ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 5 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 27, 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.


      The landscape of our lives changed with the assault on America 107 days ago.
      As the United States continues to prosecute a war with a scattered and contemptible enemy, the ordinary business of living goes on. Emergency workers, soldiers, and volunteers from Franklin County have helped us recover from the terror and the arts continues to help us remember that our culture does indeed survive cowardice and hatred. Beauty, ideas, history, and the kindness of friends and strangers buoy us through the bad times and the good.
      Happy Holidays, everyone!
AAC ACTIVITIES       Thanks to one major and several everyday exhibits, three festivals featuring our music, and a lot of help from other groups and from individual volunteers, 2001 was a pretty good year for the All Arts Council.
      The AAC CoffeeHouse offered great music and the original works of Franklin County artists through the Spring. We are seeking sponsorship to pay the bands and continue this series next year.
      The All Arts Council opened permanent gallery exhibits at opposite ends of the county. The AAC/Opera House Gallery started with Vermont Photographers; AAC member Darla White of Richford opened our solo artist series at the Swanton Library. Nearly 100,000 people saw 11 Franklin County artists at the Highgate Springs Welcome Center this year, thanks to a rotating show of paintings, photographs, and sculpture. We also held art exhibits at the Rotary Home Expo, the VYO and VSO concerts, and in City Hall for the Maple Festival.
      An All Arts Council workshop focused on building and marketing a small business in the arts. Simeon Geigel of the Micro Business Development Program led the session.
      Singer/songwriter and recording artist Michele Choiniere joined the All Arts Council and the Opera House at Enosburg Falls to collaborate on a series of traditional Franco-American Sessions at the Kept Writer Cafe and Bookshop in St Albans. These "Kitchen Sessions" offered an intimate look at the music and laughter of a French-Canadian and Franco-American kitchen soiree.
      The All Arts Council joined other groups to present national recording artist Lui Collins in a coffee house concert at the Foothills Bakery as part of a week-long educational residency in Franklin County. Ms. Collins visited schools, libraries, child care programs, playgroups and other activities involving young children and their families, teachers and care givers all week.
      The 9/11 Benefit Concert, held in the Collins Perley Sports and Fitness Center, gave the community a gathering to hold hands, enjoy 16 bands and solo artists in a full day of continuous country, bluesy, jazzy music, and to collect donations for the national September 11th Fund.
      For the eleventh season, Summer Sounds, the All Arts Council and Franklin County's premiere outdoor concert series, opened with new performers, new venues, and even new sponsors. We held free live concerts every Sunday evening throughout the summer. Concerts always alternate between the Highgate Municipal Park and Taylor Park in St Albans. Bay Days and the Summer Sounds concerts teamed up to offer family activities all day and great music through the evening and into the fireworks. Although Summer Sounds has appeared at the Bay in prior years, 2001 marked the first year for regular concerts in St Albans Town. We will collaborate on several events in 2002. The popular series also placed individual concerts in Fairfax, Franklin, and Richford
      The Summer Sounds lineup included a medley of a capella, bluegrass, classical, country, folk, pop, and classic rock-n-roll. Besides the music, food is a big part of the fun of an outdoor concert. Local community groups hosted each event with special activities, family fun, bake sales, grilled hot dogs, and ice cream socials. The sixteen voice Burlington Ecumenical Gospel Choir canceled to handle a family emergency, the first time in 11 years we have had to cancel a concert. They will be rescheduled in 2002.
      The Vermont Dairy Festival celebrated Milk ... the Moo-ving Drink, with plenty of food, entertainers, family events, and three days of continuous Moo-ving Moo-sic. The AAC booked two stages of performers, a world class hypnotist, and the annual True Value Country Music Showdown. Last year's Showdown winner Candace Myers returned to win for a second time.
      The Vermont Maple Festival had artists and food and entertainers and family fun everywhere. The AAC booked three days of continuous entertainment on Main Street. City Hall was jam-packed as the Vermont Specialty Food Producers and the All Arts Council brought together a taste testing and an exhibit of works by Franklin County artists. Behind the scenes Dave and Tim Stetson and their merry band did an exceptional job as they took over the sound production for Main Street and for the BFA shows. Electrician John Baraby is supervising a new power system that should ease the job of making good music and good food along Main Street.
      Vermont State Colleges and the All Arts Council began an informal collaboration on programming and audience building projects with a Summer Sounds sponsorship. Johnson State College offers programs in the fine and performing arts, writing and literature, and a wide range of business, behavioral sciences, and the liberal arts majors.
      The All Arts Council now has an exclusive online listing of Franklin County actors, artists, composers, dancers, musicians, photographers, poets, sculptors, theater companies, writers, and anyone else showing or selling in the arts. Click hereto check out your neighbors.
