ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 13 * * All Arts News On the Web * * November 26, 2009


      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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      At Thanksgiving time, I like to round up some area artists to share what they are grateful for at this time of year. This year, Heather McKeown of Berkshire was so bubbly and overjoyed that she took over my roundup.
      "We had a fabulous year!" Ms. McKeown said. "I'm thankful that the Highbrow to Hoedown concert/comedy show went on without a hitch." The Opera House at Enosburg Falls event in April raised $2,700 for BFA-St Albans, Enosburg, MVU, and Richford high schools to aid underfunded music, drama and leadership programs. "We turned the Opera House into a Jetblue aircraft and the flight attendants set the tone for a fabulous aeronautic voyage. Jay Leslie (of the Tokens) accompanied local stars including the Missisquoi River Band, Nobby Reed, Betty Curboy, and Cathy Noftz.
      "On a more personal note, the Rock on Art Studio was very busy." She created huge murals depicting The Polar Express, Vermont and a stylized Manhattan skyline. The town of Berkshire received three paintings of points of interest for publication in a zoning book. Ms. McKeown produced other pictures on rock or other surfaces, "making it one of [her] most productive years for sure."


     Trout Art! The TART Gallery opens tomorrow within the Trout River Traders building in Montgomery. The contemporary space will show interpretive art and photographs with a grand opening featuring 11 local and Montreal artists tomorrow evening at 7 p.m.
      Trout ART ("TART") is the brainchild of artist, teacher, and hat maker Heidi Lague of Montgomery. "I've been looking for an open space for a couple years for people in Montgomery," she said. "I felt there was a need and enough rich resources."
      Montgomery is growing as a destination for Canadian and New England visitors as well as "staycationers" from Vermont. The renovations and expansion at Jay Peak add to the destination draw.
      The new collaborative venue for artists is a very open, rotational gallery covering the whole second floor of Trout River Traders building. The space kicks off with 11 artists from Montgomery and Montreal including interpretive/mixed media painters Bethany Farrell, Heidi Lague, and Leah van Rees; landscape painters Pat Murphy and Julie Ruth; photographers Lenny Christopher, Jason Guild, Nicole Kirtchner, Robin Massey, and Charlotte Ross Handler; and monotype printmaker Lyna Lou Nordstrom.
      "There will be no stagnant walls," Ms. Lague said. The art work will change every three months and they will host receptions every other month.
      Gallery hours are Monday plus Wednesday-Saturday, 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. Email or click here for more info.
      "Buy local art at TART," she said.


     The First Congregational Church of St. Albans presents the first Holiday Concert of the season at the church on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Citizens Concert Band and Community Singers concert will open with Doris Hughes at the piano and organ playing Hark the Herald Angels on the organ and end with a community sing-along.
      "It's a four-part concert," Kevin Loomis said, "with organ, choir, band, and sing-along."
      The playlist includes Sleigh Ride, Hymn for a Child, and Santa's Big Adventure. "That's unique because it is Santa traveling the world," Mr. Loomis said. "You'll know you are in each place by the local music you hear."
      Admission is free but free will donations are gratefully accepted.


     Although this series surveys Franklin County arts groups and presenters to see what they each offer, I have also made some side trips to see what groups in other areas are doing and what we can borrow to fill our own gaps in programming and services.
      "We need people to do all sorts of things," said Marathon (Florida) Community Theater Company General Manager Loretta Geotis. "People who paint sets, who build things, who help actors get dressed, who sew costumes, as well as front of the house ushers, concession folks, and more. We run a volunteer school."
      MCT simply would not run without volunteers. The theater company hosts "periodic Volunteer Training Schools so everyone will feel comfortable volunteering for any of the necessary tasks."
      On a day when we are thankful, let us particularly thank the arts volunteers who make the exhibits and concerts and shows and musicals and plays and dances happen.
      Oh, yeah. And running periodic Volunteer Training Schools not only makes the volunteers feel welcome, it helps them do a better job. It is something arts groups and arts councils should band together to accomplish.
      This series will continue next month.


WEEKEND ART SHOWS (ongoing)-Donna Underwood Owens invites Franklin County artists to participate at her weekend shows and sales at both Brown & Jenkins Coffee Roasters (across from Boyden Winery) and the Three Mountain Lodge on the Stowe Road in Jeffersonville. Both shows "offer an ongoing slew of people," she said. "I'm trying to get it so we don't have the same pieces each show." There is no fee, no commission. Call 802.879.4618 or email for more info.

KREFT JURIED EXHIBITION (December 4)--Concordia University Ann Arbor seeks artwork submitted rooted in a "useable past" while addressing a new condition, a new technology, or a new era either formally or thematically. Prints, drawings, paintings, photographs, digital images, sculpture, etc. are eligible. Entry fee. Email or click here for a prospectus or more info.

