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Friday, February 26, 2016

Bernie Sanders
Local Artists Feel the Bern, Raise Money for Sanders Campaign

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 10:49 AM

Phinneus Sonin, acting as auctioneer, calls for bids with ONE Arts Center staffer Mellisa Cain. - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • Phinneus Sonin, acting as auctioneer, calls for bids with ONE Arts Center staffer Mellisa Cain.
"OK, let's practice stretching those arms out," the auctioneer called from the stage of ArtsRiot in Burlington on Wednesday night. Some 100 audience members obligingly raised their hands in the air. It was practice for bidding on art to benefit Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.

The Bernie Pop-up Art Show & Auction,  organized by Burlington's ONE Arts Center, raised $2,275 by the end of the night, and donated all of it to the campaign. 

Between 30 and 40 artists donated works to the event, said ONE Arts co-director Margaret Coleman. Most are Vermonters, but she said her call to artists on Craigslist garnered a few entries from as far away as California. 

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Special Collections: NEK Collectors Fair Edition

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Glass eye in the collection of Peter Martin - RACHEL ELIZABETH JONES
  • Rachel Elizabeth Jones
  • Glass eye in the collection of Peter Martin
"Local color" may not get more local or colorful than at a regional collectors' fair. Last Sunday,  20 or so folks displayed their hard-earned treasures atop rows of folding tables in the Orleans Elementary School gymnasium for the annual Collectors Fair. The Orleans County Historical Society and the Old Stone House Museum in Brownington hosted the event.

Interests were diverse, from local kids' sundry Pokémon paraphernalia and miniature monster trucks to sparkling costume jewelry to vintage hand tools. The atmosphere was friendly and casual.  I began to  wonder what else goes on in the state's nooks and crannies on any given lazy Sunday. 

Wyatt Moseley, who works in the Old Stone House blacksmith shop, noted that collectors are "kindred spirits of museums in many cases — the temperament is shared." The institution's focus, he said, is "historic Vermont" — and that passion seemed to extend, even if by default, to the community gathered in the school gym. At least a handful of the collectors are also involved with the Vermont Gas and Steam Engine Association, a nearly 40-year-old group that hosts an annual summer event at the Old Stone House Museum. 

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

A 45-Foot 'Street Comic' Tells a Palestinian Story

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 2:12 PM

Michelle Sayles - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Michelle Sayles
Michelle Sayles and Jen Berger expected some backlash about their “street comic.” The 45-foot-long, black-and-white banner titled “Najawa: A Story of Palestine,” commissioned by Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel, tells the story of a fictional Palestinian refugee. It was first exhibited at the South End Art Hop last September and now hangs in Burlington’s Fletcher Free Library.

“I was nervous,” Sayles said. “But when we put it out at Art Hop, people were saying, ‘Wow, this is really powerful.’” Berger, who contributed to the research and installation of the piece, says, “Historically, pieces like this aren’t well received. But I haven’t felt any backlash at all.”

Their concerns weren’t unwarranted. Berger was referring not just to political art in general but to the work Bread and Puppet Theater founder Peter Schumann displayed at the Art Hop in 2007. “Independence Paintings: Inspired by Four Stories” compared the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the Nazis' treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. The exhibit was met with protestors at a VTJP event that weekend. *

As it happens, a donation from Bread and Puppet made “Najawa” possible. The funding enabled VTJP to cover the cost of Sayles’ paints, brushes and canvases. But, as VTJP member Marc Estrin makes clear, neither organization had creative control over the content of the comic. “VTJP said, we trust you as an artist, and whatever you come up with we’ll be happy to fund,” says Estrin.

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Bernie Sanders
So, Is a Thing

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 12:57 PM banner - COURTESY OF BERNIESINGLES.COM
  • Courtesy of
  • banner
Gloria Steinem recently opined that young women favor Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in Democratic presidential primaries not because they identify more with his progressive politics or find his grouchy fire inspiring, but because, well, they're looking for dudes.

"When you're young, you're thinking, Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie," she said on the HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher."

The feminist icon's remarks were widely criticized as being patronizing to young liberal women. But is it possible she was onto something?

Nope, not at all. Steinem's comments were ill-advised and insulting — not to mention heteronormative — by any measure. But a new dating website,, does suggest that maybe Bernie-boosters are indeed looking for love in addition to social justice, income equality and political revolution.    

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Monday, February 15, 2016

For Stacie: Artists Rally to Support the Zipper Lady

Posted By on Mon, Feb 15, 2016 at 4:17 PM

Stacie Mincher with her zipper jewelry - COURTESY OF FROG HOLLOW
  • Courtesy of Frog Hollow
  • Stacie Mincher with her zipper jewelry

A lifelong artist, crafter and upcycler, Stacie Mincher of Rutland has earned her reputation as "the Zipper Lady" through her dedication to her quirky zipper jewelry business. On January 11, Mincher suffered a stroke caused by complications of pituitary tumor surgery. She is not expected to return to her craft for at least a year.

But artists and community members are coming together to support Mincher's recovery: Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center, which carries her work, will host a benefit event on Saturday, February 20. It will feature a live and silent auction of donated works — more than 50 artists have contributed so far. 

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Bernie Sanders
Who Really Won New Hampshire? Vermonters!

