ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 7 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 25 and
December 31, 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.


      The holidays which seemed so far away are here so this is a "combined" column, good for December 25-January 7.
      No matter which holiday or holy days you celebrate may your days be safe, happy, and blessed.


      The Blue-Eyed Dog Framing and Gallery has exhibited three series of All Arts Council shows of artists working in oils, watercolors, and fine art photography. Our final exhibit of the 2003 season features the work of Josh Derner, Jeanette Fournier, Mary Harper, and Cynthia Pease Stratton. Although our emphasis is watercolor, this show includes mixed media, pastel, and more. All work is for sale.
      Josh Derner is best known for his colored pencil wildlife imagery. This exhibit includes his Mansfield in pastel. He also works in acrylic and watercolor.
      Wildlife artist Jeanette Fournier uses watercolor and pen and ink to create detailed works of domestic and wild animals. She will exhibit a brand new original watercolor called Chickadee.
      Watercolor artist Mary Harper's paintings often use water to portray water. This exhibit will include the cold deluge of Niagra Falls and a warm window of full house plants.
      Cynthia Pease creates watercolors, mixed media work, and henna body art, and teaches studio classes.
      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 New Year's Day. Call 524-4447 for info.


2004 NATIONAL PHOTO AWARDS (December 31)--There are numerous titles and cash awards for professional and amateur photographers cash awards of $1,000 and $200. Categories include The USA Cup, the Studio Challenge, people/family/portraiture, animals, architecture, nature, candid/humor, creative/fine art, digitally enhanced, travel/scenic, advertising, action/sports and misc. Click here or E-mail for entry forms and info.

6TH BIENNIAL FICTION CONTEST (December 31)--Thoroughbred Times seeks outstanding fiction about the Thoroughbred industry. Up to 5,000 words. Cash prizes plus publication. No fee. E-mail Amy Owens or Click here for info.

HIGH SCHOOL ESSAY WRITING CONTEST (January 10)-- The John F Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest will award $6,500 to a US high school student to write an original compelling essay in 1,000 words or less on the meaning of political courage. All students must complete and submit a registration form online. Click here for more info and the rules.

SIXTH ANNUAL CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL ONLINE JURIED ART EXHIBITION (January 15)--The Period Gallery will showcase artist worldwide with original two or three dimensional contemporary work in any media. Exhibit runs February 1 - 29, 2004. Entry fee for non-members. Click here for the complete prospectus.


      The Vermont Council on Culture and Innovation (VCCI) came together to study whether the cultural economy has the ability to replace Vermont's lost manufacturing jobs. The task force includes policy makers, representatives of cultural organizations, and business people who tap the creative economy. The group held meetings around the state this Fall and will report to the Governor in 2004.
      One very good discovery is that 2003 was a busy year. I may have to rethink this idea that Franklin County is underserved in the arts.


      The All Arts Council serves northwestern Vermont as a presenter, an event producer, and as a technical resource for artists and other organizations.
      "It's obvious from the tremendous growth in number that the need to express one's artistic abilities is very much in our midst in spite of the mechanized, television-dominated world in which we live," said Dennis Hayward, rector of St. Luke's, about a show the AAC co-hosted with St. Luke's last May.
      The AAC Concerts for Grumpy Grownups Series kicked off 2003 in the midst of a fresh new cover of Vermont's "white gold." In January we presented bassoonist Ben Hoadley in concert at the First Congregational Church as well as Orchestral Favorites, the second concert of the Vermont Youth Orchestra's 40th Anniversary Season in the MVUHS Theater.
      We book all the Main Street entertainment for Vermont Maple Festival; each year we showcase some of the best performers in Franklin County. For 2003, the continuous music on Main Street filled the daylight hours of the last weekend in April, lasting until 7 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.
      On Maple Saturday and Sunday, the All Arts Council fine art exhibit in St. Albans City Hall featured exceptional oil and watercolor paintings, fine art photographs, digital art, mixed media, prints, and sculpture by Franklin County artists.
      More that 50,000 people attended that three day event.
      St. Luke's Episcopal Church and the All Arts Council hosted the second annual St. Luke's Art Gala with a wine and cheese reception. Some exhibitors were well known, respected artists in Franklin County, this event marked the first public show for others.
      Bay Days 2003 was more than family fun and fireworks. The multi-faceted family day of arts and music has the Great Race, lakefront games, sports, fair food, fireworks, live music and an exhibit of major Vermont artists.
      We organized two Summer Arts Festivals at St. Albans Bay. The Red-White-and-Blue visual art exhibition, part of the Bay Days Summer Extravaganza, featured two- and three-dimensional Franklin County artists in the middle of family activities, fireworks, and music. The August Festival focused on black and white photography.
      The Summer Sounds concert series, sponsored by Vermont Maple Festival, is one of Vermont's longest running and most popular free outdoor concert series. In 2003 we held a dozen concerts in Franklin, Highgate, Richford, St. Albans City, and St. Albans Town. We started and ended the season with the baddest, brassiest female vocalists in Vermont: the Sandra Wright Band jump started the summer and Tammy Fletcher and the Disciples brought us home. In between we presented an All Arts Square Dance, country, folk, Dixieland, funk, gospel, jazz, rock, and a Town Band.
      Each concert is hosted by a community group. A dozen organizations from around the County showed the flag, sold some delicious foodstuffs, and raised a few bucks for a good cause.
      The concert series is sponsored by five area Towns, the business community, and the Vermont Maple Festival. Concerts are always on a Sunday night, always in a town park, always at 7 p.m. and always free.
      The AAC and the Parkside Diner presented Art in the Park, a one day event with fine art and poetry in the Downtown Park in Swanton.
      We also finally bit the bullet and decided that we need an Executive Director to manage our day-to-day operations, do publicity, fund raise, and generally to support the area artists and presenters. We haven't filled the position yet, so there is still hope in 2004.


