ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 4 * * All Arts News On the Web * * September 7, 2000


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

      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 Simple Pleasures in St Albans.


ST ALBANS--Scheduling confusion: the regular AAC CoffeeHouse falls on the first Thursday of each month at Simple Pleasures Cafe. The CoffeeHouse tonight will remain on the first Thursday, but will be hosted by the Kept Writer instead.
      Tonight, the AAC CoffeeHouse features singer/songwriter Josh Brooks and the original paintings of Doug Houle. Josh will perform at the Kept Writer from 7 to 8 p.m.
      The artwork will move to Simple Pleasures and remain there through September 30.
      Josh Brooks blends country and folk music with a strong Vermont perspective. Josh began playing out about a year ago and is building a following in Franklin County. He has opened for Ellis Hall at the Burlington Coffee House, played gigs at The Boonys and in Got Milk Summer Sounds. His repertoire includes John Prine and Johnny Cash and he will do mostly original material in Highgate. His new seven-song cassette is getting very positive reviews.
      Doug Houle paints the structures of America's past. His work includes a study of architectural forms, variations in light and color, and the relationship architecture has to its environment. His paintings create an intimate relationship between the viewer and these pastoral subjects with a careful relationship between realism and abstraction.
      The Kept Writer Bookshop and Cafe is at 5 Lake Street in St Albans.

HIGHGATE SPRINGS--The Welcome Center at the Highgate Springs Border station hosts Franklin County artists in a monthly feature showing and periodically opens a display case for sculpture.
      Alice Astleford is hanging on the wall. Her exhibit continues through September 30.
      The display case also holds three of Alice's painted candles, plus a whimsical goldfish and newly fallen leaves by Fairfax sculptor Chris LeBaron, the pottery sculpture of Deb Shell, and Ania Modzelewski's plaster sculpture of Pan. That exhibit ends September 13..


      The Got Milk Summer Sounds concert series has come to the end of our tenth anniversary season. We were successful because Vermont's best audiences braved the wacky weather, sixteen community groups, 46 businesses around Franklin County, and dozens of volunteers all worked together, and all the performers outdid themselves. The Dairy Farmers of Vermont, business sponsors, and the sponsoring Towns contributed the nearly $12,000 budget. Most of that budget goes to the performers.
      21 groups played 15 concerts in five different Towns. More than 4,200 people attended the concerts. During Bay Days, an additional 800 or so were in the Bay Park enjoying other activities while the Army Band played. Although the TV meteorologist reported an inch below average rainfall for the season, my concert notes show we had tornado warnings, threats of thundershowers and regular rain, cold with threat of rain, warm with rain in the afternoon, overcast with rain after the concert, one "clear" day (rather different than "sunny"), and only two Sundays of sunshine and beautiful weather. Rain forced us indoors only twice, although Dark Horse played through a Highgate drizzle and the audience stayed.
      Thanks to the Dairy Farmers of Franklin County and Blouin's IGA, we held a "Dairy Raffle" at every concert to give away two $50 gift certificates for dairy products at Blouin's. Betty Blacklock of Swanton won the first drawing in St Albans; Dwight Tatro of Highgate won the second in Highgate.
      WWSR broadcast the Constitution Brass live and we learned how to get good sound for cable broadcast on Channel 10.
      Three volunteers deserve special mention. Tim Stetson made the concerts run smoothly as host, tent erector, and occasional "sound guy." Anne Harper did quadruple duty as 50-50 girl, tent erector, social organizer, and occasional host. Lyle Glidden, who found and booked many excellent, new-to-us performers, also volunteered tech support. Gary Wheelock at New England Dairy Promotion taught me how to be a better marketer.
      Ray Tanguay, Highgate Town Administrator since 1989 and now Town Manager for the Town of St Albans, started the Summer Sounds series. He had strong armed some of the Highgate merchants for some sponsorship dollars and asked me to book a couple of good bands. Since then, he has taken the lead to advance the arts in Highgate and In Franklin County with projects that included the Grateful Dead concerts and Floodstock. His hard work and dedication, ideas and leadership, volunteerism and plain grunt work put Highgate and the All Arts Council on the world map.
      Thanks, Ray!
      See you all next June 24 for the first Got Milk Summer Sounds 2001 concert.


      Synergy happens when an enthusiastic team of artists comes upon an opportunity to create a space to show, discuss, learn about, and sell the art of Franklin County. Led by AAC Board Members Joy Mashtare and Ed and Alice Astleford, several AAC artists have begun planning an artist's co-op and store.
      The AAC has called an open meeting this afternoon to discuss the details and to plan the operation. The co-op committee will create a business plan, choose and secure a location, devise a marketing plan, quantify the customer base, identify and locate the competition, and decide operating procedures for the retail store. The financial planners will create a balance sheet and a breakeven analysis along with some forecasting to summarize three-years of future operations.
      The meeting will be held at 5 p.m. today at the Astlefords' home in St Albans. e-mail Ed Astleford for more info and directions.

      Meanwhile, the AAC Rotating Art Exhibit is expanding into more venues with opportunities to exhibit and sell the fine art of Franklin County. Locations now include The Border Station at Highgate Springs, Simple Pleasures Cafe, the Family Center, and the new Swanton School Apartments and Community Center. We need more artists to provide works and to set up these shows. e-mail Alice Astleford for more info.

SWANTON--The AAC will host an art exhibit as part of the Grand Opening of the Swanton School Apartments and Community Center next Wednesday morning. The show will include the works of artists Alice Astleford, Corliss Blakely, Mary Harper, Joy Mashtare, and Deb Shell.
      The Center has senior housing, community space, and houses the Missisquoi Health Center. Wednesday, September 13 at 9:30 a.m. The public is invited.


      Themestream offers "enthusiast" articles (that means the writing ranges from moderately bad to very good) covering genealogy and golden retrievers to woodworking and wakeboarding. They offer more than 1,700 topics of interest including artists, ballet, photographers, and painting; cooking tips, techniques, and dining out; automobiles and motorcycles with an emphasis on NASCAR, off roading, and trucks; career stuff and computer stuff; music, parenting, and pets; as well as travel around Europe, the USA, or just cruising.
      New articles are available at the site or via an email newsletter and they have solid author and topic profiles.


      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.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2000 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
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