ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 19 * * All Arts News On the Web * * March 26, 2015


      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.

     Franklin County's arts and music gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. There are also booked and acoustic Open Mic Nights that feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.

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ST. ALBANS--All Arts Council and the Lake Champlain Battlefield Monument Committee have issued a Call for Artists for a summer exhibit that will start at Bay Day. Entries will be accepted starting this coming Wednesday, April 1.
      The Railroad City is world famous for the Civil War Raid. Darned few Franklin County residents are unfamiliar with that story and with the 150th anniversary we celebrated last fall.
      Fewer are aware of another Civil War effort associated with the engineering prowess of the railroad inventors who lived here but that will be the subject of the Bay Day Art-and-History Festival this summer.
      In 1852, Benjamin Franklin Stevens of the Georgia Shore proposed a steam-powered aircraft carrier to Navy Secretary John P. Kennedy. The navy was skeptical but ordered a the first ship when his second cousin, Col. Robert Livingston Stevens, threw his weight behind the project.
      The Stevens family loomed large in the 19th Century. Col. John Stevens constructed the first U.S. steam locomotive which he used on the New Jersey Railroad, the first railroad chartered in the U.S. He designed his Little Juliana, in 1811. That first steam-powered ferry between Hoboken and New York City was twin screw-driven (rather than Clermont's Boulton and Watt engine) an advance on the Phoenix, his paddle steamer that was the first steamship to successfully navigate the open ocean in its route from Hoboken to Philadelphia. His son, Robert Stevens, had also been commissioned to build the first ever ironclad warship.
      There were several other Stevens families in Franklin County. Orlando Stevens was a Franklin County senator in 1853. Benjamin Franklin Stevens had worked with his cousins in Hoboken, first on their Little Juliana and later on the Camden and Amboy Railroad. He returned to Vermont to work with John Smith to connect the Vermont Central Railroad and the Vermont & Canada lines. W.C. Stevens rented and later bought farmland on Missisquoi Bay north of the Rock River in Highgate Springs from Heman Allen. He built a brick farmhouse there about the same time Ben Stevens was building his prototype carrier on St. Albans Bay. Anne and I raised our family in that farmhouse. I can find no records that show Orlando, W.C., and Ben were related.
      Ben Stevens built his steam-driven carrier with a large, flat deck on the waveline hull invented by his cousin. He also harnessed the steam boilers to power three trebuchet aboard his carrier. The smaller one launched his observation balloons and two larger ones were able to throw 200 pound munitions nearly three miles, farther than any seacoast cannon or mortar of the day.
      The ship was named the U.S.S. Enterprise.
      Enterprise is a storied name. The first two ships so named belonged to the Continental Navy: a 1775 sloop-of-war that was burned to prevent capture in 1777, and a 1776 privateer schooner.
      The third ship to be named Enterprise was a 1799 twelve gun schooner that fired the first shots in the First Barbary War; the fourth Enterprise, built around 1831, was also a United States Navy schooner. Sadly, the fifth U.S.S. Enterprise was lost in the eighth Hurricane of 1862 on her maiden voyage to join "the largest fleet of war ships and transports ever assembled."
      The Lake Champlain Battlefield Monument Committee has recovered some of the wreckage and will complete its complete rebuilding of the fifth Enterprise with a blessing ceremony at their drydock on the Stevens Farm on the Georgia Shore on Wednesday at 2 p.m. The ship will be launched later this Spring and is scheduled to do sea trials in May and June.
      The Enterprise's first official cruise will start with a visit to St. Albans Town for the Bay Day Art-and-History Festival.
      All Arts Council, the LCBMC, and Stevens Institute of Technology will begin an art contest starting on Wednesday with the winners announced at Bay Day. All entries will be on exhibit at the new Hall at the Bay Park that St Albans Town will break ground for on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Artists must be Vermont residents or students at Stevens Institute and may work in any 2-D or 3-D media. Prizes will be offered for 2-D works in three categories: Professional, Individual, and Student. There will be awards for paintings, photographs, and digital works. The Shelburne Museum will lend their Fitz Henry Lane painting, Enterprise V, for the exhibit and for a commemorative poster.
      Bay Day itself is free, but tickets for the Bay Day Art and History Festival are now available at Admission will be FREE but you must have an advance reservation to participate. Proceeds will benefit local art projects in Franklin County.
      Click here for a prospectus, entry blanks, schedules and other background materials, and more info.


ESSEX JUNCTION--On Tap offers Blues Night with the Nobby Reed Project tonight at 7 p.m. Vermont's best known blues trio includes Eric Belrose, percussion, Ray Bushey, bass, and Mr. Reed on lead guitar and vocals.
      Call 802.878.3309 or email for more info.

SHELBURNE--This week's Treewild Coffeehouse House Concert celebrates local musicians in a benefit for Young Tradition Vermont on Friday at 6 p.m.
      The concert will feature Hana Zara, Cricket Blue, Addie Herbert, Eric George and Karen Krajacic. Each musical segment will be followed by delicious food, drinks, wine, and home-made chai.
      Young Tradition Vermont supports young folks who love old style music and dance.
      Admission to this gala event is by invitation only and with a minimum $20 donation. All proceeds go to Young Tradition Vermont. (We encourage you to be generous.) Email for an invitation and more info. Find the event on Facebook.

CORTLAND, NY--SUNY Cortland presents The Woods Tea Company in Brown Auditorium on Saturday at 7 p.m.
      Woods Tea Co. performs rich and fiery Celtic tunes, bluegrass, sea shanties, and American folk songs, all tied together with stories and laughs. The trio includes Howard Wooden of St. Albans, Vermont singer/songwriter Patti Casey, and "Vermont's greatest living folk musician," Pete Sutherland, who joined the group in 2013.
      Admission is just $5; children 10 and under and all SUNY Cortland students are admitted free. All performances are general admission seating. Tickets will be available at the door. Call 607.753.5769 or click here for more info.

ST. ALBANS--Twiggs has three named events this week.
      Pianist extraordinaire Vern Colburn tickles the ivories in the Dining Room on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Shane Murley and Dakota Foley return to the Back Room on Saturday at 7 p.m. Then St. Albans Open Mic Night comes to the Main Stage on Wednesday, April 1, at 7 p.m. No foolin'.
      Call 802.524.1405 or click here for more info.


FAIRFIELD--The Bent Northrop Memorial Library has a free screening of the movie, Trashed, starring Jeremy Irons this evening at 6 p.m. The documentary looks the food chain, the environment, and the pollution that comes from our consumption and what we throw away.
      Popcorn will be provided. The library wants to make this a zero waste event with no paper products and by composting any leftover food or drinks. Bring reusable cups or water bottles, bowls, and cloth napkins.

ST. ALBANS--The Don Hill Commemorative Poetry Series presents Geof Hewitt reading from his works in the St. Albans Free Library on Saturday at 1 p.m.
      Known as the "Slam Poet Laureate of Vermont," Mr. Hewitt is a poet, teacher, trainer, and writer. He "often vacuums while eating chocolates you're only supposed to have one of."


      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 © 2015 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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