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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

100 Days of Creativity: S.P.A.C.E. Gallery Wants You

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 4:04 PM

S.P.A.C.E. Gallery's Spaceman mural by Adam Devarney - RACHEL JONES
  • Rachel Jones
  • S.P.A.C.E. Gallery's Spaceman mural by Adam Devarney
The Thursday before the inauguration, Burlington artist Devin Wilder needed a space to screen-print some patches for the Women's March on Washington. She ended up making her run in Burlington's South End Backspace Gallery, a part of Christy Mitchell's longstanding S.P.A.C.E. Gallery.

The gallery and studio collective — whose acronym stands for Supportive Places for Artists and the Creative Economy — seems to be living up to its name. On January 20, Mitchell launched the fluid community art experiment "100 Days of Space for Creativity" in response to the threat posed to the arts and freedom of expression by the Donald Trump administration, based in part on reports of the intended elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Howard Frank Mosher's Imagination of Vermont: A Tribute

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 1:50 PM

Howard Frank Mosher - COURTESY OF JAY CRAVEN
  • Courtesy of Jay Craven
  • Howard Frank Mosher
Vermont writer Howard Mosher died on Sunday, January 29. Filmmaker Jay Craven worked closely with Mosher since 1985 when he optioned the story rights to his book Where the Rivers Flow North. Craven has made five films based on Mosher’s stories. He and actor Rusty DeWees, who appeared in all of Craven’s Mosher films, will appear this Friday and Saturday, February 3 and 4, 7:30 p.m., at the Stowe Town Hall to talk about their collaboration with Mosher. They'll also screen Where the Rivers Flow North (Friday) and A Stranger in the Kingdom (Saturday).

Like thousands of Vermonters who have been touched by Howard Mosher and his writing, I feel a deep sense of loss at the realization of life without him. No one has produced a larger body of work exploring the distinctive character and culture of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. No one has been more generous to fellow writers, taking time to chat, read their work and help them. No one was more tirelessly committed to his readers, through his cross-country sojourns in his 20-year-old Chevy Celebrity (dubbed the “loser cruiser") and his frequent signings at independent bookstores throughout New England.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Joke of the Week: The Long and Short of It

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 3:07 PM

It's Monday, which means it's time for your weekly dose of locavore levity: the Joke of the Week! This week's joke comes from New Haven's Katie Gillespie. Take it away, Katie…

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Reporter's Fond Remembrance of Howard Frank Mosher, 1942-2017

Posted By on Sun, Jan 29, 2017 at 9:03 PM

Howard Frank Mosher - JAKE MOSHER
  • Jake Mosher
  • Howard Frank Mosher
I expected Howard Frank Mosher to live in a more memorable home.

I figured “the bard of the Northeast Kingdom,” as a Vermont arts organization rightly described him last week, a man who made a life writing honestly but lovingly about the region and its people, would live off a long dirt road in a house screened from passersby by a grove of trees, with views of the nearby mountains. Mosher must do his writing, I assumed, in a sun-drenched office, or maybe a small cabin on his property.

But Mosher lived in a perfectly nondescript home, alongside several others, just off the green in Irasburg. I initially drove past it when I went to interview him in the spring of 2015 because, well, how could that possibly be the home of a writer of 11 novels, four of which were adapted for films?

After he ushered me inside, I asked Mosher where he did his writing. He walked me to a dining room table that was cluttered with domestic detritus and offered a view of his back yard and his neighbors.

We sat at that table for an hour or two and, though I doubt I asked him anything that journalists hadn’t asked him dozens of times before, he eagerly answered everything I threw at him about his writing and his newest novel, God’s Kingdom. The book was set, as many of his stories were, in Kingdom Common, a thinly veiled version of the region that was Mosher’s adopted home. It was the muse that sustained him through a five-decade literary career.

But most of the stuff I remember discussing with Mosher never found its way into the subsequent story I wrote for Seven Days.

