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Saturday, January 30, 2016

New Artworks Unveiled at Sally Fox Conference Center

Posted By on Sat, Jan 30, 2016 at 7:21 PM

The new State Office Complex in Waterbury was packed to the brim Friday night for the dedication of the Sally Fox Conference Center and the unveiling of three new artworks. Katharine Montstream's quadtych was commissioned by the late senator's husband, Sen. Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden). Sarah-Lee Terrat's massive mural and Gordon Auchincloss' outdoor sculpture were commissioned by the Vermont Arts Council through the Art in State Buildings program. 
The building, which opened its doors in mid-December, houses employees of the Agency of Human Services. It's fitting that the conference center bears Fox's name: She is remembered by many for her dedication to those in need, whether they were struggling with mental illness, poverty, disability or incarceration. 

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Special Collections: Brian Collier's Teeny Tiny Things

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 8:25 AM

Three of Collier's Very Small Objects - COURTESY OF BRIAN COLLIER
  • Courtesy of Brian Collier
  • Three of Collier's Very Small Objects
Sloane Hall is empty, and mostly unlit, when I go to meet Brian Collier, an art professor who has taught at Saint Michael's College since 2011. I follow signs with arrows taped to the wall, up stairs and winding corners to his office, a spacious studio whose details I have trouble noticing due to the gravitational pull of "Very Small Objects." 

Vials and more vials sit on a wooden table, some with price-tag labels tied to them and others without, and inside each is a single, very tiny object. "I don't know many artists who don't have some kind of collection of something," Collier says. The difference with Collier, however, is that the process of collecting — and tweaking the collecting process' more formal trappings — is itself the art. 

Very Small Objects is an ongoing project of Collier's. He identifies himself as a re-naturalist. "I've always been really interested in the history of natural history," he says, noting "the level of subjectivity in the invention of classification systems." It probably doesn't hurt that Collier's grandfather was a watch repairman. 

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bernie Sanders
BTV Musicians Honor Bernie With 'This Land Is Your Land'

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 5:10 PM

R to L: Dwight Ritcher, Nicole Nelson, Kelly Ravin, Kat Wright, Brett Hughes, Francesca Blanchard, Marie Claire Johnson, Stephanie Lynn Heaghney
  • R to L: Dwight Ritcher, Nicole Nelson, Kelly Ravin, Kat Wright, Brett Hughes, Francesca Blanchard, Marie Claire Johnson, Stephanie Lynn Heaghney
As anyone who has heard his 1987 folk album We Shall Overcome knows, singing ain't exactly Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) strong suit. Fortunately, he's got some tremendously talented constituents in his hometown who can lend his message a slightly less gruff and agitated voice.

Recently, an all-star collection of local Bernie-rooting singers and musicians joined forces at Burlington's Signal Kitchen, "We Are the World" style, to do exactly that, recording a soulful, gospel-inspired rendition of Sanders' favorite song, Woody Guthrie's iconic "This Land Is Your Land."

The band is a veritable who's who of local talent, including vocalists Dwight & Nicole, Francesca Blanchard, Marie Claire Johnson, Smooth Antics' Stephanie Lynn Heaghney, Waylon Speed's Kelly Ravin and Kat Wright. Several members of Wright's band, the Indomitable Soul Band, turn up, too. Among these are Josh Weinstein (bass), Ezra Oklan (drums), Bob Wagner (guitar) and Shane Hardiman (keys).

Rounding out the group are guitarists Lowell Thompson and Brett Hughes, the latter of whom organized the supergroup session with Wright and Bernie staffer Luis Calderin. Here's Hughes on how the project came together: 

During many conversations with Luis Calderin, Bernie's Arts & Culture and Youth Vote coordinator, we discussed trying to build interest and participation in the campaign process around music and musicians, both from the local scene and nationally. He really wanted a version of "This Land Is Your Land" that felt like it was both updated and classic, and asked if Kat Wright and I could put together a version and pull in the musical community for a recording. The version that emerged came out of thinking about where the country is at the moment, and where we hope to see it moving toward. We wanted to add texture and dynamics as the song progresses, in the way that more people joining a movement add their voices and their energy.  
If the apex of Bernie's movement is anywhere near as dynamic and moving as the climactic end of this tune — particularly the jaw-dropping interplay between Wright and Nelson — it would bode awfully well for his presidential hopes. Check it out:    

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Vermont State Curator's Office Identifies the 'Capitol District'

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 3:05 PM

New Capitol District gallery logos - COURTESY OF OFFICE OF THE STATE CURATOR
  • Courtesy of Office of the State Curator
  • New Capitol District gallery logos
In collaboration with the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Historical Society, the Office of the State Curator has announced its designation of the "Capitol District," meant to highlight the cultural attractions immediately surrounding the Statehouse.

