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Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views

January 30, 2014

Local DIY Artist Sticks It to the Man With Veggie-Anarchist Stickers

"Beet the system." "Overgrow the government." "Squash the state." "Berry the President."

For those who like their anarchy served up with a side of veggies, local DIY artists Ben Levitt, who prefers the moniker "breakfast," Jess Cullity and friends have been doling out stickers printed with such slogans for more than a decade. The catchy vegetable puns are accompanied by his striking black-and-white graphics.

Beet the system

It began, breakfast recalls, in 2000 when he and Cullity — both West Woodbury residents — developed the concept for "Beet the System." The pair printed the image on stickers with their own funds and passed them around for free. Like the viral Eat More Kale shirts, developed the same year by Montpelier-based artist Bo Muller-Moore, the concept really took off.

"People just kept asking for more vegetable puns," breakfast recalls. 

And since he and Cullity are strongly opposed to copyright laws, they made it easy for people to access their images. Anyone can download the masters online, then tweak, reprint and redistribute them. The artists don't mind — in fact, they get a kick out of it. 

"I love the whole DIY movement," says breakfast. "I'm not into the art world, such as it is, but I do love to do artwork."

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January 28, 2014

Free Stuff! What Doth Life's Awesome 2013 Sampler

ArtworkwdlIf there's one thing we love more than music, it's free music. And free beer. And free wings. But mostly free music. Man, we're cheap.

Anyhoo, Windsor's What Doth Life, a "label-y collective" composed of a bunch of cool bands in and around the Upper Valley, have just sated our need for good free tunes with a monster compilation, It Came in 2013. The 28-track behemoth features cuts from a slew of WDL acts who released music last year, including the reclusive and prolific Luke Chrisinger, rockers Derek and the Demons and the increasingly excellent Pilgrims, among others.

The comp also boasts numerous tracks from friends of WDL, non-affiliated bands such as Pariah Beat, Ottawa's Carraway and Lake Superior — the last a Montpelier band on the capital city's own "label-y collective," State & Main Records/Golden Dome Musicians Collective.

Check out the lead cut from the comp below, "Tom Brokaw" by WDL's Carton.

Get the entire sampler here for free — OK, it's technically a "name your price" DL, but the label's press release billed it as a free comp, so we're going with that. And while you're at it, check out all nine of WDL's 2013 releases here, also on the house.

 

January 27, 2014

Team Vermont Represents in International Snow Sculpting Competition

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Team Vermont's entry into the 2011 International Snow Sculpture Competition. (Photo courtesy of Michael Nedell)

UPDATE BELOW: January 27, 2014

By late January, many Vermonters have had their fill of snow. But one small group of Burlington artists not only loves it but needs it. Snow is their medium.

“I’ve been making big, strange things in my garage as long as I’ve had a garage,” says Michael Nedell, a potter and sculptor as well as partner and CTO of the Burlington-based company Localvore Today. When he saw some snow sculptures on the Burlington waterfront during the city's Winter Fest in 1999, he was immediately hooked.

Over the years since then, Nedell and three other local artists — Adrian Tans, Brooke Monte and Alex Dostie — won the state snow-sculpting competition seven times, and as "Team Vermont" have represented their state in national competitions seven times. They've consistently placed in the top six teams and came in second two years. Last year, they won.

Lindsay J. Westley interviewed the team in Seven Days just before their successful trip to Wisconsin.

Around the third week of January 2014, Team Vermont will travel to snowy Breckinridge, Colo., to compete in the Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships. They’ll be one of just three American teams in competition, and the only one from Vermont. (The other two are from Colorado.)

The Vermonters are eager to represent their state in the contest. Nedell says that their goal is not only to win at the international level but “to show the world that people from Vermont have a serious aesthetic sense and a serious skill set when it comes to crafting.”

Sixteen teams from all over the world have entered the competition; snowier regions are well represented, with teams from Iceland, Finland, Russia, Estonia and two from Mongolia. Curiously, several countries not generally associated with snow — Spain, Mexico and Italy — also will field teams.

Even if the competitors from warmer climes forget their fur-lined hats, the event is sponsored by Budweiser, after all, so there’ll be plenty of liquid body-warmer on hand. “And the Germans make margaritas every year,” notes Nedell. Go figure.

Each team is composed of four members, and they’ll have a total of 65 hours to carve a 10-by-10-by-12-foot block of snow into ... something. There are no restrictions on the artistic content of the sculptures (besides the generally accepted bounds of family friendliness), but teams are forbidden from using dyes, armatures or power tools. Only hand tools — saws, wire and carving devices of various types — are permitted.

And the only acceptable materials all have the chemical formula H2O: snow, water and ice.

You may be thinking, Hey, I’ve been known to make a mean snowman — honey, let’s pack our bags for Colorado!

Not so fast. This competition is invitation only. The event’s committee sent out invites in July to 250 teams, who then have about three months to submit their designs as sketches. On the strengths of those sketches, 16 competing teams are chosen. 

Team Vermont's sketch of a sculpture called "Fugue" — of a conductor surrounded by a cylinder of swirling musical notes — is below.

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Dispatch 012714 From 'Overheard on Church Street'

 

 Remember Lori, Brian’s psycho ex? Well, she dead.

—  Woman to man

 

Quit telling me about gratitude! You and your gratitude can go fuck yourselves in the ass!

—  Man with tattooed face on cellphone

 

One intrepid Burlington resident has been compiling random heard-on-the-street comments in a tumblr blog aptly called Overheard on Church Street since 2010. Every Monday, the blogger shares a couple of snippets with Live Culture. You can read more at the OOCS archive. Submissions are also welcome.

