ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 7 * * All Arts News On the Web * * October 9, 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.

      Stop in for live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax most Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m., at ChowBella in St Albans 8-10 p.m. most Wednesday evenings, at the Kept Writer in St Albans most Friday and Saturday evenings, at the Bayside in St Albans Town most Sunday afternoons, and the Cambridge CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month.
     These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. The booked performances and acoustic Open Mike Nights feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      "They're watercolors," artist Debra Forman Wilkinson said. "They are a little different but they are watercolors."
      She crafts a three-dimensional pieces with watercolor and other media on hand made paper to create a comfortable, inviting feeling for people. "I want people to be able to relate to it, to be able to have a connection with nature," she said. Every piece has a component of nature, a "crossover from what we see outside in nature to modern."
      The paper popping out of the frame got my attention. "I wanted to draw people in. The edge is as important to the piece as the image."
      Ms. Wilkinson gets up to her elbows in the process. "I usually am covered," she said. "I often will look at something for quite some time. Lately it's barns. I look at barns and I ponder them. I'm a ponderer. I ponder them and somewhere in that process of pondering I determine a shape of my canvas [the paper] and I take my watercolor paper and tear it and then I start laying the groundwork of what I'm going to paint on. I lay everything else on top of it." Everything is usually watercolor, lots of pastel, colored pencils, sometimes chalk, and sometimes just a layering process.
      The technique brings a fresh and contemporary look to the popular subjects of life and art.
      She is beginning to show again "now that my children are a little older.
      "Every chance I can get to see somebody do their art, I like to observe. I have always wanted to dedicate large hunks of time to sit and paint with other artists but I'm a teacher and a mom and there are only so many hours in a day." She has participated in the Shelburne Craft School, exhibited at Frog Hollow and recently at NMC, and earned a Bachelors of Fine Art at Johnson State. The conversations with artists and gallery goers help her work become sharper and her eye become clearer and a little more critical.
      In art courses at Johnson State she had "a really hard time not transferring what I was doing in one class to what I was doing in another, so it just became a style for me." She also took a pottery course in hand building, and found some of her painting [technique] creeping into the pottery. "I've been trying to refine it over the years and I've always had a love for paper and texture and so I combine that with as many mediums as I can."
      She shares part of her own knowledge with the outside world by creating art and, she said, "My teaching becomes enriched by my satisfaction in my artwork."
      She teaches at St. Albans Town Educational Center and lives in Georgia with her husband, daughter and son, and six-month old Lab-Shepherd puppy named Rudy. He really puts some pep into our lives.


      The Friends of the Opera House at Enosburg Falls have issued a call for entries for the Eleventh Annual Talent Search. One of the premiere talent events in Vermont, this show is an evening of entertainment, celebration, and the arts with the most talented performers in the area. The show will be held Saturday, October 18, at the Opera House with event winners Alyssa Bouthillier, Molly Renning, and Sarah Jo Willey as hosts.
      The Talent Search provides a performance venue for aspiring talented area amateur performers. The 2003 show will features vocalists, dancers and instrumentalists. The Opera House awards cash prizes in two performance divisions, Junior (youth up to 14) and Adult (15 and up) in the amount of $150/First Place, $100/Second Place $75/Third Place and $25/Honorable Mention in both divisions.
      The deadline is to enter Wednesday, October 15. Applications are available at area schools and music departments.
      "We will hold a mandatory rehearsal on Friday evening, October 17," director Harry Benoit said.
      Tickets are available at the All Arts ticket centers, the Enosburg Pharmacy and Merchants Bank in Enosburg Falls, Better Planet in St. Albans, and Swanton Rexall. An advance purchase save two bucks off the general admission of $12/adult, $10/seniors and students. Children under 12 are free. Call 802-933-6171 or click here for more info.


      The Northwestern Medical Center rotating exhibit wall features working artist and former AAC Vice Chair Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard through October 31.
      The NMC exhibit includes a new work that shows "being romanced by nature," she said, plus the waterfall in her "very favorite place which is a good place to pray." Ms. LaRocque-Bouchard paints expressive, emotional works on large canvas, makes trompe l'oeil murals, and creates digital art. She works as a full-time graphic designer, illustrator and graphic artist at LG Printing in St. Albans and has been an online mentor to student artists. She reports that she is "working working working."
      She has "some new paintings in the works that are not as big as usual but not as small as everyone else's."


MONTGOMERY CENTER--The Montgomery Recreation Center presents the annual Montgomery Variety Show, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Montgomery Grange.
      Tickets are $6/adults and $4/seniors and children under 16. The show is an annual benefit for the Montgomery Recreation Center. Call 802-933-8561 or 802-326-4223 for info.

FRANKLIN COUNTY--Stop in for live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax most Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m. and at ChowBella in St. Albans 8-10 p.m. most Wednesday evenings.


      Artist Debra Forman Wilkinson paints on craft-made papers and likes the work of Richard Langdell of East Topsham.
      The Vermont Crafts Council has links to Vermont paper artisans as well as to individual studios, galleries, arts educational organizations, and art and craft show producers. Langdell Papers are handmade by a team of papermakers.


      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).
      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.