ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 11 * * All Arts News On the Web * * April 12, 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!


      There is a Winter Storm Warning in effect that calls for snow mixing with or changing to rain and sleet through Thursday evening. Ugly driving. The second Arts and Cultural Center for Franklin County public forum planned for today has been put off for one week. The free gathering will be held in the Northwestern Medical Center next Thursday, April 19, to plan a summer program, examine survey results, and rethink the mission statement.


HIGHGATE and SWANTON--Missisquoi Valley Union High School presents Disney’s Beauty and the Beast opening tonight and running through Saturday in the MVU Theater. The annual MVU Musical is one of the great Franklin County events of the Spring.
      Beauty and the Beast transports us to a French provincial town where the beautiful Belle lives with her inventor father, Maurice, who disappears on a trip to the local fair. He is, of course, held captive by the Beast. Belle trades her freedom for his and the "tale as old as time" begins.
      Can Belle tame the Beast and transform him into a handsome prince? This family theater will give us all the answers. The stage version of Broadway’s traditional fairy tale is based on the Academy Award winning animated film. It includes all of the songs from the film, written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, as well as new songs written especially for the Broadway version by Mr. Menken and Tim Rice. Messrs. Menken and Ashman also wrote the music for Little Shop of Horrors and Mr. Rice for Aladdin and Aida.
      Performances are tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday at 8 p.m. There is a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students (18 and under), and $5 for children under 6 and senior citizens. Tickets are available at the door.

BURLINGTON--The Lane Series presents the Roche Sisters Reunion Tour tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the Ira Allen Chapel at the University of Vermont. Siblings and contemporary court jesters Maggie, Suzie, and Terre Roche are known for their swirling harmonies and smart and fun live performances. Their album Zero Church, a musical celebration of faith and diversity, was featured on All Things Considered. They have appeared on The Tonight Show, Letterman, A Prairie Home Companion, with Paul Simon and the Indigo Girls, and have recorded and written music for movies and TV including the score for Crossing Delancey.
      The concert benefits the Tom Sustic Fund.
      Admission is $25. Tickets are available through 86-FLYNN or FlynnTix. Call 802.656.4455 or click here for more info.

WATERVILLE--Cambridge Arts Council hosts a Contra Dance with caller Mark Sustic and musicians Frank Heyburn, Michele Lajoie and members of Fiddleheads Saturday evening, 7-9 p.m. at the Waterville Town Hall. Call 802.849.6968 or email for more info.


     "Much art today has abandoned the ambition to please the viewer aesthetically. Instead, it seeks to shock, discommode, repulse, proselytize, or startle," wrote Roger Kimball in "Art Without Beauty" in The Public Interest in 1997.
      Nearly ten years has passed since Mr. Kimball's observation so I think it is time to revisit and discuss it, especially as the community ponders the coming Arts and Cultural Center and the potential expansions and improvements at BFA-St. Albans and at other facilities around the county.
      "Art has no business proselytizing," a Western writer said. "It should make you think or dream, ponder. Discommoding, shocking, and startling do that."
      Should it? Shouldn't it?
      Here's my take. I want to be startled. I want to see something new when I look for the one hundred second day this year at a painting by Corliss Blakely or hear something unexpected when I listen for the ninety-fifth time to a CD by John Cassel. I want to feel the footsteps anew when Beauty and the Beast takes to the Missisquoi stage next week.
      Now it's your turn.
      Should today's artists try to please the viewer or the listener?
      Has today's art abandoned that goal?
      What do we want the Art Center to promote?
      Send your answers to me by email or bring them to the second Arts and Cultural Center forum tonight.
      In the coming weeks, this column will publish some answers to this question as we continue a look at other arts centers and galleries. 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.


     On Saturday and Sunday, May 5-6, the Saint Albans Artists' Guild will hold Franklin County's Art Exhibit of the season (that is the weekend following Maple Festival). The event will be held in the Bliss Auditorium of the Saint Albans Historical Museum. The free event is a chance to see a fantastic collection of fine art and to meet the artists.


     The High Road is a trio of five members that brings funk to Irish folk airs. It's an interesting musical journey for a group of dedicated, professional musicians. The site introduces the musicians as well as High Road’s Debut Album.
      I visited the site for two reasons. A close look at the group photo identifies one prominent St. Albans gentleman and another who plays here frequently. The other reason is to pick on the advertising. is hosted for "free" by one of the major hosting companies and, since no lunch is truly free, that major hosting company inserts advertising on each page. Some of the ads are topical but some have no relationship to the band at all.
      What's your take? Did you notice the ads? Do you mind them?


      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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