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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Fond Farewell to Artists John Brickels & Wendy James

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 2:08 PM

  • Courtesy of Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center
  • Wendy James and John Brickels
In 1986, sculptor John Brickels was juried into Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center. His wife, artist and Essex High School art teacher Wendy James, began to show her work at the gallery in 2011. Now, after decades of working within and supporting the Vermont arts community, the couple have announced they will be moving to Massachusetts in June, following James' retirement from her teaching career.

To bid the pair bon voyage and honor their contributions to the state,  Frog Hollow will mount the exhibition "Here to There," opening Thursday, June 1, with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. The show will include an array of works spanning the artists' careers, including Brickels' celebrated architectural clay sculpture and later steampunk-themed pieces, and a selection of James' paintings and photomontages.

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The Building That Houses Nectar's Is for Sale

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 1:41 PM

  • File photo: Matthew Thorsen
  • Nectar's
The building that houses iconic Burlington nightclub Nectar's is up for sale. In a conference call Tuesday morning, representatives from Nectar's Entertainment Group confirmed that its three-story building at 188 Main Street, which also houses Club Metronome, is on the market. NEG, which also owns the Nectar's brand, has owned the building since 2012.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Joke of the Week: Surprise!

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 12:30 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 Burlington's Jared Hall. Take it away, Jared…

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

'The Andrews' Join Staff at Burlington City Arts

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 6:07 PM

Andrew Krebbs and Andrew DesForges - BURLINGTON CITY ARTS
  • Burlington City Arts
  • Andrew Krebbs and Andrew DesForges
On Monday, Burlington City Arts announced the newest additions to its administrative team, art director Andrew DesForges and communication director Andrew Krebbs.

Krebbs fills the position left by the departure of communication director Llu Mulvaney-Stanak in March this year. Mulvaney-Stanak held the post for just 10 months before leaving to become the interim executive director of Outright Vermont; longtime director Eric Ford left it in 2016 for a position as senior manager of local programming at Vermont PBS.

BCA's previous art director was Ted Olson, who worked at the organization from 2010 to 2015. He left BCA in 2015 to start his own branding firm, Tally Ho Design, but continued to freelance for BCA, as did Bobby Hackney Jr.

DesForges, 32, is originally from Killington. He spent 10 years away in cities across the country, earning his MFA from the University of Iowa. DesForges returned to Vermont last year to be closer to his family. He has been working as a designer for A&S Brewing, as well as on freelance projects. Local music lovers will have seen DesForges' work on posters for the band Madaila.

Krebbs, 35, is originally from Indiana but spent the last 12 years in Birmingham, Ala. There he was the marketing director for the 67.5-acre Birmingham Botanical Gardens, a popular tourist destination. Krebbs moved to Vermont last November with his partner, Jason Garvey, who took a faculty position at the University of Vermont.

Part of his job, Krebbs said, is to make the BCA customer experience better. "We want to make it really easy to take classes, really easy for you to join or donate, to volunteer," he noted.

Krebbs added that he and his partner were drawn to Vermont because "the quality of life is just so amazing here. And BCA fits right into that."

For his part, DesForges said that his role is to visualize and convey to the public what the organization is all about. "A lot of people I talk to don't know all that BCA offers," he said. "We're either just a clay studio or a gallery [to them], but we have so much more going on."

Outside of work, DesForges said he enjoys skateboarding, snowboarding, the fine arts and live music. His most recent discovery was the local band Iron Eyes Cody.

Krebbs said he's excited for his first full summer in Vermont. He said he enjoys being outdoors and spending time with his three dogs.

Being one of two Andrews is confusing for both new hires, who sit right next to each other in BCA's third-floor offices. DesForges suggested Top Gun-themed nicknames: "Goose" for him and "Maverick" for Krebbs. Whether or not the names stick, it seems that BCA has found its wingmen.

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Nepali Communities Celebrate Sansari Puja and Buddha Jayanti

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 12:07 PM

Saransari Puja at Battery Park in Burlington - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Saransari Puja at Battery Park in Burlington
Last Saturday at Battery Park, a group of Burlington's Nepali residents celebrated Sansari Puja, or Mother Nature worship. The annual event organized by the Kirat Rai and Limbu communities is intended to thank the gods of nature and to ask them for future prosperity, explained Kathleen Haughey of the Vermont Folklife Center, which sponsored the celebration.

