Weekly Conversation On The Arts

Angela Evancie / VPR

There’s a new prize in town. Burlington City Arts has announced the first recipient of the $10,000 Herb Lockwood Prize, the largest monetary award related to the arts in Vermont.

The award went to actor and director Steve Small of Middlebury.

The  57-year-old Small has performed in countless productions over the years, and is the director of the Addison Repertory Theater in Middlebury, a training program for high schoolers.

Elle James

Desha Peacock wears many hats as an entrepreneur based in her hometown of Brattleboro. As a career development and lifestyle expert, she’s coaches people in finding what she calls the “sweet spot” of success.

She has now applied her philosophy to home decor, highlighted in her new book: 'Creating The Style You Crave On A Budget You Can Afford: A Sweet Spot Guide To Home Decor'.

Courtesy Vermont Arts Council

The Vermont Legislature created the Vermont Arts Council in June of 1965. Its mission as a private non-profit is to help fund and support the arts in Vermont.

With the Arts Council's 50th anniversary approaching, the Vermont legislature has declared calendar year 2015 as the Year of the The Arts.

Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Alex Aldrich says this anniversary is an opportunity to bring into better focus how robust and diverse the Vermont Arts scene is as we approach 2015.

Courtesy GMCF

The hills are alive with the sound of people laughing. We’re in the midst of the sixth annual Green Mountain Comedy Festival, and you can’t walk through Burlington, Barre or Montpelier without tripping over a stand-up comedian.

The festival features many of Vermont’s top comedians, as well as national artists such as the festival headliner, Tig Notaro. The GMCF runs through Sunday, May 25 with shows across the three cities.

Robert Nickelsberg

Photographer and University of Vermont alumni Robert Nickelsberg’s newest book of images, Afghanistan: A Distant War, offers a stunning look at the emotional cost of war.

In it, we see Americans at work with the daily toil of battle, wearing the stress and exhaustion on their faces. We also come very close to the people Afghanistan, struggling in a variety of ways with conflict that began long before Americans arrived.

Nickelsberg will be presenting his work and lecturing at Mt. Philo Friday, May 16 at 7 p.m.

Bryan Gallery

The Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary with a show featuring the work of Mary Bryan.

The gallery was founded in her memory by her husband Alden, and continues to exhibit some of New England’s finest landscape painters.

In The Studio With Mary Bryan will run through Sept. 7.

Neal Charnoff speaks with the Bryan Gallery's Executive Director Mickey Myers about the legacy of Mary Bryan.

waferboard / Flickr

Memoirs are everywhere. It seems natural that we’ve always been drawn to reading about other people’s lives. But where does this appeal come from, and why does it seem that the popularity of memoirs has exploded in recent years?

Dartmouth College professor Irene Kacandes will be discussing the appeal of the memoir in a lecture entitled The Memoir Boom on May 7 at the Rutland Free Library. The lecture is part of the Vermont Humanities Council's First Wednesdays series.

Courtesy Burlington Discover Jazz

Burlington Discover Jazz has announced its lineup for the 31st Annual Festival, which runs May 30 through June 8.

The Queen City will play host to hundreds of events, ranging from legends like Tony Bennett, contemporary artists such as Maceo Parker and Regina Carter, jazz greats Ron Carter and Benny Golson and emerging artists like Valerie June and Warren Wolf.

And of course, Vermont artists and student musicians will be featured throughout.

So why has this tiny corner of New England become such a magnet for jazz artists?

Courtesy Peter Arthur Weyrauch

Poetry Out Loud is a national competition for high school students, which calls on them to memorize and recite great works of poetry.

This year’s state champion is Sam Boudreau, a junior at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans.

Boudreau was one of 5000 Vermont students who took part in this year’s program.

Full Circle Festival

Burlington is playing host this weekend to the state’s first arts festival celebrating the spirit and opportunities of aging.

Full Circle: The Art and Heart of Aging is a three-day event which explores issues surrounding aging through dance, theater, music film and art exhibits, as well as workshops and panel discussions.

The festival is the vision of Vermont filmmaker Camilla Rockwell.

Laura Bliss

Changes are afoot at the New England Youth Theater in Brattleboro.

Artistic Director Stephen Stearns, also known as “Uncle Stevie,” is stepping down, although he will continue to direct and teach acting.

Stearns founded the non-profit organization in 1998, with the idea of offering innovative theater training and performances to this southern corner of Vermont.

He has also had a successful career as a clown and mime, both solo and as one half of Gould and Stearns.

Neal Charnoff speaks with Stearns about the transition.

M.P. Hogan Photography

End-of-life issues form the basis of a new dance piece being presented in Burlington this weekend.

To You, Around You, About You explores the themes of aging, memory, loss and the transition to death, and will be presented at the Spotlight Theater on Saturday evening at 7 p.m.

Kristen Piljay

The New England Center for Circus Arts has been teaching and inspiring people of all ages since 1977.

Now, the Brattleboro-based center looks toward the future, having just purchased three acres of land to build a custom-designed training facility.

VPR's Neal Charnoff speaks with NECCA Artistic Director Elsie Smith about the center and about this weekend's Circus Spectacular performances.

Sareet Rosenstein

Film fans in the Burlington area heard some welcome news last week.

The Burlington Film Society has partnered with the Vermont International Film Foundation, in the hopes of cultivating Vermont’s film culture.

Ford says the BFS will benefit from teaming with a professional non-profit organization, rather than having to rely on volunteer support.

Chris O'Connor

Have you ever been playing on your Xbox or Nintendo gaming system and thought,  "Hey… I could design one of these?"

Well, now is your opportunity.

Champlain College is inviting the community to the first Green Mountain Games Festival on Feb. 22.

Collection of Bennington Museum, Copyright © 2014 Grandma Moses Properties Co., New York

The Bennington Museum focuses on the history and heritage of the southern Vermont region. It boasts the world's largest collection of Grandma Moses paintings, as well as the largest collection of 19th century Bennington pottery. 

The museum has been on an extended winter break to redesign some of its galleries, and is reopening this weekend with a free Community Day on Saturday.

Geoff Hansen

Comic storyteller Cindy Pierce is on a mission,  and she’s not just looking for laughs. She’s wants to bring truth to the complicated world of sex, relationships and human behavior.

Her new one-woman show, Comfort in the Stumble, is a collection of stories revolving around resilience and finding one's way in a complicated sexual world. Pierce, who lives in Etna, N.H., also speaks to students and parents at college campuses around the country.

Photo by Wendy Lynch

Poet Gary Margolis has made a career out of writing about a variety of aspects of life in New England. Any reader of his poetry will find that, to Margolis, an early thaw, a Red Sox loss, and a flock of turkeys in the road can be equally poignant. Margolis has assembled new and selected poems into a collection called Raking the Winter Leaves and he spoke with VPR's Peter Biello about it.

Learn more about Raking the Winter Leaves.

Neal Charnoff / VPR

Imagine if there was one central resource serving as a conduit for all genres of music made in Vermont. In fact, that resource exists. Big Heavy World has been archiving and promoting Vermont music since 1996, through its radio station, live shows and website.

Executive director James Lockridge of Burlington co-founded Big Heavy World 18 years ago, at the dawn of the internet age. He now oversees all of its projects, including the in-progress redesign of Big Heavy World’s website.

Neal Charnoff / VPR

Vermont is well known for the old standbys: cows, maple syrup and ice cream. But an effort is underway to promote Vermont’s creative potential.

In 2011, the Legislature established the Office of the Creative Economy, with the intention of expanding the local economy to include arts, culture, business and technology.