Great River Theatre Festival: 4 days, 6 companies, 18 shows
Jan13

Great River Theatre Festival: 4 days, 6 companies, 18 shows

The Great River Theatre Festival promises to be one of the most exciting theatre collaborations Southern Vermont has ever seen. The brainchild of Main Street Arts in Saxtons River, and an outgrowth of the Four-County Theatre Collaborative MSA also spearheaded, this festival showcases a Who’s Who of community and professional theatre companies in its inaugural program. The festival runs July 6-9 at several locations in the Putney area with six companies performing 18 shows. Joining Main Street Arts are Weston Playhouse, Vermont Theatre Company, Putney’s Apron Theatre Company, Brattleboro’s New England Youth Theatre, and Sandglass Theater. According to Main Street Arts co-chair Gina Cote, the festival has been a priority for MSA Artistic Director David Stern: “Since David first came to MSA he wanted to showcase the outstanding quality of the work offered in this area and bring it before a larger regional and even national audience. He also wants to have those audiences see our region’s theatre companies working together.” And according to Stern, although each participating organization has its own strengths, they’re increasingly sharing resources. And that, he says, is key to everyone’s shared success. “Sometimes it’s talent. Other times it’s costumes or lighting equipment. Most importantly we constantly inspire each other to produce better art and to engage more effectively with the communities who have supported each of us over the years. I hope that audiences will see that inspiration on stage. Both the dedicated theater buff and the person who has never seen a live show before should have a fantastic time,” Stern reports. Among the shows planned for the festival are family favorites such as the “Really Rosie,” with a book and lyrics by Maurice Sendak and music by Carole King, to be produced by Weston. Main Street Arts will present the award-winning musical comedy “Little Shop of Horrors.” Apron will contribute the Bertolt Brecht classic “Mother Courage and Her Children,” a work that has been characterized as the best play of the last 100 years. In giving audiences a chance to compare classics, Vermont Theatre Company will mount Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”—outdoors, naturally. Stern adds that the organizations want to give their audiences “a chance to sample the full spectrum of the area’s live theatre, and that means integrating original works into the mix. We are happy to announce that New England Youth Theatre will produce a new work for the festival and we look forward to Sandglass reviving its wonderful, original ’When I Put On My Glove.’” According to Cote, although the festival might be Main Street Arts’s most ambitious challenge undertaken to date, it is only the latest in a...

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When a region roars back: Green building builds Southern Vermont’s economy
Jan13

When a region roars back: Green building builds Southern Vermont’s economy

Life is greener than ever in our Green Mountains. Not only because of the glorious views, skiing, hiking, fishing, canoeing, and fine dining available in the rural hills and valleys of Southern Vermont. It’s because a number of visionaries, inventors, entrepreneurs, and businessfolk are spending quality time together brainstorming about the future in these changing times. The impetus: a series of events that left the region reeling. Among them was the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. More recently, it was the closure of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon, Vt., which brought with it the loss of 600 high-paying jobs—plus services, volunteers, and charitable giving. Something had to be done to save the already struggling economy. But when the area looked closely at itself, it found it was well on its way to being the economic hub of a rapidly growing segment of the economy: green building. The green economy cluster is going full throttle in the region, now encompassing more than 120 businesses, colleges, and organizations, three states, and four counties: Windham and Bennington counties in Southern Vermont, Cheshire County in New Hampshire, and Franklin County in Massachusetts. Anchored by the far-seeing and far-reaching green pioneer Alex Wilson, whose seminal Environmental Building News was founded in Brattleboro in 1992, entrepreneurs, high-tech data scientists, architects, engineers, loggers and foresters, town and city planners, farmers, and even bankers have been developing innovative organizations, products and services that is not only meeting the rapidly accelerating challenge of climate change but exploring some of its opportunities. In this issue, we take a closer look at two of these businesses that are both in the next generation of pre-fab home building—yet come at it from different angles—Unity Homes in Walpole and Ironwood Brand in Brattleboro. Unity Homes in Walpole has been in business for just four years, but it’s already leading the next generation of home building. Native Vermonter Eli Gould, the son of a famous clown and a mother who a state representative, is the founder of Ironwood Brand, which manufactures prefabricated green-energy homes made of native lumber. Ironwood is expanding thanks to a $200,000 loan from the Windham County Economic Development...

