ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 2 NUMBER 2 * * All Arts News On the Web * * FEBRUARY, 1998


      The annual meeting of the members of the All Arts Council of Franklin County will be held on February 5, 1998, at 7 p.m. in the Collins-Perley Sports Center. At the annual meeting, members will elect up to 5 directors and transact whatever other business as may come before the meeting. AAC members vote, can serve on the board of directors, hold office, attend meetings and support cultural events around Franklin County.


      "We don't do cute," said Harold Mitchell, director of the immensely popular annual MVU musical.
      The theater at Missisquoi Valley Union High School may be the best performance space in Franklin County. It seats over 525 people comfortably. Every seat has a great view and outstanding acoustics; the area at the top of the house, perfect for handicapped access, has matchless sight lines and excellent sounds. It is a compact house, so people get to be right on top of the show. The performers have found the acoustics improved by the recent renovation project.
      "The best thing," Mitch said, "is that it's in Franklin County where people don't have a lot of opportunity to see a whole lot of live performance."
      The MVU theater is renowned not only for school concerts and the exceptional Spring Musicals but also for professional performances including the Harvard Wind Ensemble, McGill University Jazz, Ketch Dance Troupe, and the VSO. Some of the best remembered MVU musicals include 'Jesus Christ Superstar,' 'Into the Woods,' and 'West Side Story.'
      "That is an important room for the whole community," said school director Richard Bish. Highgate gets bragging rights, because few schools have as large and attractive a facility.
      The open stage is challenging for set designers but has advantages for newer shows like 'Superstar.' "It was wonderful because it is open and gives a lot of space," Mitch said.
      Arts programs, including those using the MVU theater, have another major impact on students and on the community.
      "We actually have more kids going on from fine arts programs than from athletics," Bish noted. MVU graduates like Eric Bushey, John Calvazos, Jason Corbiere, Paul Goodhue, James Haugland, Jeremy Lucas, Armand Messier, Katie Ostrander, Jennifer Raynak, James Thacker, and Tom Toner are all well known for their continued work in the arts.
      "Most kids who play in band go on to play in college and in community bands," said Brooke Ostrander, band director and theater manager at MVU. "And, of course, in countless rock bands."
      Although the high school underwent a major renovation and building project last fall, the lighting booth was not upgraded. State inspectors in December condemned the booth and some other wiring. Before the electrical problems, theater people around New England said, "If you really want a quality lighting system, go to Missisquoi."
      The lighting debacle is unfortunate, but the School Board has approved new equipment, principal Jack McCarthy is working with the state inspectors to resolve the problems, and theater users have rented temporary lights as needed. With the coming computerized light board, it will be world class.
      The Vermont Youth Orchestra performed at MVU in January.
      The show always goes on.


      "Yes I am," said Harold Mitchell. He will return to direct his 21st musical this spring. "This year, because of the lighting situation, we're going to do a small show."
      That small show, The Fantasticks, is the longest running musical in the history of musical theater. It is simply good family theater and will be on the MVU stage in April.


      The Champlain Islands Celebration of the Arts and the Cambridge Arts Council are all-volunteer arts organizations on either side of Franklin County. Both groups produce events, support the development of local artists, offer programs for students, and share resources and information with other groups in the area. Island Arts serves Grand Isle County and the Cambridge Arts volunteers work in the Cambridge/Jeffersonville area.
      Last year, Island Arts presented chamber quartets, classic and ethnic musical/dance performances, a house and garden tour, plus art and craft shows. They are developing an artists' studio tour for this summer. The Island Gallery project displays fine art exhibits year round in the South Hero Merchants Bank and The North Hero House. They also provide annual ArtsBoost grants to art and music teachers in Grand Isle County schools.
      Island Arts also sponsors the County-Wide Student Art & Music Festival with performances by the County Wide Band and Chorus plus exhibits by the art students.
      Island Arts meets at the Grand Isle Courthouse in North Hero on the second Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. from April through November. For information, e-mail Barbara Biggie
      "We're a budding organization trying to grow," said Margo Rome, president of Cambridge Arts Council, "and entering into partnerships with other community organizations like the library."
      They received their first grant from the Vermont Council on the Humanities for a Winter Sampling of Vermont's Heritage. This monthly series began last week with Native American storyteller, Wolf Song. It continues in February with Michael Hahn telling stories of the pre-revolutionary Vermont wilderness and in March with Martha Pellerin.
      This is the second season of their Cambridge Coffee House on the first and third Wednesday of each month at Smugglers Notch Inn. Coming this Wednesday is an Evening of Jazz with Carl Severance, George Voland, Justin Rose and an exhibit of the art of Genie Rydicki-Judkins. The third Wednesday coffee house is always open mike; all feature their Rotating Visual Art display.
      Cambridge Arts and the AAC are planning an Evening of Ballroom Dance in Fletcher in May.
      For information, e-mail Margo Rome


