ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 8 * * All Arts News On the Web * * February 5, 2004


      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 mostly once each month, 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.


      On Sunday, the Fairfax Community Library presents an Annual Art Show to celebrate art and poetry in the Fairfax community. Award winning Vermont poet, writer, playwright, and performer David Budbill will read at 2 p.m. Art on exhibit includes watercolor paintings by Ann Bissonnette, landscape photography by Janet Bonneau, landscape photography by Cindy Groseclose, sculpture by Chris LeBaron, watercolor paintings by Sue Parker, and much more.
      "I have a new book of poems coming out next year," Mr. Budbill said, "so I'll probably read mostly from that. This new one is called, at least for now, 'While We Still Have Feet.' I'll [also] probably read from 'Judevine' and from 'Moment to Moment'"
      In addition to reading his poems, Mr. Budbill will play the shakuhachi (this Japanese word is pronounced exactly as it appears). It is a vertical, five hole bamboo flute. "It's a beautiful, very natural sounding stick of bamboo with five holes in it."
      Janet Bonneau does color landscapes and some macro closeups of "flowers in my garden.
      "This year, I'm trying to make a more concerted effort to market myself as a photographer," she said. She will bring eight-ten landscapes that include a scene of Mount Mansfield, local scenes of Fairfax and Jeffersonville and one of Cold Hollow.
      Cindy Groseclose likes scenic lake and ocean photography; the theme of her show will be water.
      "I'm naturally drawn to water," she said, "Mother Nature is my biggest ally when it comes to shooting pictures. Mother Nature does most of the work. I'm really conscious of the fact that no two moments are alike so I just capture moments."
      She coaches the Fairfax 5-6 grade Bullets basketball team. "My son's team has a tournament so I may not get back in time for the show."
      Chris LeBaron of Fairfax Forge is a metal sculptor and poet. He will bring a "couple of copper bowls and [perhaps] a wreath and copper leaves" but no dragons.
      "I'm doing quite a bit of writing," he said, "and still working on my house" at the end of a 1,200 foot driveway on a dead end road. He will leave the school board in March after two terms and "took up snowboarding last winter." He may also have some poems there to share.
      The Fairfax Art Exhibit is sponsored by the Fairfax Community Library and the Vermont Public Library Foundation. The exhibit will be held in the Fairfax Community Library on Sunday from 1-4 p.m. David Budbill will read at 2 p.m. and there will be an open poetry reading at 2:30. Admission is free. Call 849-2420 for info.


      Prolific poet, writer, and performer David Budbill was born in Cleveland, Ohio. His father was a streetcar driver and his mother a minister's daughter.
      He is the author of six books of poems, eight plays, a novel, a collection of short stories, a picture book for children, young adult fiction, dozens of essays, speeches, and book reviews, and the libretto for an opera. He is a performance poet on two CDs. He lectures, gives readings and hosts workshops frequently and was a regular commentator on National Public Radio. He will be the featured interviewee in the March issue of The Sun, a national magazine published in North Carolina.
      Judevine: The Complete Poems was first published in 1991. It was expanded and updated in 1999. Based on the book of poems, the play Judevine has been performed in 22 states.
      Judevine is Mr. Budbill's defining moment. "The irony of that," he said, "is that 'Judevine' is performed all over the country but it hasn't been in Vermont for 13 years." The play is most popular and has been produced the most in California. Old Castle Theater Company in Bennington is talking about doing Judevine this summer.
      Last April, Boxholder Records released Songs for a Suffering World: a Prayer for Peace, a Protest Against War. The CD features Mr. Budbill as poet and reader, William Parker on acoustic bass, and Hamid Drake on drums. He brings an exotic Buddhist focus to his plain-speaking Vermont words, words that are emotional, real, and funny.
      The upcoming work While We Still Have Feet will be published by Copper Canyon Press. It is "in the style of 'Moment to Moment,'" he said.
      "Sometimes the title comes instantly," he said. "I know exactly what it should be. Sometimes I never know. And I never know which it's going to be. The way the book is laid out right now, that's the last line in the last poem. By the time the book is done, that might not be the last poem and that might not be the title. Both my editor and I feel that that's the best title we've come up with so far. In the process of winnowing down 200 poems to maybe 120 [for the book], we may come up with a better title. That's why I say it's a working title."
      Winnowing down to 120 pieces is interesting because a modern book of poetry seems as if it would be merely a 20 page chapbook.
      "'Judevine' was 320 pages," he said. "That's a collected poem, many books in one. It is like an epic poem or poetic novel. And I think there are 99 poems in 'Moment to Moment.' My guess is that this book will be close to 150 pages."
      Poets are reputed to be shy and retiring but Mr. Budbill revels in the public eye.
      "I like the bifurcation in my life," he said, "I really love being here in my mountaintop hideout. But I also love being out." On Sunday, he will read at the Fairfax Community Art Show and on February 28 he will perform with a jazz group on New York's Lower East Side. "I like the staying home and being inside myself and I like the going out and greeting the world. I would not like my life if it were only one of those."
      The Budbills live in the Green Mountains in a house they built themselves. They have two children and an 11-month old Golden Retriever named Lu Shan which is Chinese for Green Mountains. His nickname is Luey. "He's a great guy. He's 70 pounds of puppy."
      "I'm looking forward to being in Fairfax and reading my poems," he said.


      We have gotten a little snow already this season, so I am naturally thinking about building sand castles. The Canadian Snow Sculpture team has been sculpting snow since 1992 but they devote time to Sand Sculptures as well. Their sculptures "create a sense of wonder and surprise."
      Back to snow. 13 teams from around the world transform 10 x 10 x 12-foot tall, 20-ton blocks of snow into works of art in Breckenridge, Colorado, each year. The Canadian Snow Sculpture team won again in 2003.


      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 © 2004 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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