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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Bread and Puppet Founder Peter Schumann Wins Lockwood Prize

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 7:00 PM

Peter Schumann - MASSIMO SCHUSTER
  • Massimo Schuster
  • Peter Schumann
The fifth annual Herb Lockwood Prize in the Arts has gone to Peter Schumann, visionary artist/activist and founder of beloved Glover-based Bread and Puppet Theater. He was presented with the $10,000 award — the largest arts prize in Vermont — in a small ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the BCA Center.

The aim of the Lockwood Prize is to "reward the pinnacle of arts leadership in Vermont by honoring the state's most influential artists," according to Todd R. Lockwood. He created the award in 2014 and named it for his younger brother, Herb, an artist and musician who died in a workplace accident in 1987 at age 27.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Artist Elliott Katz Is New Shop Manager at Burlington's Generator

Posted By on Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 3:24 PM

Elliott Katz - COURTESY OF GENERATOR
  • Courtesy of Generator
  • Elliott Katz
On Thursday afternoon, Generator announced the newest addition to its team:  Elliott Katz, who will be the new shop operations manager. Katz is an artist who previously worked as an adjunct professor and sculpture technician at the University of Hartford and managed the Seven Below Arts Initiative residency — a collaboration between Phish's Trey Anastasio and Burlington City Arts that ended last year. 

That gig also brought Katz into contact with then-BCA curator and current Generator director Christopher Thompson. Additionally, Thompson included Katz in the BCA show "Human = Landscape" in 2009. Thompson was the chief curator at BCA from 2008 to 2012, and joined Generator in August last year.

In a recent phone interview, Katz said he's excited to get started in the Generator shop facilities, which currently include basic wood and metalworking.

"Everything needs a deep reordering and cleaning," he said. After that, he plans to build out the forge and add a foundry — a facility for melting and shaping metal.

His primary responsibility will be "to do whatever people want," Katz said.

"[Education director Sarah Sprague] and Chris have very clear visions of what the community is hungry for, and I think I'll just implement their goals," Katz said. Essentially, makers gonna make — but they need the stuff to make with. So Katz will make that. 

Katz said that what he learned at Hartford will likely prove useful at Generator. "We had a foundry, a glass-blowing studio that was new to me," he said. "I love that material — it's so immediate."

Whether or not Generator expands into glass, some of Katz's new colleagues —contemporary artists and fabricators — may very well come to visit. He hinted that Colin McMullen, who built a mobile sugar shack and conducted sugaring demonstrations in a low-income area of Hartford, could be one of them.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Artist Erika Senft Miller Launches New Website With Installation in Maglianero Vault

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 12:12 PM

Image of "Output/Input" by Erika Senft Miller and Alder. - DANIEL CARDON
  • Daniel Cardon
  • Image of "Output/Input" by Erika Senft Miller and Alder.
Anyone who frequents Burlington's  Maglianero will be familiar with the hip downtown café's funky vault-cum-reading nook. Normally, the old metal vault houses shelves of books — which are all for sale and curated by Speaking Volumes — as well as two rough-hewn tree trunk stools and a table and chairs.

But last week, the space transformed into an unusual art installation. Now the vault boasts a fragrant carpet of slowly decaying (and alternately, sprouting) sod, barren white walls, and two interactive features. The installation, titled "Output/Input," is also the launch of artist Erika Senft Miller's new website, which is a collaboration of Miller and  Alder, the design outfit of Jasmine Parsia and Chris Norris. All three work out of the Karma Bird House office and coworking spaces upstairs from Maglianero.

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Against the Wall: A New Mirror Mural Reflects Artists' Alley on Pine Street

Posted By on Sat, May 26, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Aaron Grossman with mirror mural-in-progress - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • Aaron Grossman with mirror mural-in-progress
Anyone driving or walking behind Speeder & Earl's Coffee and the SEABA Center, through the warren of studios off Pine Street, might be in for a surprise. A large brick building that once looked like, well, a large brick building, now reflects the sky. The tricky mural is the work of metalsmith and glass artist Aaron Grossman, whose studio is behind a  black door in the shiny façade.

Grossman started the piece about three weeks ago. He says he was inspired by the ivy that once covered the building; it was removed a year ago because it was damaging the brick.

Grossman's mural uses the remaining dead vines as a guide for arching and bending "branches" that creep across the brick wall. The mirror tree echoes the graceful lines of the ivy but, instead of being dark green, it reflects the white brick of the opposing building and the sky. The cumulative effect makes the building almost disappear.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Abenaki Nation Partners With City of Burlington

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 1:10 PM

Items given to State of Vermont in 2011: soapstone pipe, fur tobacco pouch, peace wampum belt - CHIEF DON STEVENS
  • Chief Don Stevens
  • Items given to State of Vermont in 2011: soapstone pipe, fur tobacco pouch, peace wampum belt
In early May, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger's office announced a new partnership with the Vermont Abenaki Alliance. The collaboration grew out of controversial discussions over the "Everyone Loves a Parade!" mural on Church Street, which not everyone loves.

