ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 5 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 12, 2001


      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.


      With the possible exception of a new clothes drier, a gift of art is the most enduring Christmas present. And unlike the clothes drier, art comes in an infinite variety of flavors, colors, sounds, and textures and is easy to giftwrap.
      You don't need batteries to enjoy a painting.
      This season, Franklin County artists have painted and sung and danced up a special world. Pop, country, blues, and eclectic bands have CDs available so you can take a live performance home. Sculpture ranges from fierce metal dragons to whimsical clay squirrels. There are oil paintings of the homes, farms, and antiques of early Vermonters and fine art photographs of horse hair tufts on barbed wire. There are theater tickets and free concerts.
      Families should hook kids on art early. "It increases their creativity, helps with reading readiness, and ties into every single subject in school," said Ellen Hsieh."It frees them up for critical thinking because they have to solve problems." If several students are painting a landscape, for example, one kid might use line art and another would use broad sweeps of a brush. The former art teacher at Georgia Elementary now offers private art lessons.
      Young artists are surprisingly cognizant of the skill levels they need to acquire. "Kids know how hard it is to create something realistic. They know it takes a lot of skill. It takes patience and time."
      Each time you view a painting or sculpture or photograph, each time you fondle a handmade fabric, each time you read a stirring novel or poem, each time you listen to a favorite song, it can trigger a new idea great or small. "What fascinates most younger children first is color," Ms. Hsieh said. "Older children can pick out the mood of a piece, the feeling that comes from it, and how it is expressed."
      People who use their imagination become problem solvers. "Big companies are seeing an inability of their workers to produce new ideas," Ms. Hsieh said. A gift of art helps fire the imagination.
      The All Arts Council has a new resource online: an exclusive listing of over 60 working Franklin County artists from A to Y (yes, we know we need a Z. Interested?). This list includes only those Franklin County actors, artists, composers, dancers, musicians, photographers, poets, publishers, sculptors, theater companies, and writers with work that is available for sale or show to the public. Click here
      Christmas is always a good time to dance with the arts.


      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls presents the Enosburg Town Band and Community Chorus in a celebration of the season on Sunday at 2 p.m.
      "We are doing something different this year with the premiere of the modern composition 'A New Day' written by [band member] Kevin Loomis," said Town Band director Alisa Martin. This concert of holiday music will also include the Christmas favorites Sleigh Ride, the Christmas Song, and Winter Wonderland, as well as sacred music such as Hallelujah. "We have about 35 people in the band for this concert," she added, "and have a good balance of instruments."
      Composed by Kevin Loomis of Highgate, A New Day is light symphonic piece that wakes up in the morning and wipes the dust from your eyes, then changes into a cut time part "like your first cup of coffee." It has several measures of melancholy, then finishes with the sudden joy of Christmas morning. Mr. Loomis will also conduct.
      The Town Chorus program will include Do You Hear What I Hear, In the Bleak Midwinter, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Number and the Glory of the Lord From Messiah, a Jingle Bells medley, and the spiritual Shout for Joy with eight solo parts.
      "We have 42 voices, up about 10 people from last summer," director Jay Sheperd said, "with a dozen high school kids including some from MVU."
      The Opera House Gallery also has an All Arts Council exhibit of Vermont Photography on display. The landscapes, portraits, seascapes, and fine art imagery include the work of AAC member artists Bob Brodeur, Dick Harper, April Henderson, David Juaire, Gustav Verderber, and Wayne Tarr. The display fills the downstairs gallery and will remain on exhibit through Christmas. Many of the photographs are available for sale. That was a hint.
      Admission is by donation. Your generous contribution will support ongoing Opera House programs.


JEFFERSONVILLE--The Cambridge Arts Council presents an open mike evening of acoustic music at the Cambridge CoffeeHouse at Dinner's Dunn at the Windridge Bakery on Wednesday, December 19, 7-9 p.m.
      The Cambridge Arts Council and IBM sponsor the CoffeeHouse on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. e-mail for info.


      The DMOZ open directory project lists sites containing Christmas lyrics, sound files, and history.
      KidsDomain highlights the best Christmas music files they could find on the Web.
      With original and public domain Christmas songs and original Christmas plays that are free for non-profit use, Elton Smith's Songs of Praise site had Over 175,000 visitors last year. The song files are in midi and mp3 format.


      Mark Sustic has been the Coordinator of the Franklin County Early Childhood Programs for over 20 years and an active performer, presenter, and promoter of interesting music around New England for even longer. He has most recently created the Music Sessions in Fairfax. He lives with his wife Deborah in Fletcher.
      The regular Music Session features acoustic instrumentalists playing traditional songs at the Foothills Bakery this Saturday, 1-4:30 p.m. Admission is free by donation.
CURRENTLY READING: "I have a terrible habit of reading multiple books simultaneously, so I've got six I'm working on at the moment," Mark said. The latest addition is American Roots Music, [edited by Robert Santelli, Holly George-Warren, and Jim Brown] a spectacular tribute in photographs and essays concerning the rich array of uniquely American music and the masters who play it: blues, country, gospel, folk, Cajun, zydeco, tejano, and Native American.
FAVORITE VERMONT AUTHOR: "Howard Frank Mosher captures as no one else the true flavor of Vermont and its vanishing array of Yankee characters."
RE-READ: Ghosts From the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence by Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley. "I've read and re-read this book at least three times, and frequently re-read sections of it to inform and re-inspire me in my professional work."
FAVORITE KIDS' BOOK: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Mark likes any children's book that attracts and sustains the attention of a child and a adult sitting and reading together. He discover a new "favorite" at almost every story hour, library, playgroup or book store. "A really good children's book captures and sustains the interest and fascination of both adults and children," he said.


      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).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.