We spent a lot of time talking about two mutual passions: baseball and novels. Mosher was a die-hard Red Sox fan, and I have stayed true to my Baltimore Orioles through a dozen years of living in New England. But we managed to find common ground. I droned on for too long about my love of Thomas Wolfe’s novels. (Who the hell was I to give book recommendations to Howard Frank Mosher?) Mosher was more of a Faulkner guy, if memory serves. Then he suggested I check out a few books from the modern southern writers Ron Rash and Tom Franklin. Which, later, I dutifully did.

Once, Mosher leaned over and pulled a few papers from a briefcase that looked older than I am. I stole a glance and saw, tucked inside it, a can of Budweiser.

I drove away wishing the guy was my grandfather.

I wish I could say that Mosher was my friend, but, in truth, I only talked with him a few times after that day. I called him a couple times to pick his brain about news stories in the Northeast Kingdom. Once, he gave me a story tip.

But though they were few, those interactions had an outsize influence on me. I suspect this will be a common refrain among many people who provide testimonials in the days to come about Mosher, who died today, January 29, from cancer at the age of 74.

I’m sure they will remember, as I do, his warmth, his utter lack of pretense, his undimmed curiosity, his enthusiasm for a good yarn, his endearing cackle and, most of all, his fundamental decency.

I last spoke with Mosher in mid-November, just a few weeks before he received his terminal diagnosis.

It was the week after Donald Trump’s victory, and I had been sent to the NEK —  the one region in Vermont where many towns went red on Election Day — to talk to the Republican candidate's local supporters.

I didn't find many people to talk to, and those who did talk didn’t seem, to my ears, to have anything meaningful to say. In short, I had nothing. Desperate, I pulled into the parking lot of a long-shuttered gas station in Burke and called Mosher.

I suspect that he heard a bit of despondency in my voice. I suspect, too, that in those dizzying days, he wanted to talk through the news with someone. (Mosher was no fan of Trump.)

That phone call salvaged the entire reporting trip. Mosher’s thoughts — particularly a piercing anecdote about an instance of racism he witnessed in Irasburg only a few years ago — were pretty much the only worthwhile part of the story I filed.

It was one of those conversations that I knew would stick with me, even without the benefit of hindsight.

Mosher’s good friend and fly-fishing buddy, the Barton poet Leland Kinsey, had recently died, and Mosher had written a lovely little tribute to him. It was centered on a day he and Kinsey had spent fishing for brook trout in the Kingdom.

I told him how much I enjoyed the story.

Then I told him that I had recently taken up fly fishing and fallen in love with it. Mosher listened patiently for a few minutes as I unloaded a stream of half-baked thoughts.

I told him that, when I somehow managed to catch a trout, it seemed like a miracle I didn’t deserve. I told him that fishing had made me look at rivers differently and, therefore, made me drive more slowly on my reporting excursions across Vermont. I told him that it quieted my mind in a way nothing else ever has.

Mosher chuckled knowingly throughout. When I was done, he shared with me what he loved best about the pastime. I wish I could remember everything he said.

But one thing I will never forget: Mosher invited me to come to the Northeast Kingdom and fish some of his favorite holes with him this spring.

It didn’t seem like a throwaway offer — the man was allergic to insincerity. But, even if it was, I was determined to take him up on it.

In my head, I began rehearsing the awkward phone call I would force myself to make: “Hey, Mr. Mosher, remember in November when you said we could go fishing? Umm … can we still do that?”

I learned that he planned to release a novel in the spring and would probably have to do some publicity. Maybe I could use that as an excuse to call.

I had it all figured out. I’d wait until late April or early May. That way, I’d have a few early spring weeks to practice my casting. Baseball season would be well underway, so we’d have something to talk about besides my ineptitude at coercing trout from the water. I would bring a couple cans of Budweiser.

That he finished the novel he was working on, Points North, before he died is a gift to us all. But I’m always going to regret missing out on the chance to spend a spring day on the water with Howard Frank Mosher in his Kingdom.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Howard Frank Mosher Wins Herb Lockwood Arts Prize

Posted By and on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Howard Frank Mosher - JAKE MOSHER
  • Jake Mosher
  • Howard Frank Mosher
On Friday afternoon, Burlington City Arts announced that Vermont novelist Howard Frank Mosher is the 2017 recipient of the Herb Lockwood Prize in the Arts. The largest arts award in the state, at $10,000, is presented annually to "artists who produce significant work in the areas of visual arts music, writing, drama, dance, film and fine woodworking — while also having a beneficent influence on the Vermont community," according to a press release.