      In this column, we also wandered around the virtual state of Vermont to look at the online homes of arts organizations, galleries and artists, film and theater sites, and musicians. We included a three-part series that examined the need for entrepreneurial skills in the arts. In a stunning coincidence, we profiled 8 artists and featured 8 Albums of the Week. I also introduced the new and eagerly anticipated Vermont Museum of Minute Stamps on April 1. Those columns are filed away online at
OPERA HOUSE       The Opera House at Enosburg Falls hosted four different performance series this year: a Community Series with Town Band and Community Chorus events, the Traditional Events Series, the Emerging Talent Series, and the Mentor Series. Events have included the Afrique Aya Dance Company, the District Jazz Festival, an Enosburg Town Band tribute concert, the Green Mountain Wind Ensemble, a Holiday Concert with the Town Band and Community Chorus, the Mid-Summer Gala, a reprise of the Myllarit Karelian Folk Band, Natterjack's Celtic and world beat music, the North Country Dance Company, the annual Opera House Talent Search, last Sunday's Vermont Opera Theater Company production of Amahl and the Night Visitors and the VSO Brass Quintet.
OTHER ARTY PRESENTERS       The Bakersfield Historical Society presented its first concert ever in 2001, a Summer Solstice Celebration that started the summer music season off with a bang.
      The Belfry Restaurant held the Art of PMS, a new show of Vermont artists Paule Gingras (the "P"), Melissa Haberman (the "M"), and Sandra Vaillancourt (the "S").
      Art shows included the Fourth Annual FNESU Art Gala in the Montgomery Grange Hall and the Second Annual FCSU Art Show in St Albans City Hall. The shows exhibited hundreds of two and three dimensional pieces with mobiles, sculpture, paintings, collages, and more.
      The professional vocal group Counterpoint features soprano Claire Hungerford of St Albans and acclaimed composer-conductor (and VSO Chorus Director) Robert deCormier in concerts and in school programs around the state.
      The Elder Art Program held St Albans area classes and hosted shows in St Albans storefronts and in City Hall. That program has unfortunately closed down operations to reorganize.
      The Exit Stage Left summer production was A Bad Year for Tomatoes by John Patrick. They presented Peter Shaffer's Black Comedy this fall in a benefit for the Franklin-Grand Isle County Emergency Food Shelf. The ESL productions were funny, dramatic, and fun.
      Expo 2001 put a spotlight on Art. The Rotary Club of St Albans filled both handball courts of the Collins Perley Sports Complex with fine oil and watercolor paintings, photography, digital art, and sculpture. Seventh Generation Vermonter Corliss Blakely was the All Arts Council's featured artist and Barre artist Fred Swan was the Rotary's featured artist in his largest exhibit in a decade.
      The Fairfax Community Theater Company presented Brandon Thomas's classic and beguiling farce, Charley's Aunt.
      The Fairfax Music Sessions began with acoustic instruments, and (mostly) traditional music every Saturday at the Foothills Bakery.
      The Franklin Community Playground presented the Burlington Taiko Drummers in concert in the MVU Theater. The huge, vibrant sound of Japanese Festival Drums with the Burlington company's exceptional and athletic choreography raised money and awareness for the playground.
      Green Actor's Guild presented Into The Woods a Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical of classic fairy tales.
      A select group of student musicians from Northwestern Vermont, the Green Mountain Wind Ensemble held concerts in St Albans and Enosburg Falls. They specialize in the major works of contemporary composers, classical overtures and transcriptions, and traditional marches.
      Island Arts hosted "events for everyone" including art gallery openings, Cabaret Shakespeare, a classical concert gala, children's concerts, a concert in the Barn at Apple Tree Bay, a craft show, the house-and-craft studio tour, an Improv Day at Camp Ingalls in North Hero, and the Outer Island Tour on Savage Island.
      The Ninth Annual Jig in the Valley benefit concert and dance helped the Fairfield Community Center underwrite an NMC regional health center, pre-school, Head Start, Teen, and Senior Citizen programs.
      The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange featured 27 Franklin County residents in Hallelujah, a dance performance at the Flynn Theater in Burlington.
      The Montgomery Historical Society held their annual AugustFest fundraiser with watercolors, oils, photographs, and other media by local artists plus the Concerts By the Common with the classical sounds of the Craftsbury Chamber Players.
      St John's Ministry of Arts continued its annual 3-concert summer series at St John's Episcopal Church in Highgate Falls.
      A "bunch of humble musicians" presented the first Sheldon Folk Festival to benefit the Sheldon Ski Club as a part of the Jay Peak Ski for Schools program.
      The Summer Music at Grace series at Grace Church in Sheldon showcased the restoration of its 1833 Erben pipe organ, the oldest known Erben organ in New England.
      The Vermont Symphony Orchestra Made in Vermont Music Festival returned to St Albans with a world premiere of Lake Spirit Journey, a commissioned work by Brattleboro composer and St Albans native Laura Koplewitz. VSO Music Director Jaime Laredo conducted and performed.
      On the 32nd anniversary of man's first step on the Moon, Vermont also celebrated the 100th anniversary of Sterling Weed's birth. Mr. Weed is the oldest active band leader in the United States.


The All Arts Council wishes you Happy Holidays.


      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.