Calendar

Download our Spring 2009 calendar of events and gallery walks in pdf format.

Read More

Artisan Wines

    Artisan Wines to Call Our Own The Budding Industry of Vintning in New England By Clara Rose Thornton Vermont is known for several aspects of the good life—breathtaking, mountainous scenery; a reduced focus on materialism; and a never-ending stream of organic, local cuisine. This cultural oasis with a northern clime is not, however, known for its wine or viticulture. In fact, the stereotype is that only tart, overly sweet, highly acidic fruit wines are produced here, because blueberries, apples, rhubarb and cranberries can thrive where grapes cannot. This is a vast misconception. It is true that the noble grape varieties—Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, etc. — as well as other varietals that consumers are commonly familiar with cannot thrive in New England’s climate. But thanks to Minnesota viticultural pioneer Elmer Swenson (1913–2004), who revolutionized the capacity for grape growing in the cold and short-seasoned regions through extensive creation of French-American hybrids, Vermont has a cache of wine grape varieties to call its own. Frontenac, Marquette, St. Croix, Marechal Foch and LaCrosse may not yet be as familiar in international wine markets as, say, Chardonnay, but a handful of vintners and wineries all over the state have been working diligently over the past decade to perfect the craft of effectively growing them and coaxing world-class artisan wines from their stock. A primary struggle for New England vintners is lowering acidity caused by lack of sun, as opposed to working to keep alcohol levels down as vintners do in hotter climates. The majority of Vermont’s vineyards are in a youthful phase, as it takes several years to establish grape vines, and boutique wineries dominate the industry. There are also larger wineries that in the past outsourced grapes from California and are now integrating their own vines into their inventory. One of these enterprises is Honora Winery and Vineyard in West Halifax. Patricia Farrington founded and is CEO of Honora. “Wineries and vintning go together like peanut butter and jelly, right?” asks Farrington. “Wrong. Every single one of the Napa Valley wineries outsources for grapes. For example, if one is known for Cabernet, it concentrates on growing that and outsources for Chardonnay. So we are not far behind the trend.” Honora, at 2,000 feet above sea level, has six varietals planted on a large hill behind the chateau, honoring the tradition of slopes being excellent for vine growing. As of yet, Honora’s vines have not experienced any winter damage—a testament to the resilience of the cold-hardy varieties. Their first Vermont-grown wines—which may include Frontenac, La Crescent, Leon Millot, Marechal Foch or Marqette—will be available in the fall,...

Read More

Spotlight

2nd Annual Manchester and the Mountains Poets and Writers Weekend April 24 – 26, The Rice House and Old Forge (Located Directly Behind Ye Olde Tavern)Main Street, Historic Route 7A, Manchester Center, 802-362-6313, some free sessions, others either $25 or $35 each, greatermanchesterarts.org. 2nd Annual Manchester and the Mountains Emerging Poets and Writers Weekend entitled Building Momentum. Sessions include Writing Memoir, Writing Children’s Literature, Journalism Workshop, Student Art and Writing, Writing Poetry and Poetry Workshop, Fiction, Playwriting, Readings, Publishing Panel, Storytelling, Children’s Book Illustration, Creative Writing and an Evening at the Equinox Resort featuring words, dance, music and visual art. “Dr. Bebop”, 8pm, Saturday, April 25, Vermont Jazz Center, 72 Cotton Mill Hill, Studio 222, Tickets: $20 general admission $15 for students or call 802-254-9088 to reserve tickets, or purchase online at vtjazz.org. Howard Brofsky, “Dr. Bebop”, never fails to draw the largest audience of the season. His soulful repertoire provides the perfect musical backdrop for his handpicked selection of New York based musicians to explore their own creativity. This creative freedom is a surefire recipe for a delicious musical feast. The history of the Vermont Jazz Center reaches back to the early 1970’s, when the late founding Director, jazz guitarist Attila Zoller, would invite musicians from New York City to unwind and create at his home in Newfane. These beginnings and a summer workshop series naturally led to the creation of the Vermont Jazz Center. The Jazz Center is a now a year-round program that hosts monthly concerts featuring some of the world’s most innovative jazz musicians—it’s always enjoyable, always swinging. Charmed by Audrey: Life on the Set of Sabrina, May 3, Sunday, 2pm, BMAC, Brattleboro Regular gallery admission applies: $6 adults, $4 seniors, $3 students, free for BMAC members and children 5 and under, brattleboromuseum.org. Celebrate Audrey Hepburn’s 80th birthday with a screening of the 1954 film Sabrina starring Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and William Holden. Following the film, photographer and author Juliet Cuming of Dummerston, Vermont, will sign copies of her new book, Charmed by Audrey: Life on the Set of Sabrina, which features photographs by Cuming’s fatherin- law, famed fashion and celebrity photographer, Mark Shaw. SALMAGUNDI, Extraordinary Theatre Arts Festival, May 11- 17, NEYT Theatre, 100 Flat Street, Brattleboro, 802-246-6398, Ext. 101, http://www.neyt.org The New England Youth Theatre, celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2009, is bringing a unique annual festival of theatre arts workshops, master classes and performances to Brattleboro. As its culinary name implies, SALMAGUNDI is a smorgasbord of unique theatre offerings, presented by distinguished artists from around the world and from our very own region. Programs are designed for a wide range of ages,...

