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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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Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Flynn Announces Daniel Bernard Roumain as Creative Chair

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2021 at 1:21 PM

DBR - COURTESY OF DANIEL BERNARD ROUMAIN
  • courtesy of Daniel Bernard Roumain
  • DBR
On Wednesday, the Flynn announced that composer, violinist and activist Daniel Bernard Roumain has been officially installed as its new creative chair. The acclaimed musician, who has played with everyone from Philip Glass to Lady Gaga, and whom the New York Times described as "omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets," aims to shepherd the Burlington performing arts organization toward a bold new future.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Bradford Hosts Black Musicians Matter Celebration

Posted By on Wed, Aug 25, 2021 at 5:28 PM

Senayit - COURTESY OF SENAYIT
  • Courtesy of Senayit
  • Senayit
The Summer Street Music Series in Bradford returns this Thursday, August 26, but with a new look. Titled "Black Musicians Matter," the celebration features performers who are Black, Indigenous and other people of color. The show starts at 5 p.m. at the Denny Park gazebo.

Local neo-soul artist Senayit headlines the event, along with singer-songwriter and Madagascar native Mikahely and Boston-based performance artist Kali & Ancestors in Training.


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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Ivamae Celebrates New Album With Release Show at Burlington Waterfront

Posted By on Sat, Aug 21, 2021 at 2:55 PM

Ivamae - LUKE AWTRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Luke Awtry ©️ Seven Days
  • Ivamae
Ivamae released her debut LP, Tender Meat, on June 25. When the Burlington-based singer-songwriter spoke with Seven Days at the time, she confided that she wanted to do something a little special to celebrate the album.

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Friday, August 13, 2021

Higher Ground to Require Proof of Vaccination for Indoor Shows

Posted By on Fri, Aug 13, 2021 at 3:01 PM

Higher Ground - CHRIS FARNSWORTH ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Chris Farnsworth ©️ Seven Days
  • Higher Ground
South Burlington music venue Higher Ground announced Friday it will require for proof of vaccination for all indoor shows.

"We will be requiring all patrons to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, or a negative test from the past 72 hours, along with a matching photo ID," wrote Higher Ground marketing director Amy Wild in an email to Seven Days.

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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Radio Bean to Require Proof of Vaccination to Enter

Posted By on Thu, Aug 12, 2021 at 11:58 AM

Radio Bean community photo in 2016 - BLOOM MACHINE PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Bloom Machine Photography
  • Radio Bean community photo in 2016
Radio Bean is the latest Burlington establishment — and first music venue — to require proof of vaccination for admittance into the club. As COVID-19 numbers in Chittenden County increase and the Delta variant of the coronavirus  spreads in Vermont and across the country, Radio Bean owner Lee Anderson made the call.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Singer-Songwriter Alice Howe Returns to Stowe, This Time to Play

Posted By on Tue, Aug 10, 2021 at 5:39 PM

Alice Howe - COURTESY OF ROBERT M. RING ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Courtesy of Robert M. Ring ©️ Seven Days
  • Alice Howe
Alice Howe's family has been coming to Stowe for a century. A great-great-uncle of the singer-songwriter built a cabin in the popular resort town for the family to gather in over the generations. Howe, a native of Boston, describes the home as "truly magical, and one of my favorite places on Earth."

For the first time in her career, the folksinger will play rather than vacation in the area she so cherishes, when she stops through Stowe and Waterbury this week.

"I have such a connection with Stowe," Howe tells Seven Days over the phone. "It's really cool to bring this side of my life to a place I love. It was time."

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Monday, August 2, 2021

Elka Schumann, the 'Heart and Soul' of Bread and Puppet, Dies

Posted By on Mon, Aug 2, 2021 at 1:23 PM

Elka and Peter Schumann - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Elka and Peter Schumann
Elka Schumann, whose personal and artistic partnership with her husband, Peter, was a guiding force of Bread and Puppet Theater for almost 60 years, died on Sunday. She was 85.

Her death, at North Country Hospital in Newport, was confirmed by  Michael Romanyshyn, a family friend and longtime puppeteer.  Elka was "everything" to Bread and Puppet, Romanyshyn said. "She was the heart and soul."

Elka was born in Russia in August 1935 to a Russian mother and an American father. Her family left that country, bound for the United States, when she was a young girl.

Elka met Peter, an artist and puppeteer, in his native Germany while she was a college student studying abroad.  The Schumanns were married in 1959 and lived in New York City, where Peter founded Bread and Puppet on the Lower East side of Manhattan in 1963. The couple moved with their five children to Plainfield in 1970, before settling at the Bread and Puppet farm in Glover in 1974.

She was the "bedrock" for both the family and the theater, said her son, Max Schumann.
Peter and Elka Schumann - GLENN RUSSELL
  • Glenn Russell
  • Peter and Elka Schumann
This summer, Bread and Puppet is celebrating the 50th anniversary of  its  Domestic Resurrection Circus. Elka, dressed in white, walked arm in arm with Peter across the natural amphitheater on July 11 at an opening performance of the season  to take her seat on the grassy stage. She played recorder during the show. She also participated  in last Saturday’s performance, Romanyshyn said.

In recent years, Elka became interested in gatherings to remember and mourn the dead in the pine woods at Bread and Puppet, where a memorial village of sculptures, paintings and installations pay tribute to deceased puppeteers, artists, friends and family. One little house honors Elka's parents, John and Masha Dikareva Scott.
Peter and Elka Schumann - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Peter and Elka Schumann

Walking through the memorial village two summers ago, Elka stopped at a site in the grove of trees and listened to Peter as he talked about people dear to them whose names he had carved on a board to mark their deaths.

When he got to the last name, where space had run out on the carving, Elka said: "Peter, you really should make another board."

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