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Farmers markets
Jan12

Farmers markets

Bennington Winter Farmers’ Market First Baptist Church on East Main Street, Bennington First and third Saturday thru April 15, 10a-1p http://www.benningtonfarmersmarket.org Brattleboro Winter Farmers’ Market River Garden, downtown Brattleboro Saturdays thru March 26, 10a-2p 802 869-2141,www.facebook.com/BrattleboroWinterFarmersMarket Dorset Winter Farmers’ Market J.K. Adams Kitchen Store on Route 30, Dorset Sundays thru May 1, 10a-2p 802 353-9656,www.dorsetfarmersmarket.com Capital City Farmers’ Market City Hall, Montpelier Saturdays thru April 1, 10a-2p 802 223-2958,www.montpelierfarmersmarket.com Norwich Farmers’ Market Tracy Hall on Main Street, Norwich Saturdays, 10a-1p 802 384-7447,www.norwichfarmersmarket.org Vermont Winter Farmers’ Market Vermont Farmers’ Food Center, West Street, Rutland Wednesdays thru May, 3-6p 802 342-4727,...

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At the galleries
Jan12

At the galleries

Catherine Dianich Gallery 139 Main St., Brattleboro Open by appointment http://www.catherinedianichgallery.com, 802 380-1607 Currently: Contemporary art featuring established and emerging artists working at local, regional, and national levels. Chaffee Art Center 16 South Main St., Rutland http://www.chaffeeartcenter.org, 802 775-0356 Thru Jan 21: All-Member Exhibit Winter Showcase. This display of creativity exhibits with the annual community-wide gingerbread construction competition during December 2016. Feb 17-March 31: Release & React. Featuring artist members of Brush Stroke Studio, East Mountain Mentoring Artists, Vermont Abstract Connection. April 7-May 19: Our Global Community: Annual Student Art Exhibit, featuring the talents of Rutland County K-12 students. Crowell Art Gallery 23 West St., Newfane http://www.moorefreelibrary.wordpress.com, 802-365-7948 Jan, Feb: The Permanent Collection of Robert & Muriel Crowell: bequest of contemporary works by Southern Vermont artists. Included are Roger Sandes, Mallory Lake, Deidre Scherer, Susan Osgood, and Wolf Kahn. Cynthia-Reeves New England PO Box 788, Walpole, NH 03601 http://www.cynthia-reeves.com, 802 579-1029 Thru Jan 28: Metalpoint and Graphite Artists Talk, featuring Alisa Dworsky, Gudrun Mertes-Frady, Anne Lindberg, and Shona Macdonald. Gallery at the VAULT 68 Main St., Springfield http://www.galleryvault.org, 802 885-7111 Currently: We’re a Vermont State Craft Center showcasing 125 local and regional artists and artisans. Gallery in the Woods 145 Main St., Brattleboro Daily 11a-5:30p, 12-5p Sun http://www.galleryinthewoods.com, 802 257-4777 Currently: Without Refuge: Being Alive in Black and White. Currently: Tribal art collected from the studios of Mexico’s internationally collected master craftsmen and -women. Gallery North Star 151 Townshend Rd., Grafton 10a-5p daily (Tue by chance) http://www.gnsgrafton.com, 802 843-2465 Feb 17-March 19: Charlie Hunter: Americana Personified. In sepia tones interspersed with flashes of color, Hunter’s paintings evoke a rural past intersecting with an intruding present. Opening reception Feb. 17, 5:30p. Gallery Wright 103 West Main St., Wilmington http://www.gallerywright.com, 802 464-9922 Currently: Fine arts gallery specializing in contemporary realism, landscape, figure, and still life paintings by renowned New England artists. Great Hall 100 River St., Springfield http://www.Facebook.com/GreatHallSpringfield, 802 885-3061 Thru April: Signs of Life with Roger Sandes and Mary Welsh. Creating conversations about arts, culture and history, the environment, and social conditions. Long Ago and Far Away 4963 Main St., Manchester Center http://www.longagoandfaraway.com, 802 362-4956 Open now: Visions of the North. The indigenous people of our colder regions know how to exist closely with their natural surroundings. Use this holiday season to share and celebrate Northern cultures through the artistic expressions of their peoples. Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts 183 Main St., Guilford http://www.mitchellgiddingsfinearts.com, 802 251-8290 Thru Jan 29: Winter Group. Featuring new artists Eric Boyer, Anne Johnstone, Gene Parulis, and Torin Porter. Includes new works from gallery artists. Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery 229 Main St., Keene, NH http://www.keene.edu/tsag 603 358-2720 Feb...

