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Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views

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June 2013

June 27, 2013

Dog Mountain Staff Look to the Future, Plan Labor of Love Party

Getting petted donateSince Gwendolyn Huneck took her life early this month, people keep asking how they can help at Dog Mountain, says creative director Amanda McDermott. She and recently appointed general manager Jill Brown are two of the three full-time employees left to carry on at the Stephen Huneck Gallery in St. Johnsbury — that is, along with the long-distance consultation of Gwen's brother, Jon Ide, in Wisconsin. Stephen committed suicide in January 2010.

The double tragedy is not only devastating to friends and family; it puts the entire enterprise at Dog Mountain — the gallery filled with Stephen's canine-centric artwork and books, and the beloved Dog Chapel he constructed nearby — in jeopardy.

But, according to a statement on the gallery's website and e-newsletters, the staff and Ide are "absolutely determined to make it through this period and set things on a course to make Dog Mountain Stable and sustainable in a way that would make Stephen and Gwen very, very proud."

McDermott confirms that the very small staff is exploring ways to keep the place going, including "looking into" becoming a nonprofit, which would allow them to seek donations and grants. But it isn't there yet, and so instead they've come up with another way to solicit help: a Labor of Love work party.

The weekend-long event begins Friday afternoon, July 12, and concludes Sunday afternoon, July 14. McDermott says there are a number of needed maintenance-type chores for people who want to "roll up their sleeves" and help Dog Mountain, such as painting, fence repair, landscaping and cleaning. Visitors can also rent a campsite for the weekend, but need to reserve one in advance. There's a volunteer sign-up page here.

"We're trying to bring Dog Mountain back to its original glory," McDermott says.

Continue reading "Dog Mountain Staff Look to the Future, Plan Labor of Love Party" »

Photographer Peter Miller Talks About His New Book, A Lifetime of Vermont People


Waterbury-based photographer Peter Miller, who prefers to say his residence is in Colbyville, has published a lot of images we like to call "iconic." And that's because they are. In his previous books Vermont People and Vermont Farm Women, we can see older Vermonters, primarily living close to the land, and recognize that the photos document a passing way of life — and yet it's one that continues to resonate in the still largely agrarian Green Mountain State.

Maybe it's the "new" agricultural consciousness in Vermont that keeps the interest in Miller's images alive. Maybe it's just that he wanted to repackage previously published photographs with others never before seen. Either way, Miller's new A Lifetime of Vermont People — released on his own Silver Print Press — is a handsome, 9-by-12-inch coffee-table volume.

The photo on its cover is a head shot of Carroll Shatney, a Scottish Highlander breeder in Greensboro Bend. It was taken in 1993, when Shatney was 98. His grizzled, time-worn face is offset by a jaunty cap that says "Fun!" and appears to be a souvenir of the Champlain Valley Fair.

Shatney died in 2009. His son, Ray, and wife continue to sell Highland beef to individual customers, restaurants and stores, according to A Lifetime of Vermont People. And that's one of the lovely things about the book: that Miller provides updates about many of the people in his photographs. It illustrates not only how much research he has done, but also how much he cares about the folks he's captured on film.

Continue reading "Photographer Peter Miller Talks About His New Book, A Lifetime of Vermont People" »

TEDx Talks in Manchester Village Explore the Future of Creativity

Tedx-manchesterEd. Note: Seven Days intern Sarah Williamson attended the TEDx event in Manchester Village last Saturday and posted this report on the Tech Jam blog.

Technology and creativity were the focus of a sold-out TEDx event in Manchester Village last Saturday. The day-long conference — the first of its kind in the Southern Vermont town — took place at the Riley Center for the Arts at Burr and Burton Academy. It featured 10 speakers with backgrounds in education, economics, business, social science and the arts, all of whom spoke for 18 minutes about "The Future of Creativity".  

The nonprofit TED Talks started 26 years ago as a conference for professionals involved in Technology, Entertainment and Design. Now, all of the talks are accessible online. Some highly polished TED presentations have been viewed millions of times.

TED has also leant its name to "TEDx" talks — the "x" indicates that the talk has been independently organized. TED reports that more than 5000 of these gathering have been convened across the globe. Anyone can put together a TEDx event — at least, anyone who follows the guidelines, comes up with an exceptional theme, gets approval from TED, knows enough people with “Ideas Worth Spreading" and has the space to host them. "Think of TEDx as hosting an awesome dinner party, with great food, inspirational videos, brilliant speakers and mind-blowing conversation," suggests the TED website.  

But TEDx talks, while similar in scope to the original series, are not always of quite the same caliber. I found that to be the case in Manchester. I was inspired by the majority of the speakers, though a couple left me scratching my head.

Read the rest on the Tech Jam blog.