      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls started a year of major events with a screening of Vermont director Jay Craven's film, The Year That Trembled. Mr. Craven lead a discussion about this current movie about the Kent State shootings.
      Opera House programming includes three performance series: the Emerging Talents Series for young artists drawn from all parts of Vermont, the Community Treasures Series with traditional Opera House events that have been the mainstay of the community, and the Mentors Series for well-established professional artists in all disciplines. The 2003 Opera House Mentors Series had six major events.
      The high energy Celtic sextet Natterjack brought their mix of jazz, rock, blues, and world rhythms with traditional Celtic melodies and songs from Europe and the New World to the Enosburg stage.
      Music for Two Guitars made an elegant evening as Edward Flower and Joel Brown presented a program that ranged from English folk songs to the Spanish classics to the Baroque.
      The Opera House and the All Arts Council joined to present an Acadian kitchen party with Canada's famed Barachois. This concert was a Special Performance in the Mentors Series.
      The Green Mountain Horn Club, a dozen French Horns, led by Alan Parshley of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, brought us music from across time.
      The Gabriel Piano Trio program included music for piano, violin, and cello, by Mozart, a Mendelssohn concerto, and nine miniatures by Frank Bridge.
      The Celtic instrumental music of The Angel Band concluded the 2003 Mentors Series with the cherished music of Turlough O'Carolan, with traditional jigs, reels, airs, and hornpipes, and with the poetry of W. B. Yeats and Donal McDonough.
      In other series, the singers and dancers of the Green Actors Guild returned with A Night at the Speakeasy--from Berlin to Chicago. That show had the music, song and dance of the 20s through the 40s in a cabaret atmosphere.
      Jenni Johnson and Friends produced A Tour down Memory Lane with tunes recorded by Big Mama Thorton, Lulu, the Pointer Sisters, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, the Exciters, the Cookies, the Supremes and other "girl groups" of the '40s, '50s and '60s. That concert also aired on Adelphia Channel 15.
      Timed for Native American Awareness Month, national recording artist and Iroquois educator Howard Lyons presented an Indian Summer Celebration of Life.
      The students and faculty of Enosburg Falls High School presented an evening of One-Act plays.
      The Eleventh Annual Talent Search in October is one of the premiere talent events in Vermont, Past winners include two Miss Vermonts as well as others who have become professionals in the arts. The 2003 show was an evening of entertainment, celebration, and the arts with the most talented performers in the area. Electronic Cheese Experiment won the Junior Division and Shayna Sherwood won the Adult Division.
      In Vermont & Quebec together, Michele Choiniere and Le Vent du Nord shared the stage to create another "house party" concert of traditional and original Quebecois and Franco-American music, and traditional step and quadrille dancing.
      The "wrap up" concert of the year was the annual afternoon of Holiday Music and Song featuring the Enosburg Town Band and the Community Chorus. This popular event celebrated traditional music and was part of the Community Treasures Series.


