ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 3 * * All Arts News On the Web * * DECEMBER 2, 1999


      We have changed the ArtBits format from monthly to weekly. This issue includes the entire text of the weekly newspaper column
      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County.

      There is a free AAC Networking Meeting/Coffee House at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, and workshops every month at the The Northwest Transportation Network office in St Albans.


      All Arts Council members and friends are invited to the monthly AAC Coffee House in the Recreation Room at Verdelle Village on December 2 at 7 p.m. Bring some art for show and tell or come to visit. Note that the "homeless" arts council has moved to another borrowed space.
      The AAC Coffee House and Networking Meeting is held somewhere in the County on the first Thursday of each month. Coffee is free; munchies and other finger foods are pot luck. Verdelle Village is on Sheldon Road in St Albans.


      Anne and I are traveling this week, so I poked my nose into a couple of galleries in the Florida Keys.
      The Keys are the only sub-tropical island chain accessible by car in the continental United States. 100 islands span an arc extending from the southern tip of the Florida mainland. U.S. Route 1, which begins a ramble through East Coast cities and towns as the 126-mile Overseas Highway in Key West, finishes its journey in Fort Kent, Maine. Since 42 bridges connect these islands via the Overseas Highway, 15 percent of the total travel time in the Keys is spent over water; the bridges at Bahia Honda, Long Key, and the original Seven Mile (blown up by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie True Lies), are National Historic Sites.
      With a population of 80,955 in 1,034 square miles, the Keys have nearly double the constant population of Franklin County in a similar area.
      This thin string of beautiful coral islands has no marketable resources, little room for agriculture or manufacturing, a regular inflow of tourists, and large colonies of artists. John James Audubon saw his first great white heron in the Florida Keys; artists here have painted the heron, the Key deer, and the occasional transient manatee ever since.
      It is unreliably reported that there are 153 art galleries in the Keys.
      Bougainvillea House is a cooperative gallery in the geographic center of the Keys. About 17 artists specialize in fine arts, sculpture, and jewelry. It has taken "hard work and laughter," said artist Georgina Hosek, plus uncountable volunteer hours scrubbing, painting, carpentering, and arranging, to craft this bright, elegant display space.
      Artists hang work on four-foot neutral-gray carpeted panels suspended from the white walls of the building. Display cases and pedestals present sculpture and gold jewelry. Three free standing bins offer prints and reproductions.
      Cool white pegboard walls and a beige Mexican tile floor offset the four foot wide areas for each artist in the Artists in Paradise Gallery. That layout squeezes the works too much to view paintings individually. This cooperative has about 36 members.
      The members offer "value added" services including Framing in Paradise with a large selection of frames, needlework blocking and stretching, conservation framing, plus specialty mats, circles and ovals.
      Artists in Paradise rents a storefront in a shopping plaza on Big Pine Key, at the head of the Lower Keys. Bougainvillea House rents a standalone building on the Overseas Highway in Marathon.
      "I had 11 people in the first half hour today" at Artists in Paradise, said artist Carrie Penny, originally from Kalamazoo, MI. Monthly sales appear to cover expenses for all members in both galleries. About five members earn a living at art. "The rest are like me," artist Mary Harper said. They paint as a sideline or avocation. That sounds suspiciously like Vermont.
      Many of the artists in these two galleries belong to the Florida Keys Art Guild. The artists paint seasonal cards as fundraisers; Paradise also holds an annual charity auction that raised $6,000 last year. The Guild promotes art and art appreciation, affords artists the means to display and market their work, holds monthly shows during the season, and monthly meetings similar to the AAC Coffee House.
      Both galleries have two advantages over our own efforts in Franklin County: higher traffic from transients and from the population base as well as many retired artists with "daytime" volunteer hours as members.


ST ALBANS--BFA Drama presents The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe tonight and tomorrow. The play immerses us in the story of four children who pass mysteriously through a wardrobe closet in the professor's attic to fulfill a prophesy in the magical land of Narnia. Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter help Asland, the true king, regain his throne from the evil white queen.
      The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a big play with 23 familiar actors as cast members. The BFA Senior Play features the best senior actors on stage and younger students doing the backstage work to recreate the mystical and beautiful imagery of the Chronicles of Narnia, Book 2. The script was adapted from the C. S. Lewis novel by playwright Joseph Robinette.
      Tonight and tomorrow (Dec 2-3) in the BFA-St Albans Auditorium at 7 p.m. Tickets are only $2 adults and $1 for students.
      "The price is low," Joan Grant said, "because the seniors like to do a children's play to give back to the community."

BURLINGTON--Run for Cover plays Ben & Jerry's Christmas Party at the Sheraton on Friday and moves to the Blue Tooth in Waitsfield, Saturday at 9 p.m.


RICHFORD--Enjoy homemade baked goods and food at the Christmas Bazaar at the All Saints Church. Saturday, 10-3
NORTH HERO--The North Hero Methodist Church has a Christmas Crafts and Bake Sale Saturday, 9-4 with a luncheon served 11-2.
SWANTON--The Church of the Nativity presents a two-day Arts and Crafts Show with gifts for all ages, Saturday and Sunday. The cash raffle drawing will be held Sunday at 3:30 p.m.


      Robert Ferguson is fascinated with the spontaneous summons of time and place and colors of the French Impressionists.
      The words Plein Air are French for "Out In the Open Air" coined by the original French Impressionists. A true Plein Air painting is done on location, capturing the atmosphere of the moment. Plein Air paintings are brash, fast, and not highly rendered. The brushwork usually has a loose and flowing look--a close up view shows only a mosaic of color and brushwork. Ferguson paints outdoors year round in San Diego.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.
      In honor of the Railroad Days Festival, Bookshelf has most of the volunteers from the steering committee online.


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Dick Harper, Chair

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