Another Montpelier Phantom 

The wonder, the worry, the puzzle of it.

We’re aware of Montpelier’s annual Valentine Phantom, who covers the downtown with big, red hearts on February 14. But consider this other, earlier phantom that struck at the end of January.

Take the case of Kenny and Barbara Saxe, who live on Guernsey Avenue close to the campus of Vermont College of Fine Arts.

As reported by Saxe—on one of the last nights of January he was out on his porch taking in the majesty of the Snow Moon. “I heard stomping in the snow behind the house at around 11:15 in the evening, Saxe said in a phone call to The Bridge. Suspicious that there would be anyone clomping around so late on a dead end street, he contacted the Montpelier Police, locked his cars and house, and went to bed.

The next morning when he went out to start the car, “There’s this note taped on to a $5 bill on the windshield” he said with amazement.

The note read:

The moon is full

Abundance abounds

And you are loved.

“Kind of fun!” he said. “Thanks, whoever you are.”

But the mystery persists. “Where was this coming from? And what does it mean?” Saxe continues to ask.


Montpelier Alive Announces New Executive Director

Montpelier Alive announced the selection of Montpelier resident Dan Groberg as its next Executive Director. Groberg will officially join Montpelier Alive on March 7, 2018.

Montpelier Alive works to support and promote the vitality of Montpelier and its businesses and to develop Montpelier as a center for social, cultural, retail, and culinary experiences.

“My wife and I moved to Montpelier due in large part to its thriving downtown and community feel,” said Groberg. “I am thrilled to be able to work alongside a strong board and many engaged business owners and volunteers to make Montpelier an even more wonderful place to live, work, and visit.”

Groberg previously served as director of communications and development for the City of Montpelier Community Services Department, and brings strong fundraising and project management skills and relationships within the community. Groberg is also board chair of Friends of Boulder Knoll, an environmental non-profit based in Cheshire, Connecticut, and serves on the finance committee at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Kenyon College in Ohio and a Master of Public Administration degree in public and nonprofit management from the University of Pittsburgh.

“We are pleased to have Dan join Montpelier Alive. He brings a strong sense of community and embraces our mission. The Montpelier Alive Board of Directors is excited by the leadership Dan will provide,” added David Markow, Montpelier Alive President.

Look for an interview with Dan Groberg in the March 15 issue of The Bridge


Vermont College of Fine Arts and Vermont Studio Center Announce Alumnx Exhibition

The Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) and the Vermont Studio Center (VSC) are proud to announce an upcoming all-alumnx exhibition to take place in May, 2018. Alumnx of VCFA and VSC are invited to submit work to be included in a group show juried by Meg Onli, the assistant curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania.

Alumnx is a gender-neutral term that embraces the full spectrum of gender identities within our community.

The Vermont College of Fine Arts and the Vermont Studio Center are united in their belief that the arts are central to the human experience and have the ability not only to reflect reality but to also create it. This call invites alums of both organizations to submit artwork in any medium that was created in response to our current contemporary political upheaval. This may be articulated either literally or metaphorically as an expression of the potential of creativity to shift consciousness. All progress and change has been achieved through a radical reimagining of what is and what could be. We are seeking a vision of a future that has yet to be determined, understood, or adopted by any position of power or control.

In addition to her work as assistant curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, juror Meg Onli recently showed her Speech/Acts exhibition, which explores experimental black poetry and how the social and cultural constructs of language have shaped black American experiences.

The Alumnx Exhibition will run in VCFA’s College Hall Gallery May 4 through June 1, with an opening reception taking place on Saturday, May 12. The submission deadline is Friday, March 23.

Applications must be submitted online via Slideroom, and there is a $10 application fee. All media will be accepted, and applicants can submit up to five work samples, a current CV, and artist statement. Work must have been completed within the last three years.

For more information, visit vermontstudiocenter.org or contact Brittany M. Powell at brittany.powell@vcfa.edu or Nicole Czapinski  at nicole@vermontstudiocenter.org.


WPA Art Goes on Display at the Central Vermont Medical Center

The Works Progress Administration was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal project. It was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, when the unemployment rate was at a staggering 20 percent. From May 6, 1935 to June 30, 1943 the WPA employed 8.5 million people. More than 4,000 new schools, 130 new hospitals, 9,000 miles of storm drains and sanitary sewer lines, 29,000 new bridges, and 150 new airfields were constructed.  Some 280,000 miles of roads were paved or repaired, and 24 million trees were planted. Almost every community in the United States had a new park, bridge or school constructed by the agency. 

