ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 6 * * All Arts News On the Web * * November 7, 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.


      Ever wonder why statehouses and border stations have paintings or statues hanging about?
      Public art makes economic sense.
      Vermont goes a step beyond merely adding art to public places by targeting and combining arts events, festivals, historic sites, museums, and heritage trails into attractions for the Cultural-Heritage tourism market. Here in Franklin County, that means publicly supported concerts like Summer Sounds are linked maple and milk festivals and summer recreation at Town parks, paintings and Native storytellers partner with museum and library offerings.
      Public art is also mandated.
      The Federal government as well as half the states (including Vermont) have either a Percent for Art or Art in Public Places program. These programs allocate a percentage of capital construction dollars for the creation and maintenance of public art in public buildings. Here in Franklin County, that means federally funded sculpture at the border and locally funded murals at the St Albans City Pool.
      The planned Northern Forest Canoe Trail will use art to celebrate the heritage of our river towns and the Missisquoi River. The Canoe Trail project team will discuss community art projects in the Missisquoi Basin in Swanton and Richford this evening. They want your participation.
      Artists Stephen Dignazio, Evan Haynes, and Ron Smith have been exploring potential sites along the Missisquoi River in Richford and Swanton since July. They have also met citizens, organizations and community leaders to learn of their interests and ideas for public art in both communities.
      Poet and longtime New England resident Stephen Dignazio, draws his inspiration from observing the natural world and examining the act of writing. "For me the power of poetry has always been in the possibilities inherent in the 'unsaid,'" he said. Until recently, Mr. Dignazio served as the Executive Director of the North Country Chamber Players. He now directs the renovation planning efforts for the Colonial Theater, the oldest continuously operating movie theater in the country, in Bethlehem, NH. He lives in Bethlehem.
      Evan Haynes uses art to invite communities to tell their own stories and to rediscover their own landscapes. His public art commissions in Maine include the Maine State House, the Portland Public Library, and the University of Maine. Mr. Haynes studied architecture and environmental and landscape architecture, and regional planning. He has directed public art exhibitions, created artist residencies and managed community design charrettes from his home in North Yarmouth, Maine.
      Ron Smith creates sculpture that is inspired by the craft and folk traditions that express the humor of generations of New Englanders. His materials and craft "are tools that help us tell the story, define ideas and express the character of our work and ourselves," he said. His experience ranges from toy making to black smithing and furniture design. He lives in Bethlehem, NH.
      Stephen Dignazio's collaborative work with Evan Haynes has explored alternative contexts for writing. Mr. Haynes' studio work and collaborations with Mr. Dignazio have been exhibited in galleries and museums across New England.
      This project is a new method to connect art and community landscapes to allow art to be a catalyst for increased environmental awareness and community action. The artist team envisions that a range of artists across all disciplines will develop and implement works to inspire greater involvement in protecting and enhancing the rivers, trails, and greenways in our communities. The initiative includes regionally based artist-led public art projects, their documentation, and special features on the National Park Service website.
      Like the earlier Franklin County audience building project with Liz Lerman, this program does more than simply drop a statue in a park or a put on play in City Hall. It will support the artist team as they work with local partners to use art to advance environmental awareness. It can bring a broad range of community members--artists and non-artists alike--together for art projects that reflect local and regional environmental concerns. And it will sustain a cross-disciplinary approach to the creative process.
      The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) and the National Park Service (NPS), working with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), are in partnership to implement and administer this Art and Community Landscapes project. In collaboration with a community-based non-profit, the artists will work with the National Park Service and the local community to develop a full design for the community-based Northern Forest Canoe Trail public art project. NEFA administers the program through its Culture in Community Fund. Click here for more info.
      The 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 tonight in the Swanton Town Offices, 5:30-6:30 p.m., and again in Richford Town Hall, 7:30-8:30 p.m.


      The Northwestern Medical Center hosts my own landscape photography of Vermont. On display are photos of "Where We've Been" with foliage around the state and the early fall raking photo titled Oh, Lord, Thy Tree Is So Tall and My Cart Is So Small and "Where We're Going" including golden retrievers in deep snow and winter architecture, through November 30.
      Click here for more info.

CLICK HERE: ART SITE OF THE WEEK acts as a bridge between musicians and listeners. It has gigs and career opportunities for musicians, help for music companies, and news about the musicians, festivals, competition, camps, and orchestras in the world, plus musicians' profiles, multimedia interactive technology, internet marketing, and translation services. The new Cyber Musician news serves headlines and links from BBC Radio 1, Bigmouth,, E! Online, Rolling Stone, Spin, Variety, and a dozen more.


      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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