In Nepal or Bhutan, devotees typically gather in the jungles or near rivers. Sansari Puja is also usually held during the Nepali month of Baishak, or April in the Gregorian calendar. "It's a special day," said Chatur Rai of Burlington
A Nepali man erecting representations of the gods of nature - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • A Nepali man erecting representations of the gods of nature

Hours earlier, the attendees had erected structures made with bamboo, wire and strips of cloth. The rocks installed beneath them represented gods of nature taking shade under the trees. Devotees placed fruits, flowers, incense and dollar bills on banana leaves as offerings. A sewasaba, or priest, read from the Kirat's holy book.

"It's very interesting," commented Abdillahi Hassan. He lingered to chat with members of the non-Nepali community who had been invited to join the festivities.

One of them was Mark Sustic, executive director of Young Tradition Vermont. "I'm just here to be helpful [and] celebrate an important time of the year for the Nepali community," he said. It wasn't the first time Sustic joined the group's activities. Together with VFC, his organization is trying to support Nepali immigrants in preserving their music and dance.

Other members of the larger Nepali community pitched in to help with the festivities. Among them were Sita Poudel and sisters Krishna and Durga Adhikari. They made tea, peeled potatoes, and chopped onions and tomatoes to cook curry and aloo gobi (a dish made from cauliflower, potatoes and spices).
About a five-minute walk from Battery Park, another festival was simultaneously taking place at the former St. Joseph School on Allen Street. That space is usually used by pandits, or priests, from Vermont Hindu Temple to lead Hindu prayers.

But on that day, Lama Guru Samten read Buddhist scriptures as part of celebrations to mark Buddha's birthday, also known as Buddha Jayanti. The lama sat beside a makeshift altar with statues of Buddha, surrounded by tapestries of Hindu gods and Buddha. When the lama took short breaks, the attendees, most of whom are members of the Vermont Hindu Temple, sang bhajan, or devotional songs, praising  Buddha.
Lama Guru Samten presiding over Buddhist rites - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Lama Guru Samten presiding over Buddhist rites
The Gurung Community of Vermont had invited the South Dakota-based lama to lead the celebrations, said Prati Gurung, secretary of the Gurung Community of Vermont. Although Buddha Jayanti was on Wednesday, the gathering was held at the weekend because "most people can attend it," Gurung pointed out. "Everybody has a job. They have to pay rent."

Hindu-Buddhist joint celebrations were common when they lived in refugee camps in Nepal, Gurung explained. Now that Bhutanese Nepali families have settled in Vermont, that tradition continues.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Majorwise and Packetized Energy Win 2017 LaunchVT

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 5:02 PM

LaunchVT winners: Majorwise and Packetized Energy - COURTESY OF LAUNCHVT FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Courtesy of LaunchVT Facebook page
  • LaunchVT winners: Majorwise and Packetized Energy
Last Friday, May 12, Majorwise, an online job platform for students, took first prize at LaunchVT, an annual business pitch competition for local startups; just three months earlier, Majorwise cofounders Max Robbins and Peter Silverman came out on top at the LaunchVT Collegiate competition. The quartet of Mads Almassalkhi, Jeff Frolik, Andrew Giroux and Paul Hines, of Packetized Energy, took second prize.

Silverman, a University of Vermont junior, remembered feeling "really nervous" before it was his team's turn to present their pitch. "[I] sweated through a t-shirt, which was really gross," he said. The competition was held at Main Street Landing Center.

Hines, who is a UVM electrical engineering professor, admitted that "it was a little nerve racking," especially since he was the last to present. "It worked out OK, " he chuckled.

"Everybody did very well," Hines noted, adding that there was a "ton of improvement" from the dry run the teams had earlier this month at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. Hines had spent the days leading up to the competition getting and merging feedback from his cofounders and mentor.

According to Silverman, winning the competition has given Majorwise credibility and financial relief. As first prize winners, the UVM juniors received $30,000 in cash and $45,000 in in-kind support. They will use the money to hire more developers, Silverman said. Currently, they can only afford to pay for 10 hours' worth of work each week, he explained.

As a result of the boost in manpower, Silverman predicts he and Robbins will be able to release an improved version of their platform a month earlier than planned. They will also make use of the cash prize to attend conferences for human resource professionals, so that they can market their product. Attendance at these events costs between $500 and $2,000, which had previously been "out of reach" for them, Silverman explained.

Similarly, the team from Packetized Energy will use their cash prize of $15,000 to hire a software developer. They hope to do this before their first investor comes in, said Hines. Packetized Energy is developing a platform to coordinate "distributed energy resources" found in household items and small businesses. The aim is to keep costs low and balance supply and demand in the grid.

