A husband and wife collaborate on art that places our own Planet Earth in a cosmic context

A husband and wife collaborate on art that places our own Planet Earth in a cosmic context By Arlene Distler The drive to Old Manchester from Bennington on Route 7A takes in historic mansions, the poet Robert Frost’s modest home, numerous old stone walls and foundations, lovely meadows, and majestic trees. It was difficult to concentrate on driving, but eventually I arrived in the manicured and elegant part of Manchester that is quite distinct from the Manchester of shopping outlets and cafés. Here was a steady hum of lawnmowers and leaf-blowers getting things spiffed up for “the season” that would soon be upon the Shires. Pat Musick and Jerry Carr are getting ready for the opening, at Southern Vermont Art Center, of a major collaborative work. It’s made up of eight single pieces, series, and installations known collectively as “Our Fragile Home.” The couple live in a beautiful independent-living retirement village not far from Manchester Center. They are, however, far from retired. They are so busy, in fact, that they each engage young assistants from the nearby Burr and Burton school: he for help with fabricating pieces that go into his wife’s sculptures; she for help archiving and keeping track of things on the business end, something, she notes wryly, art schools do not teach. At the door to the couple’s apartment, out in the hall, is a small mini-installation of two smooth alabaster eggs nesting on paper and wood. Jerry greets me at the door, and guides me to the comfortably upholstered couch. The coffee table is laden with books the two have published, and catalogs of past shows. Then, with little time spent on chit-chat, they get right to it: Carr was based in Houston for 11 years as an astronaut and support person on NASA missions (for many years he held the record for weightless hours in space, and his mission, Skylab 4, circled Earth for 84 days, a record for manned space flight); Musick has been an art therapist and spent more than 20 years teaching art. The apartment, while spacious, hardly seems suitable for constructing the large pieces that will comprise the show at Southern Vermont Art Center. Eventually they revealed their modus operandi: the couple maintain a studio/warehouse/workshop in Sunderland, a short distance away. The business of Pat’s art-making and Jerry’s fabricating comes under the name Camus Art, Inc. Musick describes Carr as always having supported her artistic endeavors, even back as far as their Houston days. He sits attentively during my interview with Pat, and offers a detail or clarification where needed. When I ask about his fabricating work, his eyes take...

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Creative careers: Tucked in the hills of Southern Vermont, Brattleboro-West Arts members make beautiful art and live rich lives

Creative careers: Tucked in the hills of Southern Vermont, Brattleboro-West Arts members make beautiful art and live rich lives By Chris Lann West Brattleboro basket maker Jackie Abrams’ studio shelves are filled with sculptural woven baskets. The body of her own creative work sits side by side with pieces that exemplify the traditional techniques she teaches. Walls and doors are covered with photos of people she’s met and taught in her travels around the world. As much as in her vessels, Abrams has woven a career of colorful strands, fitting art and teaching to good purpose. “I have a really rich life,” she says. Abrams is a member of Brattleboro-West Arts, a group of nearly three dozen artists who create their art and make their homes in and around the watershed of the Whetstone Brook in West Brattleboro, Marlboro, and Dummerston. Spreading awareness of the local arts is a key component of BWA’s mission. Marta Bernbaum, another BWA member, clearly agrees: “For me, glass making is an addiction. It’s something I’m excited about, and I love getting other people excited about it,” she says. Bernbaum has taught workshops throughout New England for about 12 years, and is gearing up to offer classes in the West Brattleboro glass studio she shares with her husband, Josh Bernbaum. “(Glass is) alchemistic at times and magic, and it’s like nothing else they’ve experienced,” she says of her students. “There’s this ‘wow’ moment for them.” And that “wow” can launch a creative career. Bernbaum recalls asking a class, “Who wants to sculpt?” Only one student, Joe Peters, raised his hand, but eagerly. Bernbaum remembers he jumped in with gusto, experimenting with creating a praying mantis in glass. “That caught him so passionately that he started putting in 18 hours a day,” Bernbaum says. “He’s now top of the line,” teaching classes himself at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and exhibiting his glass creatures nationally. Naomi Lindenfeld, another BWA member and the ceramics teacher at The Putney School for the past 15 years, also knows the satisfaction of seeing her students succeed. Students of hers have won honors in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards three years running — and their accomplishments certainly won’t end there. After taking his first ceramics class with Lindenfeld and graduating from The Putney School in 2003, Joey Foster Ellis went on to become the first American to graduate from China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts. Now, at 28, he sees his functional sculptures commissioned by the likes of Greenpeace; he was named a TEDGlobal Fellow; and his works have exhibited at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and have...

