Weekly Conversation On The Arts

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.

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.

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.

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.

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