ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 11 * * All Arts News On the Web * * February 1, 2007


      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.

      Find links to these events and more in our Spotlight!


      A steering committee of volunteers from four major groups (the All Arts Council, the Bishop Street Artists, the St Albans Artists' Guild, and St. Albans for the Future) as well as other interested groups, and other individuals has been planning a local Arts and Cultural Center. We are now researching established arts centers in other areas.

      Chandler Center for the Arts Executive Director Becky McMeeken and I talked about selling art, finding volunteers, member benefits, and what they do for money.
      Randolph summer residents Albert B. Chandler and R. J. Kimball split up the construction of a library and a music hall about 100 years ago. The Chandler Center for the Arts now offers a variety of programs in the performing and visual arts. Their mission also specifies that the music hall be preserved as a cultural center for the community.
      It takes cash money to operate the Chandler Center. The budget has grown substantially since 1990. "It's slightly over $391,000," Ms. McMeeken said.
      "It started in the 1970s and was entirely volunteer," she said. "In 1990, one of the board members funded a half-time" position for an executive director and the Center has grown ever since. They recently hired a part-time outreach manager but the school series is running into challenges and they have decided to drop parts of it. "We charge usually $4 per student to come to a program. Our local elementary school will not ask families for field trip money." People still volunteer to gallery sit, to usher, and serve on the publicity building committee. The New World Festival is operated by another, separate volunteer committee.
      They do not have membership but they do "send an annual appeal and have a good donor base." They rely on donations, business sponsorships, grants, ads in their seasonal programs, and exhibit or performance income.
      "When you look at us compared with the Flynn or Lebanon we pull down a very small percentage" of the money spent on the performing and visual arts exhibits statewide. "There needs to be a way to involve the business community in local events."
      The Chandler Gallery itself is a year-round art gallery, staffed by volunteers. Their upcoming show, Furnishings, features works by ten premiere Vermont woodworkers, from tables to spoons, lamps to chairs, hutches to mirrors, bowls to coat racks, desks to game tables, benches to unique art-pieces. "We schedule exhibits and if the work is for sale, we take a 30% commission," Ms. McMeeken said.
      They offer the Chandler tech apprentice program. "The program is something we're really proud of and a financial boon because we have these well-trained kids. Our tech director is on of those kids who 15 years ago was an 8th grader working behind stage.
      "I feel really gratified that Chandler is such a significant part of the community," she said. "It's done great things."

     In the coming weeks, this column will look for other arts centers and galleries in Vermont, in New England, and in the Florida Keys. It is worth remembering that, while these other areas have different and often larger populations than the Franklin and Grand Isle County region, the art centers we visit have similar missions. Their boards have chosen remarkably similar functions--but different implementations--to meet their users' expectations.


ESSEX JUNCTION--The Lincoln Inn presents Jenni Johnson and Friends tonight and Singer/Songwriter Night with Aaron Flinn on Monday. Both shows at 7-10 p.m. Click here for more info.

JEFFERSONVILLE--Cambridge Arts Council presents Pete Langdell and Kirk Lord at the Jeffersonville Pizza Department on Wednesday at 7-9 p.m. Call 802.644.6632 for more 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--Chow Bella offers jazz and improv with guitarist Jerry Levine on Monday evenings, 6-9 p.m., and virtuoso guitar with Tom Leshinsky on Wednesday evenings, 6-8:30 p.m. Click here for more info.

ST. ALBANS--The Overtime Saloon offers Open Mic with Abby Jenne and Friends every Wednesday at 8 p.m. and Piano Bar with Dawna Messier every Friday at 7:30 p.m.
      Abby encourages performers of all kinds to attend the Wednesday events. If you need instrumental accompaniment, email with the title/artist of song you wish to perform. Armand Messier joins the Piano Bar every third Friday. Click here for more info.


     John Ros of Johnson holds staff position at the Vermont Studio Center. He works as a painter, printer, sculptor, digital and installation artist who makes art by reacting to the political, cultural and individual aspects of everyday life.


      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 © 2007 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).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.