WESTPORT, Conn. -- Whether it has been by skill or happenstance, Miggs Burroughs has left his mark on Westport.
Burroughs, a graphic artist who has lived in Westport for 65 years, designed the town flag, school district logo and last year, unveiled Tunnel Vision , an art gallery that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The gallery is a walkway that links Main Street in Westport to Parker Harding Plaza and includes 16 photos of mostly Westport couples. Using a technique known as lenticular imagery, Burroughs’ photos take viewers in different directions depending on the angle of their view. He calls the project the most rewarding and ambitious project of his career.
“It’s a presence downtown,’’ Burroughs said. “The Westport Merchants Association deserves a lot of the credit. They gave me total creative freedom. The concept was to bring some humanity to the tunnel. It’s a cool thing to portray a human connection emotionally and physically.”
Each of the photos show the hands of the couples, who were asked by Burroughs to bring "something meaningful" to the photo shoot. Anita Schoor of Westport came with a tattoo "that represents the time in history that humanity was forgotten and innocent people were deported to concentration camps," according to the Tunnel Vision website. Norwalk’s Joe and Florence Romano, who were married in 1950, arrived with a Purple Heart Joe earned when he fought in World War II from 1943 to 1946, when his division helped to liberate the Dachau concentration camp.
“The technique is an animation technique and it’s like a mini movie,’’ Burroughs said. “Each one has two frames, so it’s like a beginning and an end, or an end and a beginning. I thought the highest achievement for me as an artist would be to bring tears to somebody’s eyes through an image. Part of my motivation was to portray the human connection, the human condition. I got emails from people saying they had tears in their eyes walking through that tunnel. I achieved a goal I had for a long time. People take an emotional journey every time they go through the tunnel.”
Burroughs moved with his family to Westport in 1950. His father was a highly-regarded commercial artist, and he lived on Imperial Avenue, about a mile away from the Tunnel Vision project. He graduated with a degree in theater from Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh -- now Carnegie Mellon -- and after traveling abroad for a few years he returned and sold art in New York and Boston. He landed four covers for Time magazine and a United States postage stamp.
While his career blossomed, Burroughs retained his love for Westport.
“Westport was an artists’ community and it was the identity of the town,’’ Burroughs said. “My father was part of the second wave of artists to move here. Now it’s more affluent. But it still has great artists. There are painters and digital artists and there seems to be room for them. Westport has always been a very nurturing town for the arts. It’s a comfortable place for an artist to be.”
Burroughs designed an Easter Egg for the Reagan White House that now resides at the Smithsonian, has created brochures, logos, ads and websites for commercial and non-profit clients. Westport is his home and his artistic canvas.
“Looking back, it’s really quite moving,’’ Burroughs said. “Longevity was one of the keys to my father’s success. He was dependable and people knew where to find him. I like to think I’m the same way. I like to give back to the community. Westport is still a wonderful place and has so much to offer. I don’t know if I could’ve made it anywhere else.”