung over the plate glass windows and you won’t be able to see anything.

It’s Art Studio Plus, which held an invitation-only grand opening Friday night in its location in the old Avrick Building.

Art Studio Plus is at 14-16 North Main St. in SoNo.

Owner Bella Zadore encouraged everyone to have wine. “We usually do painting and drinking,” she said as the class began. “If you have never had this experience — it is good!”

Zadore, who also has an Art Studio Plus in New Haven, led everyone step by step to replicate a painting of three koi fish, first with x-marks of black to cover the canvas, then little smiles of white in the corners to begin the fish shapes, and finally dabbing on colors to make the orangy, red and green splotches on the koi.

Painting hints included putting just a hint of blue on the paintbrush, just “a little kiss.” Apply the paint like “a 2-month-old baby” — be gentle with it.

She said, “We don’t want to kill the baby.”

Library lady has new title

When Mayor Harry Rilling had his department heads introduce themselves at Thursday’s night out, Norwalk Public Library Director Chris Bradley came up with a new title for herself.

“Two things,” she said. “The library director and on the winning team of the spelling bee.”

She laughed, as did everyone else.

“I don’t want to take any thunder from Chris, but she’s the library director; if she didn’t win the spelling bee…” Rilling said.

Now back to his time as police chief.

Norwalk 031
Council members David McCarthy, Shannon O’Toole Giandurco and Doug Hempstead have fun Wednesday at the Norwalk Education Foundation’s 2nd Annual Spelling Bee.

“It’s kind of like whenever there was a mystery event, you know — you have to solve the mystery, people asked me if I was going to be a part of it,” he said. “I said ‘absolutely not.’ They said ‘why?’ I said, because if I solve it everybody is going to go ‘Oh, of course you’re the police chief.’ But if I didn’t solve it they’d be ‘Oh, you couldn’t even solve it.’ It wouldn’t be a winning situation.”

That crazy intersection of double meanings

Mike Mushak got up to speak at the night out, engaging Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord in a conversation about three things: people who are using the new blue recycling bins for garbage, trucks going up Fairfield Avenue and the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive and Fairfield.

That last is a pain if you’re heading from Fairfield onto Washington Street.

“One lane kind of bumps into the curb and you kind of have to take an abrupt shift to the left,” Mushak said. “I almost get sideswiped there every time I do it”

“That’s intentional,” Alvord said.

“I know,” Mushak said.

Alvord had started to speak before Mushak said he almost gets sideswiped so maybe that’s not really what he meant.

Mushak was suggesting “cat tracks” — “Little dashed lines would go far to get people shifting in the lanes.”

South Norwalk zoning

Martha Dumas told Rilling and the others that a teen center would be nice to have in the South Norwalk Community Center before she head onto a topic for Planning and Zoning Director Mike Greene.

“How many zoning regulations do we have, with so many bad sites around?” she said. “It’s like South Norwalk is just circled with the junk yards. … Even if they are grandfathered in, can they be grandfathered out? Because we need more space or even affordable housing.”

“Connecticut is a very conservative state when it comes to grandfathering,” Greene said. “No matter what zoning regulation you put into effect they can stay forever. Some states have it where you can amortize them where, over a certain amount of time, you can have a use that has to leave, it’s X number of years. Connecticut does not have that. So a non-conforming use in the state of Connecticut can stay forever.”

Rilling gets Democratic support

Anyone who has been watching the Common Council has noticed – Rilling seems to have more support and cooperation from the Republicans than the Democrats.

On Thursday, District A Councilman David Watts at least had some kind words.

Watts was talking about Community Block Development Grant (CDBG) funding in relation to summer programs.

“The city can help you to develop your plan on how you will use the funds,” he said, attempting to recruit people to get involved, create an idea for a program and then apply for funding.

“The money is for people to do some things,” he said. “With Harry, it’s been a wonderful experience because he’s opened the door. He’s only been there a short amount of time. He is trying to clean up what he was left. So far serving with him on the council is different. He has reached out. He has an open door policy. We were there with him yesterday. He wants to improve the quality of life down here.”

NEON vs. the Norwalk Housing Authority

A federal official tripped up a little when she was offering Head Start program instruction to the Norwalk Housing Authority Wednesday.

Gail Petersen, grantee specialist from the Region 1 Head Start Training and Technical Assistance Network, called the organization NEON.

NHA has taken over the Head Start Program from NEON, or Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now. Petersen was used to talking to NEON leaders about Head Start.

NHA Director Curtis Law said that was one strike. She could call them NEON one more time before she’d be out.

Petersen apologized and said, “I spent a lot of time with them and I’m really glad to be here.”

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