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.

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.

Clever Girls' bandmembers are, left to right: Winfield Holt, Rob Slater, Diane Jean, and Tobias Sullivan.
Brett Marshall, Winwood LLC

If Diane Jean, from the Burlington-based band Clever Girls, was shipwrecked on a desert island, she knows just which five records she'd like to listen to until the rescue ship arrived.

This photograph by Liam Lenel captures the detail of the finished murals by artist Sarah Rutherford in Jeffersonville. This marks the ninth year of the fine arts festival that fills Main Street in Jeffersonville with over 50 artists and artisans.
Liam Lenel

Main Street in Jeffersonville will be busy on Saturday. Its the 9th Annual Festival of the Arts presented by the Cambridge Arts Council. Over 50 artists in all media set up booths that line the street, ready to meet and talk about their life's work. And this year, a Lamoille Valley bike tour company is encouraging art lovers to take a new trail to get there.

This marks the 10th year that street performers will fill the Church Street Marketplace and City Hall Park with their craft during the Festival of Fools.
Andrew Krebbs/Burlington City Arts, courtesy

Celebrating the street performer is the spirit behind this weekend's 10th annual Festival of Fools in downtown Burlington.

(From l to r) Frog Hollow director Rob Hunter takes a floor mop to the interactive mural designs to make way for a new one; chalk pieces used to create mural; artist Tara Goreau pauses during drawing session; a young artist joins Goreau.
Rob Hunter/Frog Hollow, courtesy

The medium is impermanent but the artists and organizers behind the Community Interactive Mural project hope its imprint lingers.

Julia Luckett Photography

"When you're in a band and especially when you're touring, it's like being in a big marriage." That's the take from guitarist Nick Wood, with the Burlington-based funk-rock band, Gang of Thieves.

Wood and band-mate Tobin Salas, who plays bass guitar, recently sat down with VPR, fresh off the group's Work Together tour.

Last year's Do Good Fest welcomed over 5,000 spectators on the lawn at National Life headquarters in Montpelier. Again this year, the event is free and the $20 parking fee benefits Branches of Hope.
National Life, courtesy

This Saturday, the National Life building in Montpelier is opening up its "back lawn" and inviting a few friends over. It's the 4th Annual Do Good Fest, underwritten by the financial services company and boasting a musical line-up of national and local performers.

The 2016 Aphasia Choir in the McCarthy Arts Center;  Karen McFeeters Leary directing;  Jess McDonald, UVM speech pathology student (left) and Cheryl Lattrell, stroke survivor (right) enjoy a laugh during practice.
Jessica Clarke

How is it that survivors of stroke and certain brain injury are often unable to speak but they still can sing? The answer lies in the brain's physiology. By tapping into the undamaged right hemisphere, the stroke survivor can recall familiar melodies and express them through song. Enter, the Aphasia Choir.

Montpelier-based musician Ben Dunham hand-picked a dozen musicians to form The Backline Collective. The group performs the songs Dunham penned and the album-release party is Friday night at Positive Pie in Montpelier.
Tommy Burns/Matrix Marketing, courtesy

Local songwriter Ben Dunham's eight new songs chart his own personal growth over the past year. But in order to record them in all their multiple shades and moods, he needed to enlist a diverse bunch of Vermont musicians to get the job done. The finished project, called Backline Collective, will premiere at an album-release party this Friday night in Montpelier.

By practicing skits and playing theater games, students from The Bridging Program at CCS learn advocacy and decision-making.
Emily Anderson, courtesy

Classic theater warm-up games like, 'Zip, Zap, Zop!' can help teach focus and teamwork in a fun way. And recently, Emily Anderson has been borrowing these techniques with a unique group of young adult students.

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