Burlington

Art Review: "High Trash," Fleming Museum of Art

Tom Deininger, courtesy of the Fleming Museum  "Wave"French artist Marcel Duchamp was the first to present a humble object and claim it was “high art.” Signed “R. Mutt” and titled “Fountain,” the urinal Duchamp submitted to a 1917 exhibition as a legitimate work incited outrage. It was dismissed as rubbish and cut from the exhibition. Now, scholars refer to “Fountain” — the most notorious in a series of Duchamp’s “readymades” — as a major landmark in 20th-century art, and replicas of his porcelain throne grace important museums around the world.

“High Trash,” a current exhibit at the Fleming Museum of Art, shares some elements with Duchamp’s readymades, requiring the viewer to look beyond the materials to see the art. One difference: Seeing the beauty in Duchamp’s work requires thumbing one’s nose at established ideas about art, whereas the artists in “High Trash” have deliberately manipulated junk to make it beautiful.

Artist Rob Hitzig's Wood Works Turn Sculpture Into Paintings

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," courtesy Rob HitzigHanging against the white walls of the SEABA Gallery on Pine Street in Burlington, Robert Hitzig’s geometric wooden sculptures glow with a subtle sheen. Up close, the layers of tinted shellac magnify the natural grain of the wood. Viewers may have an urge to run a hand across their surfaces, just to see if the pale color hides any imperfections. But, tempting as it may be, don’t ask Hitzig what his floor-laying schedule is. These days, his oeuvre is form, not function.

“I get plenty of requests about doing floors for people when they see my work — and I always have to say no,” Hitzig says with a slight grin. “I like to take wood into the fine-art realm and make it look like art, rather than furniture or something functional.”

That hasn’t always been the case. Working first as an agroforester for the Peace Corps and then for 10 years with the Environmental Protection Agency, Hitzig spent years thinking about forests and timber in a practical way. He indulged in a furniture-making hobby for a while. And then, in 2007, he got tired of function.

Q&A with Vermont Architect Marcel Beaudin (Dwell)

In my quest to find examples of modern design around Vermont, I frequently came aross the work of Marcel Beaudin. Now in his 80s, Beaudin is still designing new projects and renovating his old projects for former clients and friends. Here's my Q&A with him for Dwell:

Interviews: Architect Marcel Beaudin at Dwell.com

Weathering a Real "Tempest," the Show Goes On for Vermont Shakespeare Company

TempestIt’s ironic for a performance of The Tempest to be canceled — twice — by rain. Actors and audiences were sent scrambling for cover on both Friday and Saturday nights in North Hero as rain sheeted across the open-air stage, robbing Prospero of the prospect of concocting his own tempest with magic and incantations.

But that’s the risk you take when performing outdoors in Vermont, as Vermont Shakespeare Company’s executive director, John Nagle, ruefully acknowledged in his introductory remarks: “We were going to do, The Winter’s Tale next year — but after this year’s tempest, maybe we won’t.”

Burlington's Festival of Fools Brings Vaudeville to Town (Seven Days)

Vaudeville comedian Woody Keppel of Charlotte wears many hats. Sombreros, fedoras, pink aviation hats, wigs, coonskin caps and the occasional shoe or rubber chicken have all been spotted on his head at various times. His role as artistic director of the Festival of Fools is yet another “hat,” one that Keppel will wear as he corrals the jugglers, dancers, contortionists, tightrope walkers, fire breathers and acrobats on the streets of Burlington this Friday through Sunday.

The fest itself is a family reunion of sorts for Keppel, who has worked with many of these performers over the years. And festivalgoers may find among the exotica some familiar antics, if not familiar faces: Your zany uncle might be reflected in Michael Trautman’s impossible stunts and mayhem, or your daredevil kid brother in David Aiken’s “Stunts of Death.” Kate Wright, aka Yvonne, an “Aussie beautician on a mission,” could remind you of your batty great-aunt.

With a New Theater, the Shows Must Go On (Seven Days)

David Klein as FalstaffHenry IV, Part 1 is one of the Bard’s history plays, but at Unadilla Theatre on July 19 — one night before its opening — it was quickly turning into a near-tragedy.

