Weekly Conversation On The Arts

Thursdays 4:50p.m.

Weekly Conversation On The Arts is your window into the Vermont arts community. Every week, we talk with authors, actors, playwrights, musicians, artists and the people who make the arts happen in our area.

Author Olivia Hoblitzelle heard a phrase in her 40s that influenced the way she embraced her own aging and those around her. Now at age 80, her book collects her reflections and stories on how to age well.
Courtesy, Olivia Hoblitzelle

Olivia Hoblitzelle has spent her career as a teacher, a therapist and a writer. Her lifelong work brought together the practices of meditation, cognitive therapy and yoga into Western medicine's domain. And now Hoblitzelle's most recent book, Aging With Wisdom: Reflections, Stories & Teachings, gathers her writing into focused pieces on how to age well.

This episode was originally broadcast in August 2017: Michelle Wallace, who owns Nature Mandala Art :: Vermont, spoke to VPR about the process and intention behind her artwork. Wallace creates mandala patterns out of natural materials, photographs them and then allows the mandala to be taken away by the wind.

This once-empty 1860s church in Montgomery Center is the biggest building in town and now it is full of art, music, theater, dance and wellness classes each day of the week.
Sebastian Araujo

When New York native Sebastian Araujo and his partner moved from Cape Cod to Montgomery Center, Vermont, he arrived with the notion that thrifty New Englanders re-purpose old buildings. So when he noticed the biggest structure in town - an 1860s church - standing empty, he wondered why. And then he sprang into action.

Photo/artwork, Sarah Crowley

If you feel the same as local theater performer Erin Evarts does, then you think there is a space in the local arts landscape for dinner theater.

Using the momentum created by a previous cabaret-style dinner and show in December at ArtsRiot on Pine Street in Burlington, Evarts has gathered a new cast of theater actors for Ladies Who Laugh: A Night Of Comic Cabaret.

Cellist Emily Taubl, violinist Brooke Quiggins, pianist Claire Black, and clarinetist Dan Liptak will perform Olivier Messiaen's, "Quartet For The End Of Time," this weekend in Stowe.
Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, courtesy

When four of Vermont's finest young classical musicians take the stage this weekend in Stowe, they will share that stage with concert-goers in a purposefully intimate setting. The performance by Vermont Symphony Orchestra and TURNMusic musicians: Olivier Messiaen's, "Quartet For The End Of Time."

Burlington writer Jill M. Allen wanted to fill holes in the literary landscape with stories about Vermonters with disabilities whose handicaps represent 'only one aspect of who they are.'
Jill M. Allen/courtesy

Imagine you use a mobility device like a wheelchair. You pick up a book to read but no one depicted in the pages looks or moves like you. In fact, the characters are often written as people who are angry or depressed because of their disability. Enter, Burlington writer Jill M. Allen. She has penned a book of short stories where the characters live full lives and their disability is just one aspect of who they are.

This image comes from John Killacky's short film, titled, 'Flow,' on which he collaborated with local filmmaker Art Bell.
Stephen Mease

John Killacky is Flynn Center for the Performing Arts' executive director, an artist and a filmmaker. Killacky is also someone who, in the 1990s AIDS pandemic, lost hundreds of friends. This month, a retrospective exhibit featuring eight of his short films - some of which depict how Killacky chose to honor those who died - will be on exhibit at Champlain College Art Gallery in Burlington.

Shoshana Bass/Sandglass Theater, courtesy

For seven refugees who fled their homelands of Syria, Afghanistan, El Salvador, and Burundi to make new lives in Vermont, Putney's Sandglass Theater will tell their stories in a new production called, Babylon: Journeys Of Refugees. The theater company will blend their narratives with song, using puppets and hand-drawn scrolls; "... simple means," the website states, "... not much more than someone could carry with them as they flee."

Django Koenig grew up in Plainfield, the son of musical parents. He picked up various instruments along the way and continues to play drums, guitar, trombone and sings in bands as well as his latest project, called 'Django Soulo.'
Tommy Alexander, Cottage Grove, OR

After 10 days of contemplative, "noble silence" at a Washington state retreat, Plainfield musician Django Koenig is ready to sing. Koenig, a songwriter and guitar player - who has also sat behind the drum kits of a handful of bands with Vermont roots (The Tall Grass Get-Down and Ty-Alex) - is set to embark on his Vermont, Whatcha Want? Tour.

Some renderings in 'Imagining Home' include dwellings covered by a grass berm for growing vegetables from project participant, Mitchell White and Truex Cullins architect, Rolf Kielman. A design by Michael Wisniewski, architect for Stephen Marshall (top r)
Alison Cannon/artist, courtesy

Three elements converged to lay the groundwork for an arts and architecture project by Vermont artist Alison Cannon. It's called, Imagining Home.

