ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 11 * * All Arts News On the Web * * February 22, 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!


      The Opera House in Enosburg Falls presents the Will Patton Ensemble with special guest Anna Patton on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
      The Will Patton Ensemble performs the gypsy jazz popularized by Django Reinhardt of the 1930s Paris bistros. The quintet has a strong string jazz sound with Will Patton, mandolin, David Gusakov, violin, Steve Blair, guitar, Clyde Stats, bass, and Steve Wienert, drums. The concert will feature Anna Patton on clarinet. The group performs fiery Brazilian sambas and folk waltzes, gentle choros, hot Gypsy jazz, and original compositions for a musical journey from a Parisian bistro to a plaza in the heart of Rio.
      The Ensemble set the standard for mandolin-based acoustic world music with the release of String Theory. Their two earlier CDs, Peripherique and Latitudes and Departures were each selected as top 10 releases of the year.
      Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $5 for children under 12. Tickets are available at the door. Call 933-6171 or Email for more info.


     The All Arts Council and Art's Alive will host a month-long Franklin County Art Exhibit beginning March 2 at Union Station in Burlington. The show is the first time this large group of local artists will exhibit together in Chittenden County. It will include the Burlington Art Walk on March 2 and a reception later in the month.


     The 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 formed a Board of Directors for the local Arts and Cultural Center. The Board will host an evening social on March 15 to present our findings and our mission to the community and to survey residents about community arts and cultural wants.
      We are now researching established arts centers in other areas.

     Last week, we saw that the Vermont Studio Center is not an art center in the traditional sense. The Studio Center trains artists, has gallery exhibits, and runs school programs and we have looked at the artists' residency programs. This week we will examine the gallery and school programs.
      VSC was founded in 1984 and is now the country's largest artists' community. It serves 600 national and international artists and writers in the open environment of a 30-building campus.
      "We are committed to the community," Executive Director George Pearlman said. All VSC lectures and events are open to the public.
      VSC operates and fully funds an elementary school art program with twice-weekly classes in art and art history. It serves 300 students annually. A paid staff person runs the program; volunteers teach. The kids come, see the space, and see artists working in the studios. It surprises many that "adults do this kind of activity [for a living]. It's good they get that kind of exposure.
      "We try to bring in the Internationals for cultural diversity. They teach classes along with our core art teacher," Mr. Pearlman said. He taught the elementary school program for a number of years. "What I found was kids I had taught in elementary school were coming back as juniors in high school wanting to apply to art school. I'd look at their portfolio [and see] that we really dropped the ball. That's when we decided to do the Art House."
      The Art House is a community arts program for teenagers and adults. Since 1998, it has offered classes in painting, sculpture, art history, clay, ceramics, photography, poetry, and writing. It has five enlargers and a big darkroom, digital photography, print making, painting, and ceramics classes, writing and writing workshops and space for River Arts.
      A Lecture Hall houses their lectures, readings and artist talks, all of which are open to the public. The VSC received a grant from VAC to replace the stage. "When the stage is back in, we'll open it up to the community for anyone who wants to perform. I get half a dozen calls a year now" They hope the new stage will have the building "used more often." They will compete with Dibden then, but the Johnson State facility is more expensive for a community renter.
      Much of the work at the Vermont Studio Center is done by staff Residents. "It's a one year commitment on their part and give them room, board, studio, and a stipend" for work in the kitchen, office, studios and grounds, plus access to the programs and interaction with the Visiting Artists and Writers, Mr. Pearlman said. "It's a good way to keep expenses down." It's also a great opportunity for the staff and "it keeps our staff as artists."
      They fund raise, have a small endowment, and seek out individual donors and corporate donors. "We really work at trying to find folks who want to support artists."

     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.


     Swanton native and St. Albans Messenger's (mostly) humor columnist Leon Thompson will read at the Depot Street Studios in Canaan, N.H., from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday. Two other New England humorists will join Mr. Thompson for Three Funny Folks From New England. The event benefits the Cardigan Mountain Art Association. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors.
      Leon's latest book, dork - another look at my junk, was released in January and is the companion piece to his first book, Good Junk. Both works are collections of his newspaper columns and are available locally at Better Planet and The Flying Disc.


VERMONT THEATER CALL (Call now!)--The Vermont Association of Theaters and Theater Artists (VATTA) will hold auditions and interviews for all performers, designers, directors, technicians, and theater management peeps on Saturday, March 3 in Burlington. Hopeful theater artists can "strut their stuff" for a Producers' Circle of 18-25 theater companies, ad agents, indie producers, and reps from area film/commercial/video.
      The 19th Annual Professional Statewide Audition and Interview Day will takes place at the new Waterfront Theater at the Lake and College Development. Summer and year-round positions are available in the state's theaters. Production positions are paid. 8-10 producers use some form of Equity contract.
      Acting auditions are held by appointment from 9:30 a.m to 3 p.m. and are open to actors of all ages. Equity and non-Equity. College, high school, or younger students may audition for younger roles or apprenticeships. Performers will be assigned a 3-minute time slot in which to present two contrasting monologues plus an optional song. There is a $20 processing fee for Vermont residents and Vermont students; $30 for out-of-state talent.
      Interviews for designers, technical & management staff are also available with advance registration. There is a $15 processing fee for Vermont residents and Vermont students; $20 for out-of-state talent.
      Call VATTA Coordinator Veronica Lopez (802.862.2287) or email to receive full application info.


     Vermont born entertainer, songwriter, and music producer Colin James McCaffrey performs nationally as a singer/songwriter and freelance musician. His recent CD, What We’ve Got, was recorded in Nashville with Grammy-winning producer Bil VornDick. He teaches music at Goddard College and is a BMI-affiliated songwriter/composer. His site includes his schedule, the record store, songwriting credits, plus personal and contact info.


      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).
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