ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 9 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 8, 2005


      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 or at the Overtime Saloon in St Albans 8-10 p.m. most Wednesday evenings, 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 Opera House at Enosburg Falls presents an afternoon of Holiday Music and Song featuring the Enosburg Town Band and the Community Chorus on Sunday. This annual family event celebrates traditional music in Franklin County's historic theater. The program is part of the Community Treasures Series. The concert will include traditional and contemporary seasonal music.
      The Community Chorus has about 35 members directed by Jay Sheperd. The Town Band will play Christmas medleys, traditional music, and a variety of secular and sacred music on the baton of Alisa Martin. They will close with Sleigh Ride by LeRoy Anderson, an Enosburg Town Band tradition. This Town Band is the oldest in Vermont. The volunteer musicians range in age from 11 to over 70. They have never missed a season. Both the Town Band and the Community Chorus recruit new members any time.
      Admission is free but donations are gladly, indeed gleefully accepted. The Holiday Concert will begin at the Opera House on Sunday at tba.


     I have just returned from the Keys where I learned something new: Gyotaku is the Japanese art of fish rubbing (in Japanese "gyo" means fish and "taku" means rubbing or impression).
      Japanese fishermen developed Gyotaku in the early 19th Century when they took newsprint, ink, and brushes to sea to record the exact size and species of the fish they caught. The fisherman would coat the fish with ink, cover it with rice paper or cloth, and rub. On newspapers printed with water-soluble ink, the moisture from the fish can bleed the inks to print the shape and features on the newspaper. It is a good way to tenderize the fish and transfer the image because the paper picks up an exact replica of the fish down to the eyes, scales, fins, and gills. Unlike sport fishing this was their livelihood; they could still deliver the fish to be sold or eaten.
      Some fish in Japan are revered. When those were caught, the fishermen would take rubbings and then release them.
      As an interesting aside, the process works well with rocks, very small cars, and fingerprints.
      Artists Kim and Ian Workman live on Cudjoe Key, Florida, where they settled in the mid 1990s for the water and marine life. Their art combines the precision craftsmanship of Gyotaku with the color and creativity of painting. It creates a window into the undersea world.
      Ian Workman was born in Lawford, England. "I worked as a marine biologist for 30 years," he said. "Most of my need for art was in science. I took a single scientific illustration course" in college. He learned the Gyotaku technique to document the species he studied.
      Kim Workman was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, the daughter of a marine conservationist. She explored the Gulf of Mexico barrier islands as a child and developed the eye for art. She has created commissioned pieces for businesses, individuals and charities in oil and acrylic paints. Mr. Workman introduced her to watercolor.
      "She brought the color into my life," he said.
      The Workmans take Gyotaku a step beyond reproduction. "We make it aesthetically appealing," Ms. Workman said.
      Mr. Workman uses black ink or acrylic paint and rubs the fish onto handmade paper or canvas. Ms. Workman uses watercolor to move from documenting to creating art from the fish rubbings. They choose the composition and colors together and use a conservation technique to avoid wasting the fish itself.
      "We print a lot for fishermen" who want a trophy, Ms. Workman said. "Then they can clean, filet, and eat the fish."
      The artists sometimes combine seashell and foliage with their fish rubbings. Mr. Workman's photographs are also on display in the Smithsonian Institution. His movie and video footage has appeared on Good Morning America and National Geographic Explorer.
      Some of their rubbings have come from the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Red Seas and hangs in homes and businesses in North America and Europe. Recent commissioned pieces hang in the Grand Casino and in Gulfport Memorial Hospital in Mississippi.


JEFFERSONVILLE--West Farm School and the Cambridge Arts Council will host a Winter Faire on Sunday, December 11, beginning at 10 a.m. There will be puppet shows (11 a.m. and 1 p.m.) plus live music, kids craft making, art supplies, books, handmade crafts, and other goodies, all at the Well, the Family Wellness Center and Studio on the Mountain Road. Call 802.644.2285 for info.

FAIRFAX--The regular Music Session continues Saturday with acoustic instrumentalists playing traditional songs at the Foothills Bakery, 1-4:30 p.m. Admission is free by donation.

WATERVILLE--Cambridge Arts Council presents community dances on Saturdays at 7 p.m. in the Waterville Town Hall. The evening will feature contras, squares, circles, play parties and singing games and all dances will be taught. Bring a partner, the entire family, or come alone. Caller Mark Sustic offers dance instruction. Frank Heyburn and Michele Lajoie play. Guest musicians with acoustic instruments are welcome. Admission is $5 per person and $10 for families at the door.

ST. ALBANS--The Overtime Saloon offers Open Mic with Abby Jenne and Friends every Wednesday at 8 p.m. Abby encourages performers of all kinds to attend. If you need instrumental accompaniment, e-mail with the title/artist of song you wish to perform. Click here for more info.


     Mark Sustic reminded me last week that, "The only thing we have to 'sell' is donations to the Tom Sustic Fund." He wasn't sure if that was "appropriate," but giving to others is especially appropriate at this time of year.
      I hope all readers can find one organization outside the home and make even a small gift of time or money this year.
      Proceeds from all events in the Events for Tom Series benefit the Tom Sustic Fund. The Fund is used to directly support the needs of families with children involved in cancer treatments, transplantation or hospice care. The Tom Fund has helped with:
     The Tom Fund does not appear to be arts related but it is. The majority of its public identity and its fundraising happens because musicians and other artists contribute their time and talents to concerts and other events.
      Contributions to the fund can be sent to: Tom Sustic Fund, PO Box 163, Fairfax, VT 05454. For more general information about the concert series and the Tom Sustic Fund, Call Mark Sustic (802.849.6968), e-mail or visit here and click on the Tom Fund link.


     The Kennedy Center offers a hands-on lesson in Gyotaku targeted to the national standards for Arts Education for Grades 5-8.


      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 © 2005 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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