ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 8 * * All Arts News On the Web * * April 8, 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.


      The Kept Writer Bookshop & Cafe presents Nine Women, a photography exhibit by Patricia Braine. The show consists of 18 poster-sized portraits of women Ms. Braine took over a 30-year-span. The Cafe will host an opening reception tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. with performances by Vermont singer-songwriters Rebecca Padula and Meg Willey.
      "I pretty much focus on people," said photographer Patricia Braine.
      She started the project that became the current exhibit in 1970. "I had some parameters that were pretty set that I followed for the next 30 years as I did the project. I didn't do it constantly. When I saw a very photographable woman who was interested and willing, we'd go out and shoot. It was very specific to the Women's Movement, to showing a timelessness and a touch-the-earth feel."
      The images have the feel of bare feet even if the feet aren't really bare.
      "I tried to get the models to have their own concepts."
      Ms. Braine talks about telling a story with pictures. These images express "the feeling that there is something going on there that is deeper than the woman we see. That was very important because at the time" she was unhappy with the direction some of the Women's groups took.
      "There was a book in mind," she said about the nine models she "was photographing at the time. We were at least nine or ten years into the women's movement and all having different feelings about it. We really wanted to have jobs and yet we were persecuted if we left the house. I really wanted to do interviews with these women."
      The book may yet come to fruition, but for now the photography tells the story she saw.
      She has directed journalistic projects involving teenagers and local musicians including an anti-smoking poster campaign with Chittenden East School District, a Vermont Public Television documentary about the Burklyn Ballet Summer Program at Johnson State College, and four grant-supported, television productions of Teen Talk - a television talk show for teens. She is completing a Masters Degree in Art in Education a Saint Michael's College and is the Executive Producer of Umpteen Productions, LLC. Her photographs have appeared in Vermont Life, and hang in galleries from California to Vermont.
      The Umpteen Productions products include her Silver Images photography collections, the Wild Child Address Book, and the Women Helping Women 2004 benefit exhibit. Each raises monies for non-profit groups which integrate the arts into educational programs and benefit at-risk students.
      Vermont singer-songwriter Rebecca Padula writes and performs new folk with an eclectic and engaging down home New England style. Her Moonlighting in VT is a lighthearted spoof on our tourist economy and Less is a popular lament for farmland lost to big box stores.
      Ms. Padula studied classical vocal techniques, jazz, and writing while completing a double degree in music and journalism at St. Michael's College. She has written more than 40 songs and released two independent albums, Time, Speed & Distance and Waterfront. She is producer/director of The Instant Coffeehouse, a monthly public access TV program that showcases solo performers and is editor of The Eagle, the monthly paper of Winooski. She has opened for Sally Taylor, Vance Gilbert, Rachel Bissex, Rod McDonald, Gregory Douglass and Jim's Big Ego. She was a finalist in Solarfest 2000.
      The program will include her new song, The Ballad of A & W which chronicles a domestic disturbance in her own neighborhood. She will also play Suzanne Vega's Luka.
      St. Albans jazz and pop vocalist Meg Willey will light a torch "with nine or ten tracks from her new album, Seemingly Collected, plus some old stuff and some new stuff that isn't on either album and maybe throw in a cover or two."
      Seemingly Collected has several songs that are more story telling, more folk-style lyrically but the music is jazzy. Some of it is experimental, some of it is groovy, and some is Ms. Willey "playing and singing a ballad or a love song, something romantic. It's kind of bittersweet."
      Ben Patton of Bakersfield produced both albums. There are more up tempo songs and a mix of rock guitar and drums and more. "Ben does all the instruments I don't play which is most of them," she said. "I just sing and play the piano and occasionally will put in some weird sort of percussive instrument and he fills in all the holes with bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic, sings backup on a couple of songs."
      She has taken classical voice lessons with Arlene Jarvis in St. Albans for a decade. "I learned to read music at a young age and taught myself to play the piano." She was a member of Champlain Chorus and Champlain Voices and has performed in a variety of musicals and music theater productions.
      Nine Women is a fundraiser for Voices Against Violence/Laura's House in St. Albans and the Women's Rape Crisis Center and Women Helping Battered Women, both in Burlington. Funds will be raised through the sale of $1 raffle tickets to win a limited-edition, signed archival black and white print from the artist as well as other prizes donated by area businesses. Ms. Padula and Ms. Willey will also contribute all donations at the reception to the three non-profit groups.
      The exhibit and fundraiser continues through April 30 at the Kept Writer in St. Albans.


ST. ALBANS--Northwestern Medical Center has 10 paintings by artist Jane Bower on exhibit through the end of this month.
      Ms. Bower likes varied textures in her work. She often adds objects and materials such as wire, sand, wood, and fabric to her acrylic paintings.
      "It is all abstract work," she said of the new work she has done in acrylic. The paintings are "not geometric, but I do use metallic paint for highlights." Most of the work is new since her exhibit at last year's Maple Festival.
      "I like abstract because I have an opportunity to say a lot and people have an opportunity to see whatever they want to see," she said. "Each picture means something to me. It's directly from an experience or a thought, but when other people look at them, they see things I certainly didn't intend. It's completely on their own and I like what they tell me they see."

BURLINGTON--Arts Alive has accepted Jeanette Fournier of St. Albans for the juried Festival of Fine Art. There will be an art show in the Union Station Gallery with the gala opening reception on June 4th from 6 -8 pm at the Union Station.
      A wildlife artist, Ms. Fournier uses watercolor and pen and ink to create detailed works of domestic and wild animals.


      The International Masters of Fine Art invitational 2003 exhibit was a public showcase for 45 artists from eight countries including Nancy Howe of Dorset.


      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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