So, what's their advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

"Network and pitch [and] get comfortable with people," said Silverman. "It all comes down to the execution, stick to it." He and his partner have been working on the same idea for 20 months, he said.

"Just ask people for advice early on," said Hines. "We learned a lot about what a good pitch looks like."

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Joke of the Week: My Hero

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 1:08 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 Burlington's Tim Bridge. Take it away, Tim…

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Montpelier Alive Issues Call to Parade Artists

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 9:13 AM

Montpelier July Third Parade - ROB SPRING
  • Rob Spring
  • Montpelier July Third Parade
Spring has barely sprung, but capital city nonprofit Montpelier Alive is already thinking about July. The third of July, specifically, and the patriotic celebrations that accompany that day.

Last Thursday, Montpelier Alive announced a new addition to the day's lineup of events: a parade competition with a hefty check for two winners. Officially titled the Union Mutual July 3rd Parade Competition, the event invites individuals and organizations to create patriotic floats, costumes, decorations and banners.

There's only one catch — they have to showcase "green initiatives." Organizers hope participants will use reclaimed and repurposed items, as well as objects that can be recycled post-parade.

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Style Points: Natural Lingerie by Hanna Broer Design

Posted By on Sat, May 13, 2017 at 3:54 PM

Model Aubrey Ebony in pieces from Hanna Broer's spring underwear line - RUNWAY PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Runway Photography
  • Model Aubrey Ebony in pieces from Hanna Broer's spring underwear line

It’s finally spring. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining —  sometimes — and we're pushing heavy outerwear to the backs of our closets. It seems like a good time to introduce a new blog series focusing on Vermont designers, stylists, fashion mavens and textile-oriented entrepreneurs. For this inaugural post, meet eco-friendly designer Hanna Broer.

Broer first started designing under garments in 2011, when she was still living in her native Montréal. "One day I needed underwear, so I made some for myself and had a lot of fun," she said. "I was working for a Montréal fashion designer, [Katrin Leblond,] at the time, and I got a lot of encouragement, so I made more to sell. I’ve evolved a lot since then, but that’s how it started."

Now, the 27-year-old designer lives in Craftsbury, where she makes all of the organic cotton bras, panties and loungewear in her eponymous lingerie line. Her work features nary a whisper of underwire, relying instead on high waistlines downstairs and sleek-yet-comfortable cuts upstairs.

Lace makes an occasional appearance in Broer's ever-evolving lineup of intimates, but, for the most part, she produces comfy underwear sets in printed and solid organic jersey fabrics. Seven Days caught up with the designer over email to learn more about her business.

SEVEN DAYS: What was that first underwear like that you made, and how have things changed?
HANNA BROER: My first pair of underwear was the wide-band panty style. I was working in a fashion studio in Montréal at the time. I was wearing a pair of baggy jeans — really baggy, like some men wear it — and I was so frustrated with having to wear shorts underneath, so I made myself some undies that would give a similar effect to the boxers that show under men's pants. One of them even had a plaid print. I've refined the cut since then for a better fit, but the style is still the same. I've added other panty styles since, and I eventually started making bras to go with the bottoms.

SD: Why no underwire?
HB: There are a few reasons. First, comfort is essential to me, and underwire bras can be very uncomfortable if they don't fit perfectly. Then, a more practical reason for me is they are very time-consuming to make, and getting the right fit through only measurements can be quite tricky. I'm slowly teaching myself to make them fit comfortably and reliably. There are people who do prefer underwire bras for support, and one day I might offer them, but I'm not there yet. I do offer some bras that are still quite supportive for not having wires, and I have many happy customers in all ranges of breast sizes, including in my XL and XXL sizes.

Sierra McKenzie models Hanna Broer's spring line. - DAVE TADA
  • Dave Tada
  • Sierra McKenzie models Hanna Broer's spring line.
SD: On to materials. Where do you get your fabric? Is it hard to find organic materials, and how do you verify that?
HB: I buy most of my fabric online from a few wholesale companies. It is difficult to find organic materials and especially organic stretch jerseys, which I use for my undergarments. I spend lots of time searching!

SD: Why do you hand sew? Couldn't you get a factory to make all your designs and save time?
HB: I love to sew! I'm a very creative and hands-on person, and I love being part of the whole process. I also think that there are starting to be many lost arts in our culture, and I want to keep the craft of sewing alive here. Eventually, if I can't handle all the sewing, I will want to hire someone, or a few people, locally.