January 24, 2014

New England Center for Circus Arts Purchases New Land in Brattleboro

Circus! 7dBrattleboro will soon be home to the first custom-built circus-arts building in the United States. 

Thanks to a generous monetary gift, students of the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) can look forward to a single space that contains specialized youth rooms, a performance space, a community meeting room, an in-ground trampoline and foam pit, and flying space. 

NECCA is internationally recognized and popular among circus artists of all ages and experience levels from around the world. The purchased property is located on Town Crier Drive, less than a mile north of downtown Brattleboro. 

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Grace Potter to Perform National Anthem at the Pro Bowl. So What's the Over/Under?

5ec5cdc4eca3a6dd4688992765f3332fNo, it ain't quite as prestigious as the big name next Sunday — that's the Super Bowl, for you non-sports people. But the pregame ceremonies for this Sunday's NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii will have a local flavor. Earlier today, Grace Potter announced via Twitter that she'll be belting out the "Star Spangled Banner" prior to the NFL all-star game:

I was really hoping to find a betting line on how long Grace's rendition of the anthem would be. That's always one of the funnier prop bets for the Super Bowl.

Alas, since the Pro Bowl is the lamest all-star exhibition of the four major American pro sports leagues and not even degenerate gamblers watch it, there are no such gambling lines set for the game. But that doesn't mean we can't set one anyway, right? 

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Movies You Missed & More: The Square

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 10.03.54 AMThis week in movies you missed: It's pre-Oscars month! Let's talk about some nominees that never reached our theaters.

That includes all but one of the potential Best Documentaries: The Act of Killing (my review here), Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars and this week's MYM, The Square. (The fifth nominee, 20 Feet From Stardom, played at the Roxy and Savoy.)

What You Missed

You already know the story, or maybe you half-know it from chaotic footage on CNN and YouTube. In early 2011, activists filled Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest the military-backed rule of president Hosni Mubarak. He was forced to step down, to be replaced in 2012 by elected Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, who was in turn ousted last summer after liberal demonstrators protested his abuses of power.

That's where this documentary from Jehane Noujaim (The Control Room) stops, but the story is, of course, far from over.

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Barre City Place Sculpture Honors History of Granite Workers

Coffee BreakIf you've been through downtown Barre and wondered what's under that tarp outside the brand-new Barre City Place building, here's a hint: coffee.

That is, "Coffee Break," Heather Ritchie's sculpture that speaks to the camaraderie and labor of the city's granite workers and stone carvers. And she should know. The Plainfield artist has spent some five years in the granite sheds herself.

Ritchie's commissioned piece is the first in the Stone Sculpture Legacy Program supported by the Charles Semprebon Fund. More works will be sited in the city over the next few years.

In the photo at right, Ritchie and Joe Calcagni of the Granite Corporation of Barre are setting the sculpture. See the lunchpail and Thermos at right?

Studio Place Arts director Sue Higby, who coordinates the program, has this to say in a recent announcement about Ritchie's work:

The sparely elegant sculpture recreates idle stone blocks waiting to be shaped where workers set down their cutters tools, lunch pails and coffees for a scheduled break. Four blocks of stone are arranged in a horseshoe shape to encourage people to enter the space and interact with the sculptures. The blocks of exposed granite showcase the natural beauty of the stone and invite viewers to rest on the blocks, touch the life size tools on the stone surfaces, and consider the work ethic of the men and women toiling in local sheds. 

"Coffee Break" will be unveiled in a ceremony on Wednesday, January 29, at 4 p.m.

Winooski Sculptor Leslie Fry Wins Kohler Residency

New colossalThe name Kohler may suggest toilets and bathtubs, but in fact it gets much artier. The Sheboygan, Wisc.-based company's John Michael Kohler Arts Center offers Arts/Industry residencies that enable artists from around the country to use its foundry and pottery facilities.

The residencies, which range from two to six months, also include travel and housing, a stipend and a featured exhibition at the arts center. Sweet deal.

This week Kohler announced the 16 recipients chosen for 2014, and Winooski-based sculptor Leslie Fry is on the list. It will be her second residency there.

With a distinct artistic vocabulary, Fry synthesizes elements of architecture, botany, mythology and human forms in her work. Her sculptures and works on paper have been exhibited internationally since 1977, from Seoul, South Korea, to Paris, France, to the University of Vermont's Fleming Museum in Burlington. The results of her commissions reside in numerous museums. The bronze piece pictured here, "Colossal AcornHead," is at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Mass.

 

January 23, 2014

New Tunes: "Vermont Woman" by Dark Green Folk

For as long as there have been songs, there have been songs about women. Next to God, the fairer sex has probably inspired more music than any other subject — maybe even more since the dawn of pop music.

But for all the songs about California girls, northern California girls, girls from the North Country, barroom girls, my girl, girls who just wanna have fun and honky-tonk women, precious few tunes have been penned specifically about our personal favorite kind of ladies: Vermont women.

Local songwriter Josh Schlossberg, who performs under the pseudonym Dark Green Folk, has attempted to rectify that egregious oversight with a new song called simply "Vermont Woman." DGF tends toward humorous tunes, and his latest is no exception, as he touches on just about every Vermont-y cliché there is, affectionately painting a portrait of a crass, crafty and crunchy Green Mountain woman who might seem familiar to anyone who's lived in Vermont for a while. (In fact, I think I may have dated her.)

Here's Schlossberg performing the song recently at Radio Bean, with full lyrics after the jump.

 

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