WEARABLE ART (December 18)--The Port Moody Arts Center wants original wearable art garments for an exhibition coinciding with the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. A total of $2,000 CDN in prizes and a showcase to an expanded, international audience. artists of all mediums. Click here for more info.


     Engineer/producer and "really good sound guy" Lyle Glidden wanders around reviewing new CDs and new venues. Here is his report on John Gibbons' first release concert for his new album, Small Town Dance.

      John Gibbons and his extremely talented group of friends and fellow musicians wowed the near capacity crowd of family, friends and fans at Champlain College on Saturday evening [November 21]. The concert kicked off with Small Town Dance's opening song, Silence or Tears. John's beautiful light tenor voice soared above the instrumental mix. Karen McFeeters and Craig Anderson's harmony vocals were stronger and even more impressive than on the CD itself and remained that way through out the evening. It was a CD release event; Joel Snyder's concert sound was true and faithful to the sonic structure of the CD.
      John told of his inspiration for 220. A field trip with his son's class set the pen to paper and a few years down the line, 220 was completed to satisfaction. CD producer and multi-instrumentalist, Colin McCaffrey added the low harmony along with Karen. The blend was pure magic, making 220 an even more enduring favorite of mine.
      Next in line, an elderly couple in a restaurant inspired Pick your Place Anne Marie.
      Roll Away featured outstanding finger picking accompaniment by Craig Anderson. John and Craig executed octave harmonies and unison through the use of capo-ed and open string tuning.
      Next up was the first of many "friends showcase" songs from members of the ensemble. Karen McFeeters took the solo spot with her lovely Ellen's Song written for her 2 year old niece. This joyful, exuberant song was delivered with poise and a twinkling eye. The three-part harmony chorus simulates laughter and the trio of John, Craig and Karen were dead on in pitch and execution.
      Craig Anderson, local luthier, and outstanding acoustic guitarist took a solo in the spotlight with a complex original instrumental. Craig chose to mike his hand made acoustic for this song to show off the wonderful timbre of his work as a guitar craftsman and artist. The CA acoustic is as beautiful to the ear as it is to the eye.
      Andy Green, who covered all banjo parts on John's CD songs stepped up next with a gorgeous rendition of John Starling's He Rode All The Way To Texas. Andy has an expressive voice and his guitar playing was the perfect back drop for it.
      Next the entire ensemble came back to the stage for my second favorite song on the CD, The Kenworth of My Dreams. Colin McCaffrey's Rigel Mandolin solo was outstanding. Rigel's are made in Jeffersonville area by Pete Langdell. It was a special part of the show knowing that not only Vermont musicians were being featured but also, acoustic guitars and mandolins by some of the Green Mountains best artisans were played exclusively.
      The Wall That Moves the Viet Nam Memorial song received a standing ovation. The live delivery was extremely moving and powerful with a perfect performance and mix.
      Set 1 ended with the hysterical Oh Well, AOL. The song tells of the laments of a husband who succumbs to life with a new computer and the near widow status he gets from his Internet addicted wife.
      Set 2 opened with Lulu Wall. Allen Grant was added to the group for this Bluegrass rouser.
      Carol Hausner, First Place winner of the Merle Fest Bluegrass Song writing competition, performed her winning entry Love Gone By in her solo spot. The song was co-written by Colin McCaffrey who sang harmonies and played fiddle on the number. Carol remained at the mike and added her CD harmonies to The Cowboy I Know, a song John wrote from a girl's perspective. Andre Maquera of West Street Digital Recorders provided tasty B-Bender guitar simulating a pedal steel on this gentle country tune.
      Colin McCaffrey was featured on a solo number, the bluesy Boys I'm Tired of Town.
      Hard Water, a wonderful song about young love, break-up, and its scars was a second set highlight.
      John and Craig next were featured on the classic instrumental Windy and Warm. Once again, these two accomplished guitarists impressed the audience with their execution.
      Season Song, a Craig Anderson composition from Small Town Dance, was beautifully performed by the trio of Gibbons, Anderson and McFeeters.
      The CD closer, Another Shot of Rye Whiskey, rocked out the crowd for the final song of the second set. Andre Maquera had a blast recreating his CD crunch tone solos and CD electric bass player Justin Olds joined the band for this number. All other upright bass tracks for the concert were handled by John's neighbor, Neal Brown, who provided a strong sonic underpinning for the concert.
      I hope John Gibbons will consider taking the Small Town Dance concert on tour as more events are certainly in order for such a fine show. I was truly moved and blessed by my evening in his presence.


     Artists Helping Children empowers "artists and others to donate artwork, donated murals, donated art supplies, donated toys and a lot of love to sick and needy children." The site acts as a clearing house for artists with information about volunteer opportunities for art for hospitals, shelters, clinics, and more. The site is loaded with free coloring pages and printouts for children plus free arts and crafts projects for kids. There are children's resources pages, origami project ideas, kids' drawing lessons, articles for parents to involve their children in the arts, articles on how art heals, how children can join community service projects, and much more.


      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 © 2009 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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