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Green thumbs in the Green Mountains

“Just Say it with Violas, Violins and Art!” Southern Vermont is throwing a garden party all summer long to celebrate the brilliant colors of the landscape and the talented performers, entertainers, and craftsmen who heat up the hills in a region renowned for taste, quality, and old-world tradition. On tap are exquisite gardens, world-class musicians, puppeteers, artists, authors, artisans, cows, farmers, farm-fresh cuisine and all things Southern Vermont. It promises to be a garden party like no other. From garden tours, swap events, and benefits, to farmers’ markets, daylily and dog contests, parades, festivals, concerts, and gallery walks, Southern Vermont will burst with green thumbs and the arts. Gordon Hayward, popular speaker and author of dozens of books on garden design, will showcase his one-acre garden in Westminster West to benefit Sandglass Theater with a day-long performance of “Puppets in Paradise” — magical puppet vignettes scattered among his artfully designed gardens. Daytime garden hopping will give way to a variety of music and theater happenings beckoning visitors all summer long. Also popular are Gallery Walk on the first Friday of each month in Brattleboro, and Art Walk on the third Friday of each month in Bellows Falls, just 20 minutes by car to the north. Here are a few of our favorite green thumb-friendly offerings: • From Our Gardens to Yours Spring Plant Sale, library lawn, 170 Main St., Wardsboro, May 25, 9a-noon, rain or shine, (friendsofwardsborolibrary.org, 802 896-3416). • Westminster Cares’ 12th Annual Garden Tour: New Plants, New Voices, on the Town Common June 29-30, 10a-3p, rain or shine. Annuals, local hardy perennials, vegetable seedlings including Gilfeather Turnips; raffle, bake sale (westminstercares.org, 802-722-3607).  Features the gardens of Mary and Gordon Hayward, nationally known garden designer, writer, and lecturer. Four other Westminster gardens join the tour this year. Proceeds benefit Westminster Cares, a volunteer organization creating opportunities for seniors and disabled adults to live with independence and dignity in the community. Tickets $15, or $25 for two, on the day of the Tour at the Hayward garden and Westminster Institute on Rte. 5. Advance discounted tickets will be sold on their website. • North Hill Annual Summer Symposium, Mount Snow, West Dover, June 29, 8:30-4:30p (northhillgarden.com).  Eighteenth annual summer symposium growing with this year’s theme: new plants, new ideas, and a new and upcoming generation of gardeners. A visit to the garden at North Hill is included. • Tunes ’n’ Blooms, North Forte Gardens, Wilmington, July 20, 4-6p, rain date July 21 (802-464-5872, 802-464-8179, or 802-464-7230). Enjoy a late afternoon stroll through the spectacular North Forte Gardens, which feature waterfalls, walkways, and Vermont flora. The afternoon includes live music, wine, beer, soft drinks, and gourmet hors d’oeuvres. This event benefits the...

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Beer Observed: What pairs well with beer?: Don’t let the wine lovers have all the fun this summer — find a great brew to go with that special meal

