ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 8 * * All Arts News On the Web * * May 20, 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.


      I'm in Wisconsin today. Through exceptionally strong investigative skills, I discovered that Milwaukee is celebrating their master showman with the 54th Al Jolson Festival beginning tomorrow evening and continuing through May 23. Arts and performance festivals happen frequently enough around the country that it is worthwhile to check with travel bureaus, hotel desks and online to include them in touring plans.


FLETCHER--Paul Asbell will play steel string acoustic guitar at the Fletcher Union Meeting House on on Saturday at 8 p.m. The long-time Vermont guitarist will play and sing the blues, jazz standards, old-time country-based themes and original pieces from the American roots tradition.
      A Burlington resident for over 30 years, Paul has played in the Summer Sounds series and is well known for his association with jazz band Kilimanjaro, saxophonist Big Joe Burrell, and the Unknown Blues Band. He has played and recorded with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Paul Butterfield.
      Tickets are $12.00 at the door. His CD Steel String Americana will be on sale and snacks and refreshments will be available.


      In the arts, it is not enough to have merely a keen eye, a special talent, or even the skill that comes frm long practice. This segment about photographer Donna Owens of Essex demonstrates that a unique selling proposition is as important to an artist as it is to an automobile manufacturer.
      "I was given my first camera when I was seven," Ms. Owens said. "I remember wanting to photograph a chicken laying an egg." She learned patience very young.
      Ms. Owens photographs the wild and domesticated animals of Vermont. Her portfolio includes elk, hawks, moose, owls, and snapping turtles laying eggs and hatching. She also shows round barns, the insides of covered bridges, and plenty of Vermont farms.
      Her father, grandmother and great-great-grandmother spirit walked with forest animals, she said. She has honed that gift since childhood and translates it with her photography.
      Her next project is to publish a book about a family of deer she has watched for years through her dining room window. One photo shows matriarch "Deliah" with her head in the window waiting for a piece of fresh apple pie. Deliah's granddaughter "Doe Eyes" posed with her pink tongue on the window and her nose smashed against the glass.
      "I live for my photography even though it is not my livelihood," she said. At least not yet. One part of building a business in the arts is building a market. She has won blue ribbons at fairs, participates in the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival, and uses any available venue to further her work.
      In this case, she emailed a short piece with the headline "Vermont's Animal Whisperer Talks to the Animals to Get Her Best Shots." That hook was unusual enough to get my attention. That hook might very well sell another photograph.
      Ms. Owens work is on exhibit and available for sale at Shelburne Farms, at the Cortina in Mendon, Smuggler's Notch Inn, Alex's Restaurant in Burlington and at The Jay General Store.


      Catalyst Theater Company of Burlington presents the musical How to Eat like a Child (and Other Lessons in Not Being a Grown Up) by Delia Ephron, John Forster, and Judith Kahan with music and lyrics by John Forster. The musical romp features ten child actors (ages 8-12) who offer lessons on begging for a dog, how to act after being sent to your room, and how to laugh hysterically.
      The production ensemble includes actor Alexandra "Alex" Seiler, of Fairfax, Meg Willey, Musical Director/Accompanist and Casey Covey, Lighting Design, of St. Albans. Rhonda Freed is director and Erin Rainwater, choreographer.
      How to Eat Like a Child will be presented at Essex Memorial Hall May 15, 16, and 22 at 3 p.m. and May 15, 21, and 22 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $9 for ages 15 and up or $6.50 for seniors and those under 15. Call Veronica Lopez (802-862-2287) or e-mail for info. Catalyst Theater uses cast and production people from all over Vermont including Franklin County.


      Next Thursday is a busy day around Vermont. Start making plans now.

SHELDON--Grace Church in Sheldon will present the Second Annual Farewell Reunion concert next Thursday, May 27. With traditional and original music, singing and dancing from Vermont, Appalachia, Scotland, Ireland and beyond, the event is the opening concert in the 2004 Summer Music at Grace series. Call Mark Sustic (849-6968) e-mail or click here for more info.

ST. ALBANS--All the BFA Choruses, the mixed Chorus, the Men's Chorus, the Women's Chorus, and the Chamber Singers, present a benefit concert for the Franklin-Grand Isle Emergency Food Shelf next Thursday, May 27, at Holy Angels Church. The music will range from the 1600s to recent pop music to spirituals. There is no admission but the Choruses ask that people bring a non-perishable food item.


HAND CRAFTS (May 30)--The Vermont Hand Crafters seeks applicants for the Summer 2004 jury session in June. The oldest and largest juried craft organization in the state accepts only highest quality products from craftspeople and fine artists living in Vermont. Call Cynthia Humiston Weed, (800-373-5429), e-mail or click here for info.

NEW ENGLAND REALISM, THE RURAL VISION (May 31)-- is a regional show at Gallery Wright in Wilmington VT. Click here for info.

WOODS HOLE FILM FESTIVAL (May 31)--This showcase for independent film has a special emphasis on regional film makers and cinematography in feature, documentary, short, animation, experimental, and script. Entry fee. E-mail or click here for info.

2004 NATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION (May 31)--The Camera Club of New York juried competition offers a one-person exhibition in the Alfred Lowenherz Gallery and a cash award of $250. Entry Fee. Click here for an entry form and info.

DIGITAL2004 (June 1)-- The juried Art & Science Collaborations 6th International Digital Print Competition & Exhibition will be held in the Technology Gallery of The New York Hall of Science. Entry Fee. Click here for info.

CALL FOR HIGH SCHOOL HISTORY ESSAYS (June 1)--The Concord Review seeks historical essays 4000-6000 words, including endnotes, for quarterly publication. Entry fee. Call 800-331-5007, e-mail, or click here for info.


      A site dedicated to The World's Greatest Entertainer has text, photos, music and more, all about master showman Al Jolson. The pages include excerpts from some of his most popular or memorable songs.
      "You ain't heard nothin' yet!"


      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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