ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 6 * * All Arts News On the Web * * April 11, 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.


      Jon Gailmor will be in residence in Swanton April 15-17. Vermont's favorite singer and composer will work with third graders in Mary Pelkey's class at Swanton Central School to create music to accompany this year's Red Clover book awards.
      The world premiere of Gift of the Crocodile is on Wednesday, April 17, at Swanton Central School.
      "Jon Gailmor likes to work right before the date of the performance so he will be in the classroom for two consecutive days," AAC Director Melissa Ewell said. "He'll stay with the kids for two days, get them to write the songs and work on props on Monday, fine tune and rehearse on Tuesday."
      "There's a lot of momentum and when they start feeling the ownership, you don't want to stop it." Mr. Gailmor said. Much of what he does professionally is to draw songs out of kids.
      The Red Clover book series is one of the Vermont Center for the Book's many programs for Vermont preschool children, students, teachers and librarians. The award promotes reading and discussion of the best of contemporary picture books by more than 24,000 K-4 Vermont students. This class has read all ten books in the series and chose Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story, by Judy Sierra, the book they feels best lends itself to musical interpretation, for this residency.
      "We have been in touch with the author," Ms. Ewell said. "The kids wrote letters to her. She answered their questions and sent us an autographed copy of the book."
      Jon Gailmor's musical interests often involve the family and his performances are renowned for audiences singing and clapping together, guffawing, and weeping. His songwriting workshops let people make music together as the young composers create the lyrics and music for original songs. Mr. Gailmor acts as the catalyst and facilitator as he asks pertinent questions about crocodiles. (Here's a hint of the technique: "The first two responses usually become the first two lines," he said).
      "I ask them the questions that trigger their creativity and unleash it," Mr. Gailmor said. He reinforces the rhythm through scatting, clapping, and other rhythmic devices. Eventually, the group's responses to his questions will be in rhythm.
      The lyrics are so innately musical that the song sings itself. "I provide them with a key and I'll play a chord on the guitar and we'll sing a scale and get the key of the song so ingrained in them that they are singing it and that their mind is in that key. I'll say, 'Who can sing the first line?'" The project will teach meter, how poetry becomes lyrics, and the alignment of the words and music, all seamlessly integrated during the brainstorming that marks the creation of songs.
      "It's exciting to plunge right into songwriting," Mr. Gailmor said.
      "How boring it is to just have a lesson. I think kids enjoy much more starting right in and inevitably the lessons are just all over the place. If some child, for instance, comes up with an alliteration just because it sounds good, we talk about why it sounds good and practice it and we talk about alliteration as part of the spelling lesson. Then I ask for some more examples about alliteration and from then on I can say at a certain point, 'you know this would be a good time for an alliteration.' The same thing happens with metaphor. It depends how old the classes are. We can talk about metaphor, we can talk about allegory. We can talk about all sorts with which to enhance a song."
      "We are also going to do some arts, some props, and some costumy stuff and put together a visual presentation as well," Ms. Ewell said.
      Melissa Ewell developed the project to combine quality children's literature with music. "Since our students already read the Red Clover, it made sense to use this years' books," she said. Funding for the project came through grants from the Vermont Council on the Humanities, the Swanton PTO, the Tabor Fund, and a FNWSU mini grant.
      The Gift of the Crocodile in song and art will debut at the Swanton Central School Library on Wednesday, April 17, at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.


      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls presents the James Cooke production, Is Calvin Coolidge More than Two Words? on Sunday afternoon for one performance only. Jim Cooke's one-man show shows President Coolidge as an intelligent, principled, idealistic president with a dry sense of humor that went right by most of the nation.
      Actor and writer Jim Cooke received his MA in Theater from Emerson College. His solo work has made him an historian and Coolidge scholar. He first played 'Silent Cal' in the satirical play, The Calvin Coolidge Follies, in 1975 and has performed More Than Two Words since 1985. Mr. Cooke's President Coolidge has visited presidential libraries, the National Archives, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, museums and historic sites.
      More Than Two Words is drawn from an anecdote of a lady seated next to Calvin Coolidge at dinner.
      "Oh, Mr. Coolidge!" she is quoted as saying. "I've made a five-dollar bet that I can make you say more than two words."
      "You lose," he replied.
      See More Than Two Words in the Opera House Sunday at 2 p.m. Admission is free. This program from the Vermont Council on the Humanities is co-sponsored by the Franklin and Grand Isle County public libraries and the Richford and Enosburgh Historical Societies. Call Carole Salminen (933 2354) or John Whiting (933 4148) for info. Admission is free.


      Franklin County schools are hosting two major art exhibits this week. Expect to see hundreds of excellent paintings on AAC easels, walls, tables, and any other flat surface. It would even be wise to look up, just in case.
      "Our hope is that the parents, students, and community members will see how talented our students and their teachers really are," said FNWSU Superintendent of Schools Jack McCarthy. "[These shows] will encourage students to continue with their own artistic expression in the future and additionally, remind the public of the true importance of the arts in the overall education of our youth."
ST ALBANS--The Franklin Central Supervisory Union Art Show will exhibit selected works created by K-12 students from Fairfield, St Albans Town, St Albans City School, and BFA at St Albans City Hall today.
      The FCSU Art Show is open today only, 11-1 p.m. and 3-5:30 p.m. Admission is free.

SWANTON/HIGHGATE--The Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union Arts Festival will be held at MVUHS on Saturday to showcase district student artists. There will be fine arts of all types, choral and instrumental music, and even poetry reading by student artists from Franklin Highgate, Swanton, and MVU Middle and High Schools. The MVU yearbook staff will serve refreshments as a yearbook fundraiser.
      "This is the first time we have attempted this type of an event bringing the music and art from all the school to one place," said Dr. McCarthy. He expects these shows to grow into a major annual event.
      The FNWSU Arts Festival will run Saturday only, 10-3 p.m. Admission is free.


JEFFERSONVILLE---Cambridge CoffeeHouse presents Open "Mike-less" Night (acoustic) for the Cambridge CoffeeHouse at Dinner's Dunn at the Windridge Bakery on Wednesday, 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.


SWANTON--Swanton Success by Six offers a Traveling Storyteller parent workshop on Saturday morning at the Mary S. Babcock School, 10-11 a.m.
      This fun, fast-paced workshop presents new ideas to get the most out of reading to a young child, Free admission and child care. Call Penny (868-7941) or Click here for more info.

WATERVILLE--The Cambridge Arts Council presents a Bluegrass Concert with with Gopher Broke Bluegrass and Big Spike Bluegrass on Saturday, April 13, at 7 p.m. at the Waterville Town Hall. Tickets are $10 ($8 for CAC members). e-mail for info.


      The Vermont Center for the Book Red Clover site offers Vermont K-4 teachers and school librarians a free set of Red Clover books and an activity guide. The award is co-sponsored by the Vermont Center for the Book, Windham County Reads, and the Vermont Departments of Education and Libraries.
      K-4 readers are now preparing their votes for the 2001-2002 nominees. The voting deadline is April 19, 2002. The winner will be announced April 22. Past nominees and winners include Jules Feiffer's Bark, George, Peggy Rathmann's Ten Minutes Till Bedtime, Thacher Hurd's Art Dog, Margie Palatini and Howard Fine's Piggie Pie! and Robert Blake's Akiak. Click here for more info.


      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.


AAC dancing logo

All Arts Council of Franklin County

Support Free Speech on the Internet
Dick Harper, Chair
P.O. Box 1
Highgate Springs, VT 05460
email us

Go to [ Dick Harper | All Arts Index | ArtBits Archive ]

      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).
      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.