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Vermont Arts Council award winners reflect on divisions, unity
Jan12

Vermont Arts Council award winners reflect on divisions, unity

By Kevin O’Connor When printmaker Eric Aho tried teaching at The Putney School in 1989, his challenge wasn’t just that he was 22 and had no classroom leadership experience. “The position was to teach painting,” he recalls, “and I had never painted before.” A quarter-century later, the Saxtons River resident, whose brushwork is now acclaimed, returned to campus in the fall to receive the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. “What I can tell you about Eric is he has an extraordinary sense of color, of landscape, and of light,” Gov. Peter Shumlin said in bestowing the prize Nov. 15. “He, I believe, is the world’s best modern landscape artist.” The Vermont Arts Council program was billed as a celebration of the accomplishments of Aho and five fellow Windham County artists. But coming a week after a divided nation voted Donald Trump president, it sparked plenty of other creative expression. “Last week’s election changed things for our country,” Brattleboro Union High School music teacher Stephen Rice said on receiving his Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service. “Our president-elect gained his office by sowing seeds of division, exploiting distrust, and tapping into fear, anger, and even hatred. Artists and arts educators have a tremendous role to play in what happens over the next four—and hopefully only four—years. Because art is a uniting force.” Self-described Brattleboro theater director, teacher, clown, and Shakespeare consultant Peter Gould accepted the Ellen McCulloch-Lovell Award in Arts Education by reading a poem he titled “The Slow School Movement” that sought to upend everything from “cardboard food” to “violent speech” to “unequal power relations.” “So many students are hooked by other bait, phones and screens and social networks and carried with them, a huge commercial influence upon their desires, their styles and habits of speech and dress and thought,” Gould said. “We artists are some of the only people in the state who are both poised and equipped to make and bait the hook that will pull all children in.” [Check out the full text of Gould’s acceptance speech in Talk of the Arts—Ed.] The event featured a few lighter moments. Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, the identical-twin founders of Brattleboro’s New England Center for Circus Arts, drew smiles when they each received a Walter Cerf Medal for Outstanding Achievement. “We’re so used to having to share,” Elsie Smith said before recalling wearing an animal costume at a past ceremony. “You can get from the back end of a camel to being the recipient of an award.” Rockingham Arts and Museum Project Director Robert McBride spoke of creativity’s impact on community development in accepting the...

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The ‘Slow School’ movement: A call for arts to save education
Jan12

The ‘Slow School’ movement: A call for arts to save education

By Peter Gould The life of a self-employed artist in Vermont has its ups and downs. It can be tough. You have good times and bad times—and sometimes the good times and the bad times are one and the same. Let me tell you about the work I have done for the past 40 years: arts in education. I’ll tell it like a poem… Like a work of art! I call it the Slow School Movement! They say schools today, they’re trying to reach, trying to teach a student who no longer exists. So many students are hooked by other bait: phones and screens and social networks, and carried with them a huge commercial influence upon their desires, their styles and habits of speech and dress and thought… so that, when you try to hook a roomful of them with outmoded content you’re doomed to be largely unsuccessful—except to a small portion of the class who may be more tolerant, more open, more curious. Maybe they come from households where old-fashioned discussion and expression are the norm. But if you hook only those people you continue the existence of an elite class. But we artists are some of the only people in the state who are both poised and equipped to make and bait the hook that will pull all children in. Hundreds of school teachers have told me that! So we’re gonna have most of our students in the building from about 8 to 3; that is a lot of young human energy contained in a tight place. So we have got to have art activities ready and supported and paid for, of many different types, to be a central part of daily education. The kids will pay attention. They will find means of true self expression. They will behave. They will! But, it’s like time, you know: How are you going to take all those young people schooled to think of time as being imposed from outside, by grown-up educators, in broken-up and broken-down schedules and little modules with predicted goals and parameters and rubrics and outcomes and tests, and short attention spans and no reflection at all, never reflect: just quick shut down, pass on, and move on to the next module, and get them used to a whole different kind of attention? Deep attention supported by mentors and artists, the time it takes for honest creative expression in a multiplicity of art forms to take hold in a personality and then explore, flourish, grow complex and then be shared—but not for profit… It’s kind of like food, you know: How are you going to take...

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