ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 6 * * All Arts News On the Web * * October 31, 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.


      Voters on Tuesday can act on a proposed amendment to the state constituition that has broad ramifications for the arts community here in Franklin County.
      The Vermont Constitution is the basic document of state governance, a body of rules that serves as the framework by which our laws are made and enforced. It takes a four year process to amend the state Constitution. A two-thirds majority of the Senate members proposed this amendment in 1998; it then received the concurrence of a majority of the members of the House of Representatives. A simple majority of the state Senators and a majority of the House of Representatives reapproved the amendment during the 2000-2001 biennium. It is now the duty of the General Assembly to submit the proposal directly to the voters of Vermont. If a majority of the voters voting approve the amendment, it becomes part of the Constitution of this State.
      The proposed amendment authorizes and requires certain public displays of art. You may want to turn younger readers away at this point. The following paragraphs are uncensored, adult in nature, and deal with spooky specters, gory mausoleums, and even devilish apparitions.
      The debate last year raised concerns about the phantom wraiths of painting, worries concerning fiendish photography, and goulish references to the local arts council.
      Proposal of Amendment to the State Constitution:
      "To see if the voters will amend the Vermont Constitution by amending 61 of Chapter 3 to read:
61 [Holiday Art]
Every Vermont adult shall be required, on or before October 31 of each year, to design or assist in designing one (1) original artwork filled with spooks, apparitions, and deviltry. The Town Clerk of record for each Town shall cause to be created an exhibition space and public assembly center for the showing and distribution of edible confections made of sugar and often with flavoring, filling, and/or decoration.

      If you favor the proposal, make a cross (X) in the square at the right of the word "YES" after the proposal.
      If you oppose the proposal, make a cross (X) in the square at the right of the word "NO" after the proposal.
      In case you, my gentle reader, think I have made this story up, I shall point out a genuine amendment that appears on Florida's ballot on Tuesday:
      #10 " prevent cruelty to animals and as recommended by The Humane Society of the United States, no person shall confine a pig during pregnancy in a cage, crate or other enclosure, or tether a pregnant pig, on a farm so that the pig is prevented from turning around freely, except for veterinary purposes and during the prebirthing period..."
      Trick or Treat.


      The Cambridge Arts Council presents the Latin American duo Taino performance of Gracias a la Vida at the Cambridge Elementary School on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. The show celebrates harvest time with story, music, masks, dance, ethnic instruments, and audience participation. Journey with Taino to the Celtic harvest traditions of the British Isles, to the "Latino" harvest festivities of the Caribbean, to the rain forests rituals of the Mbuti in Africa, and to the rice harvest ceremonies of Asia.
      The suggested donation at the door is $10 per family. E-mail for more info.


      The Northern Forest Canoe Trail project will begin to develop public art for the Missisquoi River Basin in Swanton and Richford next Thursday evening.
      Here in Franklin County, we can find public art at the Highgate Springs border crossing, in the series of murals in Fairfield, St Albans, and Swanton and at the City Pool and Houghton Park. The Canoe Trail project goal is use art to celebrate the heritage of each town and its relationship to the Missisquoi River.
      The National Park Service invites community members and local artists of all disciplines to join this project. The initiative includes artist-led public art projects, their documentation, and special features on the National Park Service website. The first public presentation of the proposed art projects and a discussion of next steps will be held in Swanton and Richford next Thursday, November 7. The Swanton Meeting in Swanton Town Offices, 5:30-6:30 p.m., and the Richford Meeting in Richford Town Hall, 7:30-8:30 p.m.


ST. ALBANS--The Vermont Ephemera and Postcard Society (VEAPS) presents Jim Murphy at the Franklin County Historical Museum on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. Mr. Murphy is a noted collector of railroad materials (and postcards). The public is welome.

YOUR TOWN--Experience the live drama and personal power of casting your ballot on Tuesday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.


      Chemists celebrated National Mole Day (10^^23) last week. Since the Milton Mole saw his shadow in the nearly full moon Wednesday last, we will get six extra weeks of Halloween. Here are links to how to spend them.
      Ben & Jerry's says Halloween is their absolutely most way-favorite time of year. Their site is chunky full of ghouls clues and artsy stuff. The Flash pumpkin and ghost are worth the trip alone. features of free web page templates, application templates, and original clip art, along with reviews and a message board/forums system as a free resource for students, teachers, parents, and the graphic arts/publishing industry. There are ASCII art pictures, Atlantic giant pumpkins, the Caverns Of Blood Scary Stuff page, an assortment of Halloween sets that are free for non-commercial use, Jack-O-Lanterns carving patterns, free original digital graphics from Tori Claybourne's Night, and more.
      The Dark Side of the Net has Halloween art, clipart, images and fonts, all set in orange against a stygian background.
      Webshots offers other screen saver and wallpaper photos.
      Storytelling is a special Halloween art. Some stories are ghostly, some are otherworldly, and some, like the constitutional amendment, might get you to suspend your disbelief for just the necessary moment.
      The first step is to find a story. The perfect story for telling could be a folktale with heroes, fairies, ghouls, comedy, or extreme tallness. For Halloween, extreme tallness is a virtue.
      Aaron Shepard's Storytelling Page offers tales and tips plus resources for storytelling and storytellers including the series Gifts of Story.
      Finally, a Google search turned up hundreds of the "Scariest Stor(ies) Ever."


      The AA Brown Library in Richford and the Swanton Free Public Library have spooky books on display.
      Recommended for kids are Spooks and Spectres by Ruth Manning-Sanders, illustrated by Robin Jacques, Halloween Hats by Elizabeth Winthrop, We're Going on a Ghost Hunt by Marcia Vaughan, and Scary Scary Halloween by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Dan Brett.
      The adult collection includes the Vermont Ghost Guide by Joe Citro, From The Dust Returned, a novel about the outlandish Halloween creature clan the Elliots, by Ray Bradbury, Halloween Party by Agatha Christie, the Cat Crimes by Martin H. Greenberg and Ed Gorman, Ghost Country by Sara Paretsky, and, of course, the Stephen King gories such as Pet Semetary.


      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.

Please note:Athough there is a Constitutional Amendment on the Vermont ballot this year, it is not this amendment. This Constitutional Amendment is a fiction in the grand tradition of Halloween tall tales and ghost stories. The Florida amendment is not.


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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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