In a much smaller project of the WPA—Federal Project Number One—over 40,000 musicians, artists, writers, actors, and directors were employed in fine art, drama, media, and literacy projects. Over 100,000 paintings and 18,000 sculptures were funded and created during this period. Some of the 20th century’s greatest visual artists were employed, including Bernadine Custer, Mabel Dwight, John Lillie, Luigi Lucioni, Reginald Marsh, Henry Schnakenberg, Millard Sheets, Raphael Soyer, David Shapiro, and Joseph Stella. It is also notable that many female artists were employed as well.

The T.W. Wood Gallery in Montpelier is the repository for more than 90 WPA works of art—Vermont’s portion of the Federal WPA collection, and many of these drawings and prints will be exhibited at The Gallery at Central Vermont Medical Center through March 31.

Several of the artists to be exhibited there have a connection to Vermont. Luigi Lucioni (1900–1988); nationally known for his still lifes, landscapes, and portraits; summered in Manchester. Painter Lucy Doane (1908–2010) was Director of Art in the public schools of Rutland. Ron Slayton was the only native Vermonter. From Barre, Slayton attended the University of Vermont for a year and left to join the federally funded WPA in New York City. The work he produced during this period—including the three large woodcuts seen here [Clearing the Fields, (1937); Social Activism of the 1930s (1937); and Fuel (1936)] reflected his social activism sympathetic to left-wing politics. Slayton returned to Vermont to raise his family. He taught in both Northfield and Montpelier schools and was the curator of the T.W. Wood Gallery from 1968 to 1986. He was awarded the Vermont Arts Council Merit Award in 1971.

The general public is invited to a reception to celebrate the WPA art exhibit at the gallery at Central Vermont Medical Center on Thursday, March 15 at 4:30 pm.


Soprano Mary Bonhag in Concert

Scrag Mountain Music presents Vermont’s own Mary Bonhag, soprano, in recital with pianist Jeffrey Chappell on Friday, March 23, at 7:30 pm at Bethany Church in Montpelier.

Mary Bonhag, who is also co-artistic director of Scrag Mountain Music, made her major orchestral debut with the American Symphony in 2009, and her Carnegie Hall debut in the same year.  She is recognized for her colorful expressive soprano voice and insightful musicianship spanning a wide repertoire. 

Bonhag has performed with a variety of local organizations and concert series including TURNmusic, the Burlington Choral Society, the Oriana Singers, the Onion River Chorus, Capital City Concerts, the Rochester Chamber Music Society, Heliand Consort, and Yellow Barn, and starred in the 2015 production of Erik Nielsen’s opera “A Fleeting Animal.”

Vermont audiences know Jeffrey Chappell from his past concerts with the Capital City Concerts series, where he has wowed audiences at concert after concert with his passion, musical commitment, and feats of virtuosity.

The program moves through a variety of times periods and moods, centering on American composer Samuel Barber’s masterful “Hermit Songs,” written in 1953 for the great soprano Leontyne Price.  The texts are translations of anonymous short poems and observations of monks during the medieval period, written mostly on the margins of illuminated manuscripts. Claude Debussy’s “Fêtes Galantes” carry us through the romantic and tempestuous poetry of Paul Verlaine, and Bonhag and Chappell will also share selections from Hugo Wolf’s “Goethelieder.” 

Carrying the audience into the later American 20th century will be “Two Poems by Agueda Pizarro” by Joseph Schwantner, an arresting and tender work, and William Bolcom’s “Minicabs.”  “Minicabs” are shorter versions of Bolcom’s entertaining and witty cabaret songs, often winking one-liners, with texts by Bolcom’s longtime collaborator Arnold Weinstein.  Also joining Bonhag and Chappell will be flutist Karen Kevra (Capital City Concerts) for the Bach aria, “Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben” from St. Matthew Passion.

All Scrag Mountain Music concerts are presented as “Come as you are. Pay what you can.” All are welcome no matter what their former experience with classical music or what they can afford for admission. Families with children of all ages are welcome.


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