SD: What dictates how your designs change between seasons? For example, in 2017, you're using the same print in a variety of natural-looking colors. For 2016,  you used more lace and added more loungewear to the line.
HB: I like to create inspiration boards for myself with colors, textures, trends and details that inspire me. Ultimately, the decision is often more practical. Some of it depends on what fabrics I can find, and which colors compliment each other.  Some of it depends on the season; some of it comes from wanting to accommodate different body types, and it's all based on what I'm inspired to make.
Cait Lion in items from Hanna Broer Designs - CAROLYN JEAN
  • Carolyn Jean
  • Cait Lion in items from Hanna Broer Designs
SD: It looks like you recently started making swimsuits. Is that material harder to work with? Do you think you'll continue offering them?
HB: There are some challenges to making swimwear, and the material can sometimes be tricky, but it's not much more challenging than lingerie is for me. The biggest reason I haven't done swimwear until now is that I've committed to using environmentally friendly fabrics as much as I can. Since swimwear has to be made from synthetic materials, that has been a setback for me.

Recently I was able to find a company that uses polyester that has been produced using significantly less water than conventional polyester. I've been using that fabric for a small test run, and hopefully this summer I will be offering more swimwear made out of recycled polyester.

SD: What are your primary means of marketing your product?
HB: At the moment my primary marketing comes from social media (mainly Instagram), and through Etsy.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Magic Hat Receives National Arts Award

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 5:47 PM

Magic Hat Artifactory - LISA KELLY
  • Lisa Kelly
  • Magic Hat Artifactory
For the second year in a row, Americans for the Arts has recognized a Burlington-area business as one of its "BCA 10."  Each year, the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit's  Business Committee for the Arts highlights 10 businesses across the country for "exceptional involvement in the arts," according to its website. received the honor last year. This year it's Magic Hat Brewing Company. Burlington's South End Arts and Business Association nominated both businesses for the award.

Founded by entrepreneur Alan Newman and brewer Bob Johnson, Magic Hat began concocting its suds on Flynn Ave. in Burlington's South End in 1994. The company has since moved its production to Bartlett Bay Road in South Burlington, though its offices are presently located on Pine Street in Burlington. North American Breweries bought the company in 2010. In 2012, NAB sold to Cerveceria Costa Rica, a division of Costa Rica's Florida Ice & Farm Co.

Throughout its history, Magic Hat has made the arts part of its identity and mission. (Fun fact: The brewery's original name was the Magic Hat Brewing Company & Performing Arts Center.) Recent artistic endeavors have run the gamut from soliciting original artwork for the Labels for Libations project to hosting the annual Wall to Canvas event, a live art competition at the brewery that benefits the Shelburne Craft School.
Art Hop Ale label with illustration by Zelde Grimm. - MAGIC HAT
  • Magic Hat
  • Art Hop Ale label with illustration by Zelde Grimm.
This is only the second year SEABA has nominated a business for the award. According to SEABA director Adam Brooks, that's because he hadn't even heard about the BCA 10 until Americans for the Arts approached him two years ago.

"They came to me after hearing about our little South End Arts District and the South End Art Hop, and thought maybe we should nominate a business," Brooks writes in an email. " has been outstanding in supporting the arts community, so they were a logical choice."

Deciding who to pick this year wasn't easy, Brooks says. "There are many south end businesses who make it part of their mission to support the arts.  That's what makes this district tick."

But Brooks notes a few projects that put Magic Hat on the organization's radar. He cites Labels for Libations, which began in 2012 during Brooks' first year as director. The competition solicits artwork from local creators to adorn a limited edition 22-ounce "Art Hop Ale." Recent winners have included Zelde Grimm and Hillary Glass.

Brooks also mentions the company's support of nonprofits such as the Shelburne Craft School and Big Heavy World. Magic Hat hosts the HeavyFest music festival, a BHW benefit, next Saturday, May 20, at the brewery.

"They are an extremely creative and artistic-minded business," Brooks says.

In an email statement to Seven Days, Magic Hat brand manager Lisa Kelly writes, "Since we opened our brewery doors in 1994, [Magic Hat has] embraced our incredible and vibrant arts community and wished to play a big part in that and help nurture and grow it." Kelly notes that the brewery also hosts art exhibitions in its retail store and tasting room, the Artifactory.

"We are proud to work with and support SEABA and participate in the South End Art Hop year after year," Kelly continues. "We invite the local Burlington arts community to share this award with us. Because without their inspiration and welcome, we would not have found ourselves in this amazing position."

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