      Peter DiMuro and Adrienne Clancy, members of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, will lead four workshops, February 5-7 in St. Albans, in a continuation of the program Liz Lerman started in November.
      "I ski and play tennis and these movements apply to those activities," said an attendee after the Movement for Seniors and Students workshop in November. That workshop allowed participants to "dance sitting in a chair."
      The new series begins with Creative Movement for Ages 50 & Up to explore new ways to move your body for fun, health and sharing of personal stories. Thursday, February 5 at 9:30am. $5.00. Location to be announced.
      How to Integrate Movement into the Curriculum for teachers of all disciplines and grade levels. Friday, February 6, 4-6pm. $10.00. BFA library.
      Storytelling...Dance...Visual Art, a multi-media celebration. Saturday, February 7, 10am-noon. Free for the whole family. BFA cafeteria.
      Call Donna Costes (524-9063) for information and to register.
      The Family Center and St Albans C.A.N. are also collaborating on a workshop for parents and early childhood educators. Using Dance in Early Childhood Education demonstrates creative ways to experience movement with young children. City Elementary School, Thursday, Feb. 5, at 6:30pm. Register for this workshop through the Family Center at 524-6574. Call soon as space is very limited.
      These residencies will reinforce student-based community projects organized by Judith Karstens. The November residencies attracted high school students, seniors, parents, and teachers. The ultimate hope is to bring the groups together.
      Funded by a four year grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the A.P.A.N. events are part of a series of collaborations between the Flynn Theatre and the St. Albans Area Community Arts Network.


      I'm a sucker for a quest which is probably why we have a boat named Rocinante. Donutrun: Where Quixote Goes For Breakfast is a cyber donutshop for the mind and a starter kit for a quest right here in Franklin County.
      The anonymous author serves up predictions, commentary, and links for the Pittsburgh Steelers season, which annoys a certain diehard Packers fan I know very well. Donutrun has mindful moments, literary treasures, a bookshelf of required readings, pugnacious puns, a soapboxful of opinions, and links to engaging local sites.
      Some readers might wonder why the anonymous webmeister, aka Don Quixote, the Lord of La Mancha, the Great and Powerful Oz, a little teapot, short and stout, and otherwise known as JB the resident creative mind of Donutrun, shows so much pride in Franklin County.
      The AAC is proud to disclose that JB is none other than Northwestern Medical Center's own Jonathon Billings. In the mood for a donut?

      Salvatore Ventura paints monumental watercolors of stolid architectural elements. Look for Gravity, paintings of the capitol of an ionic column, the supports of a balustrade of a stairway, and Threshold #1, a prominent yawing arch with a deep interior shadow. Ventura uses shadow as a separate object and gives it the same weight as the solid columnar and foundation masses.

      Comedy Central serves up some goofy TV, then puts South Park, Games and Parodies, AbFab, Dr Katz, and five questions from The Daily Show, on a web site. With scrolling headlines and a page to challenge Ben Stein, the site is fast, fiery, and fascinating (technically) for other web page designers.

      The All Arts Council site has some new features. Drop in for a look at exceptional Art Links, a community calendar, feature artists, member information, and check out the new forms for an electronic community needs survey and to join the Council.


