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Back Talk 


You gotta hand it to Elizabeth Bunsen — who used her left one to make “Fun in the Sun.” The Charlotte artist not only captured the essence of child’s play in her most recent show at Speeder & Earl’s.

She attracted a patron from Pennsylvania who bought the whole exhibit. Bunsen collaborated with her five-year-old son Boone to create the 14 stick-figure playground paintings, which livened up the Pine Street coffee shop through the first half of August. Expanding on her son’s drawings, “I started with my right hand, but it looked too controlled,” Bunsen recalls. “So I switched to my left.”

It’s not the first time an artist has looked to youngsters for a key to the creative unconscious — or switched hands to access the inner child. Painters from Picasso to Basquiat have collected art made by minors. Bunsen signed the paintings “Beth” — her childhood name — and acknowledges the underage alias has caused some confusion. “People kept asking, ‘Who is it? How old?’” she concedes. “It wasn’t really a secret. I just handled it a little differently.”

Bunsen, who teaches art to children, explains, “Since I’ve been working with kids, I’ve been very influenced by their work. I wanted to do something to express that.” And what if her left hand becomes more marketable than her right? Bunsen predicts, “I think Beth is going to be doing some more work.”


Members of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra are getting around these days — and we are not talking about the upcoming “Made in Vermont” tour.

Technical director Daryl Donley is moving south to work for the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Orchestra organizers tapped him for a job after his own virtuoso performance assisting them during a spring residency in Vermont. As second-in-charge of operations, he’ll be responsible for all the advance work for the orchestra, as well as being a liaison between the union and stage manager. No more futzing around with folding chairs.

Meanwhile, assistant conductor Anthony Princiotti has also hit the road — going the opposite direction — on a nine-day walk from Manchester to Highgate. The fortysomething marathoner is “walking the length of the state, to get more familiar with Vermont,” says marketing director Amy Barcomb. Frighteningly, he chose Route 7 as his “Long Trail.” But he did arrive in Burlington on Sunday in time for Beethoven’s Ninth. As a member of the audience, that is.


When it comes to contemporary classical music, the Vermont Youth Orchestra doesn’t miss a beat. For the second year running, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) gave an award to the youth ensemble for its commitment to performing 20th-century works.

Last year music director Troy Peters programmed selections by Benjamin Britten, Karl Jenkins, Russell Platt, John Williams and Brookfield resident Erik Nielsen. This year, he’ll do even better. He’s commissioning Vermonter Ernie Stires to compose a piece featuring his own student, guitarist Trey Anastasio, who is also arranging a Phish tune for the orchestra. Those are 21st-century works.

“I confessed all — the doctor thinks I’m doing terminally well,” reads one award winning haiku by Marc Awodey. True to form, the Seven Days art critic defeated a Japanese-American incumbent and 16 other bards in short order to take first place in the “Head to Head Haiku Championship” — a “side” event at the recent National Poetry Slam in Rhode Island. Word has it the judges were partial to natural imagery. But we like the ring of “Academicians with university jobs buy nice umbrellas” .

Mexican food may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of English costume dramas like Room with a View or Remains of the Day. But the film team of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant will be serving Miguel’s salsa and chips at all the advance screenings of their new film, The Golden Bowl. “They love spicy food, and they love our chips and salsa,” Miguel’s Craig Mooney says of the duo, which hosts art shows and other events at their estate in upstate New York. In exchange for supplying the sauce, the Vermont company is looking for big-screen exposure. Ideally, that would be “a picture of Uma Thurman biting into one of our blue corn chips,” Mooney says.

Plenty of women — or damsels, as he calls them — will likely endorse the latest in the “Logger” line: a celebrity calendar, featuring photos of Vermont actor Rusty Dewees in various he-man activities, from Harley riding to hanging from Emily’s Bridge in Stowe. Muddy boots figure prominently — even in the December shot, where he is buck-naked except for a pair of steel-toes and a strategically placed Christmas tree. Get a closer look at the Champlain Valley Fair, where you can find Dewees — and all his products — in the new building every evening from four to midnight.

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About The Author

Paula Routly

Paula Routly

Paula Routly is the cofounder, publisher and coeditor of Seven Days.


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