‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ — local artist participates in Boston public piano project
Oct02

‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ — local artist participates in Boston public piano project

Jeanette Staley, a resident of Westminster who has been painting for more than 30 years and who has run an art center, studio, teaching gallery, and performance space in Hudson, Mass., will participate in “Play Me, I’m Yours,” along with her daughter, Zoey Staley, a resident of Bellows Falls. And they’re far from alone. The event, part of a global project aimed at “inviting the public to engage with, activate, and take ownership of their urban environment,” features 60 pianos decorated by artists representing a variety of geographic locations, backgrounds, and media. Once the work is completed, the pianos will be tuned and installed in neighborhoods across Boston and ready for the public to play and enjoy. “Play Me, I’m Yours” is the creation of Bristol, England-based artist Luke Jerram, who is gaining international renown for his sculptures, large installations, and live arts projects. Jerram has been touring internationally since 2008. Celebrity Series of Boston first produced the installation in Boston in 2013, drawing more than 500,000 people to engage with Street Pianos Boston, sharing music and song in a citywide festival. Jerram says more than 1,500 pianos have been installed in 50 cities worldwide and that the project has reached more than 10 million people. Zoey Staley majors in painting at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. In 2013, Jeanette and Zoey worked together on a piano for Street Pianos Boston; this year, the women are painting their own pianos. To learn more about “Play Me I’m Yours,” visit celebrityseries.org or streetpianosboston.org or follow the process on social media via...

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Green and Growing: A green-economy business cluster
Oct02

Green and Growing: A green-economy business cluster

Michael Knapp, CEO and partner at Green River Software in Brattleboro, says people move to southern Vermont to enjoy the area’s spectacular beauty. “We have no billboards on our highways. And it’s how we treat the environment that models our work. We’re really here to create a new economy that’s focused on sustainability and resilience. And the world needs it. That our local community is recognizing it is music to my ears,” Knapp explains. When you combine the first and most respected national newsletter on green building, a thriving software company devoted to environmental protection, the largest wood kiln operation this side of the Mississippi, the reinvention of timber-frame construction and multi-site foreign trade zones, and new ways of prefabricating upscale homes, you start to see a theme. Add to the mix several colleges with environmental education centers networking to find international marketing opportunities, a banker inventing a novel way to evaluate energy-efficiency mortgages, the nation’s first urine nutrient-reclamation project, and you have what experts call a cluster. The green-economy cluster now encompasses more than 120 businesses, colleges, and organizations, three states, and four counties: Windham and Bennington in southern Vermont, Cheshire in New Hampshire, and Franklin in Massachusetts. The impetus to network these companies was a series of disasters that left the region reeling. Among them was the devastation caused by 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene. More recently, it was the closure of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon. That move brought with it the loss of 600 high-paying jobs, plus services, volunteers, and a wellspring of charitable giving. “Networking together the cluster is a brilliant strategy in response to the closing of Yankee,” says Knapp. His company, which boasts sales approaching $3 million per year, employs 18 engineers and software designers who have grown up in or relocated to Windham County to be part of a team that is both doing good in the world and making a profit. Those participating in the cluster are dedicated to creating community-sized, sustainable, world-saving tools, products, and ideas to enrich the regional economy and to entice investors. For more information, contact Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC), 76 Cotton Mill Hill, Brattleboro, VT 05301, 802-257-7731, Laura Sibilia, director of Economic and Workforce Development – SeVEDS. This story comes courtesy of Stratton Magazine, where it originally appeared in different...

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River Gallery School of Art celebrates 40 years
Oct02

River Gallery School of Art celebrates 40 years

Now celebrating 40 years, River Gallery School of Art has ground-floor studio space and invites the community in to pay a visit. The school has offered high-quality arts education since 1976. Founders Barbara and Ric Campman developed their vision of nurturing creativity starting with children’s classes at the Ingenuity Shops. With a move to downtown at 127 Main St., they began offering classes to students of all ages. Now the school continues to grow at its expanded premises on two floors of the Wilder Building, 32-34-36 Main St. Main Street Studio houses the printmaking department and offers area artists the chance to learn new processes and develop their skills. Classes in watercolor, bookmaking, mosaics, and other disciplines are also housed here. RGS’s core faculty members are professional, working artists who teach a wide range of visual media including all types of painting, drawing, printmaking, and encaustics. RGS also partners with community organizations to offer classes to seniors and adults with physical and cognitive challenges. Free workshops are offered for families, caregivers, and teachers in the new space. RGS’s scholarship percentage is generous; the school’s policy is to enable everyone with a sincere interest to participate in classes. To celebrate this 40-year milestone, a Birthday Bash/Pop-up Auction is planned on Sept. 17 at S.I.T./World Learning from 6-9p. Choice items, experiences, and trips will be on auction, and guests can enjoy refreshments, a cash bar, and dancing to the Butterfly Swing Band. Tickets are $25. In March, RGS offered its art auction as a separate, wacky lottery event called Off The Wall. Organizers say plans for 2017’s art lottery are in the works. For more information on River Gallery School of Art’s 40th Birthday Bash, visit...