      The annual meeting of the members of the All Arts Council of Franklin County will be held on February 5, 1998, at 7 p.m. in the Collins-Perley Sports Center. At the annual meeting, members will elect up to 5 directors and transact whatever other business as may come before the meeting. AAC members vote, can serve on the board of directors, hold office, attend meetings and support cultural events around Franklin County.

      Fairfax Community Theatre will hold auditions for the spring production of a collection of One-Act plays including Who's On First, Hello Out There, and Removing the Glove. Auditions are Sunday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Fletcher Union Meeting House and Monday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. at BFA-Fairfax in room 239. For more information please e-mail director Margie Cain.

      Recent Paintings by Robert Waldo Brunelle, Jr, and Richard Hoffman began a month long exhibit at the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, running from January 30-February 28. Brunelle is an AAC member from Jericho. Call 253-8358 for information.


      SCOTS ALIVE -- Call for volunteers: The Swanton Central School is going international during the week of February 16-20 with a focus on the cultural aspects, poetry, and music of Scotland. They need Scotsmen, Scotswomen, and anything Scottish to share. Bring a story, kilts, a west highland white terrier, or come and demonstrate Scottish step dancing. Call Melissa Ewell at 868-4417 for more information.

      SUMMER SOUNDS -- Most Towns have exhausted their plowing budgets; I think the guy who plows our driveway just bought a new boat. A foot of snow covers every yard. It must be time to plan a summer concert series.
      Summer Sounds concerts are always on Sunday night, always in a town park, and always free. The AAC presents country, jazz, pops, brass, a bit of the classics, and a little rock-n-roll from some favorite performers as well as new acts.
      "We want to freshen up the series," said Carl Whitehouse.
      Anyone interested in planning, booking performers, and emceeing the concerts is invited to a meeting at Optometric Associates, 50 Bank Street, St Albans, Monday at 7 p.m. e-mail the All Arts Council for more information


      Nearly 300 people enjoyed the Enchanting Rythyms of the Vermont Youth Orchestra at MVU Theater on Saturday.
      "We love this house," said conductor Troy Peters. "We hope you will invite us back."
      We certainly will!
      It took a lot of time and contributions to make the VYO concert at MVU such a great success. The sponsors, Chittenden Bank, Northwestern Medical Center, St Albans Messenger, and WWSR/WLFE brought the orchestra here and publicized the event. The MVU Band and band parents pitched in to welcome and host the VYO performers with the help of the Abbey, Blouin's IGA, Flowers by Debbie, Hannafords, Jeff's Maine Seafood, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, St Albans Cooperative Creamery, Subway, and Swanton House of Pizza. Bill Kneen of KPS Productions assured good lighting. Jukebox CDs, Spears Pharmacy, and Swanton Rexall sold the tickets. Bruce Bevins, Becky Chandler, Melissa Ewell, Amy Jeleniewski, Jack McCarthy, and Brooke Ostrander all worked overtime to assure a wonderful event.


      The Rotary Club of St Albans has invited AAC artists to exhibit fine art again this year at the Home Expo, March 13-15 This juried show is the Council's premier gallery event with over 12,000 visitors
      AAC members working in paint, digital art, sculpture, and photography should submit their pieces this month. The exhibit will also feature newspaper photographs in a display entitled Newspaper Art,. e-mail the All Arts Council for details.


      Thanks to ArtsAuction '97, the AAC will offer several small ArtsBoost grants to Franklin County teachers and community centers. The first grant has gone to Pat Goyne at Richford Elementary School for a one week residency by Montgomery Village artist Melissa Haberman.
      Applying is simplicity itself: find an artist to work with your kids, write a short description of the project, find matching funds, and e-mail the All Arts Council or call me.


      A personal note. Three groups who have also helped with AAC events have bent over backwards to help the area through the recent ice disaster. WWSR/WLFE stayed on the air around the clock with storm coverage, shelter information, and some lighter fare to ease the trials and tribulations. Vermont National Guard deployed vigorously. The Swanton Village Electric crew (including Sonny who "unretired") worked about 28 hours a day to restore power here, then moved to Grand Isle to finish the work over there.
      Take a minute to say "thanks" to these neighbors and to all the other groups and volunteers who went above and beyond.


Dick Harper, Co-Chair

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