During her years living outside New Zealand, Helen maintained very close connections with the arts sector in New Zealand, and supported many New Zealand artists who came to the north east of the United States.
Helen’s international expertise and experience in the arts sector and her commitment to, vision for, and strategic thinking about the arts in New Zealand make her an invaluable returnee.
I have seen Helen operate in many settings, and have always seen a person who is very collegial, considerate, and inclusive in style. I have no doubt that she would add true value to the New Zealand creative sector in these respects too."
- Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage and UNDP Administrator
"Helen is a dynamic personality passionately devoted to the advancement of contemporary art and artists both locally and internationally. In addition to being an outstanding curator of exhibitions, Helen is an excellent public speaker adept at chairing conferences and conducting interviews. Her knowledge of even the most arcane areas of contemporary art and culture is as widespread as is her amazing range of friends and international contacts.
For years, Helen has been an unofficial ambassador for New Zealand, advising major collectors and foundations both there and in the US, bridging the cultural separation by bringing an exchange of her extensive knowledge of contemporary art and artists to both countries. It is a huge advantage for contemporary culture in New Zealand to have her expertise and experience."
- Anthony Korner, Publisher, Artforum International Magazine
"I’ve worked with many talented appointees, but rarely, if ever, one as passionate, accomplished and committed as Helen During. It would be difficult to calculate the impact she has had on artists and arts and cultural organizations; Helen is a whirlwind of action, often quietly, behind the scenes, tirelessly promoting artists and organizations, constantly seeking out experiences and, in a manner unlike any I’ve witnessed, perpetually making connections between people she knows all over the world for their benefit and the benefit of the people they serve. The symbol of the word “art” within the word “heart” suits Helen to a tee. She’s a one-of-a-kind human being full of passion, caring and true commitment."
- Fritz Jellinghaus, Emeritus Chairman, Connecticut Arts Council
"Commendation - In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the Arts Community at to the Community At Large, the Town of Westport Honors Helen Klisser During. During her tenure at the Westport Arts Center (WAC), Helen brought world-class artists, personalities, and exhibitions to The Westport Arts Center. With wide contacts in the art world, she attracted support from major museums, galleries, and art collectors, who loaned their works to her WAC shows. Helen launched several original and highly successful programs, including the Westport Artists’ Collective, the East meets WESTport Hungarian artist residency with Quinnipiac University, the ArtCafe, The ArtCafe Blog, and ArtSpeaks conversations and speakers, and ARTSafari expeditions to major museums, galleries and art fairs. On behalf of the Town of Westport and as its First Selectman, I offer heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Helen as she enters this exciting new chapter in her life. I wish you the best of everything in all your future endeavors."
- James S. Marpe, First Selectman, Town of Westport, CT, 11/20/15
“The Westport Arts Center’s extraordinary series of exhibitions are organized with great intelligence and originality. They include a broad range of themes and styles and consistently attract a wide audience. The gallery has significantly enhanced cultural life in Westport and throughout the region.”
- David Rubinstein, Chairman, Westport Arts Committee
“The Westport Arts Center is remarkable for the way it has engaged community response. My grandchildren live in Fairfield. Prior to visiting the Westport Arts Center they exhibited little interest in art. The show of photos from Haiti curated by Ms Klisser During inspired them to use their savings to help poor children in Haiti. Thank you for inspiring them.”
- Richard Ekstract, Publisher, CT Cottages & Gardens; Collector;Chairman Westport Arts Awards Committee;
Board Member, New Museum
“If one believes that art is the heart and soul of the community, Westport’s soul is well cared for, nourished and stimulated by the Westport Arts Center. Helen Klisser During is a gem whose deep knowledge and inclusive enthusiasm are irresistible.”
- Curt Welling, CEO, AmeriCares
"We did a great event at WAC around our work using art therapy with children who have been through trauma called "From Malawi with Love." It was a wonderful way to bring the universal expression of art as a healer to our community and to make the world of poor children a little easier to grasp"
- Carolyn Miles, President & CEO, Save the Children
“What could be better than being able to see world class artists, beautifully curated and displayed right in our own little town? The quality of the exhibits and the supporting programming at the Westport Arts Center is consistently top of the line and brings real value to the community!”
- Anne Keefe, Artistic Advisor, Westport Country Playhouse
“You’ve done a phenomenal job bringing life, energy, and excitement to the Arts Center, using world class artists and inspiring and thought-provoking exhibitions. All done with such great love and in the most welcoming and accessible way. What’s not to love?”
- Michael Ross, Managing Director, Westport Country Playhouse
“I would like to recommend Helen Klisser During's artCafe blog as a way to keep up with all that is going on in art in NYC and the rest of the world. It is my absolute "go-to" for information and links about the art world. What an immense pleasure it is to read...thanks Helen for compiling this great resource for anyone interested in the arts.”
- Emma Gibbs, Collector, Gibbs Farm, New Zealand
“Through its ever expanding and enriching public programs, gallery exhibits, and artistic presentations, the Westport Arts Center is gaining both regional and national visibility as destination for the arts community. Far beyond its parameters as a local artist pit-stop, the WAC has maximized its resources to imagine projects on a scale that would even intimidate considerably larger institutions with deeper pockets and larger financial resources. Especially noteworthy are the ingeniously conceived and tastefully installed art exhibitions which anchor the schedule. From old master drawings, to contemporary printmaking with a swirl of food and pastry topping their cake, Curator Helen Klisser During has begged, borrowed, and -without any illegality or subterfuge -literally "stole the show" in her able abilities to bring 'Big City Art' to suburban Westport.
Leaning on a valuable network of professional colleagues and art world contacts Klisser During has notched up the WAC's game -transforming its gallery into a 'state of the art' showcase for meaningful and impactful exhibitions. We have much to look forward to as the WAC continues to etch its mark among the most admired community based art centers in the United States today. Their vision is admirable ---and potential to do great things virtually limitless.”
- Philip Eliasoph, PhD, Professor of Art History, Fairfield University;
CT Commissioner, CT Commission for the Arts; DECE, Hartford, CT
“The one word to describe Helen Klisser During and The Westport Art Center is ENERGY – from the exhibitions to the director you feel the commitment to exciting – stimulating – excellence; it is always a pleasure to be there!”
- John Tremaine, Tremaine Foundation
“The Westport Arts Center offers a rare balance of exceptional art programming, community outreach, art world updates and unflinching local support all in a waterfront, suburban community.”
- D. Dominick Lombardi, Art Critic
“The Westport Arts Center has, under the Artistic leadership of Helen Klisser During, brought exhibitions to the community that have been timely, provocative and of the highest caliber. There is always a wide breadth of art and artists represented that draws the viewer in, whether a child or an adult, to ask questions and see in a new way. I always feel intellectually nourished after seeing one of Klisser During's shows at the Westport Art Center.”
- Susan Tremaine, Tremaine Art LLC
“People of Westport and surrounding area… Forget about long painful treks to NYC for some culture. The Westport Arts center trumps MOMA and The Met. Why, you might ask? Well, there is a gal named Helen Klisser During, a regular dynamo, who happens to know how to curate world class exhibitions. She knows where to find the great work, how to organize and hang it on the center’s walls, and can give you a first class art experience on your way home from the market. I used to live in Woodstock, NY and we had a vibrant, active art center with year round programming for artists and residents. With sadness I must admit, however, we couldn’t compare with Westport. Congratulations to all of you within miles of town. You’ve been given a very special gift.”
- Howard Greenberg, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York