Read More

Colgate Park

A Family Weekend of Fun The first annual Ethan Allen Colonial Fair will be held on Father’s Day weekend, June 20 and 21, showcasing Vermont’s history in the Revolutionary War period. A core component of the Fair will be 150 reenactors assembled under the leadership of Major General David Bernier. See battle reenactments, savor great food and enjoy live music, period song and dance, farm and home crafts and games. It’s a great event for children and the whole family. Colgate Park Route 9, West Bennington 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. both days 802 442 4411...

Read More

Fine Art vs. Craft

Fine Art vs. Craft: Who Decides? Vermont’s Open Studio Tour Dispels Myths and Expands Horizons By Clara Rose Thornton Celebrating 17 years of highlighting the best of Vermont’s vibrant creative culture, the annual Open Studio Tour happens on Memorial Day weekend, May 23 and 24. Showcasing an incredible 273 artisans spread across 13 counties—with 48 in Bennington and Windham Counties alone-Rutland and Windsor….-the event should prove to be a whimsical, thought-provoking and inspiring experience for patrons and casual browsers alike. Fine Art vs. Craft: Who Decides? Vermont’s Open Studio Tour Dispels Myths and Expands Horizons By Clara Rose Thornton Celebrating 17 years of highlighting the best of Vermont’s vibrant creative culture, the annual Open Studio Tour happens on Memorial Day weekend, May 23 and 24. Showcasing an incredible 273 artisans spread across 13 counties—with 123 in Bennington, Windham, Windsor and Rutland Counties alone — the event should prove to be a whimsical, thought-provoking and inspiring experience for patrons and casual browsers alike. The aim of this year’s Open Studio Tour is, as it has always been, to reveal the personal worlds of Vermont artisans who open their creative spaces to the public, fostering understanding and connections between these often disparate sectors of society. As Martha Fitch, executive director of Vermont Craft Council, the organization that founded and produces the event, put it, “By introducing visitors to the studios of both artists and craftspeople, Open Studio weekend informs the public about the tools, materials and processes involved with creation of artwork in a variety of media.” This concept of opening closed doors literally opens another, more theoretical, door. There is often a distinction made between “artists” and “craftspeople,” in terms of traditional fine art — painting or sculpture—and craft or hobby art—pottery, weaving, woodwork, glassblowing and jewelry. Both the general public and the art world academic sector has historically put craft and hobby on a lower level than traditional arts, and relegate it to the category of mere entertainment or décor. “I think this is due to a few factors,” said Fitch. “One is that craft as a category applies to a huge group of unlike disciplines from furnituremaking, to molding with clay, to fabric surface design with dye. Craft as a verb implies skillful construction but not necessarily innovation. However, you can’t look at (furniture-maker) Michele Holzapfel’s work and not see innovation. Or look at Jen Violette’s work. She is an example of a craftsperson working in glass who is obviously a sculptor.” Fitch disapproves of the blanket term “hobbyist” being applied to craftspeople, and feels that this is another reason for confusion about craft. “When I think of...