The situation unfolded with the timing, dramatic arc and suspense of Shakespeare: On opening-night eve, three Vermont state building inspectors arrived at the Unadilla Theatre site in Marshfield requesting an evaluation of the newly built second theater. At the conclusion of their 11th-hour visit, the inspectors presented landowner and theater founder Bill Blachly with a written mandate detailing necessary changes and pronounced the building unsafe, thereby canceling all performances of Henry IV in the space until repairs are made.

“They handed us two pages of things we had to change before the show, most of it having to do with what we were planning for electricity and things like exits and facilities,” the 88-year-old Blachly says. “I suppose we were naïve to think that we could do another theater under the same permits as our original, but we’ve always been a seat-of-the-pants business up here, and it never really occurred to us.”

A Multimedia Work in Progress Thinks Inside the (Music) Box (Seven Days)

Orkestriska's BoxJudging from a description of the upcoming dance-theater piece “Orkestriska’s Box,” you would be forgiven for thinking it’s a surrealist version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame set to music and given a female protagonist.

The work’s influences are varied: turn-of-the-20th-century ballet and grand opera; Gestalt psychology; burlesque theater; the 1951 film The Tales of Hoffmann; a little girl in a tutu; the Folies Bergère; gender stereotyping. Add stop-motion animation and an original score composed for an old-fashioned Porter music box, and the imagery practically gets up and tap dances across the room.

“Orkestriska’s Box,” which premieres in November, is a collaborative production of Burlington’s Tuppence Coloured Ensemble and Thoughtfaucet, and the Porter Music Box Museum of Randolph. Tuppence principal Trish Denton, an actor, dancer, street performer and teacher, conceived and wrote the script, which was initially inspired by a 3-year-old in a tutu dancing inside a miniature puppet theater.

All Together Now (Kids Vermont)

Family campAdults try their best to create the ideal summer vacation — the perfect equilibrium between activity and relaxation — only to find it can often wind up being more stressful than just staying home. As kids, we had it down. What happened when we grew up?

Enter the family camp. Modeled after the traditional sleepaway experience, the multigenerational version is a vacation with less organizational stress — and best of all, you get to share it with your kids. Meals appear at regular intervals and cheery camp counselors whisk kids off to age-appropriate activities, leaving parents free to launch a canoe for old time's sake, or simply hobnob on a shady front porch overlooking the lake.

"Family camp can be a real relief for the cooks or the chauffeurs in the family," says Carole Blane, program director at Camp Common Ground in Starksboro. "It's also great fun for adults wishing to re-create the magic of going to camp. You get to run around barefoot, play soccer or just spend time enjoying your surroundings while your kids are being taken care of."

Persian Visions: Contemporary Photography from Iran (Art New England)

The Fleming Museum, University of Vermont • Burlington, VT • www.uvm.edu/fleming • Through May 20, 2012

Ahmad Nateghi, Untitled, 1998

By turns abstract, edgy, and haunting, the photographs in Persian Visions: Contemporary Photographs from Iran fully transcend the geographic boundaries imposed by the exhibition title. These are not the images that have flashed across American television screens for the past ten years; they’re far subtler than that, muting everyday violence with digital multimedia, blurred focus, and the ever-present veil motif.

Subject matter simmers just beneath the surface, at times brought to a rolling boil by Fleming curator Aimee Marcereau DeGalan’s decision to juxtapose the contemporary prints of the traveling exhibition (toured by International Art & Artists, Washington, D.C.) with nineteenth-century photographs of the Middle East in a complementary show.

There's a Camp for That... (Kids Vermont)

Originally appeared in print version of Kids Vermont on March 1, 2012

Camp Cook

A new variety of summer camp is cropping up in Vermont, and there's minimal archery, capture the flag or horseback riding involved. Kids are convening in the summer to bicycle down mountains, fly airplanes, program the next app for your iPhone, whip up culinary masterpieces and find fairy houses.

These camp adventures might not resemble those of your childhood, but our pick of five unique summer camps will provide amazing fodder for that "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essay the first day back at school.

Dirt Divas

"We thought mountain biking could be a powerful antidote to the pressures of being an adolescent girl in our culture." That's the motivation, according to director Nadine Budbill, for a five-day program that teaches 12 middle school girls learn how to jump stumps, carve turns and navigate single-track challenges.