(If you haven't been keeping up: Calling the artwork racist, Albert Petrarca vandalized the mural's identification plaque in October 2017. Since then, community members and City Council representatives have been debating whether to replace or alter the mural to depict a more accurate history of Burlington.)

The focus of the City and Abenaki Alliance collaboration will be public events and education about native people and history. The release notes a July 7 event on Church Street and, in the future, a permanent exhibition at the Burlington International Airport.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

AO Glass Expands on Pine Street

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2018 at 2:08 PM

The AO Glass staff poses in co-founder Tove Ohlander's maker skirts. - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • The AO Glass staff poses in co-founder Tove Ohlander's maker skirts.
Since 2011, AO Glass has operated out of a tiny studio in a complex of warehouse-cum-artist spaces on Pine Street in Burlington. But recently, founders Tove Ohlander and Rich Arentzen found that they didn't have enough room to keep growing. The high-end glass manufactory's production has tripled in the last four years, and projects to double in the next two. So Ohlander and Arentzen expanded their shop further into — and out of — the warehouse behind their studio.

Now, AO Glass occupies a 10,000-square-foot space with double the kiln capacity. Multiple garage doors open out into the parking lot and alley behind ArtsRiot. This Friday, May 18, that typically lightly trafficked pavement will swell with visitors to the first ArtsRiot Truck Stop of 2018. Piggybacking on the popular weekly foodie event, AO Glass will unveil its new digs with a coinciding  open house.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

A New Ceramics Studio Takes Shape in Burlington's South End

Posted By on Mon, May 14, 2018 at 5:41 PM

Brielle and Mitch Rovito - PHOTO: BEAR CIERI
  • Photo: Bear Cieri
  • Brielle and Mitch Rovito
It’s said that, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you should make it yourself. Ceramicist Brielle Rovito seems to have taken that philosophy to heart.

A year ago, Rovito got married and moved to Burlington from Minneapolis, Minn., to be closer to family. Leaving a ceramics-focused shared studio, she was hoping to find something similar in her new home, but didn’t. So she started the Form Collective, which now hosts three ceramicists in a cozy second-floor studio at 180 Flynn Avenue.

On Tuesday, May 22, 5-9 p.m., Rovito will host an open house with her studio mates, Taylar Main and Lindsay Van Leir, who moved in over the winter.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Fourth of Nature for Shelburne, With Muppets

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2018 at 4:57 PM

A fallen tree at Shelburne Museum - COURTESY OF SHELBURNE MUSEUM
  • Courtesy of Shelburne Museum
  • A fallen tree at Shelburne Museum
Anybody out there watching "Twin Peaks: The Return?" (It's OK, I'm still working through it, too.) Or maybe you remember that one meteorologically unsettling scene from Magnolia? How about Donnie Darko's plasmatic time-travel portal? Thanks to last Friday's not-actually-a-tornado — it was a "microburst," according to the National Weather Service — a Shelburne Museum presentation on "Sesame Street" took a turn for the absurd, Lynchian and vaguely apocalyptic.

And now this arts writer gets to experientially report on the weather, among other occurrences.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Christal Brown Named Director of Visual & Performing Arts at Clemmons Family Farm

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 7:00 AM

Christal Brown - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Christal Brown
Fueled by a $350,000 creative placemaking grant received last December, Charlotte's Clemmons Family Farm continues toward its goal of becoming a major African American and African diasporic cultural center in Vermont. In one of several grant-funded positions now officialized, Middlebury dancer and choreographer Christal Brown has been appointed as director of visual and performing arts at the farm.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Questionable Authority: Seven Days Staff Have Thoughts on Church Street Mural

Posted By , , , and on Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 4:51 PM

Detail of "Everyone Loves a Parade!" by Pierre Hardy - FILE: KATIE JICKLING
  • File: Katie Jickling
  • Detail of "Everyone Loves a Parade!" by Pierre Hardy
“Everyone Loves a Parade!” Lately, not so much. When the Church Street Marketplace mural of that title was unveiled in 2012, the work — by Québécois artist Pierre Hardy — was lauded for its inventiveness, meticulous detail and “Where’s Waldo?” aesthetic. As the CSM website exclaims: “Grand Master Samuel de Champlain leads the charge as the scene depicts an evolution in time along Church Street. Notable and everyday Burlingtonians, downtown businesses, and iconic images of the past 400 years are distinguished through overflowing illustrations.”

