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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

From a Montpelier Porch, an Art Installation Joins an International Festival

Posted By on Tue, Oct 13, 2020 at 4:36 PM

"Interspace" seen at night - ALISA DWORSKY-DANNY SAGAN
  • Alisa Dworsky-Danny Sagan
  • "Interspace" seen at night
Alisa Dworsky and Danny Sagan, married architects, artists and educators at Norwich University, are participating in an international art festival without leaving home. On the porch of their house in Montpelier, the couple has constructed an installation called "Interspace" that can be seen not only by locals but by anyone in the world who cares to look.

CEC ArtsLink, an international arts organization with an office in St. Petersburg, Russia, hosts Art Prospect, its seventh annual public art festival, from October 15 to 18. Normally an on-site event with physical and augmented-reality installations, the event has perforce gone online because, well — what isn't virtual in 2020?

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Friday, September 25, 2020

New Anti-Racist Mural Rises at Champlain Elementary

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2020 at 1:11 PM

The Afronaut mural at Champlain Elementary - MARGARET GRAYSON ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Margaret Grayson ©️ Seven Days
  • The Afronaut mural at Champlain Elementary
A new mural at Champlain Elementary School in Burlington was completed this week by artists Will Kasso Condry and Jennifer Herrera Condry, with the help of their daughter, Alexa, and dozens of local children.

The colorful, Afrofuturist mural was originally intended for another South End wall, but was rejected by the business owner. Soon after, the mural's commissioners, tenants of the Soda Plant on Pine Street, started a crowdfunding campaign and issued a citywide “Call for a Wall.”

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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Colorful Afronaut Mural in Need of a Wall

Posted By on Wed, Sep 2, 2020 at 5:00 PM

The proposed mural - COURTESY OF JUNIPER CREATIVE ARTS
  • Courtesy of Juniper Creative Arts
  • The proposed mural
South End businesspeople are fundraising for and seeking a wall for a mural by Vermont artists. The proposed artwork, a large, colorful painting in an Afrofuturist style by Will Kasso Condry and Jennifer Herrera Condry, would include contributions by local kids.

The mural would depict “an afronaut, a Black warrior who travels through space and time fighting for justice for all Black, Indigenous and Brown folks,” according to the artists’ statement. The afronaut is modeled on the Condrys’ daughter. The painting is meant to be joyous, and includes a quote by Albert Camus: "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Burlington's File Cabinet Sculpture to Be Moved

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2020 at 7:02 PM

"File Under So. Co. Waiting for…" by Bren Alvarez - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Matthew Thorsen ©️ Seven Days
  • "File Under So. Co. Waiting for…" by Bren Alvarez
The towering stack of rusting file cabinets on Burlington's Flynn Avenue, across the street from City Market, Onion River Co-op, is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. People come from all over to take selfies in front of it — and perhaps add a tag or a sticker. Officially titled "File Under So. Co., Waiting for…" by its creator, architect Bren Alvarez, it was erected in 2002 for that year's South End Art Hop. It was supposed to be temporary.

That was 18 years ago. This year, on September 10, the sculpture is going to be moved at last. But fans of the quirky attraction needn't fret; it's not going far.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Mission Murals Steps Into the Picture With New Feeding Chittenden Project

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 4:00 PM

Mission Murals Core Creators at Feeding Chittenden - COURTESY OF LENNON MAPES
  • Courtesy of Lennon Mapes
  • Mission Murals Core Creators at Feeding Chittenden
Recently, Jill Badolato was driving past Feeding Chittenden, the food shelf on North Winooski Avenue in Burlington. She was struck by the building's rather drab clapboard exterior.

"I pulled into the parking lot and asked a woman who was walking in if they were repainting it or if it always looks like that," Badolato recalled by phone, adding that she was wearing a mask. "She was like, 'No, this is what it always looks like.'

"I said, 'Wow, I really want to bring a mural or something to liven this up," Badolato continued, noting that the woman in the parking lot was not exactly as enthusiastic as she was. "She was like, 'That'd be great. Whatever.'"

At some point soon, that unknown and unimpressed woman might be in for a surprise.

In the coming weeks, Burlington artist Abby Manock is expected to begin work on a 1,614-square-foot mural at Feeding Chittenden. The mural is the inaugural project of a new organization founded by Badolato and others called Mission Murals. The volunteer-run collective aims to amplify the missions  and messages of Vermont nonprofit organizations through the use of art in public spaces.