June 26, 2013

A Conversation With Richard Russo

Richard Russo © Elena SeibertEditor's note: This week in "State of the Arts," Keenan Walsh previewed a series of author readings starting on Sunday, June 30, at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Read more here.

The series' headliner — who'll speak at VCFA on July 2 — is novelist Richard Russo. Even if you haven't read his work, you may know it as the source of two memorable showcases for the older Paul Newman: Nobody's Fool and the miniseries Empire Falls.

The author's latest work is a memoir. He has plenty to say about characters who surprise their authors, making a story up as you go, and his in-progress sequel to Nobody's Fool. Here's Walsh's complete conversation with Russo, not all of which we had room to print.

SEVEN DAYS: I wanted to start by talking about your most recent work — your memoir, Elsewhere. In your short story "The Whore’s Child," Sister Ursula is writing a memoir-type piece in a fiction-writing class. To be vague for those who haven’t read the story (but should), I'll just say that she discovers there’s a fine line between fact and fiction; that sometimes we create fiction in our own retelling of the “facts.” In writing Elsewhere, which was your first memoir…

RICHARD RUSSO: And last! [Laughs.]

SD: [Laughs.] Was there a similarly surprising process of discovery for you as you wrote Elsewhere? Did you realize things that you wouldn’t have otherwise, had you not written it?

RR: I’m so happy that you picked up on that parallel, because my experience in writing this memoir was not unlike Sister Ursula’s. She discovers, in telling the story — and having other people respond to her telling the story — that of course her memory is flawed, and she’s forced to confront something about her life that I think she may have known some part of in the back of her mind, but very deep in her own need to believe something else. And I discovered in writing Elsewhere, not that there was any great secret, so much as the fact that I just didn’t really understand, until writing this book, some aspects of the story of my own life, and the story of my mother’s life.

Continue reading "A Conversation With Richard Russo" »

June 24, 2013

National Organ Society Convention Pipes Up in Vermont

Erben-Highgate_FallsIt's a good week to be an organ lover in Vermont. I'm not talking organ meat — though there's plenty of that to be had these days as well.

No, I'm talking about the National Convention of the Organ Historical Society, which begins today in Burlington. It's attracted more than 300 enthusiasts from all over the U.S. and even abroad, according to convention chair Marilyn Polson of Chelsea, who plays a 119-year-old historic instrument at the Bethany Church. The OHS, she explained, was founded in 1956 by people who wanted to raise awareness of and protect/restore 19th-century pipe organs.

It seems that in the 1950s, a craze for playing Baroque music resulted in some of the instruments being altered in ways that I can't explain — something to do with high-pitched stops. In a phone conversation, Polson was indulgent of my organ ignorance, but was firm in her assertion that "19th-century pipe organs are so listener-friendly!"

In addition to intentional alterations, she said, many organs at churches have simply suffered from "benign neglect," as maintenance and repairs are likely not in the general budget.

The five-day convention will give participants plenty of opportunities to geek out ("We love to talk organ," Polson quipped), including day trips on tour buses to rural churches in 14 central and northern Vermont towns that have exceptional examples of said instruments. Those are Randolph, Williamsburg, Northfield, Montpelier, Stowe, Hardwick, Greensboro, Cabot, Plainfield, St. Albans, Highgate Falls, Vergennes, Richmond and Sheldon.

Continue reading "National Organ Society Convention Pipes Up in Vermont" »

June 21, 2013

Music on the Weekend

Being the music editor for a newspaper in a town, and state, with such a vibrant music scene is a pretty ace gig. But, like any job, it comes with certain pet peeves. One of mine is that people expect me to be able to recite the upcoming weekend's slate of events from memory. I can't tell you how many times I run into an acquaintance who will attempt small talk with some version of the question, "So, mister music guy, what's going on this weekend?" 

Seems pretty innocuous, right? And it is. But here's the thing: I almost always fumble like a rookie tailback when asked that question. It's not that I don't know. It's that by the time the paper comes out on Wednesday, I've moved on. I've pretty much forgotten what's in the current issue because I'm preparing for the following one. (Try asking me what's happening next weekend.)

Also, I'm often tempted to answer the question thusly: "Hmm. Not sure. If only there were some resource, perhaps some kind of paper, website or e-newsletter that could tell you what's happening for the next, uh, seven days." But I digress.

Anyway, for those of you who want yet another reminder, I thought I'd offer up a few selections — complete with video — of shows I recommend this weekend.

AM & MSR Presents: North America, Doom Squad, the Images. The Monkey House, Friday, June 21, 8 p.m. $7.

Because Angioplasty Media and MSR Presents have yet to steer us wrong. Also, the Images have some nifty BTV lineage.


Waylon Speed, Thompson Gunner. Nectar's, Friday, June 21, 9 p.m. $5.

Because country + rock = YEEEHAW! Also, Thompson Gunner is one of the better Vermont bands you haven't heard yet.