But sensibilities have evolved since those Norman Rockwell-ish days of 2012. Today, many see the mural’s rendering of 400 years of Vermont history as a toxic whitewash. City councilors and Mayor Miro Weinberger have called for the creation of a task force to consider ways of replacing the mural with one that’s more inclusive and representative of the Queen City’s racial and ethnic makeup.

And, perhaps, one that looks less like a placemat in a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Indeed, absent from recent rancorous mural discussions has been any assessment of the work’s artistic merits. For that, we called upon Seven Days’ arts and culture staff to weigh in.

Beyond its blinding whiteness, the “Everyone Loves a Parade!” mural is objectionable because:

KEN PICARD: Canadian muralist Pierre Hardy culturally appropriated bricks and mortar as his artistic medium, which were actually invented by the ancient Egyptians in 2500 B.C. How about using some native stone, people?!

SADIE WILLIAMS: It is a poor imitation of trompe l’oeil. Please Google trompe l’oeil and look at the myriad examples of incredible works in chalk by street artists. You’ll reconsider ever using that term to describe that monstrosity of squashed perspective.

RACHEL JONES: Isn’t blinding whiteness in form and content plenty?

DAN BOLLES: Everyone does not, in fact, love a parade.

JORDAN ADAMS: It works on a false assumption. At best, people tolerate parades.

What features, if any, from the existing mural would you save and incorporate into the new one?

KP: I’d keep the images of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, but maybe not eating vanilla ice cream.

SW: I would save the paint scraped from the walls and grind it into a fine dust to be kept in a jar at the foot of the new mural. Visitors could take a handful and scatter it in the wind and pray for the death of the patriarchy. Also, there would be face masks because you really shouldn’t inhale that stuff.

RJ: Maybe Lois Bodoky, the (now deceased) Hot Dog Lady. Does anybody know what she thought of the mural?

DB: All of the weirdly non-Vermont stuff. Like ’70s Elvis in front of Ben & Jerry’s, for example. However, for the sake of historical accuracy, he should really be touched up as Fat Elvis.

JA: I would save the wall itself — lest Banana Republic’s apparel be exposed to the elements.

The current mural commemorates the sesquicentennial of Samuel de Champlain’s 1609 “discovery” of Lake Champlain. What should the new mural commemorate?

KP: The fur-bearing trout of Lake Memphremagog, Vermont’s earliest documented case of “fake news.”

SW: The death of the word “discovery” as a term to describe Europeans putting flags on stuff that indigenous folks already knew about. Most people are on board with that.

RJ: A renewed commitment to not Disney-fying Church Street and, you know, history.

DB: Did you know that there are two stories of Ethan Allen’s death in 1789? The first is that he had a stroke. But the other is that he — wait for it — fell out of a sleigh, drunk. Obviously, historical accuracy is not paramount when it comes to the mural, so, whether or not it’s true, we should probably commemorate the founder of Vermont dying in the most Vermont way possible.

JA: The day Trump got impeached. It obviously hasn’t happened yet, but it might have by the time we sort out this whole mural thing.

How should the next artist(s) be chosen?

KP: A round-robin pentathlon involving arm wrestling, dramatic haiku readings, competitive stir-frying, speed-cartooning and beer pong.

SW: By a group of preschool kids from Burlington’s various neighborhoods. They’ll have to look at it longer than we will.

RJ: Very carefully.

DB: I suggest we start by scouting talent at Paint & Sip nights throughout greater Burlington.

JA: A hot air balloon race around the world!

The current mural was funded by donations from prominent Vermonters and local businesses. How should the new mural be paid for?

KP: With a 1 percent sales tax on every loaf of white bread.

SW: Honestly, the same way. But maybe they could just pick a really great local artist, and not treat the mural like an advertisement. Vermont has a law against billboards.

RJ: That’s a really good question.

DB: Someone got paid for that thing?

JA: Um … by the previous artist?

The next artwork to decorate the Church Street alleyway need not be a mural. What other art installations can you envision for that space?

KP: A scratch-and-sniff tour through Vermont’s dairy country would be an olfactory sensation!

SW: I’d really like a public ball pit.

RJ: A miniature version of the moving walkway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport would be pretty cool.

DB: Any work whose artistic importance merits placement in an alley leading to a parking garage that usually smells like urine and cigarettes.

JA: Motion-sensitive holographic raccoons and squirrels that break into song and dance when someone walks through the alley. We should get Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the music!

Complete this sentence: “Thirty years from now, that Church Street alleyway will be…”

KP: Reeking of urine and weed.

SW: Underwater.

RJ: A noodle shop for blade runners. (Edward James Olmos is already there.)

DB: An alleyway off Sinex Boulevard, as Church Street will be renamed in 2020 by proclamation of Mayor Miro Weinberger.

JA: Irrelevant, because we’ll all be living inside computers.

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