ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 6 * * All Arts News On the Web * * March 22 , 2002


      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.

      Stop in for the AAC CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and workshops. We come together on the second Wednesday for a booked musical performance and an art exhibit at Simple Pleasures in St Albans. On the fourth Wednesday come to the Kept Writer in St Albans for acoustic Open Mike Night featuring music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      The Franklin Community Playground presents the Burlington Taiko Drummers in concert Saturday in the MVU Theater. Taiko combines the huge, vibrant sound of Japanese Festival Drums with exceptional and athletic choreography. Burlington Taiko brings this ancient practice that uses extensive physical and mental conditioning to the stage. Featured at the International Taiko Conference in Los Angeles, Burlington Taiko is also a favorite at First Night. Saturday's concert will have a combination of the ancient traditional pieces with work they have composed.
      Taiko is a combined form of percussion and movement that places equal weight on the music and on the choreography of the spaces between the notes. "We spend three times as much time practicing what we do in the spaces as playing the notes themselves," said Ed LeClair.
      As a discipline Taiko challenges members to excel, to do "difficult pieces, pieces that are just beyond their personal expectations, so they have the opportunity to grow as people."
      Taiko originated in Japanese families. One family would maintain the rhythm of their town, generation by generation over 400-500 years with the stick drum or taiko.
      "Our particular group has an amazing tradition." Diahachi Oguchi, the father of modern Taiko, brought Taiko from its village festival roots to the performing arts stage using a d'ojo philosophy. Although we often think of the d'ojo as a martial arts studio, it actually means the "place of the path." Oguchi brought this martial arts feel to the music.
      "He begat the tradition of focusing one's effort on greatness within the art form" and taught Seichi Tanaka, the grandfather of Taiko in North America. Burlington sensei Stuart Paton studied with Tanaka.
      Since Tanaka had first trained in the sword form of Kendo, his pieces include combat-style sword movements. "The drums are positioned and the sticks are drawn from scabbards or held in a way to defend an individual," Ed said.
      "We are only twice removed from the man who originated modern Taiko and Burlington is an island with respect to the rest of the Taiko world, so we are much less influenced by current flavors than other groups," Ed said of their traditional style. "The West Coast has 100 Taiko groups that influence each other. Our movements tend to be more historically accurate."
      Funds raised with this concert will help upgrade the Franklin Community Playground. "Our committee has four working moms," said Alyson Racine of Franklin, ("and their husbands," she added). "We work to purchase new equipment for our playground as well as do major maintenance and repairs. We fundraise all our money in order to keep from additionally taxing our community to purchase and install playground equipment."
      They raised $2,500 last year to build a new sandbox with a digger, painted the existing structure, and bought a large climber and a rider. That effort included many "work days" with considerable community to help. "This year we are working to purchase 2 new slides," Alyson said. "All our efforts are aimed at making our playground a fun and safe place for our children to play."
      "Our group is also recruiting," Ed said. "We've been around since 1987 and we are ready for an infusion of new people." As part of their evolution, Burlington Taiko has a beautiful rehearsal space at 208 Flynn Avenue. They are planning events and classes to culminate in First Night parade. They have eight current members and want to double that number
      Sponsored by the People's Trust Company, Mullen Insurance Agency, and the All Arts Council, the Burlington Taiko Drummers benefit concert is this Saturday, March 24, at 7 p.m. in the MVU Theater. Tickets are only $6 and are available at Spears Pharmacy in Enosburg Falls, Swanton Rexall in Swanton, Franklin General Store, and at the door. Call 285-6536 for info


      The AAC/WWSR Feature Artist Showcase spotlights songs from I Have Tried to Run, singer/songwriter Josh Brooks' new CD, tomorrow morning. The Feature Artist Showcase is broadcast on Fridays at 8:20 a.m. on WWSR-1420 AM, when there is a new release by Franklin County artists.
      Josh tells complete stories in his songs, such as the sad Ballad of Abraham in which a living family farmer is foreclosed by Vermont floods to the fully drawn former Marine of Pleasant Valley.
      "'I Have Tried to Run' is a combination of storytelling and traditional country music," Josh said of his "hodgepodge of Americana." The album is Josh's first CD. Recorded digitally at a private studio on the Lake in Panton, it is available at Borders and the Kept Writer and at his shows.
      Josh made his Franklin County debut in the Got Milk Summer Sounds concert series and will be featured at the Vermont Maple Festival next month.


ST ALBANS-- The AAC and The Kept Writer present an open mike evening of acoustic music at the AAC CoffeeHouse next Wednesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. The paintings of Alan DeMont and Joy Mashtare are on exhibit.
      The All Arts Council sponsors the CoffeeHouse with music, networking time, and "show-and-tell" at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. Admission is always free, but donations are appreciated.


COMPOSITION COMPETITION (April 1)--American String Teachers Association offers $1000 prize for an original unpublished composition suitable for full orchestra. Click here or e-mail for a prospectus..

STAMP AND CALENDAR ART CONTEST (April 12)--Contest to select designs for Indiana State migratory waterfowl, trout, salmon, and game bird habitat stamps and outdoor calendars. For more information Indiana Stamp and Calendar Contest. Click here for info.

INTERNATIONAL ART SHOW FOR ARTISTS WITH DISABILITIES (April 13)--Juried exhibition of 40+ artworks at California State University-Long Beach. e-mail for a prospectus.

BIRDS IN ART 2001 (April 15)--The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum is accepting submissions of contemporary paintings, works on paper, and sculpture for its 26th annual juried exhibition. All work must interpret birds and related subject matter. $35.00 entry fee. e-mail for a prospectus

PLACES TO REST (April 18)--National juried exhibition with up to $1500 in cash prizes at Broward Community College. Entry fee. Click here or e-mail for info.

NEW ENGLAND WATERCOLOR REGIONAL JURIED SHOW (April 30)--Artists from New England only working in water media only. SASE to: Ann Bannister, 23 Dartmouth ST, Winchester, MA 01890


ENOSBURG FALLS--The Somerset Inn presents an evening of music and a CD Release Party tomorrow evening, 7-10 p.m. Richford folksinger Jim LeClair will open the evening for featured singer/songwriter Josh Brooks.

MONTGOMERY CENTER--Montgomery Historical Society presents a one-man slide show by photographer Gustav W. Verdeber on Saturday in Pratt Hall. From Humpbacks to Boobies combines over 100 of his best images into a fantasia of nature from Alaska to the Galapagos Islands. He uses multiple projectors and choreographs the program to the music of Scottish harpist and composer William Jackson.
      Gustav W. Verderber interprets our environment in photographs and words to explore, write, and teach about wildlife, nature, and environmental issues. He is a juried artist with the Vermont Arts Council and a contributing artist to Vermont Magazine. His award winning works are featured in National Audubon Society, Natural History, Vermont Life, private collections, and other national venues.
      From Humbacks to Boobies will be presented in Pratt Hall on Route 118 in Montgomery Village, this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The suggested donation to the Montgomery Historical Society is $5.


      This week's site is both a Call for Entries and fun for every reader.
      Each year, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest rewards the worst first line of an imaginary novel. 2000's winner was Gary Dahl, inventor of the Pet Rock, with a novel that begins "The heather-encrusted Headlands, veiled in fog as thick as smoke in a crowded pub, ..."
      Contest founder Scott Rice is an English professor at San Jose State. His "childishly simple" rules are online here and previous winners can be found here The deadline is April 15, the date we "associate with painful submissions and making up bad stories."


      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 © 2001 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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