ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 8 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 30, 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.


      From all of us in the All Arts Council of Franklin County, we wish you joy, happiness, and beautiful music throughout the holiday season.


      The All Arts Council serves northwestern Vermont as a presenter, an event producer, and as a technical resource for artists and other organizations.
      The AAC Concerts for Grumpy Grownups Series began early with The "Bachelor Girl's" triumphant return to St. Albans when the AAC presented Vermont singer-songwriter Karen McFeeters in concert to celebrate the release of her second CD, Maybe Day. We followed up with the Nobby Reed Project in a concert and dance for the release of his new CD, Moonlight Drivin'.
      The All Arts Council presented the Vermont Mozart Festival in its first Franklin County appearance. The Ysaye Quartet performed a program of Beethoven, Franck, and Haydn. It was the only evening of free classical music in that series.
      We book all the Main Street entertainment for Vermont Maple Festival with a special focus on the performers of Franklin County. The AAC fine art exhibit shared space with the Specialty Food exhibit to show exceptional oil and watercolor paintings, fine art photographs, digital art, mixed media, prints, and sculpture by Franklin County artists beside some of the great foods of Vermont. Who said artists don't know which side their bread is buttered on?
      The Piatigorsky Foundation, the First Congregational Church, and the All Arts Council presented Igor Begelman, Clarinet, and Tatiana Goncharova, Piano, in concert at the Congregational Church.
      Bay Days 2004 was more than family fun and fireworks. The 25th anniversary of this multi-faceted family day of arts and music offered the Great Race, lakefront games, sports, fair food, fireworks, live music, and an exhibit of major Vermont artists.
      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 2004 we brought performers "from away" to Highgate, St. Albans City, and St. Albans Town (the series showcases bands from outside Franklin County although most groups had a local toehold this year). The schedule included 8084, Atlantic Crossing, Dixie Six, Mark LeGrand and his Lovesick Band, the Meatpackers, the combined Milton Community and Fairfax-Fletcher-Westford Band, the Social Band, Soul Purpose, the Stockwell Brothers, the Upstate New Yorkers, and, by popular demand, the Nobby Reed Project.
      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 the 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.
      Adelphia Channel 15 and the All Arts Council teamed up to produce Almost Live, a series of live concerts that aired weekly on Channel 15 through the Summer and Fall and will continue with live performances around the County. The series offered the Vermont Maple Festival and Summer Sounds concerts, the Music of Bay Day, and more. Videographer Mike Montanye produced a "front row seat" show of every event.


      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls hired Judy Geer as Executive Director and administrator.
      . They offered a busy, eclectic schedule in 2004.
      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 2004 Opera House Mentors Series had six major events.
      Surf the Wind on a Kite of Creativity, the annual Franklin Northeast Supervisory District tidal wave of Student art, anchored the Spring shows of the Emerging Talents Series. Other shows included a night of "amazing music and unbelievable skits" raised funds for the Bill MacLeay Foundation and Scholarship Fund, and the Twelfth Annual Talent Search which spread over two evenings to keep up with demand.
      The Mentors series featured Mac McHale and The Old Time Radio Gang, the Some Kind of Wonderful New England Tour gospel concert, the Vermont Brass Quintet in a program of Mozart, Ewald, Calvert, Rimski-Korsakov, Dahl, Holst; and Lavallee, and Sarah Sheperd and Eduard Oprea celebrated song from Opera to Broadway with oboist Kathleen Evans Oprea in Echoes from the Opera House.
      Lest we forget, tenor Luciano Pavarotti appeared in his new role as illustrator held his world debut in the Gallery at the Opera House on April 1.