      Two area businesses with a long history of presenting music and the arts moved or expanded this year and a new gallery opened.
      The Blue-Eyed Dog Framing and Gallery opened last month at 1 Lake Street. Owner Jack Welch will do custom framing and has half his floor area devoted to gallery space. The gallery will exhibit and sell fine art, photography and possibly sculpture in a varying exhibit with new artists rotating in regularly. The gallery has three artists on display, Corliss Blakely, Jeannette Fournier, and Michael Hurley of Oregon.
      The AAC Holiday Exhibit at the Blue-Eyed Dog has had three different shows with artists working in oils, watercolors, and fine art photography. The first show featured the oils of Corliss Blakely, Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard, Patrick Murphy, and Kate Ritz. A 10-day exhibit of the fine art photography of Bob Brodeur, April Henderson, Gustav Verderber, and me finished this week. Our watercolor and other media show with Josh Derner, Jeannette Fournier, Mary Harper, and Cynthia Pease Stratton began Monday and will continue through the end of December. All work is for sale.
      Chow Bella has expanded into exceptional space for music and art. Owner Connie Warden has live jazz and great art every Wednesday night.
      The Kept Writer moved upstairs to the Sugar Mill at 50 North Main Street. They have new cafe, gallery, and performance space on the mezzanine and the bookstore has expanded.
      Public art adds to Vermont communities by enhancing the landscape we see every day. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail project kicked off in 2003 to celebrate the heritage of our river towns and the Missisquoi River. Artists Stephen Dignazio, Evan Haynes, and Ron Smith will conclude that project in 2004.
      Art appeared on many walls all year. The Northwestern Medical Center rotating exhibit featured twelve northern Vermont artists including several AAC members. The AAC Exhibit Gallery at the Opera House at Enosburg Falls showed oils, watercolors, photographs and digital art, and exceptional student art. Nearly 100,000 people saw the work of five Franklin County artists at the Highgate Springs Welcome Center AAC Exhibit.
      Younger artists had several shows. The annual Franklin Central Supervisory Union District Art Show featured two and three dimensional work from City School, Town School, Fairfield. There were graveyard drawings from Greenwood Cementary, comic strip postcards, flowing form sculptures, and more. The Annual Franklin Northeast Supervisory District Exhibit filled the Opera House to overflowing.
      The Foothills Bakery held regular Music Sessions with acoustic instrumentalists playing traditional songs most Saturday afternoons. Admission was free by donation.
      The First Congregational Church celebrated its bicentennial with an expanded series of performance and cultural events. The Bicentennial Jubilee concert on Palm Sunday brought the 50-member Community Christian Singers and the expanded Citizens Band together for a Celebration of God and Country. Kim and Reggie Harris appeared in Music and the Underground Railroad. The VYO Fiorello String Quartet played. The church also hosted a regular community square and contra dance in Fellowship Hall.
      The BFA-St. Albans Fine Arts Department presented the Ithaca College Men's Chorus conducted by Georgia native Brian Messier. 17 voices strong, the Chorus performed traditional choral works, barbershop tunes, and pop music heard on the radio including Running Away by Hoobastank and Footloose by Kenny Loggins.
      The Fairfax Community Library had several events including the Community Art Show with the fine art of ten area artists. Helene Lang performed a living history portrait, Dorothy Canfield Fisher--A Vermonter for the World.
      The Highgate Manor had several jazz events including the Nouveau Jazz Quartet in a Valentine's French Bistro and a Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball with jazz combo mr. ED playing the old favorites, Dixieland, and 30s and 40s jazz.
      Flautist Anna Perkins and pianist Melissa Ewell presented a piano/flute recital at the First Baptist Church in Burlington. The two-part program had classical music and a tribute to George Gershwin, all with a romance theme.
      2003 was big for musicals. The Enosburg Falls Drama Club presented Anything Goes the musical comedy by Cole Porter. The BFA-Fairfax Dramatic Arts Ensemble presented the children's literature classic The Wizard of Oz in the new gym at BFA-Fairfax. The popular MVU Musical was Leader of the Pack--The Ellie Greenwich Musical.
      Open studio weekend is an annual statewide visual arts celebration. This year, six Fairfax artists, Joanne Littler of Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Celine Hargraves of Celine's Art Studio, Chris LeBaron of Fairfax Forge and Sculpture Garden, studio arts teacher Cynthia Pease, Marie Keefe, and Deborah Travis all opened their studios to the public.
      Mark Sustic reprised his Farewell concert tour with a series of Farewell Reunion Concerts. The events raised money and awareness for the Tom Sustic Scholarship Fund.
      Community choruses and Town bands played widely. The Franklin Community Chorus took part in the Franklin Memorial Day Program,
      The Vermont Dairy Festival was "simpler this year" but still managed to include the Dairy Festival Scholarship Pageant, a Jazz Band, traditional bluegrass, modern and classic rock, and the Enosburg Town Band plus Wayne From Maine, a Fiddler's Variety Show, and a hypnotist.
      Grace Church continued the Summer Music at Grace season with the a homegrown Vermont ensemble Aurora Ancient Music, Village Harmony, Susan Reit, Mary Ann Samuels and Full Circle, and the First Farewell Reunion Concert.
      Swanton has held its annual four-day Summer Festival on the last July weekend for 45 years. The whole state comes out for the live music and some other stuff (that would be a great parade, carnival rides, a barbecue dinner, bingo, an auction, library book sale, the 10K Swan Run, and more).
      Hundreds also picnicked in Fairfield on the last July weekend at the Eleventh Annual Jig in the Valley. This eclectic day of outdoor music combined musicians, community members and friends, and people from all over the state for great music for a good cause. The proceeds benefit the many programs at the Fairfield Community Center including the after-school homework club, Early Essential Ed and Headstart, and a wide variety of educational, arts, and special programming.
      Franklin County Field Days had well-known free entertainment during the first weekend of August. The music lineup featured plenty of bluegrass, country, power pop, and the Northeast Fiddlers Association. Whew.
      The Montgomery Historical Society held the 15th Annual Concerts By The Common summer concert Series with Jenni Johnson and The Junketeers and the Craftsbury Chamber Players. The Historical Society joined the Covered Bridge Garden Club for the annual Montgomery art and music extravaganza in the big tent on the village common and at Pratt Hall.
      The Burlington Coffeehouse invaded St. Albans as Sue and Ken Wade hosted a garden party with We're About Nine at their home.
      The 2003 Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival offered up the Lincoln Gap Bluegrass Band, Big Spike Bluegrass Band, and the Gibson Brothers, plus a major fiddler's contest, a bonfire and barbeque all on a family farm in Alburg.
      The Knights of Columbus presented Josee Vachon as a fundraiser and to celebrate the area Franco-American heritage.
      The Montgomery Recreation Center presented the annual Montgomery Variety Show in the Montgomery Grange.
      The Cardiac Capers Tour of America opened on the BFA-St. Albans stage with an entirely local production. Director Helene Biggie said the troupe did everything from costume design to directing to save the cost of the hired gun director and raise more money for the hospital. It was a success.
      Mark Sustic organized the Fiddleheads to learn fiddle tunes and dances. The music is based in the French Acadian, Irish, Scottish and other cultural heritages of northern Vermont.
      The Doll-Anstadt Gallery presented Layers / New Paintings, a solo exhibition by Fairfield artist Gail Salzman.
      The Counterpoint Chorus joined the Weston Playhouse Players again this year in a Holiday Concert at the Weston Playhouse. There were concerts of A Counterpoint Christmas in Barre and in Burlington. The program was carried on National Public Radio.
      And finally, the Third Annual Multiplicity Festival brought eight bands and some police officers to Alburg. The AAC helped publicize the event which gave us an interesting mention in the state's largest newspaper.