Beer Observed: What pairs well with beer? Don’t let the wine lovers have all the fun this summer — find a great brew to go with that special meal By Marty Rambsberg The right wine with the right food makes the meal. But what pairs well with beer? Sure, beer buddies up with popcorn, pretzels, and pizza, but what of things that don’t start with “p”? Salad, say, or sole meunière, or a nice grilled salmon? Craft brewers have put a fair bit of thought into this, and tell us that many of the beers they produce are ready to move out of the pub and onto their rightful place of honor at the dinner table. And there is an art form to the pairing. Beer’s great range of tastes, weights, and richness comes from four basic ingredients: water, malted grain, hops, and yeast. From there, in varying combinations, spring everything we love about Pilsners, Belgian dark ales, India pale ales, imperial stouts, and all the rest. Let’s take a quick look at these four ingredients, and then I’ll give you an equal number of can’t-miss pairing tips to match: Water No surprise there: up to 97 percent of a brew is the H2O, but that water’s not a silent partner. Minerals in water impart flavors and other properties that inform the final product. Take the ales from Burton-on-Trent in England: these taste hoppier than those brewed in London, and water analysis tells us why: Burton-on-Trent’s water boasts a higher sulfate content, bringing out the hops.  Malted grain Malted grain provides lots of any beer’s flavor, not to mention the sugars needed for fermentation. Grain, especially barley, but also wheat and rye, are steeped in water, which softens the kernels and essentially releases the starches. Then the grain is kiln-dried, and that’s what converts the starches to sugars. The temperature at which the grain is dried yields different types of malts, which in turn affect the beer’s color, aroma, and flavor. Grains dried cooler yield lighter and more delicately aromatic malts. Turn up the heat and you’re cooking with dark malts that impart flavors from sweet caramel to roasted coffee or chocolate. Hops Hops, perennials within the family that includes cannabis, are an aromatic addition that pull their weight in a brew. Originally added to balance a bitterness against malt’s sugars, they also brings essential oils that contribute mightily to beer’s aromas and flavors. Plenty of hop varietals abound, each with an aromatic identity — from fruit to grass to resin to spice. Yeast Now we’re cooking. Yeast is critical to fermentation, converting the sugars in the malt to...

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Calendar: Day to Day

June 1: West River Trail Run, 11.5 miles, starts South Londonderry, vermontvacation.com. 1: Artist Panel: Art and the Mystery of Life, Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts, Chester, 7p, vtica.org. 5-9: Slow Living Summit, conference focused on developing supportive communities, all day, slowlivingsummit.org. 6-9: Roots on the River Music Festival, Bellows Falls, rootsontheriver.com. 7: Brattleboro Gallery Walk, 5:30p, gallerywalk.org. 7: First Friday events in Bennington, betterbennington.com. 7-9: Strolling of the Heifers Weekend. 10a on June 8 Heifers stroll down Main Street in Brattleboro. Following the parade will be an all-day Slow Living Expo. Weekend features bicycle tours, street festival, farmer’s breakfast, more, strollingoftheheifers.com. 8-9: 27th Manchester Antique & Classic Car Show, fun for the whole family, Dorr Farm, 8a-3p daily, visitmanchestervt.com. 9: Tour de Heifer Cycling Tours, Southeastern Vermont, strollingoftheheifers.com. 9-10: Vermont Days, free admission to all state-owned historic sites and day-use sites in the state, historicsites.vermont.gov. 13-17: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall, Mount Snow’s Howe Farm, Route 100, visitvermont.com. 14: Jazz Series: Mo Jazz Redo, at Wilmington’s Mo Jazz Café, 8p, visitvermont.com. 14: Art and Symbols with Ami Ronnberg, VTica, Chester, 7p, vtica.org. 15: Pitchin’ for Families Bean Bag Tournament, West River Park, Brattleboro, fundraiser for Northeastern Family Institute, for more write LydiaMahan@nafi.com. 20-23: Wanderlust festival of yoga, music and more, all day, stratton.com. 21: Dairy Day, with celebrations at the Bellows Falls Farmers Market, all day, vermonttravelplanner.com. 21: Summer Solstice Street Fest, Main Street in Manchester, 6-9p, visitmanchestervt.com. 22: Bennington Community Natural Health and Food Show, 9a-5p, First Baptist Church, betterbennington.com. 22: Burlington Wine and Food Festival, Waterfront Park, burlingtonwineandfoodfestival.com. 22: Believer in Waitsfield Burlington Ensemble concert, Waitsfield, 7p, burlingtonensemble.com. 22-23: Music in the Meadow Race for the Cure Benefit, Motel in the Meadow, Chester, chestervermont.org. 22-23: Grafton Food Festival, Grafton Inn, graftonfoodfestival.com. 28-Oct. 20: “Red Grooms: What’s the Ruckus?” exhibit, Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, brattleboromuseum.org. 29: Okemo Bicycle Hill Climb at Okemo Mountain Resort, all day, Ludlow, okemo.com. 28-July 1: Hills Alive!, world-class stage productions, concerts, play readings, and more, throughout Southern Vermont, visitmanchestervt.com. 29: North Hill, New Plants, New Voices, 18th annual summer symposium on new plants, ideas, and upcoming generation of gardeners, all day, Mount Snow, West Dover, northhillgarden.com. 29: Culinary and Medicinal Herbs class from Second Nature Herb Farm and Horticultural Services, 10a-noon, Wells, 802-645-9346. 29-30: Westminster Garden Tour, 10a-3p each day. Features gardens of Mary and Gordon Hayward, nationally known garden designer, writer, lecturer. Four other Westminster gardens on the tour, westminstercares.org. July All month: Midnight Madness in Bennington, betterbennington.com. TBA: High-bush blueberry picking, grass fed beef, pork, maple syrup, organic seedlings and vegetables for sale, Two Dog Farm, Danby, twodogfarmvt.com. 1,...