Burlington photographer and writer Todd R. Lockwood established the prize in 2014 in honor of his late brother, Herb, an artist, cartoonist and woodworker.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Phantom Suns Share New Song and Video, "Disposable"

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 1:57 PM

  • Courtesy of Phantom Suns
  • Phantom Suns
Burlington's post-grunge rockers Phantom Suns have shared a new song and video, "Disposable." The track comes from their forthcoming album, to be released later this year. Phantom Suns recently dropped the album's first track, "Probably Wrong," which you can hear on Bandcamp.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

In Residence: Athena Petra Tasiopoulos at SPA

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 6:42 PM

Athena Petra Tasiopoulos at work - COURTESY OF STUDIO PLACE ARTS
  • Courtesy of Studio Place Arts
  • Athena Petra Tasiopoulos at work
In mid-November last year, Pennsylvania-born artist Athena Petra Tasiopoulos took up residence at Barre nonprofit art center and gallery Studio Place Arts. Many of the works created during the first weeks of her 10-month tenure have already made their debut — at Vermont Metro Gallery's exhibition "The Past Present," which opened on Friday, January 20. The show features Tasiopoulos' distinct graphic collages alongside the expansive silhouette paper-cut works of Molly Bosley.

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Comedian Greg Proops on Donald Trump (Spoiler: He's Not a Fan)

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 2:19 PM

  • Courtesy of Greg Proops
  • Greg Proops
We could have asked Greg Proops about many things. We could have asked about his time on the beloved British improv comedy TV show "Whose Line Is It Anyway? — or its American successor of the same name. We could have talked about lending his voice to Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas and various Star Wars projects over the years.

Or we could have pimped his latest standup comedy special, "Live at Musso and Frank's." Or picked his brain about his acclaimed podcast, "The Smartest Man in the World" — which Rolling Stone lauded as "some of the boldest comedy on the podcasting frontier right now." And then there's his latest book, The Smartest Book in the World: A Lexicon of Literacy, A Rancorous Reportage, A Concise Curriculum of Cool. Or we could have shot the shit about baseball, fer chrissakes — dude's a rabid fan.

But when Seven Days spoke to Proops by phone last week, we didn't ask him about any of that stuff.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Printmaker Elise Whittemore Wins 2017 Barbara Smail Award

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 4:41 PM

Artists Elise Whittemore and Wylie Sofia Garcia - COURTESY OF SAM SIMON
  • Courtesy of Sam Simon
  • Artists Elise Whittemore and Wylie Sofia Garcia
Last Friday night, Burlington's BCA Center  was packed for the collective reception of three new exhibitions by area artists, and to witness the passing of a figurative torch — the annual Barbara Smail Award for mid-career artists.

The 2016 winner, Wylie Sofia Garcia, wrapped up her tenure with a display of new work in a second-floor gallery. In a welcome talk Friday evening, BCA curator Heather Ferrell announced that Elise Whittemore, a printmaker from Colchester, had won the honor this year.

In a later email to Seven Days, Ferrell said that Whittemore was chosen because of her "important contributions to the vibrancy and excellence of Vermont's art community." Among other endeavors, Whittemore was a member of the now-defunct cooperative gallery 215 College in Burlington.

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Author Howard Frank Mosher in Hospice With 'Untreatable' Cancer

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 1:55 PM

Howard Frank Mosher - COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR
  • Courtesy of the Author
  • Howard Frank Mosher
Vermont author Howard Frank Mosher announced over the weekend that he has terminal cancer and is in hospice care.

The Irasburg resident said he was diagnosed in early December with cancer in his lungs that has spread throughout his body. Mosher, 74, said that he initially thought he was suffering from an "upper-respiratory bug that has been going around.

"In less than two months, though, I have gone from feeling pretty good to being in hospice care," he wrote on his public Facebook page on Sunday. "Our kids and grandkids have been with us, and I'm comfortable."

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