The newly named arts district encompasses five Montpelier venues: the gallery at the Vermont Statehouse cafeteria, the Governor's Office Gallery and the Vermont Supreme Court Gallery. All of these are under the purview of the state curator, as well as the arts council and Vermont History Museum

"We've been looking for quite a while at trying to figure out how to better highlight some of the great opportunities for art, history and culture that folks may not be aware of here," commented assistant state curator Jack Zeilenga over the telephone.

Led by Mary Admasian of Lights On Marketing & Communication Design, who was contracted last May, the collaborative effort includes communications consulting by Michael Levine and the introduction of new logos for each of the galleries managed by the curator's office. Highlighting various capital city architectural properties, the logos were illustrated by Vermont artist Carrie Cook and designed by Brian Prendergast

"One of the reasons we decided to do this is so many people just get out of the car and take a photograph of the Statehouse, then they get back in the car or the bus and they leave," Admasian told Seven Days by phone. "Our goal is to really create a visitor experience, whether or not you live in Vermont."

According to Admasian and Zielenga, plans are afoot to develop signage and maps, as well as an amplified web presence. 
New logo for Montpelier's Capitol District - COURTESY OF OFFICE OF THE STATE CURATOR
  • Courtesy of Office of the State Curator
  • New logo for Montpelier's Capitol District

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Flight Records: Finding a Tuskegee Airman From Vermont

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 4:15 PM

Yearbook photo of Robert Cole, Northfield High School class of 1938 - COURTESY OF NORTHFIELD HISTORICAL SOCIETY
  • Courtesy of Northfield Historical Society
  • Yearbook photo of Robert Cole, Northfield High School class of 1938
This Friday, January 29, Black Angels Over Tuskegee comes to the Flynn MainStage in Burlington. The critically acclaimed off-Broadway play by Layon Gray is about the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black aviator corps that played a critical role in the U.S. air campaign during World War II.

When the curtain rises, many audience members will undoubtedly know something about the corps, and some may have seen the 1995 movie, The Tuskegee Airmen, starring Laurence Fishburne. Yet few audience members will be likely to know that the Tuskegee's ranks included an aviator from the Green Mountains.

Robert Cole, who was born and raised in Northfield, was the only Vermonter ever to serve in the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators in history. At least one living Vermonter, Bill Lyon of Northfield, personally remembers Cole from his days in Northfield both before and after the war.

Robert Arthur Cole was born in Northfield on March 8,1920, to Alonzo and Martha Cole. According to the Northfield Historical Society, U.S. Census data from 1930 shows that Cole had two sisters and two brothers.

Cole attend Northfield High School where, according to his yearbook, he belonged to the drama club, played basketball, sang in the chorus and played guitar in a dance band called the Blue Jackets. According to Lyon, now 68, Cole's father was himself a musician who played in and around Northfield. Lyon remembers that Alonzo Cole died tragically while his children were still young, after he fell off a trestle bridge in Northfield and drowned.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Talking Lesbian Feminist Haunted Houses at VCFA

Posted By on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 7:47 AM

Entrance to "Killjoy's Kastle," Toronto - COURTESY OF ALLYSON MITCHELL
  • Courtesy of Allyson Mitchell
  • Entrance to "Killjoy's Kastle," Toronto
On Saturday night, the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier kicked off its annual winter residency program with the talk "Killjoy's Konundrum: The Problematics of Queer Feminist Cultural Production," presented by artist Allyson Mitchell. Mitchell, who is on campus this week to meet with students and faculty, used the opportunity to introduce herself and her work, including her most recent project, the "lesbian feminist haunted house" Killjoy's Kastle. 