Ben & Jerry's Concerts on the Green: David Byrne & St. Vincent. Shelburne Museum, Saturday, June 22, 8 p.m. $49-55.

Because this:


Dwight Richter Trio, Chic Gamine. Nectar's, 9 p.m. $5.

Because within in two years you'll be telling your friends you saw Chic Gamine at a small club in Vermont.


Movies You Missed & More: Upstream Color

Upstreamcolor_bathtub_3000x1491This week in movies you missed: The director of cult flick Primer returns with an expressionist epic about the bond between human and ... swine?

What You Missed

OK, that's not exactly what Upstream Color is about. It's a tough movie to summarize, though.

Amy Seimetz plays Kris, a professional who is abducted and fed a worm that places her in a suggestible hypnotic state. Her abductor cements his control by instructing her to do odd repetitive tasks, then makes her sign over the equity in her house.

Things get worse from there. Kris ends up in the care of a sound artist/avant-garde composer/pig farmer (Andrew Sensenig) who performs a procedure that gives her back control of her mind and body, but leaves her with a big hole in her memory.

As she rebuilds her life, Kris meets a young man (writer-director Shane Carruth) who appears to have had a similar experience. They become involved while trying to figure out what the hell happened. The audience joins them in this endeavor.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed & More: Upstream Color" »

June 20, 2013

The Secret Circus Spotted in Montpelier

Vermont actor James Gallagher was in the right place at the right time. Strolling through the Montpelier farmers market one recent weekend, he caught a spontaneous circus act. Luckily, he had his camera with him. He shot and edited this short film, set to music he created, and sent it to us.

"It's pretty cool to stumble upon talented street performers!" he wrote in an email.


The nimble performers call themselves Agents Honeymoon and Butterfly, and their act — filled with acrobatics, juggling and "comedic weaponry" — is the Secret Circus

Their real names are Brent and Maya McCoy. The Greensboro-based husband-and-wife duo has performed around the U.S., Canada and Europe since 2009. If you sense a little Bread-and-Puppet vibe in their show, you're right on: Maya apprenticed with the troupe after studying at the New School in New York City. Brent has performed his solo show, The Real McCoy, around the world since 2005.

On their website, the McCoys describe their show thus: "Honeymoon and Butterfly's operations contain the intensity of Mission Impossible, the skill of Circus Arts, and the fashion sense of Napoleon Dynamite."

The Authority on Outhouse Building Speaks in Vermont

Outhouse-344"The Authority" sounds like a moniker for a big, muscle-bound wrestler in the AWF, or maybe an underworld crime boss. But in fact it's the sort-of-tongue-in-cheek name chosen by George Papp Sr. both for himself and for the title of his self-published book ... on building outhouses.

Yes, Papp is an authority on historically accurate "thunder boxes," if he does say so himself. And so his website and book reveal. Papp, who lives in Colchester, Conn., is speaking tonight in Bristol on the subject, and no doubt will have copies of his book ready to autograph and sell.

And there is no more suitable place in Vermont — maybe on earth — than Bristol for an authority on outhouses to visit. Because what comes to mind when you think of Bristol on the Fourth of July? The outhouse race!

On a shed-building website I found courtesy of Mr. Google, Papp reveals that he started building outhouses and sheds because "daddy made me do it." By which he means his daughter — after purchasing a rural home in New Hampshire — told him she needed one:

If you have a daughter you certainly know what daddy means. Dad is one thing, daddy is another, and she used the daddy card when she asked. When she uttered that word, I was obligated. When I built that Kybo in my driveway, it attracted more folks than ants to sugar and brought in several requests, and it has grown to a satisfying pastime. 

Continue reading "The Authority on Outhouse Building Speaks in Vermont" »

June 18, 2013

Broadway Star Kelli O'Hara to Perform at Flynn/Lyric Benefit

Kelli-3318-EditWhen one of Broadway's hottest stars got booked for a benefit concert at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, we were curious: What is four-time Tony nominee Kelli O'Hara's connection to Vermont?

Turns out it's one of those six-degrees-of-separation stories. Flynn executive director John Killacky explains.

O'Hara is married to actor/singer Greg Naughton.

Naughton, a Middlebury College grad, is in a band called the Sweet Remains.

Also in that band is Rich Price, a brand-new Flynn board member.

Price gave O'Hara's agent's info to Killacky. Et voilà!

Actually, that wasn't even six degrees. But there's a bit of a backstory for how this serendipitous connection came up in the first place.

"I was having lunch with Rich and told him we were talking with Harry Connick Jr. about coming to the Flynn — he's on tour this summer," Killacky says. "And Rich said, 'I sang with Harry at Kelli O'Hara and Greg Naughton's wedding.'"

Continue reading "Broadway Star Kelli O'Hara to Perform at Flynn/Lyric Benefit" »

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