      Public art adds to Vermont communities by enhancing the landscape we see every day. Artists Stephen Dignazio, Evan Haynes, and Ron Smith completed the Franklin County portion of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail project with a celebration of the heritage of our river towns and the Missisquoi River.
      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 six Franklin County artists at the Highgate Springs Welcome Center AAC Exhibit.
      All the BFA Choruses--the mixed Chorus, the Men's Chorus, the Women's Chorus, and the Chamber Singers--presented a Spring Benefit Concert for the Franklin-Grand Isle Emergency Food Shelf with music from the 1600s to recent pop.
      The Blue-Eyed Dog Framing and Gallery moved onto Main Street. Owner Jack Welch offers custom framing and has half his floor area devoted to gallery space. The gallery exhibits and sells fine art, photography and possibly sculpture in a varying exhibit with new artists rotating in regularly.
      The A.A. Brown Public Library in Richford held a buffet fundraiser with over 20 works of art.
      Cardiac Capers 2004, Hooray for Hollywood, a Tribute to the Silver Screen, played the BFA-St. Albans stage with an entirely local production. The production raises funds for the Northwest Medical Center. It was a success.
      Chow Bella kicked off January with the Nobby Reed Project in the exceptional Encore Bella space for music and art. Owner Connie Warden presented live jazz and great art every Wednesday night.
      The 2004 Christmas Concert season began with the Citizens Concert Band and the Community Singers at the Congregational Church, and continued with Counterpoint's Christmas is Coming! at St. Luke's, and an afternoon of Holiday Music and Song featuring the Enosburg Town Band and the Community Chorus.
      Community choruses and Town bands played widely. St. Albans dedicated the Taylor Park Band Shell as the Edric Loomis Memorial Band Shell at a Citizens Band concert.
      The First Congregational Church hosted monthly Community Dances with New England contras, squares, and Circles. Mark Sustic called most of the dances, with Frank Heyburn, fiddle, Erica Hurwitz, fiddle, and Eric Andrus, piano, of St. Albans providing most of the music.
      The Montgomery Historical Society held the 16th Annual Concerts By The Common summer concert Series. 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 Events for Tom series began the year with Randal Bays and Daithi Sproule at FlynnSpace in Burlington and continued with programming that is simply unavailable anywhere else.
      Expo 2004 filled the racquetball courts at the Collins-Perley Sports Complex with the art of Fred Swan, Daniel Pattullo, and photographer Gustav W. Verderber.
      In busy Fairfax, the Fairfax Community Theater Company presented two One-Act Children's Plays by David Mamet as well as The Scarlet Pimpernel. The Fairfax Festival of Talent had workshops and demonstrations of dancing, henna art, journalism and storytelling, juggling, fiber arts, wallpapering, painting, and photography by artists from the Fairfax community. The Fairfax Library presented the Nicaragua Folkloric Ensemble.
      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 Cemetery, comic strip postcards, flowing form sculptures, and more. The Annual Franklin Northeast Supervisory District Exhibit filled the Opera House to overflowing.
      Franklin County Field Days had well-known free entertainment during the first weekend of August. The music lineup featured Keeghan Nolan, plus Joey the Clown, Esther Combs and the Blue Bandana Band, Yankee Wild, Rick and the Ramblers, and the killer Blues of Nobby Reed Project.
      St. Albans City Hall hosted the Sixth Annual Franklin County Quilt Show.
      Artist Gail Salzman lead a series of Healing with Visual Art workshops for women who had faced breast cancer.
      Hundreds picnicked in Fairfield on the last July weekend at the Twelfth 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 programs at the Fairfield Community Center.
      The Kept Writer presented Nine Women, a photography show by Patricia Braine with poster-sized portraits of women and performances by Vermont singer-songwriters Rebecca Padula and Meg Willey.
      The 2004 Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival offered up Ricky Skaggs, the ambassador of bluegrass music, eight great bluegrass bands, a major fiddler's contest, craft fair, tractor show, bonfire, barbeque, and jamming, all on a family farm in Alburg.
      Music Sessions continued at the Foothills Bakery most Saturday afternoons and began at the Bayside with Gerry Faulkenberg on Tuesdays and at the Overtime Saloon on Wednesdays in the Open Mic with Abby Jenne and Friends program.
      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. And Colleen Steen presented the art of Corliss Blakely, Janet Bonneau, Joanne Delaney, Joshua Derner, and Valerie Ugro in Colleen's Garden.
      St. Albans Recreation sponsored a series of arts workshops including the Painting Joyfully with Watercolor workshop.
      St. Luke's Episcopal Church and the All Arts Council hosted the third annual St. Luke's Art Gala featuring Mount Mansfield at an Angle, by Louise Bellows Cuonos. Some exhibitors were well known, respected artists in Franklin County; this event marked the first public show for others.
      Grace Church in Sheldon continued the Music at Grace series with the annual Farewell Reunion Concert, plus Michele Choiniere and Deb Flanders, Full Circle Recorder Consort, Gypsy Jazz with the Will Patton Quartet, Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson, the Saline Fiddlers, Village Harmony, and Eva Hagberg in a program of Bach, Pachelbel, Walther, Frescobaldi, Telemann, Franck, and Agrell.
      Swanton has held its annual four-day Summer Festival on the last July weekend for 46 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).
      The annual Montgomery Variety Show was held in the Montgomery Grange. The Big Thaw was the 2004 edition of the annual Richford Variety Show.
      The 48th annual Vermont Dairy Festival included the Dairy Festival Scholarship Pageant and the Colgate Country Showdown, a Mooooving Parade with marching bands and mobile mooving murals, plus fiddlers, country rock bands, traditional brass band music, the PoppyTown Puppets and the Vegas-style Magic of Rock and Roll.
      The Vermont Maple Festival filled the daylight hours of the last weekend in April with continuous music on the AAC Main Street stage. The Festival also danced as area dance studios took over Main Street all three days, St. Albans for the Future presented the first ever street dance and block party, and a big band sound held a Saturday afternoon swing party.
      On Maple Saturday and Sunday, the AAC fine art exhibit in St. Albans City Hall featured paintings, photographs, digital art, mixed media, prints, and sculpture by Franklin County artists.
      Fifty (50) genuine Vermont sap buckets were being painted, decorated, and transformed into three-dimensional works of art in a program organized by St. Albans Town Educational Center art students, the Vermont Maple Festival, and the All Arts Council.
      More that 50,000 people attended the three day event.


      I have spent a lot of "minutes" on the air this year with Chris O'Neill and the rest of the Champlain Radio Group gang. We have an art minute just before Franz Roddy wrestles me out the door every Wednesday morning on 102.3 FM, WLFE.


      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 the creative economy, marketing ideas and some successful sales tools, and found more than 40 interesting or unusual calls for artists. They can all be found in the archives.


      Ring in the New Year with First Night in Burlington, First Night Montpelier, First Night Rutland, and with the Nobby Reed Project at Middle Earth in Bradford.
      The St. Albans Recreation Department sponsors presentations for the senior meal site at the BFA Culinary Arts program. On Wednesday, artist Doug Underwood "will share with other people that ten years ago he wasn't thinking about painting and he is getting better the older he gets," organizer Mark Montalban said. "It's inspiring." It is the first program of the New Year.
      Mr. Underwood was one of the first people who started painting with that program at the Senior Center and is a former Elder Art Program board member. He is a member of the Thursday morning artists group at St Lukes Episcopal Church and has participated in a number of area shows.


      First Night Burlington offers over 200 performances, a grand parade, and fireworks on New Years Eve, all for the price of a button. The schedule and plenty of info is on line and the weather forecast may have the thermometer climb to 40.


      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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