Vermont artist Mark Lorah introduced Mitchell, somewhat quizzical about her self-identification as a "maximalist" artist. Mitchell assured him that she doesn't occupy an anti-minimalist position in the art historical sense, but that she aims for her practice to be "extraordinarily inclusive." She went on to explain in her PowerPoint pre-show, slides filled with cat pictures. "Like all wannabe witches," she said, "I try to bring my familiars into spaces that feel new." 

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Big Maker Introduces Game Designer Paolo Pedercini

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 at 4:25 PM

  • Courtesy of Generator
  • Paolo Pedercini

The event room on the third floor of the Center for Communication and Creative Media at Champlain College was packed to the brim last night. The third Big Maker event by Burlington's Generator introduced game designer Paolo Pedercini.  

After welcoming remarks from CCM Dean Dr. Paula Willoquet-Maricondi, Generator's executive director Lars Hasselblad Torres stepped up to the podium to introduce the series and Pedercini, an assistant professor of experimental game design at Carnegie Mellon University.

"Big Maker is a series of discussions about big and interesting ideas," Torres said. He added that the series aims to drive entrepreneurial endeavors in the state by providing opportunities for makers to connect with people such as Pedercini. 

"We're excited to have Paolo because he brings a deep perspective on games and activism," Torres said. "It's exciting to have talent out there that's pushing the boundaries on what games are capable of." 

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Vermont Snow Sculptors Head to International Competition

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 at 11:41 AM

"Rhonda and Her Recycling Robo-Octopus," drawing by Adrian Tans - COURTESY OF MICHAEL NEDELL
  • Courtesy of Michael Nedell
  • "Rhonda and Her Recycling Robo-Octopus," drawing by Adrian Tans
This Sunday, four of Vermont's finest snow sculptors will board a plane for Breckenridge, Colo., to compete in the 26th Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships. It's not the first time Team Vermont — which currently includes Michael Nedell, Adrian Tans, Brooke Monte and Dave Rothstein — has competed in the invitation-only event.

Since Nedell first began sculpting snow in 1998, he and his team have represented their state at numerous national and international competitions, and placed first at the former in 2012. While they haven't placed in the top three at the international competition yet, this year they hope to take the gold with the help of a fictional 14-year-old named Rhonda. 

Nedell dreamed up the design with fellow snow sculptor and frequent Team Vermont member Alex Dostie while working on a "sound visualization lab" for Phish's 2015 summer music festival, Magnaball. (Dostie, co-owner of Dostie Bros. Frame Shop, is sitting out this year's comp.)

"I had seen a picture of a kid riding on an octopus like a cowboy," Nedell says with a laugh, "and it just kind of stuck in my head."

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Vermont Artist Peter Thomashow Goes Outside

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 3:20 PM

"Arcade," assemblage by Peter Thomashow - COURTESY OF PETER THOMASHOW
  • Courtesy of Peter Thomashow
  • "Arcade," assemblage by Peter Thomashow
Today at New York City's Metropolitan Pavilion, so-called outsider art takes center stage as the doors open for the 24th annual Outsider Art Fair. Among the ranks is Vermont artist, psychiatrist and collector Peter Thomashow, whose collage and assemblage constructions reflect preoccupations with the unseen, as well as science and its historical trajectories. "Magic is his motivator," claims Marion Harris gallery, which represents Thomashow at the fair.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bethel University Seeks 'Professors' to Teach Free Classes

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 1:11 PM

Residents of the Upper Valley and beyond will have another opportunity in March to bone up on their skills at cooking, digital photography, needle felting, conversational French or any of several dozen free classes that may be offered at Bethel University.

The "pop-up university," which began as a community-building effort three years ago, will soon commence its third semester. The good news: It's entirely tuition-free, there's no application process, and no one wants to see your academic transcript or SAT scores.

Rebecca Stone, a cofounder of Bethel University, says the idea was born in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011, which devastated the small central Vermont town. Two years later, the Bethel Revitalization Initiative put up posters asking residents to suggest ways to make Bethel a more vibrant, connected and livable community.

“Someone wrote ‘Bethel University.' I didn’t even know what it was at the time. I don’t think most of us did," Stone recalls. "But we got enough of this nugget of an idea where people would teach classes to each other. From there, we went on to shape what this program could be.”

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