ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 8 * * All Arts News On the Web * * April 29, 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.


      Art on our (public) walls and music in the halls does more than gladden the heart. This week, it will bring relief to women in crisis all around the county and support to readers in the northeastern corner.


      The Kept Writer Bookshop and Cafe presentation of Nine Women, a photography show and benefit by Patricia Braine, closes this week. The Cafe will host a closing reception tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. with performances by Erin McDermott, Tinker Taylor, Jim Branca, Patrick Fitzsimmons, Jim Daniels, Jim McGinniss and Tyler Bolles.
      As the drummer of the folk/rock band From Good Homes, Patrick Fitzsimmons shared the stage with Bob Dylan, The Dave Mathews Band, Joan Osborne and Bob Weir. RCA Records released three From Good Homes recordings. He moved to Burlington to begin a solo career in 1999. He performed at the Ben and Jerry's One World One Heart Festival last season, toured nationally in The Samples 2002, and has opened for Ellis Paul, Vance Gilbert, Great Big Sea, Roger McGuinn and The Saw Doctors. His song Vermont Skies is part of the Cream of Vermont, the Vermont Arts Council showcase of the best popular musical artists.
      Vermont singer-songwriter Tinker Taylor of Steam Genie (and formerly of Augusta Furnace) often teams with Lucky 57 lead vocalist Kip McCloud to write and perform alterna/country originals.
      Jim McGinniss on fiddle, Jim Daniels on banjo and guitar, and Tyler Bolles on upright bass often appear as an acoustic trio to play music influenced strongly by the old time songs of Appalachia. The group also performs original compositions soaked in the Appalachian traditions. Their repertoire ranges from Celtic and African-American fiddle tunes, to Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry, and David Rawlings.
      Nine Women includes 18 poster-sized portraits of women Patricia Braine took over a 30-year-span. None of the models in this exhibit are professional; all understood her concept and could reach inside themselves to portray a piece of the story. "I was able to make the setting such that they could improvise and they could come up and felt comfortable enough to come up with a story that was totally their own." The models used dresses from the turn of the century in modern ways. It creates a feeling of timelessness that covers an entire century.
      The word 'story' is very important to her. "I watch a lot of film and what I notice is there is a lot of film influence. There's always a story there. It's a different story for whoever sees it but there is always the woman's story and what's so cool is that I don't have to interpret it. My job was to capture it and to provide enough inspiration and direction that the woman could do it comfortably."
      And then portray that in a single image.
      "These women really understood what I wanted. It was always fun and always illuminating," Ms. Braine said. "A beautiful sunset is great but I'm not going for that. I'm going for the story. I didn't really understand that until I started going through to put an exhibit together."
      Her Umpteen Productions business advocates integrating the arts in education through documentary work and projects. "Our kids do better in school if the arts are integrated into the classroom. We're really missing out if we forget that." She creates documentaries about successes integrating the arts, one school at a time. She is currently working on a documentary about a hip hop after school program in the inner city of L.A. as well as a project with Jonathan Silverman and St Michael's College [with a grant from the Vermont Arts Council] to integrate the arts into Robinson Elementary School in Starksboro. "I have another project that I've been trying to put together for a couple of years with Dibden Center for the Arts [at Johnson State College] focused on music education and local musicians and the concept that we need to honor our local artists and local musicians and we need to introduce them to our kids in the schools and we need to help them to see how music is a part of life."
      Umpteen is a little bit of a play on words. She didn't want it to say Up Teen. "Teen is sort of hidden. And it suits my personality because I've always got umpteen things going on."
      The exhibit 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. The fundraiser includes raffle tickets for a limited-edition, signed archival black and white Patricia Braine print plus prizes donated by area businesses.


      The A.A. Brown Public Library in Richford faces a tremendous budget shortfall this year but they have a plan to raise the funds.
      "The Town cut the library budget by $5,000 and expects us to raise another $5,000 on our own," Huguette Lambert said. "That was a huge chunk" (over 21%) of a total budget that, with inflation, will hit $46,600 this year.
      Ms. Lambert works at the library and has organized a buffet fundraiser followed by an auction and a teacup auction at the Crossing on Saturday evening. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. but Happy Hour will start at 5 "to choose what you want to bid on."
      She has a "big impressive list for the auction with over 72 items so far," she said. Over 20 works of art have been donated by area residents plus savings bonds, an acoustic guitar, maple products, gift certificates for products or services at more than 15 area restaurants and businesses, a one-year subscription to this newspaper, passes to Echo Center, Jay Peak, Shelburne Museum and the Fairbanks Museum, and much more.
      Objets d'art include painted slates by Diane Doe, a cartoon painting by Christa Chevalier, a painting on wood by Fleurette Godin, a watercolor by Norma King, an outdoor painting on wood by Huguette Lambert, a watercolor by Kay Maynard, a digital print of an oil painting of a dairy barn by Pat Murphy, weavings by Susan Smolinsky, a watercolor by Blanche Thayer, a painting by Sandra Vaillancourt, and two "interesting" framed prints.
      Tickets are $25 per person for a buffet that will include roast beef, turkey, ham, potato, salad, rolls, dessert and coffee. "Because we need a count for the buffet, advance reservations are necessary," Ms. Lambert said. Call the library (848-3313) this afternoon or up to 5 p.m. on Friday.


      The Governor's Advisory Commission on Native American Affairs, and the Indian Education Programs of Franklin County present three performances of a celebration of Abenaki Arts on Wednesday, May 5, in the MVU Theater.
      The live performance includes the W'Abenaki Dance Troupe, Joe and Marge Bruchac, Fred Wiseman, and Brent Reader. Mr. Reader will begin the event with a welcoming prayer in Conversational Abenaki plus traditional Abenaki flute music. MVU students will join Dr. Wiseman in a fashion show and multi-media presentation of Abenaki dress through the centuries. There will also be two school-day performances Wednesday; over 2,000 students will attend.
      The 19-member W'Abenaki Dance Troupe performs traditional Abenaki social dances filled with meaning and symbolism. The troupe has performed at the Champlain Valley Festival, the University of Vermont, the Barre Opera House, Flynn Theatre, and schools and pow-wows across Vermont and New Hampshire. They formed in 1992 and studied with a master teacher from the Odanak Reservation in Quebec.
      Well known to Franklin County audiences, Joe Bruchac is a nationally renowned author, storyteller, and editor. He is the co-founder of Greenfield Review Press and one of the founders of Native Circle of the Americas. Marge Bruchac is a scholar, singer, storyteller, historical interpreter, and artist. She is a consultant for Old Sturbridge Village, an advisor to the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School, a member of The Dawnland Singers, and originator of a historical presentation called Hiding in Plain Sight. They perform in theaters, schools, museums, and pow wows.
      This is the first time in many years that an array of Native talent in the performing arts has visited Franklin County. This free event is sponsored in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment of the Arts.
      The evening performance is open to the public at 7 p.m. Admission is free.


      The Comics Journal covers comics from an "arts-first perspective." It offers a mix of industry news, interviews, and reviews of current work. It has subscribers worldwide. The online version has some current issue features, archives, and online-only features such as Gary Groth's interview with Captain Marvel illustrator C.C. Beck in downloadable .MP3 format.


      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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