DANCE - FINE ARTS - MUSIC - THEATER - WRITING

ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper


VOLUME 10 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 14, 2006

STUFF YOU SHOULDN'T MISS

      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.


      Stop in for live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax most Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m., at ChowBella or at the Overtime Saloon in St Albans 8-10 p.m. most Wednesday evenings, at the Bayside in St Albans Town most Sunday afternoons, and the Cambridge CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month.
     These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. The booked performances and acoustic Open Mike Nights feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


ARTS and CULTURAL CENTER

      A steering committee of volunteers from four major groups (the All Arts Council, the Bishop Street Artists, the St Albans Artists' Guild, and St. Albans for the Future) as well as other interested groups, and other individuals has been planning a local Arts and Cultural Center. Now that the committee has completed its list of the functions a center in our area needs to fulfill, it is time to research established arts centers in other areas.

      A group of artists pinned their artwork to clotheslines on Massachusetts' Cohasset Common 52 years ago and began to grow a tradition. The South Shore Art Center focuses on the visual arts and is grounded in the busy coastal area south of Boston. Their facility features multiple galleries and teaching studios where they can offer exhibitions and gallery programs, sales of fine art and studio crafts, courses and workshops, outreach to schools, and special events.
      [Editor's note: We have featured many of Franklin County's earlier clothesline events over the years and will do a round up in a future column.]
      SSAC passed the $100,000 sales mark of visual art last year, Executive Director Sarah Hannan said.
      The mission of the South Shore Art Center is "to enrich the communities south of Boston by fostering an understanding and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions and education."
      SSAC operates a significant Arts Festival each June. Their current exhibit, Major/Minor, places large works (over 1000 square inches) in the Bancroft Gallery and small works (under 400 square inches) in the Dillon Gallery. They begin Works on Paper in January and will host Steppin' Out, dancing and dining at the Red Lion Inn in March.
      The Bancroft Gallery is the SSAC centerpiece. Designed by architect Vcevold Strekalovsky, the gallery's trapezoidal floor plan and soaring ceiling create unexpected visual planes and sight lines. Its acoustics also make it an ideal setting for chamber concerts and other musical events. The Bancroft Gallery was donated by Jessiee Bancroft Cox to honor her parents.
      An outreach program sends their community programs manager to schools "with a slide show or the kids come here," Ms. Hannan said. "They have a tour of the exhibit and a hands-on activity that relates to the exhibit." The SSAC also has an Artist-in-Residence program in which students can "meet an artist and talk to the artist about their inspiration and how they got started and they do a hands on activity related to that. We have a ceramics studio and a sculpture class, and drawing is very big lately." Each year 1,500 people of all ages attend classes and workshops designed for beginning, intermediate, and advanced artists.
      SSAC offers four terms of courses and workshops for adults and children of all abilities including drawing, painting, plein air workshops, ceramics, programs for children, photography and darkroom, and printmaking. They draw on professional artists for the faculty. Visiting Artist Workshops take place throughout the summer
      Membership is important to the SSAC. They encourage membership not only to share in the cultural growth but also to contribute to its support. They have over 1,000 members.
      One level of membership that differentiates them from other art centers is the Gallery Artist. "They have to be juried in," Ms. Hannan said. "We do that twice a year to select artists to become gallery artists. That means they can exhibit in our small gallery and also in our satellites and be part of our referral program." SSAC has 160 Gallery Artists.
      "We think of them as our assets," she said. Gallery Artists also produce educational programming and other mission critical work.
      Members receive invitations to opening receptions and exhibitions, reduced rate tuition for courses and workshops, darkroom privileges, exhibition opportunities in member shows, birthday parties for children, passes to the MFA, Boston, and more.
      The SSAC operates satellites in the Cohasset Public Library, in the South Shore Conservatory, a conservatory of music in Hingham, and in the windows of an art deco building on Federal Street in Boston. "We have in the past done very well at selling art there, because there are thousands of people walking by every day. They can just call us up, put it on a credit card, and pick it up at the end of the show."
      All the art is on consignment; exhibition by non-members is a 60/40 split.
      The organization has Officers, a Board of Directors, a Board of Advisors, and staff of nine. The employees are all part-time except for Ms. Hannan, adding up to about 5-1/2 F.T.E. "We do a lot with what we have."
      And the clothesline art show has become the best-attended arts festival on the South Shore. click here for more info.

     In the coming weeks, this column will look for other arts centers and galleries in Vermont, in New England, and in the Florida Keys. It is worth remembering that, while these other areas have different and often larger populations than the Franklin and Grand Isle County region, the art centers we visit have similar missions. Their boards have chosen remarkably similar functions--but different implementations--to meet their users' expectations.


ON STAGE LIVE

BURLINGTON--Death, hand surgery, many dangers, toils, and snares couldn't keep it from happening as Nectars presents the 2006 Christmas Comeback Special on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. The show features Brother Jim Branca and the Knights of the Mystic Mojo with friends old and new, lots of room to dance, timeless American roots music, some tasty new originals, and many surprise musical guests. No Cover


JEFFERSONVILLE--Wednesday is Open Mike night, 7-9 p.m. at the Jeffersonville Pizza Department at 158 Main. Presented by the Cambridge Coffeehouse and sponsored by the Cambridge Arts Council. Call Rockiní Robin (644.6632) for info.


FAIRFAX--The regular Music Session continues Saturday with acoustic instrumentalists playing traditional songs at the Foothills Bakery, 1-4:30 p.m. Admission is free by donation.


WATERVILLE--Cambridge Arts Council presents community dances on Saturdays at 7 p.m. in the Waterville Town Hall. The evening will feature contras, squares, circles, play parties and singing games and all dances will be taught. Bring a partner, the entire family, or come alone. Caller Mark Sustic offers dance instruction. Frank Heyburn and Michele Lajoie play. Guest musicians with acoustic instruments are welcome. Admission is $5 per person and $10 for families at the door.


ST. ALBANS--Chow Bella offers jazz and improv with guitarist Jerry Levine on Monday evenings, 6-9 p.m., and virtuoso guitar with Tom Leshinsky on Wednesday evenings, 6-8:30 p.m. Click here for more info.


ST. ALBANS--The Overtime Saloon offers Open Mic with Abby Jenne and Friends every Wednesday at 8 p.m. Abby encourages performers of all kinds to attend. If you need instrumental accompaniment, email with the title/artist of song you wish to perform. Click here for more info.


CLICK HERE: ART SITE OF THE WEEK

     Zacciah Blackburn of Ascutney is a bamboo flutemaker who produces traditional transverse flutes, the Japanese shakuhachi, the bamboo saxaphone (his own invention) and the bamboo clarinet, as well as native American style flutes and Australian didgeridoos. His site includes photos, sound files, and narratives about the instruments, biographical info, and shopping, as well as his two multicultural music education programs.


FRANKLIN COUNTY BOOKSHELF

      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


SUPPORT LIVE ARTS IN YOUR TOWN!


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2006 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try Google.com or your favorite search engine).
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