ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 7 * * All Arts News On the Web * * November 26, 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.


      April Henderson is grateful for this Thanksgiving feature. "If we don't remember and think about what we are grateful for, then we tend to forget that [this day] really is all about gratitude," she said. As we approach the most American of holidays, I talked with friends of the arts around Franklin County to discover what makes them thankful this season.
      Corliss Blakely is "thankful [presidential candidate and former Governor Howard] Dean is in the lead."
      "I am thankful that I've finally released this CD for Thanksgiving because I've worked on it for a very long time," singer/songwriter Michele Choiniere said of her Coeur Fragile project that has been at least two years in the making and will be released at the Opera House on Saturday.
      "Gratitude rules my life," April Henderson said. "Think about this [today]. Because I think we would tend not to" without a reminder.
      "I don't always remember to say thank you so I am thankful for everything," Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard said. "The first thing would be my family and I love my new old house and that we haven't had a lot of snow yet and for my new granddaughter."
      "I am thankful for good health, my children, and my snow plow," Patrick Murphy said.
      "I am thankful for my health," Kate Ritz said. "It's pretty basic and just a good thing to be thankful for."
      "I'm thankful for Rail City Market," clay sculptor Deb Shell said. "I was in there yesterday with my pots and thinking we are very lucky" to have stores like that.
      "I am thankful for family for my health and for the blessed memories of yesteryear," writer/photographer Lauren Young said. She had just finished a poem. "This time of year we get kind of sad because people you love aren't here."


      The Blue-Eyed Dog Framing and Gallery begins a series of All Arts Council exhibits today. "We are going to rotate through some of the best Franklin County artists," owner Jack Welch said.
      We will hang three different shows with artists working in oils, watercolors, and fine art photography. The first show will feature the oils of Corliss Blakely, Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard, Patrick Murphy, and Kate Ritz.
      Vermont's premier artist and AAC Director Corliss Blakely is a featured artist of the Blue-Eyed Dog Gallery.
      Former AAC vice chair Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard has new work that continues her romance with nature. She paints expressive, emotional works on large canvas.
      Painter, singer, and teacher Patrick Murphy has an historical, architectural mood in his oil paintings.
      Oil painter and farmer Kate Ritz paints mostly bright and full bodied landscapes of "a world full of color."
      The AAC exhibit at the Blue-Eyed Dog Gallery is open Monday through Saturday 10-6 at 1 Lake Street in St. Albans. The AAC artists will be on exhibit through Christmas. Call 524-4447 for info.


      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls presents Vermont and Quebec Together, a performance that joins Michele Choiniere of St. Albans and Le Vent du Nord of Montreal on Saturday evening. The evening will celebrate the Franco-American heritage of northern Vermont and will feature the release of Coeur Fragile, Michele Choiniere's new CD of original material and traditional Franco-American songs from Franklin County.
      "This is not a double bill," Michele Choiniere said. "It's a blended concert. I am blended in with their [music] and they are blended in with mine."
      Ms. Choiniere and Le Vent du Nord will share the stage to create a true "house party" in a concert of traditional and original Quebecois and Franco-American music and traditional step and quadrille dancing. Bring your dancing shoes.
      "After the concert, there will be a traditional dance with Benoit calling as he always has done," she said.
      Franklin County recording artist folk singer/songwriter and musician Michele Choiniere appears on the Smithsonian Folkways recording.
      "The traditional music that I was born into came from my grandfather," she said "The music was carried through my father's harmonica playing, transferred from Quebec to Vermont through my parents' kitchen. Everything happened in the kitchen."
      Ms. Choiniere was featured on the TV5 International worldwide Visions d'Amerique broadcast, and has appeared on Vermont Public Television. She was a guest artist with La danse des Enfants at the Flynn Theater, and has performed at the AAC Soiree Grand Menage, the Champlain Valley Folk Festival, and festivals and venues throughout Vermont, New England, Quebec, and France since 1995. She will be a featured Vermont Artist on New Year's Eve on the main stage at the Flynn, performing there with Le Vent du Nord at the First Night-Burlington 2004 festivities.
      Le Vent du Nord, a quartet with pianist and hurdy-gurdy player Nicolas Boulerice, step-dancer/accordionist Benoit Bourque, fiddler Olivier Demers, and singer/guitarist Bernard Simard, has evolved as a traditional Quebecois band from Montreal.
      "They are contagious," she said. "They're becoming very popular very fast. It's traditional sounding but the energy is high and they have a lot of harmonizing with their vocals."
      M. Boulerice and Demers have toured and recorded for many years. M. Simard was a founder of La Bottine Souriante, a Quebec group that sold over half a million albums and headlined music festivals around the world, including the Soiree Grand Menage here in Franklin County. The popular M. Bourque is well known for his tours of Vermont folk festivals and schools with the trio Matapat.
      Admission is $12/adults, $10-Seniors & Students, and $5 for children under 12. Adults and seniors can still save two dollars at the All Arts ticket centers: Enosburg Pharmacy and Merchants Bank in Enosburg Falls, at Swanton Rexall, and at Better Planet and at the Kept Writer in St Albans. Call 802-933-6171 or click here for more info.

      The Opera House Exhibit Hall features fine art photographs. On exhibit now are landscapes by Tim Stetson, black-and-white portraits by Wayne Tarr, my own landscapes and architectural studies, and more.


      Thanksgiving art projects can be a boon. This site bills itself as the "largest selection of free Thanksgiving clip art" online.
      The Perpetual Preschool has gathered Thanksgiving Art/Science projects.
      This week's performers can be found at and


      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.