Read More

Spring Inspiration

Spring Inspiration How the Rejuvenation of Spring Can Affect the Creative Mind By Clara Rose Thornton Too often spring is looked upon as a relief from winter drudgery, or merely a road sign alerting life’s travelers that summer is just a few miles away. In other instances, its characteristics are turned to myth, with people evoking notions of the Earth’s soul awakening, shaking off the snow, and injecting the air with spice. But what is the essential nature of the season? Spring Inspiration How the Rejuvenation of Spring Can Affect the Creative Mind By Clara Rose Thornton Too often spring is looked upon as a relief from winter drudgery, or merely a road sign alerting life’s travelers that summer is just a few miles away. In other instances, its characteristics are turned to myth, with people evoking notions of the Earth’s soul awakening, shaking off the snow, and injecting the air with spice. But what is the essential nature of the season? How does it extend beyond being a waiting room in summer’s office or a tax refund after winter’s liability? Spring is historically a time of inspiration to naturalist painters, individuals who pay attention to the subtleties of their surroundings on a height-ened scale. Three of Southern Vermont’s finest landscape artists, each with a divergent style—Michaela Harlow, Judy Hawkins and Ann Coleman—share their philosophies on the air, the hues, and the essence of a season that is a singular force all its own, and not just a categorical state of mind. “Vermont is an endless source of inspiration for a painter, ” said Michaela Harlow, who resides outside of Brattleboro along the picturesque Green River. “The natural world here is constantly changing, and never is that more apparent than in spring. Fall is a rapidly changing season as well, but where autumn seems to linger melancholy, spring rushes forward breathless. The sense of trying to keep up with spring is very different from the desire to hold on to fall. The changes in April are all about beginnings, unlike the changes of October and November. Spring is like a song that begins subtly, almost imperceptibly at the start. “ Harlow’s abstract oil and pastel renderings encapsulate a certain viscera; the observer feels the scratch of texture as if brushed by a wayward twig, and deciphers layers of hue presented in a blurred vision of heaven. Her abstract method belies an acute recognition of nature’s nuance, and points to a thematic strain: “In spring the layers of snow and ice slowly peel away with last year’s bleached remnants, revealing the fresh and the new. The peeling away of layers...

Read More

Design Observed: Recycled Space

Design Observed Recycled Space Whenever a barn is no longer needed for farm use, there are numerous ways it can be rehabilitated and given a new life that preserves much of its historic character. For every old barn that has been lost to fire, neglect or demolition in the last half-century, thankfully there seems to always be another one that someone, somewhere has saved. This Newfane, Vermont barn, built in 1800, formerly a horse barn with hayloft and silo, was recently transformed to a residence. The most successful barn rehab projects begin with a passion for the past and a sense that “adoption” implies creative compromise when it comes to transforming what is often an impersonal vernacular agricultural building into a warm and inviting home. Most architects and barn owners strive to keep the structure’s “barn-ness” intact by preserving exposed timbers, high ceilings and especially lofts, as well as re-using posts, partitions and floor boards that have taken a century or more to age to perfection. Although there are clear guidelines available for barn restoration and conservation through the Technical Preservation Services of the National Park Service and the National Register of Historic Places, barns that are converted for residential use often digress from these norms in surprisingly innovative and unusual ways that are part art, part engineering. In the Newfane Barn project, for example, the original 10 by 10 foot door has been replaced by a front door that opens directly into the large central space typical of New England barns. It is where, years ago, horses clip-clopped their way to their stalls and where hay wagons waited while farm boys unloaded bales into the lofts above. Today, the wide bay is the living area that is open to the kitchen. The kitchen is under the loft where the stalls once were. The floor of the loft was raised six inches to heighten the ceiling in the kitchen — the original ceiling height was just right for animals, but not for humans. On the other hand, the hayloft was barely altered in the make-over. It is now an exciting play space for two imaginative young boys. Newfane Barn Project Cotton Design Associates, LLC 802 365 7277 cottondesign.com Newfane, Vermont Contractor: Cwf Assoc Building Design, Brattleboro, Vermont Project Size:3200 Square Foot Barn to Residence: Three Bedrooms, Loft, Rec Room, Outdoor Deck & Swimming pool Clients: Active couple with two active boys Project Objectives: Transform a two-hundred-year-old Vermont horse barn into a residence while preserving the character of the barn. Complete the project in a six-month time frame. Provide for the client a realistic budget with no surprises. Provide energy...