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 1:02 PM

Craig Mitchell's Bernie Sanders tattoo - COURTESY OF CRAIG MITCHELL
  • Courtesy of Craig Mitchell
  • Craig Mitchell's Bernie Sanders tattoo
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won the New Hampshire primary in convincing fashion earlier this week — superdelegates be damned. But ol' Bernardo didn't hog the media love for himself. In share-the-wealth fashion befitting a democratic socialist, he shared the national and local media spotlight with a number of Vermonters in the wake of the primary.  

Here's a quick roundup of those getting some shine this week.

Vermont musicians were featured prominently at Sanders events, official and otherwise, in New Hampshire, most notably Kat Wright and Brett Hughes and Dwight & Nicole. A picture of Hughes and Wright made the print and digital editions of the Washington Post. And Wright, Hughes and Dwight Ritcher — aka the "Bernie Sanders Singers" — were the subject of the short New York Times video below.

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Bernie Sanders
The Popular Art of Populism: Bernie Sanders Edition

Posted By on Sat, Feb 6, 2016 at 5:03 PM

Anthill Collective's Bernie Sanders mural behind ArtsRiot - COURTESY OF ANTHILL COLLECTIVE
  • Courtesy of Anthill Collective
  • Anthill Collective's Bernie Sanders mural behind ArtsRiot
Art can be many things. Sometimes it's a photograph of a potato that sells for more than $1 million; other times it's creative expression, political mobilization and marketing all rolled into one. 

Last September, Bernie Sanders promised, "I will be an arts president. Art is speech. Art is what life is about.” Now, with promising results at the Iowa caucus, the Sanders campaign has picked up momentum — and its art game. As musicians including Vampire Weekend, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a slew of Vermont artists have clamored to sonically show their support, visual artists are stepping up as well. And not just by designing merch

Perusers of the Bernie Instagram may have noticed a new logo cropping up on certain images: an eagle clutching pen and paintbrush in its talons. The official logo, created by Burlington designers Marin Horikawa and Dennis Healy, has emerged in conjunction with the traveling exhibition "The Art of a Political Revolution." It was organized by the Sanders campaign's arts, culture and youth director Luis Calderin, who issued a call to artists last fall.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Phoenix Books a Finalist for Publishers Weekly Award

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 3:01 PM

Renee Reiner and Mike DeSanto, owners of Phoenix Books - COURTESY OF PHOENIX BOOKS
  • Courtesy of Phoenix Books
  • Renee Reiner and Mike DeSanto, owners of Phoenix Books
Independent bookstore Phoenix Books announced this week that it is among five contenders shortlisted for the Publishers Weekly 2016 Bookstore of the Year Award. Since opening their first store in Essex in 2007, bookstore co-owners and spouses Mike DeSanto and Renee Reiner have expanded, adding storefronts in downtown Burlington and Rutland.

DeSanto and Reiner claim that 2015 was their best year on record — Burlington sales were up 14 percent — and they recently received another pretty feather in their cap: the 2015 Independent Spirit Award granted by the Book Publishers Representatives of New England.

Reached by telephone, DeSanto and Reiner expressed gratitude about their nomination while also condemning the continual expansion of "[Amazon] sells everything except human beings on the internet, and I wouldn't put it past them to do that," said DeSanto. "In this sort of climate, to be recognized as a local independent bookstore is remarkable," Reiner added: "[It's] heartwarming, to say the least."

Publishers Weekly will name the Bookstore of the Year in late March. The winner will be featured in its April 18 publication and honored at BookExpo America in May. 

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Bernie Sanders
Soundbites Extra: Signals Series Returns, LIVE at ArtsRiot Begins, Another Bernie Tribute

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 10:58 AM

  • Courtesy of Waylon Speed
  • Waylon Speed
The news about Alan Newman buying a stake in Higher Ground ate up most of this week's Soundbites column, so a few items got bumped. With the weekend nearly here, let's take a quick look at those bits and pieces.

Last fall, local experimental music composer Greg Davis served as the first-ever sonic artist-in-residence at Champlain College. As part of that endeavor, he curated a music series called the Signals Series. It featured notable experimental composers from around the country, including Jeffre Cantu, Ben Vida and Davis himself.

The series was such a success that Davis and Champlain College are bringing it back for the spring semester. The first installment is tonight, February 5, at the Lounge Gallery in the Center for Communication and Creative Media at Champlain College. This one presents Montréal duo Le Révélateur. Here's what you can expect, according to the artists themselves:

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Roundup of VT Entries to NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 3:11 PM

Josh Panda - JOSH PANDA
  • Josh Panda
  • Josh Panda
NPR Music is in the middle of its annual Tiny Desk Contest. Since mid-January, artists from around the country have been submitting short videos in the miniaturized style of the popular Tiny Desk Concerts series, in hopes of winning the grand prize. Said honors include recording a Tiny Desk Concert at National Public Radio's office in Washington, D.C., appearing on a taping of NPR's "Ask Me Another," and touring the country with NPR and contest sponsor Lagunitas Brewing Co. 

Vetting the submissions is an all-star panel of judges, including "All Songs Considered" hosts Robin Hilton and Bob Boilen — the latter of whom founded Tiny Desk Concerts — singer and producer Son Little, Lucius cofounders Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, and the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. And they'll be mulling over a goodly number of Vermont submissions.

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