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Removal of Bank Street Murals Around Burlington 'Pit' Sparks Concern

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2020 at 4:22 PM

COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
The murals along the Bank Street edge of the would-be CityPlace construction site in Burlington have been temporarily removed, as an SD Ireland crew works on restoring the sidewalk there. Over the weekend, the murals, mounted on plywood, were placed haphazardly in the pit, prompting concern from observers that the artwork was being mishandled. City staff and SD Ireland insisted that none of the murals was damaged.

A Seven Days reader spotted the murals in the pit over the weekend and photographed them, concerned that they were going to be trashed. Burlington City Arts commissioned 25  8-by-10-foot murals in October 2019 to adorn the construction barriers around the lot where the former mall stood, paying each artist $1,000 for their work. Last week, the city announced that Brookfield Asset Management, the project’s majority owner, wants to abandon plans to build two 10-story structures on the lot.

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Friday, July 17, 2020

Public Art Roundup: Black Lives Matter Murals, Big Birds and More

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 3:11 PM

Arts So Wonderful muralists at work in downtown Burlington - COURTESY OF JAMIE BEDARD
  • Courtesy of Jamie Bedard
  • Arts So Wonderful muralists at work in downtown Burlington
There's a pandemic going on, but not all artists have remained cooped up at home. The evidence? New public art has been popping up around Vermont, including Black Lives Matter-related murals and an outsize sculpture in Burlington.

While we can't include all the new public artworks spied around the state, here's a short sampling.

BLM Art and Vandalism


When Jamie Bedard started work on a Black Lives Matter mural on the wall of the old YMCA building in Burlington, she was surprised by how much attention she got. On the first day, when Bedard was painting with a group, a passerby stopped to ask why they weren’t painting All Lives Matter instead. Bedard and her friend did their best to explain the importance of recognizing Black oppression.

“It was a good way to talk about it together with someone,” Bedard said. “Just having that experience once, I feel better going into that conversation again.”

But on her second day of painting, when Bedard was alone, things were less civil.

“People were shouting out things like, ‘All Lives Matter,’ and ‘White Power.’ I was just shocked,” Bedard said. “I actually got the police called on me.” She assured officers that she had permission to paint on the building.

Bedard, an art teacher, paints murals regularly for Arts So Wonderful, a nonprofit founded by Bruce Wilson to provide artistic opportunities for young people and to create public art. The Arts So Wonderful crew often paints electrical boxes and walls that are otherwise frequently tagged with graffiti. Its members have painted several other colorful murals in Winooski, Burlington and beyond over the past few months.

Burlington's Black Lives Matter mural has been vandalized once, but Bedard returned to touch it up.

“I actually started adding more flowers to it,” she said. “If it does keep getting vandalized, I’ll just keep adding more flowers.”

In Rutland, a massive painting of a child’s face and sunflowers is in progress on the back wall of the former Strand Theatre, facing the city’s Center Street Marketplace Park. Artist Lopi LaRoe, known as LMNOPI, is calling the nearly four-story mural “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until It Comes.”
Artist LMNOPI working on "We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until It Comes" in Rutland - COURTESY OF LOPI LAROE
  • Courtesy of Lopi LaRoe
  • Artist LMNOPI working on "We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until It Comes" in Rutland
“I hope that by creating this mural in the commons of downtown Rutland, our [Black, Indigenous and people of color] community members, especially the kids, will feel seen, appreciated, welcomed and know that we are fighting for a better world for them,” LMNOPI wrote in a recent press release. “This mural is an act of love. Let it serve as a rallying cry for those of us who believe in freedom.”

The artist is also no stranger to vandalism. Last fall, her Rutland mural of climate-crisis activist Greta Thunberg was defaced. LMNOPI restored it.

An official unveiling and reception for the new work will be held in the Center Street Marketplace Park on Monday, July 20, at 6 p.m.

In Swanton, the village’s board of trustees voted to remove public art walls after they became a source of community strife, according to reporting by VTDigger.org. Some local residents have painted Black Lives Matter messages and images on the boards, and other residents promptly covered them up. Trustees decided the art walls, which are free to be painted by anyone in the community, were not intended to be used for “political messages.”

