ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 12 * * All Arts News On the Web * * February 28, 2008


      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 various restaurants around Franklin County throughout the week, 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!

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      A vibrant arts community improves our quality of life, helps kids learn, and brings in tourism dollars. Tourist spending that stays in Franklin County exceeds the local arts investment year after year. Several Towns have arts issues on local budgets now and most schools have programs in arts, dance, drama, and music.
      Summer Sounds, Franklin County's most popular free outdoor concert series, receives partial funding from the sponsoring towns. Many municipalities also support the arts with donations of space or services rather than cash. Enosburg, for example, hosts the Vermont Dairy Festival and St Albans City hosts the Vermont Maple. Every town park is a gathering place for concerts, shows, exhibits and even jam sessions. Although events like these are "ex-budget," the municipalities provide maintenance and turn on electricity and lug tables and provide the infrastructure that makes arts and cultural programs possible.
      It all adds up to making Franklin County a better and better place to live.
      Got to Town Meeting. It's an adventure. If you don't we may very well be asking "What Art? Where?" next week.


     Only in New York. A gallery in the last unused, undemolished warehouse in the posh Chelsea art district pays no rent, has no heat, and charges no admission but it does have a website.
      Establishing a commercial gallery is the core approach many community art centers have taken. Two retail art galleries with exhibit space and "extras" have done just that and are operating successfully in Franklin County this year. The Artists in Residence Gallery and the Staart Gallery offer the opportunity to look at (and buy) art as well as to partake of other services. The two galleries have some
      Meanwhile, we continue to research the arts centers in other areas.
      Honey Space, an independent exhibition space in New York City, really pays no rent, has no heat, and charges no admission. It is not an art center but is located in New York's arts district and is dedicated to presenting compelling work by contemporary artists. Its home, a raw warehouse, can house only site-specific exhibitions that can operate without any staff. Metal security gates close the space at night but the space is open to the public throughout the day.
      Honey Space may not be there next year. It lives, after all, by squatting with the owner's enthusiastic permission in a warehouse that could be sold or developed at any time. That doesn't matter. We have a history of "putting up" area non-profits in our unused or underused spaces. It helps the groups, helps the building owners, and certainly helps the community. And when the space becomes unavailable, the non-profits move.
      That is important.
      Area municipalities and commercial building owners regularly "put up" area non-profits in otherwise vacant spaces. It helps the groups, helps the building owners, and certainly helps the community. An art center could be up and running almost overnight in a borrowed space. I have a "spare" computer. Someone else has a "spare" desk or three. There is a box of "spare" office supplies in that closet over there. And so on.
      If you want to join or lead the effort to make this happen, Email theAll Arts Council this week.
      In the coming weeks, this column will continue to look for other arts centers and galleries around the country. 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.


     The 20th Annual Statewide Audition/Networking and Theater Town Meeting Day for all performers, designers, directors, technicians, and management will take place Saturday at the McCarthy Arts Center. The day is produced by VATTA, the Vermont Association of Theaters and Theater Artists.
      The Producers Circle made up of 20 theater companies, ad agents, reps from area film/commercial/video and indie producers, wants thespians, designers, technical, production and management staff for summer and year-round positions in the theaters around the state. Auditions and networking begin at 9:30 a.m. "Stuff strutting" continues until 3:30 p.m. Auditions are by appointment. Tech/design/management networking is by advance registration.
      The Theater Town Meeting Panel, 4:30-6 p.m., will gather together the statewide theater community and the general public for an open discussion on the state of theater in Vermont. "In the tradition Town Meeting Day, we take Vermontís 'dramatic pulse' and invite creative brainstorming around projects aimed at strengthening the viability of theater as a key component to the quality of life in Vermont," Ms. Lopez said. This yearís topic is Producing Works of Vermont Playwrights. The discussion will be lead by Vermont writer Dana Yeaton of Middlebury College and Kim Ward, director of The Vermont Playwrights Circle. Speakers include authors Jeanne Beckwith, Sarah Dawson Brock, David Budbill, Monica Callan, Maura Campbell, and James Lantz. A reception will follow.
      Admission to the Theater Town Meeting is a $7 donation at the door but artists participating in VATTA's Statewide Auditions and Networking Event will be admitted for free.
      Call VATTA Coordinator Ronni Lopez (802.862.2287) or email for application and agenda info.


ST. ALBANS--Leland Kinsey, the poet laureate of the Northeast Kingdom, will read from and sign copies of his sixth book, The Immigrantís Contract, at Better Planet from 4-6 p.m tomorrow afternoon.
      Contract follows a French-Canadian boyís travels to the plains of Alberta, to archaeology in the badlands, to Florida and Cuba, up and down the East Coast and finally to Northern Vermont. The epic poem is an extraordinary story from an ordinary man.

MORRISVILLE--The new year-round Farmers Artisan Market celebrates its Grand Opening on Wednesday with live music from 4:30 - 6 p.m. Performances continue every Wednesday.


     Grab Your Hat and Read With the Cat!
      The NEA Read Across America Day is here. Millions of kids, teens, and adults will join the nation's largest reading celebration on Tuesday (March 3).
      You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child. The nationwide reading celebration takes place each year on March 2, the birthday of children's author Dr. Seuss.
      Pledge your participation! Check out the state pledge pages for ideas, then let us know your plans by filling out the pledge form. The local events by community list here in Vermont is sorely lacking. You can click here to pledge your own activity. Local Associations should click here for tools to create an event.


     Documentary photographer Kevin Bubriski of Shaftsbury has produced bodies of work on Nepal, India, Tibet, Bali and Japan on fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim and Fulbright Foundations. His local projects include mill workers and the elders of North Bennington. His site includes a gallery of his bodies of work, a biography, links, press info, sales, and the Flash movie 'Bubriski's Pilgrimage.'


      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 © 2008 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.