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New Online Mag Aims to Be Forum for Vermont Artists 

State of the Arts

Art is about making something from nothing: filling blank canvasses; sculpting hunks of wood or stone; shaping forms from raw clay or globs of hot glass. All that’s required is imagination, courage and a lot of hard work, right? But if an artist makes something in her own studio, will anyone notice — let alone hear her cries of frustration? Probably not.

Marc Awodey and Janet Van Fleet are familiar with the isolation that can stymie artists’ ability to make and market their artwork. And so, being artists, the two did what they know how to do best: They made something from nothing — on the Internet.

Yep, they’ve started a website, or rather, an e-mag, dubbed Vermont Art Zine. Launched at the end of January, it offers reviews, essays, interviews with artists, and “walkabouts,” or quick-hit stories about what’s on view in a particular venue.

So far, the all-volunteer writing stable has produced reviews of Axel Stohlberg’s sculptures at Capitol Grounds Café in Montpelier, Galen McDonald’s paintings at Muddy Waters, and a group show of pastels at Gallery North Star in Grafton; and an overview of the visual art scene in St. Johnsbury.

The site has loads of photos of art, links to artists’ groups and resources and, most helpfully, links to more than 100 other websites for Vermont artists.

Van Fleet, who is a sculptor, and Awodey, a painter and art critic for Seven Days, are regular contributors to Art New England — Awodey is the Vermont editor for that Boston-based pub. Both felt a need for even more visual-arts coverage in the Green Mountain State, particularly for some of the smaller shows in remote locations. The pair also want to provide a place on the web for Vermont artists to share ideas.

As Awodey puts it in an email: “There are too few people writing about visual arts to cover the broad spectrum of what’s happening, and artists often feel like, if they don’t get written up, somehow it’s as if their show never existed.”

One of the most interesting features of the site is an opinion section. Recently, central Vermont artist Sam Thurston posted a philosophical question: “Is there a Vermont style or styles?” In a half-dozen responses, artists ruminated on the effect of the state’s bucolic landscape on artistic expression; whether, if Vermont had a style, it would be categorized simply as “nostalgic,” and so on.

So far Awodey and Van Fleet have enlisted fellow artists to write free for the site. Their unofficial motto: “No deadlines — and no pay, either.” Anyone who wants to contribute — and you don’t have to be an artist — can email marcawodey@mac.com or janet vanfleet@fairpoint.net.

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Anne Galloway

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