Big Bird


If you’ve driven along Maple  Street in downtown Burlington recently, you’ve probably spotted a giant red-winged blackbird peering down at passersby from its perch on a tall cattail. It’s the latest larger-than-life public sculpture from Jake Pill and Kyle Sikora, the artists behind the honeycomb and bee installation on a wall of the Cathedral Square senior living facility in South Burlington.
"Bird and Cattails" in Burlington - MARGARET GRAYSON ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Margaret Grayson ©️ Seven Days
  • "Bird and Cattails" in Burlington
Pill and Sikora met while working at Conant Metal & Light. They originally proposed the sculpture "Bird and Cattails" to Burlington City Arts for potential placement near the long-delayed CityPlace Burlington development. Instead, BCA suggested the pair site it in the rain garden at the intersection of St. Paul and Maple streets.

“It ended up being pretty tricky to place them in the rain gardens,” Pill said. A rain garden is designed to capture stormwater runoff and absorb it into the soil, so Pill and Sikora had to work closely with the Department of Public Works on their design to make sure it didn’t interfere with the garden’s functionality.

They went with a red-winged blackbird because it’s native to Vermont’s wetlands and has a symbiotic relationship with the cattails. The artists like to highlight natural relationships and local ecology in their work, Pill said, “especially because a lot of this public art comes out of city development and growth.”

The sculpture is crafted from foam, fiberglass and steel, and painted with the kind of paint that gives roller coasters their bright finishes. Vermont weather requires a lot of consideration, Pill and Sikora said, especially if a work needs to last for years.

Out of Step


July 16 tweet from University of Vermont police - SCREENSHOT ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Screenshot ©️ Seven Days
  • July 16 tweet from University of Vermont police
A statue on the University of Vermont campus is missing its prized accessory. UVM Police tweeted on Thursday that the cane held by the statue of the Marquis de Lafayette on the University Green had been stolen and requested tips on its possible whereabouts. The statue depicts the Revolutionary War officer who visited Burlington for one day in 1825. (But you might know him better from the musical Hamilton.)

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Vermont Law School to Remove Mural Considered Offensive

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 12:30 PM

A panel on the VLS mural - SAM KERSON
  • Sam Kerson
  • A panel on the VLS mural
Vermont Law School announced that it will paint over a campus mural that depicts enslaved people and Vermont’s role in the Underground Railroad, after students objected to its inaccurate portrayal of Black people.

The mural has been in the Chase Community Center on the school's Royalton campus since 1993, and conversations about its perceived racism have taken place since at least 2013, according to a statement from VLS students Jameson Davis and April Urbanowski.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Arts and Culture Nonprofits to Receive $5 Million in State Relief Grants

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2020 at 1:00 PM

"Youth Triumphant" sculpture in Barre - FILE: SUE HIGBY
  • File: Sue Higby
  • "Youth Triumphant" sculpture in Barre
The Vermont Arts Council and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development will distribute $5 million to arts and culture nonprofits, as part of legislation signed by Gov. Phil Scott last week to provide $96 million in emergency economic recovery grants to Vermont businesses.

Applications opened Monday on the ACCD website for all the agency’s Economic Recovery Grants. Arts and culture nonprofits are eligible for up to $50,000 in funding. The arts council will partner with ACCD to review the applications.

“It’s an incredible boost for the nonprofit cultural sector,” said Karen Mittelman, executive director of the arts council. “It’s important as a recognition of the economic stress our sector is experiencing … And we also know it will not be enough. That’s true across the board [in every sector].”

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Vermont Arts and Culture Organizations Awarded $600,000 in Relief Funding

Posted By on Fri, Jul 3, 2020 at 3:26 PM

'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' at the Weston Playhouse in 2019 - COURTESY OF ALEX PERRY
  • Courtesy of Alex Perry
  • 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' at the Weston Playhouse in 2019
Ten Vermont arts and culture organizations received more than $600,000 in direct grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of the federal coronavirus relief package.

The NEA awarded $50,000 grants to Kingdom County Productions, Dorset Theatre Festival, the Vermont Folklife Center, the Community Engagement Lab,  the Yellow Barn and the Weston Playhouse Theatre.

The NEH awarded $133,512 to the Vermont Historical Society, $69,263 to the University of Vermont, $29,362 to the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, $53,036 to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and an additional $97,017 to the Folklife Center.

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