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Our view: Wind energy is not for Vermont
Oct02

Our view: Wind energy is not for Vermont

By Lynn Barrett, Vermont Arts & Living Editor Our small towns stand by a wonderful sense of community and trust. We depend on our neighbors. We come through for each other. Just think about how neighbors responded during Tropical Storm Irene; no one stopped to think about the other’s politics or whether they were a second homeowner or a permanent resident. Everyone pitched in to get the job done. But Vermont’s small towns are threatened by a frenzy of development activity from huge energy generation projects in the name of the environment. One of Vermont’s largest landowners, a company that owns Stiles Brook Forest, which spans the boundary between the historic towns of Grafton and Windham, has invited one of the world’s largest foreign energy companies to build an industrial wind project there. If developed, this would become the largest industrial wind project in Vermont with more than 700 homes within three miles of the skyscraper-sized turbines—sited nearer by far to more homes than any other wind project in the state. We’ve done our research: Wind energy is not effective in Vermont. Wind energy projects destroy natural resources. Many environmentalists have raised concerns about destruction of otherwise undisturbed areas and the deaths of birds and bats. Furthermore, wind energy is not cost effective; it has negative economic impacts on tourism and property sales. Surrounding towns are burdened but see no benefits. Such projects provide few, if any, permanent jobs for Vermonters. They pit neighbor against neighbor and the permitting process is undemocratic. The trail of Vermonters suffering from negative health effects, and even abandonment of their homes, is a disgrace to the system. Vermont’s carbon footprint of electricity consumption is puny. The top three sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the state are transportation, heating, and agriculture. So why are we destroying the very mountaintops and beauty that Vermont is known for worldwide? Well, maybe it’s because large-scale electricity generation and transmission projects bring in more big money for utilities, developers, and equipment manufacturers than there is in working on our heating or transportation footprints. Elected officials and the state’s biggest “environmental” groups have helped whip the public into accepting that destroying our mountains by building turbines on them will reverse climate change and prevent another Tropical Storm Irene. But we’re not fooled. Although industrial wind is proclaimed renewable—yes, it does draw power from the wind—it’s a fallacy to think the process is affordable or clean in Vermont. Think about all of the materials, including rare earth elements—plus manpower, machines, and transportation—that it takes to harness wind. And once wind turbines are up and running they don’t run all...

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Music and theater
Sep19

Music and theater

Actors Theatre Playhouse Main St., West Chesterfield, N.H. http://www.atplayhouse.org, 877 666-1855 Thru-Oct 1: The Boys Next Door. Playwright Tom Griffin’s comedy-drama depicts life in a group home for the developmentally disabled. Wavering on the fine line between comedy and tragedy, Griffin draws from both traditions to create a touching, funny, sad, and moving portrait in which five challenged men survive by discovering what it means to have each other in their lives. Oct 8 & 15: Love, Loss and What I Wore. Nora Ephron’s and Delia Ephron’s concert staged production, based on the bestseller by Ilene Beckerman, is a collection of monologues and ensemble pieces about women, clothes, and memory. It covers important subjects such as mothers, prom dresses, and why we only wear black. Brattleboro Music Center 38 Walnut St., Brattleboro http://www.bmcvt.org, 802 257-4523 Oct 8: 6th Annual Blanche Moyse Memorial Concert, 7p. Once again, in Vermont’s leaf-color season, past members of the New England Bach Festival Orchestra will join the Blanche Moyse Chorale under the direction of Mary Westbrook-Geha to honor the memory of their mentor, Blanche Moyse, with a presentation of music of her beloved J.S. Bach. Oct 22: Chamber Series: Gilles Von Sattel, at Centre Congregational Church, Brattleboro, 7:30p. Ludwig van Beethoven Sonata, Op. 81a, Das Lebewohl Anton Webern Variations, Op. 27 Johannes Brahms Vier Klavierstücke, Op. 119 Robert Schumann Fantasy, Op. 17. Nov 4: Benefit Concert: Mohamed Shams, time TBD. Nov 11: Chamber Series: Con Moto, 7:30p. Friends of Music at Guilford St. Michael’s Episcopal Church 16 Bradley Ave., Brattleboro office@fomag.org, http://www.fomag.org, 802 254-3600 Oct 1: Vermont Virtuosi Flute Ensemble: Seven of the finest orchestral and solo flutists from N.Y., N.H., and Vt. perform on instruments from petite piccolo to colossal contrabass, in transcriptions of works by Bernstein, Vivaldi, Doppler, Debussy, Gershwin, and Leroy Anderson, as well as original works by Vermont composers David Gunn and Dennis Bathory-Kitsz. The concert is underwritten by generous grants from Brannen Brothers Flutemakers and Vernon Q. Powell Flutes. 7:30p; $15; students $10. New England Youth Theater 100 Flat St., Brattleboro http://www.neyt.org, 802 246-NEYT (6398) Oct 7-9 and 14-16: Six Characters in Search of an Author. The story begins on a bare stage with a troupe of actors in mid-rehearsal. Six individuals break into the theatre and demand an author who will cast them in a play—and save their lives. Oct 22: Mentor Cabaret. Oct 28-30 & Nov 4-6: Clown Factory. The clowns are back in town for CLOWN TOWN 2016! This year we ask, What happens on a typical day in the Clown Factory? Nov 11: Putting on Our Finery Performance at West Village Meeting House, West Brattleboro,...