Read More

Growing Local Culture

Growing Local Culture By Clara Rose Thornton In the world of accelerated cities where art is accompanied by glitz and the role of creativity holds a lofty position above day-to-day life, a sentiment like that is inexplicable, provincial, quaint. It may not be easy for those used to art being something you merely hang on a wall to understand how industry, community, agriculture and heritage—or a stout, freckled farm boy— complete the creative economy picture. Growing Local Culture By Clara Rose Thornton Poet Robert Tristam Coffin once wrote, “Vermont’s a place where barns come painted / Red as a strong man’s heart, / Where stout carts and stout boys in freckles / Are highest forms of art.” In the world of accelerated cities where art is accompanied by glitz and the role of creativity holds a lofty position above day-to-day life, a sentiment like that is inexplicable, provincial, quaint. It may not be easy for those used to art being something you merely hang on a wall to understand how industry, community, agriculture and heritage—or a stout, freckled farm boy— complete the creative economy picture. In Vermont, though, sustenance is creativity, and heritage is the preeminent paintbrush. Native Vermonters emerging from a winter unscathed, or new transplants inventively navigating business pitfalls in a tiny hill town exist as perfect examples. And, ironically, during what is being quoted as the worst global economic climate since the Great Depression, Vermont has discovered a way to not only keep surviving, but also thrive, through the simple act of nurturing this innate creative spirit. “Vermont has traditionally been invested in only certain aspects of its historic and cultural heritage-those surrounding agriculture and tourism,” remarked Alex Aldrich, Vermont Arts Council executive director. “It’s only been within the past five or six years that (state bureaucracy) has begun to realize there’s a great amount of power in the arts industries, and not just classical arts, but all arts, such as craft, music, dance, drama, theater and artisan foods.” Batting naiveté, Aldrich added that, “Arts alone are not going to restore a community to fiscal solvency. The new thinking is that art is part of the discussion; it’s part of the planning.” This new way of thinking about art at the legislative level has its genesis in a 2004 report by the then-newly-formed Vermont Council on Culture and Innovation. In it, two basic tenets were put forward: 1) Public and private investment in creative enterprises yields favorable economic and social returns, producing jobs and supporting communities. 2) The development of the creative economy in Vermont is not limited to geography, topography, demographics or population density. In...

Read More

David Gil

The Legacy of David Gil Celebrated in Bennington Tradition, Innovation, and Good Design: The Ceramics of David Gil at the Bennington Museum By Anita Rafael Through May 17, 2009, the first major retrospective of David Gil’s work showing the variety of ceramic products designed by Gil and produced by Bennington Potters over a period of more than 50 years. The exhibition features never-before-exhibited works created by Gil from 1948 through the 1970s. The Legacy of David Gil Celebrated in Bennington Tradition, Innovation, and Good Design: The Ceramics of David Gil at the Bennington Museum By Anita Rafael Through May 17, 2009, the first major retrospective of David Gil’s work showing the variety of ceramic products designed by Gil and produced by Bennington Potters over a period of more than 50 years.The exhibition features never-before-exhibited works created by Gil from 1948 through the 1970s. Drawn from important local private collections, David Gil’s family, and the museum’s own permanent collection, the exhibition includes beautiful examples of Gil’s art pottery as well as his more familiar work as a production designer. One day weeks before the opening of a new ceramics exhibition at the Bennington Museum opened, Sheela Harden made trip after careful trip through the front door of that venerable granite-walled institution, her arms cradling pottery pieces by her late husband, David Gil. She then carried in three different electric lanterns made by Gil more than 40 years ago. Despite their age and old, brittle wiring, the lamps glowed softly as Harden tested each one in an outlet in the museum’s lobby. More of Gil’s ceramic creations delivered by Harden that day included a greenishblack coin bank in the shape of a life-sized cat and a large, white jar, its lid still intact. Gently lining up the pieces on an old wooden bench by the museum’s reception desk, Harden inadvertently created an impromptu art show of striking ceramic works, treasured pieces she hoped others would enjoy and study. That afternoon, museum curator Jamie Franklin inspected each piece, asking Harden about manufacture dates and looking for Gil’s incised signature or back stamp. In the end, Franklin asked to borrow all of the items for the first retrospective of David Gil’s work, an exhibit that opened at the Bennington Museum in mid-March. For months prior to Harden’s visit, Franklin had been contacting private collectors in Vermont and other states to request loans of Gil’s work so that he could assemble the ceramics show. Bringing the exhibit’s number of pieces to nearly 200, Harden’s loans would add much, Franklin knew, to the impact of the Gil retrospective, an important show for the Bennington Museum....

Read More