ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 7 * * All Arts News On the Web * * February 20, 2003


      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.


      Glance at a passing car, above the door to a restaurant, or over the goods in a village store. Check out the poles in Taylor Park at the top of Lake Street. Look on the hospital walls, around the hockey rink, and behind the bands at a concert.
      It is impossible not to see signs almost everywhere you look. Signs that advertise a product or identify a business or pump up a sports audience. Doug Watson of Enosburg has made many of them.
      Signage today is not just letters and background. Mr. Watson works with graphic elements, imagery, and even stained glass. "A lot of it is related to developing eye-hand coordination and color balance properties," he said. His skill is a combination of chance, experience, and natural gifts. "I come from a very creative family. Two of my older siblings teach art. One sister is an executive secretary who is also an artist.
      "We started pre-computer." At the time, companies like IBM in Vermont and Harris in Champlain, NY, had new computer assisted design and drafting (CADD) systems running on minicomputers in separate departments. The desktop PC was not available.
      The sign business was a spinoff of his automotive painting. "We were doing things then in the traditional way, beginning with a 'pounce pattern'." This older technique meant hand drawing a design on paper and then punch perforations every 1/8-inch or so along the outline with a pattern wheel like that used by a dress maker. Sign painters employ talcum powder on dark vehicles, and carbon black on light vehicles to leave the imprint of the outside lines. "You actually sprinkle the powder on the pattern and have a very fine outline of the letter [or image]. Then you cut the letter in traditionally, and paint the outline, paint the shadow," he said.
      Watson Sign now offers large format, high resolution, digital output on 52" material for flat signs plus Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) routing in which the design includes three-dimensional elements and a computer guides the router to cut depth, width, and shape. They can rout wood, PVC, urethanes, polycarbonate and any other machinable sign material.
      "We just did the Energizer Plant," Mr. Watson said. Energizer is stabilizing their market and expanding their St Albans plant and wanted to get that message across. Watson Sign downloaded the bunnies morphing out of batteries from the corporate office, "blew them up to large format, and mounted them on three dimensional signs. The whole dynamic of that was fun."
      Doug Watson was born in Texas, relocated to a part of New Jersey "where there were still potato fields," and moved to Enosburg in 1978.
      "Richford and Enosburg were the poorest towns in the poorest county in the poorest state in the country [in 1980], so if you were to say, OK, where am I going to find a venue for opening up a commercial business that's dependent on advertising and signage and custom vehicle lettering in the midst of a recession? If you looked at the demographics and charted it out, you would think this is insane.
      "But Vermont is a very nice place to raise a family, a very nice place to live. Traditional Vermont gave us the early support and the early community encouragement for someone who didn't have a lot of resources."
      And if it's a nice day, the answering machine is on and the whole family will be out snowboarding or skiing or swimming or walking.
      "It's a good life and a lot of fun," he said.


RICHFORD--The Arvin A. Brown Library presents A Recollection of Prohibition Days this evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Richford Fire and Ambulance station. Dig Rowley of Richford, Garnet Harvey of Enosburg, and Sterling Weed of St. Albans will discuss their memories and Scott Wheeler will also be there with a slide presentation. Each speaker is featured in Mr. Wheeler's recently published Rumrunners and Revenuers.


TECHART (March 10)--Juried Exhibition of Computer Arts offers $1200 cash awards. Click here or E-mailfor more info.

NORTHWEST PASTEL SOCIETY 17TH OPEN INTERNATIONAL EXHIBIT (March 15)--Juried show for pastels only at the Art Institute of Seattle. Click herefor more info.

HOME AND GARDEN SHOW (March 18)--This Studio Place Arts exhibit in Barre, inspired by the annual home shows in every community, is open to all artists working in all media. Work should be related to or inspired by the subject of the home; interiors, exteriors, yards, gardens, furniture, fantasy, and whatever the idea of home (or home show) evokes. Judging will be by slide and digital image and photo review. Entry Fee. Call 802.479.7069 or Click herefor info.

46TH ANNUAL NATIONAL JURIED ART EXHIBITION (March 24)--Rocky Mount Arts Center juried show is open to all painting, watercolor, graphics, three-dimensional, photography and mixed media art. Cash prizes. Call 252-972-1163 or E-mailfor more info.

CLASSES--Artist Kay Maynard, from North Troy will offer an introductory course in painting with oils at the Arvin A. Brown Library every other Saturday morning in March (March 1, 15, and 29) from 9 a.m. to noon. There will be a $10.00 charge per class. Space is very limited. Call the library (848-3313) to register and ask for a list of materials.


      CD sales at Smithsonian Folkways Records jumped 33 percent last year, thanks in part to recordable compact discs. The Smithsonian "burns" disks on demand to assure that each release in its catalog is always available. That catalog contains 2,168 titles to date. Vermont artists on Folkways include Michele Choiniere. Their blues list ranges from Big Bill Broonzy's folk songs to Big Joe Williams and his nine-string guitar.


      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 © 2003 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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