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At the museums
Sep19

At the museums

Bennington Center for the Arts 44 Gypsy Lane, Bennington 10a to 5p, Tue-Sun (Closed Mon) http://www.thebennington.org, 802 442-7158 Currently: The Small Works Show, consisting of works 11 x 14 or smaller. Annual show allows our artists and patrons the privilege of being able to purchase a piece of art and take it home with them the same day. Currently: Wildscapes, juried by Donald Demers. Includes landscapes, seascapes, and scenes that portray each artist’s love for this wonderful world we live in. Currently: The Hunters, an exhibit hand-picked by Curator Elizabeth Small from the extensive permanent collection of The Bennington. The theme of this show is hunters: think wolves, lions, tigers, eagles, hawks, and a secretary bird. Currently: The Hunted, to go along with The Hunters. Water fowl, deer, bison, and even the great rhinoceros fall prey to the hunt. Currently: Birds. Features birds of all different shapes and sizes arranged into a colorful and unique flock. Bennington Museum 75 Main St, Rte. 9, Bennington 10a to 5p (closed Wed) http://www.benningtonmuseum.org, 802 477-15 Thru Nov 6: Milton Avery’s Vermont. First exhibition focusing on the work of this great American modernist draws on his summers spent in southern Vermont from the mid-1930s through the mid-1940s. Sept 3-Oct 10: 1863 Jane Stickle Quit. The quilt that inspires quilters all over the world is be on its yearly display at the Bennington Museum. Brought to the museum 60 years ago, the Jane Stickle Quilt is only shown briefly each year due to the fragility of the fabric. Sept 24: Lynne Bassett: “Herstory” in Civil War Quilts, 3p. Looking at the Civil War through textiles allows us to understand the experience of the war in different terms than the usual analysis of battle strategy and heralding of military heroes. Sept 24: Artist Reception with Duane Michals, 6p. Oct 15: Community Day, Celebrating Art, 10a-5p. Artist reception with Leslie Parke, 3p. Thru Oct 30: Duane Michals: Photographs from the Floating World. Exhibition features vibrant color photographs by this groundbreaking artist created in and around Cambridge, N.Y., in the past decade. Thru Oct 2: Something About Summer: Paintings by Mark Barry. Vibrant exhibition of recent paintings by artist Mark Barry; images of the everyday life he spends with family and friends in Maryland and Vermont, both locations he calls home. Thru Dec 31: Particle/Wave, Photographs by Leslie Parke. The artist’s photographs of the past three years grapple with the Modernist concerns with abstraction and surface but bring this forward into a 21st-century digital language. Nov 8: Music at the Museum, Leonard Bernstein Celebrated, 2p. Bennington College’s Allen Shawn, who recently published a biography of Leonard Bernstein,...

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Grafton Museum highlights Vermont’s African American Heritage Trail
Sep19

Grafton Museum highlights Vermont’s African American Heritage Trail

Occasionally overlooked as part of Vermont’s history are the African Americans who made Vermont their home. Over the centuries, they have tilled the soil, owned businesses, held public office, fought alongside fellow citizens in major wars, and worked to make Vermont—and the United States—a better place. The African American Heritage Trail was created to encourage black travelers to visit the state by offering journeys to exhibits and cultural sites that explore their stories and those of some of their fellow Vermonters. Many of Vermont’s early African-American citizens left behind little documentation of their lives. But in the case of former slaves Alec and Sally Turner of Grafton, much is known. Alec, a descendant of an African chief and an English merchant’s daughter, was born into slavery in Port Royal, Va. He escaped to join the First New Jersey Cavalry as an assistant cook, and while in service allegedly killed his former overseer. After the war ended, Turner and his family lived in Maine and Boston before settling in Grafton in 1872. Alec worked as a logger and in a sawmill, and raised money to purchase three lots that eventually totaled 150 acres of land. There he built Journey’s End Farm, where he and his wife would raise 13 children. Today, visitors can learn about Turner family history at the Grafton History Museum, walk the streets of the village, and visit the church where the Turner family worshiped. At the 595-acre Turner Hill Wildlife Management Area, visit the location where the family once lived. The original Turner homestead no longer stands, but the foundation remains in close proximity to the Turners’ Birchdale Camp. The camp is not open for viewing while the State of Vermont, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service work to find a suitable permanent steward of the building and to raise funds for restoration and interpretation. In addition to the Grafton Historical Society, the trail includes one of New England’s best documented Underground Railroad sites: Rokeby Museum, the Old Stone House Museum, which includes the school built by African-American Alexander Twilight, and Hildene, the Lincoln family home. For more information, visit...

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