INVENTORDick Harper is an engineer, a writer, a volunteer, a photographer, and a boat builder. He chairs this arts council, teaches for Vermont colleges, and makes his living as a principal in a small business consulting firm.
"Only a few of the professional artists in Franklin County have actually quit their day jobs," Dick said. "Most squeeze studio or perfomance time in between the paycheck and the kids."
Dick is a contributing columnist for the County Courier, the St Albans Messenger (New England's oldest afternoon daily), and for VermontNOW (Vermont's newest commercial on-line weekly). He has written short fiction since 1986 when Bale Jumpers was published in the New Black Mask, technical manuals, computer applications texts, and a regular op-ed called Random Access.
Born in the rolling farmland of southeastern Pennsylvania, Dick Harper moved voluntarily to Vermont more than 20 years ago. "We were transferred here by a company with offices in New York State," he said. "We did have the option of living there, but I never liked New York's [then] grungy license plates.
"Unfortunately, business travel has always meant I spent time in other places when the weather is not quite as good as ours." That travel has taken him to Europe in the springtime (not bad), central Florida in July (not smart) and Wisconsin in December (really really dumb).
Dick studied mechanical engineering and naval architecture at Stevens Institute of Technology, and mechanical engineering and natural science/mathematics at Edison State College. He now teaches adults in non-traditional programs at ASHAI's College of the Missisquoi, CCV, and Woodbury College.
"I'll work on anything that has wheels or floats," he said. In 1969, Dick joined the Sports Car Club of America as a volunteer corner worker for road races on circuits like Bridgehampton and Watkins Glen. Within a couple of years he was driving A-Sedan Camaros in National and professional races on those same courses. "It was fun, it was fast, the people are great, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat," he added.
Franklin County had several performing groups but no county-wide arts presenting organization when some MVU parents wanted to bring in a VSO ensemble for the kids. In 1984, Dick organized the original Missisquoi Arts Council to present Brass Wood & Tom, workshops and a concert with the brass and wind ensembles plus Swanton native Tom Toner from the Vermont Sympony Orchestra. Missisquoi Arts pioneered avant garde shows and free concert series. Some of Franklin County's finest professional artists have since joined the group, changed the name, and increased the programming. Like every AAC volunteer, Dick sells tickets, hangs paintings, hangs posters, rounds up sponsors, helps feed the groups, and even lugs amplifiers around the stages.
Dick and Anne Harper share an old farmhouse in Vermont with a rowdy white cat and a very large khaki colored dog.
Many of the AAC profiles first appeared in the County Courier, the St Albans Messenger, and online in ArtBits on this site, in the Arts and Entertainment section of VermontNOW magazine, and on Themestream.com
All Arts Council of Franklin CountyDick Harper, Chair
P.O. Box 1
Highgate Springs, VT 05460
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