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Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views

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August 2013

August 13, 2013

Artists Invade Waitsfield, But It's Still Safe to Go Outdoors

MatPardue1The Vermont Festival of the Arts brings art and artists of all stripes to the Mad River Valley throughout the month of August. But this weekend, hoo boy, it will be a veritable invasion. More than 45 artists are expected to be sprawled along Main Street, or ensconced in gardens, fields, by rivers and God knows where else.

You'd think they owned the place.

The species is pretty harmless, though: They're plein-air painters. You know, guys and gals who tote their easels and paint sets wherever a pretty landscape beckons, set up shop and get down to the business of creating nature's little doppelgängers on canvas or paper. It's a challenging job, but someone's got to do it.

I've always wondered what outdoor painters do if a bug flies into the paint. Or when, you know, they have to pee. But I digress.

This weekend at the Plein Air Paint Out, artists will be in a bit of a rush. After painting all day Friday and Saturday, they are required to gather at the Paint-Out headquarters on Bridge Street at 3 p.m. for a sidewalk art show and sale. So that paint had better be dry!

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August 11, 2013

Broadway Legend Len Cariou Sings in Vermont

Len's Head Shots 001You may know him as the bloodthirsty Sweeney Todd in Stephen Sondheim's musical of the same name. Or that guy Jack Nicholson pounded in About Schmidt. Or, perhaps as Tom Selleck's dad on CBS' popular police procedural "Blue Bloods."

But on August 17, at 7:30 p.m., Len Cariou will play the real-life role of cabaret chanteur at a benefit for the Greensboro Arts Alliance at that town's Mountain View Country Club. A dinner precedes the show at 5:30 p.m.

The veteran singer and actor introduced his show "Musical Memoirs" last November at New York nightclub 54 Below, which specializes in cabaret shows starring well-known Broadway performers.

He'll perform it for the first time since then in the Green Mountains, which he says he last visited to film skiing scenes in Stowe for Alan Alda's 1981 directorial debut, The Four Seasons.

Although the act is a new one, the 73-year-old says that he got his start in show business singing in clubs in his native Winnipeg as a teenager.

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August 10, 2013

Oh, Vermont, You Sexy Thang: A Travel Writer's Lusty Ode

Richard_Bangs_bioHere is a very short quiz: What word does not belong in this series? Family, Long Trail, canoeing, Frisbies, green, mountain biking, Segways, sexy, vacation, Vermont, water parks, travel news...

The eagle-eyed among you might have guessed "Frisbies" because it's misspelled. But no, my friends, the correct answer is "sexy!"

And that is precisely the word that travel writer Richard Bangs employed in the headline of his recent essay on Vermont for the Huffington Post. In fact, telescoping the over-the-top, rapturous prose in his piece, the full title is this: "Sexy Vermont: 50 Shades of Green."

(If you don't get the reference, Google 50 Shades of Grey. We'll wait.)

Back? OK. So Mr. Bangs came to Vermont and he really liked it. I mean, he really, really liked it. He liked it so much that his resulting paean to the state is almost X-rated. Here's his opening salvo:

Who would have guessed? But, as laid bare before me, Vermont is the sexiest state.

Beyond its partially trussed shoulders, and sensually curved back, beyond its juicy, succulent berries, Vermont is a place that emanates a pheromone that smells more pine than Axe. And yet it somehow manages to excite in ways unexpected.

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August 09, 2013

Was Werner Herzog in Burlington?

Apparently so.

The revered German director of Fitzcarraldo, Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans directed this 35-minute documentary about the dangers of texting while driving for AT&T's It Can Wait campaign. It features a locally shot segment on Debbie Drewniak of Colchester, who was critically injured after being struck by texting driver Emma Vieira in 2011.

A Silver Palm-winning director making a PSA? Sure, why not? The doc, called "From One Second to the Next," is austerely presented and devastating. You'll see a young Iowa man break down as he describes how he plowed into an Amish family's buggy while texting his wife. Drewniak and her siblings talk about how radically her life has changed since the accident, which put her in a coma and killed her beloved Lab.

With characteristic flair, Herzog told the Associated Press, "What AT&T proposed immediately clicked and connected inside of me. There's a completely new culture out there. I'm not a participant of texting and driving — or texting at all — but I see there's something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us."

So, if you are a "participant of texting and driving," next time consider this: The guy who dragged a steamship up a mountain and maintained a close friendship with Klaus Kinski thinks you're taking an unacceptable risk.

August 08, 2013

Speaking Volumes Changing Hands

Norbert Ender
Norbert Ender, file photo, circa 2007

Well folks, the rumors are true. Actually, that's not much of a surprise given that the subject of said rumors was the first to whisper them. But still. Speaking Volumes, the eclectic secondhand book and record store (and occasional live music/party hot spot) on Pine Street in Burlington, is changing hands.

Speaking by phone, outgoing shop owner Norbert Ender says it was simply time for a change.

"I've established myself rather solidly here, but I'm ready to move on," says the Austrian native who opened the store in 2007. Ender, 50, adds that in the immediate future he plans to travel, but will keep his apartment in Burlington as a home base.

As for the shop itself, new owner Alan Cosabic suggests the store's business model will remain pretty much the same for the time being.

"We're not planning to change things up too much," he says in a recent phone call.  

