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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Flynn's Grand Reopening Celebration Starts the 2021-22 Season With Heart

Posted By on Tue, Oct 26, 2021 at 3:47 PM

The Flynn marquee - COURTESY OF LUKE AWTRY PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Courtesy of Luke Awtry Photography
  • The Flynn marquee
I’ve attended many captivating performances at the Flynn Main Stage since the 1990s, but Saturday’s Grand Reopening Celebration was historic. The art deco theater was beautiful; the staff was friendly and well organized, as usual; and the performances were stellar. But Vermont storyteller Ferene Paris Meyer and Flynn executive director Jay Wahl moved me to tears. Their personal yet universal accounts of the past 19 months clarified the essential nature of gathering with neighbors in a beloved place for a live performance.

“Dear Flynn Theater!” were Paris Meyer’s opening words — the first spoken from the Flynn stage to an audience since mid-March 2020. Her story was part love letter to the theater, extolling its community-enriching capacity, and part memoir of her journey to develop her voice as a woman of color. She reminded us of the Black lives lost to violence and the requisite reckonings of the recent past.

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Friday, October 15, 2021

Charlotte Gallery Bauschaus VT Hosts Night of Ambient Music and Art Installations

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 6:30 PM

Zach Pollakoff - COURTESY OF CALEB KENNA
  • courtesy of Caleb Kenna
  • Zach Pollakoff
Artist, musician and advertising professional Zach Pollakoff is throwing the second show at his Bauschaus VT gallery in Charlotte this Saturday, October 16. Six artists will display large-scale installations in Pollakoff's historic gallery and home, accompanied by a live soundtrack from Brooklyn's Elori Saxl, an Emmy-nominated composer and filmmaker, and Photay, an electronic producer, also from New York City.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Montpelier Author Kekla Magoon Named National Book Award Finalist

Posted By on Wed, Oct 6, 2021 at 2:16 PM

Kekla Magoon - COURTESY OF KEKLA MAGOON
  • Courtesy of Kekla Magoon
  • Kekla Magoon
Updated at 3:58 p.m.

Kekla Magoon had just picked up groceries to cook dinner on Monday evening when she saw that she had missed a phone call.

“I didn’t even hear the phone ring,” the Montpelier author said on Wednesday. She was in the grocery store parking lot when she noticed a voicemail from a 212 number.

“I figured that might be related to publishing, so I listened,” she said. “And it was the executive director of the National Book Foundation.”

Magoon is one of five finalists for the 2021 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for her forthcoming nonfiction book Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party's Promise to the People. “It’s pretty exciting,” she said. “A little surreal, also.”

She had known since September that she was on the long list for the prize, and she knew that the foundation planned to announce all 25 National Book Award finalists — five in each of five categories — on Tuesday, October 5, at 10 a.m. She hadn’t expected to hear anything until then. In a long “congratulatory voicemail with some logistics information,” foundation executive director Ruth Dickey asked Magoon to keep the news quiet and not to tell even her publisher.

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Friday, October 1, 2021

What Doth Life Festival Returns to Windsor

Posted By on Fri, Oct 1, 2021 at 11:52 AM

Kiel Alarcon at the Windsor Exchange - COURTESY OF TOM MCNEILL
  • courtesy of Tom McNeill
  • Kiel Alarcon at the Windsor Exchange
Windsor music collective What Doth Life roars back to life this weekend. After a tough year with little to promote, the WDL crew is staging What Doth Life Fest II on Saturday, October 2, at the Windsor Exchange.

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Friday, September 24, 2021

Marchers in Burlington Protest Oil Pipeline Expansion in Midwest

Posted By on Fri, Sep 24, 2021 at 10:52 PM

Demonstrators on Burlington's Main Street in the Stop Line 3 March and Rally - DARIA BISHOP
  • Daria Bishop
  • Demonstrators on Burlington's Main Street in the Stop Line 3 March and Rally
Martha Hammond and her three daughters were among the roughly 200 people who gathered in Burlington on Friday afternoon for the Stop Line 3 March and Rally. Line 3 is a proposed oil pipeline expansion that would bring tar sands from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wisconsin, crossing Native American land and numerous bodies of water in Minnesota. The girls, ages 10, 6 and 4, each carried a hand-painted sign with a picture of a water bird: a loon, a trumpeter swan, a kingfisher.

Demonstrators convened in City Hall Park, where organizer Natalee Braun of Essex laid out the march's three goals: stop Line 3, deepen the connection among activists, and educate passersby.


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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Montpelier Author Kekla Magoon Long-Listed for National Book Award

Posted By on Tue, Sep 21, 2021 at 4:02 PM

Kekla Magoon - COURTESY OF KEKLA MAGOON
  • Courtesy of Kekla Magoon
  • Kekla Magoon
Montpelier's Kekla Magoon has been long-listed for the prestigious National Book Award for Young People's Literature for her forthcoming nonfiction book Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party's Promise to the People. The author of children's and young adult titles such as The Rock and the River and the Robyn Hoodlum series, Magoon is a faculty member at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Revolution in Our Time, which will be released on Tuesday, November 23, traces the Black Panther Party through its social and historical contexts, from slavery to the group's inception in 1966 to today's ongoing anti-racist efforts.