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Photo: Catamount Prowl

Following two successful and award-winning Moosefest Gala and Auction events, the Catamount Prowl aims to bring street art back to Bennington through October. Approximately 50 Fiberglas catamounts have been offered to area artists to decorate in imaginative ways. Hand it to the Bennington Chamber, they’ve found a formula that works. This is their third such art project: Moosefest 2005 raised $290,000; Palettefest 2006 brought in $100,000; and Moosefest 2009 thundered up $200,000. Says Lindy Lynch, chairwoman of the festival for the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce: “It does bring the tourists, and gets them walking Main Street.” These artistic catamounts will go up for bid at this year’s auction, planned for October 26. Large, wild cats, the catamounts, or cougars, are native to the Americas. Their connection to Bennington dates back to their adoption as the unofficial mascot of the Green Mountain Boys. The Bennington Museum (benningtonmuseum.org) reportedly is planning three months of exhibits in their lobby to explore the catamount’s history — and mythology — in...

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A group effort

Chester looks to promote itself as an ‘arts destination’   Arts- and culture-related organizations and businesses in Chester have strong allies in several of their neighbors who’ve banded together to promote the town as a top arts and culture draw. ArtUp!, a collaborative launched here in the fall of 2012, is working toward leveraging Chester’s strengths as a top arts destination, and giving Brattleboro and Burlington a run for their money among visitors making travel plans. ArtUp!’s founding members are Abby Raeder and Robert Sarly of the Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts [Vtica.org], Jessie and Michael Alon of DaVallia Arts and Accents [thedavallia.com], and Katherine Henry and Harry Hudson of Atelier Annex [atelierannex.com]. According to Sarly, Chester has always been a vibrant community, and it’s unfortunate that travelers often see only a small portion of the town when traveling Route 103 through the historic Stone Village. “Just {1/4} mile off Route 103 lies Chester’s second historic district, the Village Green. If you’ve been to the Village Green, you know why Chester’s slogan is, ’The Vermont you’ve been hoping to find,’” Sarly said. ArtUp! notes that Vermont ranks in the top 10 for the number of visual artists per capita — boasting an estimated 750 contemporary artists — and Chester is home to more independent galleries than any of nearby 14 towns, including Manchester, Grafton, Bellows Falls, and Ludlow. “We don’t have to get these people (artists) here; they’re already here,” Sarly says. ArtUp!’s founders created a brochure to help residents and tourists more reliably find fine arts and crafts happenings in Chester. They also worked up an advertising budget and are sharing costs to attract visitors to town and Chester’s arts...

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Summertime is garden time
Jun22

Summertime is garden time

Summertime garden tours Cider Hill Art Gallery & Gardens June 14, July 15, ciderhillgardens.com Visit for the gardens and the art: 7 painters, all about peonys. Westminster Cares Annual Garden Tour June 29-30, 10-3p 802-722-3607, westminstercares.org. See 5 beautiful gardens. Prices are $15.00 and 2 for $25.00 (rain or shine). New Plants New Voices North Hill Annual Summer Symposium June 29, 8:30-4:30p Northhillgarden.com 18th annual summer symposium with this year’s theme about new plants, new ideas to engage a new and upcoming generation of gardeners. A visit to the garden at North Hill is included in enrollment. Tunes n’ Blooms North Forte Gardens July 20, 4-6 rain date July 21 802 464-5872, 464-8179 or 464-7230 Wander the spectacular Forte gardens in Wilmington, which features waterfalls, walkways and Vermont flora. Puppets in Paradise Sept. 7-8 10-4p Sandglasstheater.org Two afternoons of puppetry and performance in the enchanted setting of landscape architects Gordon and Mary Hayward’s gardens. Food and...

