ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 6 * * All Arts News On the Web * * January 3, 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.


      Well, we managed to get the pod bay doors open, so it appears that 2002 will be a year of art and music.

      Theater companies in Franklin County rely on the of schools and churches to be able to bring you funny, dramatic, sometimes wacky, and most importantly, live productions.
      Exit Stage Left, the Fairfax Community Theater Company, the Gate Players, and the Green Actor's Guild try to stage two or three productions each year but they depend on you to survive. The theater companies always need actors, stage crew, costumers, lighting people, and space. e-mail the All Arts Council to volunteer your time or location.

      The All Arts Council will maintain three permanent gallery exhibits this year: the AAC/Opera House Gallery in Enosburg Falls, the Swanton Library Gallery, and the Highgate Springs Welcome Center Gallery. We will also have several one-time shows, including a new exhibit of black and white photography.
      Our Concerts for Grumpy Grownups is a new mainstream performance series that kicks off 2002 with the Gustav Verderber's Sojourns in Nature this month and a full Vermont Youth Orchestra concert in February.
      The All Arts Council books the entertainment for Franklin County's three premiere outdoor events: the Vermont Maple Festival, the Vermont Dairy Festival, and the Summer Sounds concert series. All together, about 80,000 people hear the bands we present at those venues. This year, we are going to use that drawing power to focus carefully on local talent in the two major festivals and book groups you haven't heard before for Summer Sounds.
      Summer Sounds, the All Arts Council and Franklin County's premiere outdoor concert series, will continue with new performers from outside Franklin County, new venues, and some new sponsors. The 2002 lineup will include bluegrass, classical, country, folk, jazz, pop, opera, and classic rock-n-roll. The concerts always alternate between the Highgate Municipal Park and Taylor Park in St Albans and hosts additional concerts in Fairfax, Franklin, Richford, and St Albans Bay.
      The All Arts Council and St Albans Town have several new arts events planned. We will host the Vermont Summer Arts Festival, a juried art and classical music weekend in the Pavilion in St Albans Bay. Bay Days will feature up and coming bands all day and finish with Summer Sounds and the fireworks. Saturday Arts Fests will bring local artisans and performers to St Albans Bay on alternate Saturdays in July and August. This craft fair and performance series will use the summer scenery of the Bay as its backdrop.
      Vermont State Colleges and the All Arts Council are collaborating on programming and audience building projects. There will be college performances in local venues such as the Opera House at Enosburg Falls and increased cooperation with the public schools for arts festivals and more. Johnson State College offers undergraduate programs in the fine and performing arts, writing and literature, and a wide range of business, behavioral sciences, and the liberal arts majors. The graduate programs include an MFA in Studio Arts. AAC board member Bill MacLeay is Director of External Degree Programs at the College.

      We begin the new year with our continuing search for an executive director, a home, cash donations, and new members.
      The AAC CoffeeHouse is a showcase for the music and original works of Franklin County artists. We are seeking sponsorship to pay the bands and continue this series. We hope to accomplish a major international sculpture competition in April. We will also organize the Grand Holiday Crafts and Fine Arts Tour of Franklin County with six great shows in November.

      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls plans a mix of touring and community events with an aim of at least one major production each month. They will host the AAC Concerts for Grumpy Grownups series, Berkshire PRIDE Community Variety Show, the Dairy Festival Scholarship Pageant, a Vermont/Canada Arts Collaboration concert of folk music, the Mid-Summer Gala professional variety show, the Tenth Annual Talent Search, and the annual Holiday Concert Music and Song Recital. The Opera House will also continue, in conjunction with the AAC, exhibits of artwork by Franklin County Artists in the Gallery, strengthening the youth series (Emerging Talents) by supporting and presenting performances by area groups of young aspiring performance artists (including dance), and working to bring the summer musical production back to the Opera House, perhaps by importing a production.
      The Mid-Summer Gala in July will include birthday celebrations to honor the 110 years that the Opera House has been a part of the community. They will fill the day with Victorian events, a garden party supper, and an evening performance with a Victorian theme.