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Monday, September 20, 2021

Roost.World, Pons Headline Night of Indie Rock at Club Metronome

Posted By on Mon, Sep 20, 2021 at 4:26 PM

Roost.World live at the Broccoli Bar - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • Roost.World live at the Broccoli Bar
Indie-electro outfit Roost.World are back in the club. The Burlington-based group brings its chaotic blend of Synth-pop and DIY punk energy to Club Metronome this Saturday, September 25. The show is a proper indie music showcase, featuring Burlington ex-pats Pons, New Haven, Conn., punk rockers Them Airs, Brattleboro's Guy Ferrari and DJ Metaspirit.

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Sunday, September 12, 2021

251: Stargazing in Middlesex

Posted By on Sun, Sep 12, 2021 at 2:28 PM


Black Lives Matter installation at Camp Meade in Middlesex - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Black Lives Matter installation at Camp Meade in Middlesex
Fifty stars painted white hang from cables in a frame of red, white and blue. Red lettering on 16 of the stars spells out Black Lives Matter. Atop the piece, which stands in a field in Middlesex, is the name John Lewis, rendered in black.

The installation for the late civil rights leader and U.S. congressman is at  Camp Meade,  which I visited the other day.  Its red letters shone against a  backdrop of trees. Curious about who made it, I emailed Russ Bennett, a co-owner of the property and an artist/builder. Bennett has been making things — music festivals, breweries, tree houses — since before "maker" was a title that conferred status.

“i’d like to get in touch with the artist,” I emailed Bennett, dispensing with grammar in my haste. “do you have contact info? maybe it’s you!?”

Bennett wrote back: “Yes, we made it, after John Lewis died and in the height of public awareness of police killings of black humans

“So yes you are in contact with the so called artist” (In his reply, Bennett dispensed with punctuation.)

I called him to find out more.

“I want people to think about the United States of America,” Bennett told me. “It’s a field of stars.”

He said he’s been thinking of changing the name on top of the piece once a month to honor “Black people who have gone before us.”

“I’m thinking it doesn’t need to be a memorial for one human being,” Bennett said. He suggested that he might recognize Muhammad Ali and Maya Angelou.

Talking to Bennett, I learned that the "we" in his phrase,  "we made it,"  refers to carpenters, craftspeople — makers — who work with him at  NorthLand Visual Design & Construction in Waitsfield.

“I’m the pencil,” Bennett said. “People that work for me, they make stuff happen. They make it become reality. Until somebody makes it into a physical reality, it isn’t anything.”
Food donation basket at Camp Meade - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Food donation basket at Camp Meade

Bennett was also the pencil for a big basket labeled “Feed the Hungry” that stands near the Lewis piece. It’s a receptacle for food donations for Vermonters in need.

Past the basket  is a grassy expanse of private land that's  open to the public for use as a park. Bennett encourages people to have a picnic, practice yoga or throw a Frisbee — activities in which folks are "getting together and looking at each other instead of their freaking phones."

Red Hen Baking makes pizza in an outdoor oven on the property. The space has a concert stage and art pieces, including a giant yellow pencil. Bennett is the pencil's pencil.

“I think feeding people with art is every bit as important as feeding the physical body,” Bennett said.

Go to Middlesex with food for a hungry neighbor and put it in the big basket at Camp Meade.  Take a look at the stars in the red, white and blue frame while the leaves behind them are still green.

I told Bennett I’m a year late seeing the Lewis piece, which went up last summer.

“We’re all 400 years late on Black Lives Matter,” he said. “This is now. You can’t be late. It’s still an issue. We have to address each other as human beings.”

251 is a series of on-the-road stories, coming soon to a town near you.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Jazz Trumpeter Ray Vega Wins 2021 Herb Lockwood Prize

Posted By on Wed, Sep 8, 2021 at 5:01 PM

Ray Vega at Hotel Vermont - COURTESY OF SETH CASHMAN
  • Courtesy of Seth Cashman
  • Ray Vega at Hotel Vermont
Trumpeter, educator and radio host Ray Vega has won the 2021 Herb Lockwood Prize in the Arts. The annual award "aims to reward the pinnacle of arts leadership in Vermont by honoring the most influential artists," according to a press release announcing Vega's win.

Recent recipients include dancer/choreographer Hannah Dennison, musician/DJ Robert Resnik and Bread and Puppet Theater founder Peter Schumann. Vega received the award in a ceremony at the BCA Center in Burlington on Wednesday.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Vermont Book Award Becomes Three Separate Prizes

Posted By on Tue, Aug 31, 2021 at 6:02 PM

Martin Philip accepting the 2018 Vermont Book Award - COURTESY OF VERMONT COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS
  • Courtesy of Vermont College of Fine Arts
  • Martin Philip accepting the 2018 Vermont Book Award
The Vermont Book Award, which has been presented by Vermont College of Fine Arts since 2015, is changing. The 2022 prize will be awarded by a new coalition consisting of VCFA, the Vermont Department of Libraries and the Vermont Humanities Council.

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