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Plowing Old Ground: Vermont’s Organic Farming Pioneers

Plowing Old Ground: Vermont’s Organic Farming Pioneers Photographs by John Nopper will be featured at The Works Bakery Café, on Main Street in Brattleboro, over June. The exhibit is part of “Plowing Old Ground: Vermont’s Organic Farming,” a work in development by agricultural writer Susan Harlow and farmer/photographer John Nopper. Their aim: preserve the story of the organic farmers who first came to Vermont in the 1960s. Over the past two years, Harlow has conducted about 40 hours of interviews, most of them around farm kitchen tables. Nopper came to Vermont as a teacher, worked for many years in the wood industry, and then built and managed a large-scale sheep operation on his farm in Putney. The photos are black and white and document the lives of six working farms and their farmers. “Vermont’s early organic farmers built an industry and a culture from scratch. Many of these farmers, now in their 60s, are asking themselves ‘What will happen to my farm?’ They’re getting ready to retire, but few of their children want to farm the land themselves,” Harlow...

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Rock-solid accolades
Jun22

Rock-solid accolades

Rock-solid accolades Stone house wins top honor from design site Terrigenous Landscape Architecture of Chester, owned by Scott Wunderle, is winner of the Best of Houzz Community Design award for 2013. The firm won for its design of a local outbuilding: a coop made from local stone and extruded glass rods. Wunderle says he undertook the work as a private challenge and was inspired by Chester’s Stone Village, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The project leverages historic lime mortar, found objects, and the skills of local craftspeople. Houzz is a Palo Alto, Calif.,-based online community founded in 2009, devoted to architecture, interior design and decorating, landscape design and home improvement. Its design award is based on images chosen as the most popular among the company’s millions of members. That global stamp of approval struck Wunderle as a “nice twist” for a modest project: “I work at many different scales and materials and I view this project as an extension of the unique Vermont landscape,” he...

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Photos: Plein Aire

Painting en plein air means painting outdoors while capturing the immediacy of the subject at hand under changing light and weather conditions. Over the course of the five-day Plein Air Vermont painting competition, 41 juried artists from as far away as Florida, Missouri, and Nova Scotia, Canada will find captivating scenes in the towns, villages, forests and fields in Manchester, Bennington, and everywhere between. The public is invited to seek out the artists as they create their visions of Vermont on paper and canvas. The paintings will go on exhibit at the Bennington Center for the Arts, beginning with an Opening Reception at 7pm Saturday, Sept 7th. The exhibit will continue on Sunday with the Grand Exhibit and Awards Presentation. Many of the paintings will remain on exhibit at the Bennington Center for the Arts through December...

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venues

Southern Vermont boasts world-class stage productions, concerts, play readings, and the lively arts. Select venues include: • Arkell Pavilion, Southern Vermont Arts Center, 930 Vermont Arts Center Dr., West Road, Manchester Village (svac.org, 802-362-1405). • Bennington Center for the Arts, 44 Gypsy Lane, Bennington  (thebennington.org, 802-442-7158). • Concerts on the Green, Shelburne Museum, 6000 Shelburne Rd., Shelburne (shelburnemuseum.org, 802-985-3346). • Dorset Theatre Festival, Dorset Playhouse, Manchester Center, 104 Cheney Rd., Dorset (dorsettheatrefestival.org, 802-867-2223). • Hunter Park, Riley Rink and Hunter Fairgrounds, 410 Hunter Park Rd., Manchester Center (hunterpark.org). • Northshire Bookstore, 4869 Main St., Manchester Center (northshire.com, 800-437-3700). • Oldcastle Theatre Company,  331 Main St., Bennington (oldcastletheatre.org, 802-447-0564). • Riley Center for the Arts, Burr and Burton Academy,  57 Seminary Ave., Manchester Village (burrburton.org, 802-362-1775). • Stratton Mountain, Base Lodge, Stratton Mountain (stratton.com, 1-800-stratton; 787-2886). • United Church of Dorset, 143 Church St., Dorset (ucc.org). • Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, 703 Main St., Weston (westonplayhouse.org, 802-824-5288). • Weston Rod and Gun Club, 982 Route 100, Weston (802-824-9604). • Zion Episcopal Church,  5167 Main St., Manchester Center (zionchurchmanchester.org,...

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