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August 06, 2013

Burlington Mayor Pitches to 'Creative Class' at Forum on Development

Miro at ksvMayor Miro Weinberger laid out his vision for a decidedly more urbanized Burlington in a forum last week at the Battery Street office of KSV advertising agency. His perspective generally jibed with that of Matt Dodds, head of the Brandthropology marketing group, who told the gathering that Vermont’s economy must be oriented to “the future, not the pasture.”

In a session keyed to the role of the local “creative class” — yet without explicitly addressing the creative economy — Weinberger made clear that he wants Burlington to develop a stronger urban identity, in part by resisting or erasing suburban-style land use. He warned of a risk that the rail yard enterprise zone south of Maple Street could become a “suburbia office park” of one-story buildings. And the mayor pointed to the Rite Aid on South Winooski Avenue as an underdeveloped site now occupied by “a suburban pharmacy.”

Denser development should entail new housing that enables downtown employees to walk to work, said Linda Kelleher, a principal of KSV. Weinberger heartily agreed. As the developer of the 25-unit Packard Lofts residential rental project on North Avenue, he spoke from experience in noting that it has been hard to build such in-fill housing partly because of local regulatory obstacles.

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August 05, 2013

Robert Resnik Signs Legendary Locals of Burlington

6a00d83451b91969e201901e2d81e9970b-320wiRecently Seven Days intern Meredith White wrote about Legendary Locals of Burlington, a book penned by local writer and musician Robert Resnik. He's also a Fletcher Free Library reference librarian and host of Vermont Public Radio's show "All the Traditions," two positions that utilize Resnik's gift for collecting arcane history.

So did writing Legendary Locals — the Burlington installment in Arcadia Publishing's series on American towns — which features short segments on dozens of individuals, both historic and current, who have made an impression in the Queen City's history. It's a subjective take, to be sure, but a fascinating walk through the city's history, particularly of the past few decades. Longtime residents will recognize plenty of faces, and be reminded of many more who have passed on.

Tonight at 7 p.m., Resnik will sign copies of his book at the Fletcher Free's Main Reading Room. He'll also appear up the street next Monday, August 12, 7 p.m., at Phoenix Books Burlington; and Saturday, September 7, 3-5 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in South Burlington. 

August 02, 2013

A Swab and a Snap: Main Street Museum Offers Free HIV Testing

RainbowWhite River Junction's cabinet-of-curiosity-style Main Street Museum is known for its unusual offerings — taxidermied animals, bizarre toys, frankly unrecognizable "material culture," that sort of thing.

The place also has frequent entertainments such as the upcoming 6th Annual Russian Avant-Garde exhibit with potluck dinner. (Think beet-basil-infused vodka!)

What the MSM is not noted for is HIV testing. That all changes today. From 4 to 7, all comers can get an anonymous, confidential test in the museum's Reading Room. Why? Perhaps because, according to a recent MSM newsletter, a million people in the U.S. have the virus, and one in five is unaware of it.

"Even if you're sure you're negative, get tested. I do!" chirps museum proprietor David Fairbanks Ford. But don't just take his word for it. Apparently Pope Francis has sanctioned it.

"It's now official," vows the newsletter. "The Pope says that you should all get tested at the Main Street Museum."

Who's gonna argue with that?

Image courtesy of the Main Street Museum.

Movies You Missed & More: Come Out and Play

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 10.11.26 AMThis week in movies you missed: This horror flick asks: Would you ever deliberately hurt a child? What about a gang of children who were trying to hurt you?

What You Missed

Francis and Beth (Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Vinessa Shaw) are a married couple vacationing in Mexico. They have two kids at home and one seven months along. In a rented boat, they head out to an island known for its carnival festivities.

But the island appears to be deserted except for its children. Radios crackle with a desperate voice speaking a foreign language. The kids just stare at the newcomers, refusing to answer questions.

Then Francis encounters an old man — and watches as a small girl beats him viciously with a stick, and her friends finish him off. Another surviving adult tells the couple what happened in the village. By that time, it's too late for them to think about anything but survival.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed & More: Come Out and Play" »

Vermont Arts Council Lamenting Departure of Rachel Feldman

189255_10100325783119835_459512470_nIt was in the news earlier this week that Rachel Feldman had taken a position as chief of staff at Lt. Gov. Phil Scott's office. What was not talked about was the job she's leaving behind. Or, more to the point, the organization: the Vermont Arts Council.

Feldman has been VAC's "social and broadcast media queen," as executive director Alex Aldrich puts it on his blog, for just about a year. But in that short time she made her mark, and then some. Aldrich calls her loss "a whopper of a hole in our staff."

I can attest to her efficiency. Rachel has always been responsive, sensitive to the needs of media and quick to keep Seven Days apprised of shifting arts news. She also has a swell sense of humor.

I don't doubt Rachel has upped the ante at VAC, probably leaving behind an altered job description — one that tacitly says "must fill Rachel's shoes."

Meanwhile, Aldrich has this to say regarding Scott's office:

[I]f our experience with the “Rachel Feldman phenomenon” is any indicator, Phil Scott will soon be trending on Twitter, hashtagging his public appearances, learning to keep his soundbites to under 140 characters, (re)connecting daily with all of his Vermont voters on Facebook, and yes, ignoring the Oxford comma. 

It may be a step up the career ladder, Rachel, but we'll miss you in the arts world. And we'll be keeping an eye on Phil Scott's Twitter feed.

Photo of Rachel Feldman shamelessly borrowed from her Facebook page.

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