      The Proscenium Players theater troupe held auditions for a series of one-act plays but fell short on fundraising.
      The Fairfax Community Theater Company presented A.R. Gurney's Love Letters in the spring and America's award winning musical 1776 with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards on Independence Day.
      Sixteen area schools and libraries have presented Backpack Theater stagings of No Room for a Sneeze and The Bremen Town Musicians, in six days. Elementary school teacher and drama instructor Ernie Hemingway founded The Traveling Storyteller and Backpack Theater. The theater troupe has 15 kids aged 10-16 from Franklin County towns.


      We discovered only two releases this year. Will Patton released Peripherique, featuring gypsy jazz and Brazilian tunes and Josh Brooks released Better Days, his new CD of romance, humor, and social commentary.


      Over the past year, this column profiled another dozen interesting people in the arts, in music, and in the business of the arts. We investigated marketing ideas and some successful sales tools, and found more than 40 interesting or unusual calls for artists that ranged from the Fourth Annual Face to Face International (an exhibit of real or imagined faces or portraits) to grants for $10,000 to $35,000 from the Creative Work Fund for collaborations between artists and nonprofit organizations such as the AAC to create new works.


      The art teacher on the Net site is a USA Today Education Best Bet. They have global Christmas and other Holiday Celebrations plus a variety of art project pages. Click on the Merry Christmas Art Projects link.
      Kids Domain offers free icons, general Christmas, santa and friends, winter, and doll and toy icons.


      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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