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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

  • 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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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Bierstadt Painting Takes a Vacation in Florida

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2018 at 5:24 PM

"The Domes of the Yosemite" at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, after restoration - ST. JOHNSBURY ATHENAEUM
  • St. Johnsbury Athenaeum
  • "The Domes of the Yosemite" at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, after restoration
Last October, Albert Bierstadt's massive 1867 painting "The Domes of the Yosemite" left its permanent home at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum for restoration. It was carefully rolled around cardboard tubing and driven to Miami, Fla., where conservationists at the ArtCare Conservation Studio repaired the weakened canvas, removed a synthetic varnish applied in the 1950s, and performed some minor inpainting.

The 10-by-15-foot painting, commissioned by a Connecticut financier in 1867 and sold at auction to a member of the Fairbanks family shortly after, has resided at the Athenaeum since 1873. But before it returns home, it's making a pit stop at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Fla., about three hours north of the conservation studio.

This is the first time since its installation at the Athenaeum that Bierstadt's painting has been shown outside of St. Johnsbury.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Museum of Everyday Life Announces New Season, Invites Participation

Posted By on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 3:02 PM

The Museum of Everyday Life in Glover - COURTESY OF THE MUSEUM OF EVERYDAY LIFE
  • Courtesy of the Museum of Everyday Life
  • The Museum of Everyday Life in Glover
Each spring since 2011, a humble barn in the Northeast Kingdom comes to life — not with buds and blooms, but with a riot of ordinary things. Under the direction of artist and veteran Bread & Puppet performer Clare Dolan, Glover's experimental Museum of Everyday Life dedicates itself every year to a quirky and spirited exhibition that sprouts from a mundane but thematically potent object.

Last year's exhibit was on bells and whistles; the year before that, mirrors. Other previous exhibits have focused on such prosaic items as pencils and dust. Dolan has just announced the theme for the coming season at MoEL: locks and keys.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Montréal Artists Create a New Mural for the Alchemist

Posted By on Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 5:24 PM

Dan Buller, Ola Volo, Jason Bodkin and Jonathan Bergeron of EN MASSE - ERIK NELSON
  • Erik Nelson
  • Dan Buller, Ola Volo, Jason Bodkin and Jonathan Bergeron of EN MASSE
The Alchemist Brewery and Visitors Center got a new do this weekend. Four artists from the Montréal-based EN MASSE mural project lent their collaborative black-and-white stylings to the vaulted public entrance of the Stowe brewery.

Alchemist co-founder and brewer John Kimmich first encountered EN MASSE's work in Montréal, happening upon one of their murals in a parking garage. He immediately fell for its cacophony of themes unified by stark graphics.

EN MASSE, headed by Jason Botkin and Rupert Bottenberg, brings together (mostly) new artists for each project, whether a high-profile commission or a public, outdoor mural. The artists work collaboratively, each starting with a segment of wall and working outward so their designs mingle. The finished products are varied and unpredictable.

Since its inception in 2009, EN MASSE has worked with more than 250 artists around the world. And it's not the group's first time in Vermont. In 2012, EN MASSE artists, led by Bottenberg, painted a large cube, subsequently suspended from the ceiling, in a now-defunct Winooski gallery space facing the traffic circle.

The Alchemist's new piece — two pieces, technically, on opposite sides of the 768 square feet of ceiling space — was painted by Botkin, Ola Volo, Jonathan Bergeron and Dan Buller. It features a grinning face, a swan, an ornate rose, a rocketship and other items.
Mural by En Masse at the Alchemist Brewery and Visitors Center - ERIK NELSON
  • Erik Nelson
  • Mural by En Masse at the Alchemist Brewery and Visitors Center
Bodkin says the group doesn't usually go into a commission with a game plan, unless the client requests it. In this case, Kimmich just wanted them to do their thing. Bodkin notes that fun things happen when multiple artists work together. "It's an interesting process to watch people paint unscripted — it's contagious," he says.

It seems John and Jen Kimmich have the bug. Artwork has long been essential to the popular beer brand. Alchemist art director Jess Graham says the founders hope that the brewery will be "a feast for the eyes," and aim to continually add new works to their collection.

The mural joins a silo that Graham painted, work by artist Dan Blakeslee on the bright tanks, and sculptural, Dr. Seuss-like trees at the brewery's public entrance.

"The intention and vision [for the building] is [for it] to become full of sculpture and art," Graham says.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Bernie Sanders
Luis Calderin Presents 'Space Time Magic' at Champlain College

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 7:46 PM

  • Courtesy of Luis Calderin
  • Luis Calderin
Luis Calderin had a front-row seat to the spectacle that was the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Burlington-based marketing specialist, designer and DJ served as the director of arts, culture and the youth vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) presidential campaign. From curating nationally touring political art exhibits to managing celebrity endorsements from the likes of rapper Killer Mike and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it was a role that uniquely suited Calderin's varied interests.

Since the campaign, Calderin has continued working at what he calls "the intersection of youth, culture and politics." He spent time with Rock the Vote, the national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that aims to get youth to the polls. Currently, he's running his own boutique marketing firm, Okay Okay Creative. And he's writing a book, PoliticArts, that examines the history of campaign art.

Calderin's latest endeavor is a new multimedia presentation, "Space Time Magic," debuting this Thursday, February 8, at Champlain College's Alumni Auditorium in Burlington. Fusing music and design, Calderin recounts his unlikely story, from moving to Burlington from Miami as a teenager — and the first American-born son of Cuban immigrants — to the experiences and influences that led him to Sanders' campaign and to his current projects. Think of it like a hip-hop TED talk. The event's  program is designed to look like a vinyl album cover.

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