      Each high school has a strong program of excellent public concerts. The BFA-St Albans band will play a Spring Concert and the Maple Festival in April, the All State Music Festival and the Memorial Day Parade in May and a POPS Concert in June. Their new music web page lists all their events.
      The statewide non-profit Elder Art Program has closed down operations to reorganize.
      The Fairfax Music Sessions will continue offering Saturday afternoons of acoustic instruments, and traditional music at the Foothills Bakery.
      County-wide, our public libraries have a slew of plans including readings, lunchtime concerts, art shows, and kids performers.
      Launie and Jedd Kettler will keep the Kept Writer Bookshop and Café filled with music and merriment every week. There is music with singer/songwriters, folkies, unplugged rock, and blues on most Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings as well as a continuous exhibit of fine art and photographs by area artists.
      The Tenth Jig in the Valley benefit concert and dance will be a big deal on the last weekend in July. This annual Fairfield Community Center benefit helps raise funds and awareness for the NMC regional health center, pre-school, Head Start, Teen, and Senior Citizen programs.
      The Montgomery Historical Society will host its annual AugustFest fundraiser plus the popular Concerts By the Common series of classical music outdoors.
      St John's Ministry of Arts plans monthly outdoor summer concerts in its annual 3-concert series at St John's Episcopal Church in Highgate Falls.
      School art shows will include FNESU's fifth annual Art Gala and the second annual FCSU Art Show. The shows bring together hundreds of two and three dimensional pieces in schools and halls around the County.
      The Summer Music at Grace series at Grace Church in Sheldon will reprise some of the area's favorite classical performers for three concerts this summer.
      "Look for more local arts involvement from Vermont State Colleges," said AAC director Bill MacLeay. Beginning this month, Johnson State College offers two arts/humanities courses in St. Albans: "Issues in the Arts" and "Issues in the Humanities." These one credit courses will feature guest speakers and attendance at arts performances. The lectures may be open to the public. Dr. MacLeay is also working with the JSC Fine and Performing Arts department to bring student and faculty performances to Franklin County venues. The Dibden Center at Johnson State offers an eclectic range of programs to draw Franklin County audience and there will be a more student-centered presence in the Fine and Performing Arts department summer arts series.
      The Vermont Maple Festival will spotlight Franklin County performers and include an art show in City Hall. The Vermont Dairy Festival will also spotlight Franklin County performers with a special emphasis on the True Value Showdown. The Swanton Festival will offer performances by well known musicians the last weekend of July and Franklin County Field Days will host some excellent Vermont country music on a brand new stage in August. Two of the Festivals are making important upgrades this year: the Maple Festival is installing new wiring along Main Street to handle the increasing needs of the food vendors (and the entertainment stage :-) and Field Days is building a new first class stage and performance space.
      The Franklin County visit of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Made in Vermont Music Festival may move to the Opera House at Enosburg Falls in 2002. Watch this space for details.
      And we can expect exceptional live music with Franklin County entertainers at the Abbey, the Bayside Pavilion, the Boonys Pub and Grill, Chow! Bella, Diamond Jim's, the Highgate Manor, and Sha-Booms.


      Last year, we looked at the hopes of sculptor Peter Hawksworth of Enosburg and Senator George Costes to create an outdoor tribute to agriculture through the art of Franklin County.
      An outdoor art and sculpture park "could be an exciting new thing for Franklin County," Senator Costes said. Cultural heritage tourism draws visitors who want to see not only our agricultural heritage but also our artistic prowess. Outdoor art in Franklin County also includes murals in Fairfield, St Albans, and Swanton, and a Kate Pond sculpture at the Border Station at Highgate Springs.
      The project needs more volunteers. If you are interested e-mail the All Arts Council .


      The Center for Health and Wellness offers a chance to explore the techniques of art to find solutions to personal problems on Tuesday, January 8, at 6:30 p.m. in NMC Conference Room #1. The program is free. Call 802-524-1234 for info


      In keeping with our "look ahead," here's a preview of some festival sites that will feature arts and music this year. The Franklin County Field Days and Swanton Festival do not (yet) have web sites:
      Summer Sounds
      Vermont Maple Festival
      Vermont Dairy Festival


      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 © 2002 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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