Abbie Morin from Hammydown (top) and Caroline Rose, Willoughby Morse, Joshua Speers, and Abbie Morin (bottom) will perform at ArtsRiot to celebrate women and non-binary folks in the male-dominated music industry.
Kayhl Cooper

Being the only female or non-binary person working any given music event can sometimes feel like a men-only club; even in a forward-thinking place like Burlington, Vermont. So says a group of folks from Vermont's rich music scene. So, they are aiming to change that. Or, at the very least, balance the scales a bit.

For those who pen works of speculative fiction, there is a new awards prize program open to authors and playwrights around the globe. Last week, Dartmouth College announced the literary prize program that highlights works about the "near-future."
Courtesy, Neukom Institute for Computational Science

While scientists and technologists work to create the latest shiny, new digital gadget, it is the writers who place that new technology into the hands of their novel's characters, then write about its social impact. Sometimes the outcome is good. Sometimes, it does not end well.

It is just such works of speculative fiction that the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, aims to award with its new literary prize.

(From left) Jacqui Russell from Chicago Children's Theater collaborated with Kat Redniss from Flynn Center's education team and CCT's set designer, Will Bishop on a new Vermont-centric performance piece for kids with autism.
Kat Redniss, Flynn Center For The Performing Arts

This week, each corner inside the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery next to Burlington's Flynn Center for the Performing Arts has simple props, like tiny chairs draped with child-sized, flannel button-up shirts, cozy blankets and soft animal puppets. For the past week, this space has served as an incubator for a work-in-progress for a very specific theater audience.

Artwork by Amy Königbauer

For Montpelier-based hip-hop duo Boomslang, the tracks on their albums borrow samples and beats from all over the musical landscape. The two layer the samples and sounds with high lyrical content intended to make you think and move you to get up and dance. In fact, the only elements you might be surprised to find are not looming in any Boomslang songs: misogynistic themes and bad words.

Vermont Shakespeare Festival invites an audience to a reading of 'Shakespeare's Sister,' and to join in the discussion that follows. The play is part of VSF's Salon Series, featuring female playwrights inspired by Shakespeare.
Design, Dok Wright

It is no surprise that, since its inception in 2005, professional theater company, Vermont Shakespeare Festival, stages plays written by William Shakespeare. Adding to its roster the last few seasons, the company also curates a Salon Series, with a handful of intimate readings of plays written by those inspired by Shakespeare, one of which is Shakespeare's Sister.

Utilizing the momentum and popularity of the Farm To Ballet Project, choreographer and dancer Chatch Pregger is launching a new ballet company, Ballet Vermont. The troupe premieres Pregger's original choreography in a new ballet, "Bees & Friends."
Tim Peters, 2017

Behind the full-length classical ballets staged amidst the bales of hay and animals on Vermont farms is Chatch Pregger. The Fair Haven native, dancer and choreographer created Farm To Ballet, which just wrapped its third successful season, to showcase Vermont's working landscapes and bring ballet to communities that might not otherwise see it. Pregger is taking the momentum gained from that endeavor, and creating a new dance company in the state, Ballet Vermont.

This weekend's 'steAmfest' aims to combine the science and technology fields with the arts and aesthetics. The street festival will feature live bands, a maker faire and interactive science and tech exhibits.
Essex Hub For Women And Business, courtesy

The village of Essex Junction may have its share of STEM-related manufacturing companies and school curriculum rich in science and tech subjects but it is also home to many makers, artisans and artists.

Vermont woodworker Steve Hadeka creates unique birdhouses in his workshop, Pleasant Ranch. Using local hard and soft woods and acrylic, his creations bring a modern aeshetic to a traditional form.
Steve Hadeka/Artist, courtesy

If TV show "Mad Men's" character Don Draper needed a birdhouse to tack to a tree in his backyard in the suburbs, the ones that Vermont woodworker Steve Hadeka creates would totally fit the bill.

Plainfield artist Michelle Wallace uses natural materials to create mandalas that she then photographs.
Michelle Wallace, artist

Michelle Wallace knows her gardens very well. "I have a deep love for the plants ... I think that's where this art is rooted," she said. Recently, those garden spaces have acted as her art supply store. The leaves, flowers, stems, seeds and pods that the Plainfield artist gathers become one-of-a-kind mandalas, which she photographs and then casts to the wind.

Actor, writer and director Rob Cunning relied on self-discipline, a group of supportive friends and resources he found online to create the film, "Haze." It took him the better part of three years to complete.
Rob Cunning, courtesy

With a with ton of self-discipline and 27 pages of script, Burlington's Rob Cunning made a featurette-length film with no money. Plus encouraging words from his film-making idol just days before beginning to shoot turned out to be priceless.

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