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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Against the Wall: A New Mirror Mural Reflects Artists' Alley on Pine Street

Posted By on Sat, May 26, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Aaron Grossman with mirror mural-in-progress - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • Aaron Grossman with mirror mural-in-progress
Anyone driving or walking behind Speeder & Earl's Coffee and the SEABA Center, through the warren of studios off Pine Street, might be in for a surprise. A large brick building that once looked like, well, a large brick building, now reflects the sky. The tricky mural is the work of metalsmith and glass artist Aaron Grossman, whose studio is behind a  black door in the shiny façade.

Grossman started the piece about three weeks ago. He says he was inspired by the ivy that once covered the building; it was removed a year ago because it was damaging the brick.

Grossman's mural uses the remaining dead vines as a guide for arching and bending "branches" that creep across the brick wall. The mirror tree echoes the graceful lines of the ivy but, instead of being dark green, it reflects the white brick of the opposing building and the sky. The cumulative effect makes the building almost disappear.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Abenaki Nation Partners With City of Burlington

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 1:10 PM

Items given to State of Vermont in 2011: soapstone pipe, fur tobacco pouch, peace wampum belt - CHIEF DON STEVENS
  • Chief Don Stevens
  • Items given to State of Vermont in 2011: soapstone pipe, fur tobacco pouch, peace wampum belt
In early May, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger's office announced a new partnership with the Vermont Abenaki Alliance. The collaboration grew out of controversial discussions over the "Everyone Loves a Parade!" mural on Church Street, which not everyone loves.

(If you haven't been keeping up: Calling the artwork racist, Albert Petrarca vandalized the mural's identification plaque in October 2017. Since then, community members and City Council representatives have been debating whether to replace or alter the mural to depict a more accurate history of Burlington.)

The focus of the City and Abenaki Alliance collaboration will be public events and education about native people and history. The release notes a July 7 event on Church Street and, in the future, a permanent exhibition at the Burlington International Airport.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Former South Sudanese Refugee Shares His Post-Independence Reflections

Posted By on Thu, May 24, 2018 at 5:06 PM

Abraham Awolich - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Abraham Awolich
In 2011, Abraham Awolich left the U.S. to return to his native South Sudan. He confessed that he had thought about moving back to Vermont since then. Intense clashes between rival political factions in 2014 and 2015 had left him "sometimes scared," and living conditions in the capital, Juba, remain difficult, he said.

Awolich is in Burlington for a week to reconnect with his friends, as well as to ask the public to continue to support his projects in South Sudan. On Tuesday, he gave a presentation to a group of about 30 people at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. Many, if not all, in attendance had known Awolich and his peers since they first arrived in Vermont 17 years ago.

What has kept him in South Sudan these past few years, Awolich said, is a sense of purpose and commitment. In the wake of the country's independence in 2011, he wants to help negotiate what he calls "rapid" and "dramatic" transitions.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

AO Glass Expands on Pine Street

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2018 at 2:08 PM

The AO Glass staff poses in co-founder Tove Ohlander's maker skirts. - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • The AO Glass staff poses in co-founder Tove Ohlander's maker skirts.
Since 2011, AO Glass has operated out of a tiny studio in a complex of warehouse-cum-artist spaces on Pine Street in Burlington. But recently, founders Tove Ohlander and Rich Arentzen found that they didn't have enough room to keep growing. The high-end glass manufactory's production has tripled in the last four years, and projects to double in the next two. So Ohlander and Arentzen expanded their shop further into — and out of — the warehouse behind their studio.

Now, AO Glass occupies a 10,000-square-foot space with double the kiln capacity. Multiple garage doors open out into the parking lot and alley behind ArtsRiot. This Friday, May 18, that typically lightly trafficked pavement will swell with visitors to the first ArtsRiot Truck Stop of 2018. Piggybacking on the popular weekly foodie event, AO Glass will unveil its new digs with a coinciding  open house.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

A New Ceramics Studio Takes Shape in Burlington's South End

Posted By on Mon, May 14, 2018 at 5:41 PM

Brielle and Mitch Rovito - PHOTO: BEAR CIERI
  • Photo: Bear Cieri
  • Brielle and Mitch Rovito
It’s said that, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you should make it yourself. Ceramicist Brielle Rovito seems to have taken that philosophy to heart.

A year ago, Rovito got married and moved to Burlington from Minneapolis, Minn., to be closer to family. Leaving a ceramics-focused shared studio, she was hoping to find something similar in her new home, but didn’t. So she started the Form Collective, which now hosts three ceramicists in a cozy second-floor studio at 180 Flynn Avenue.

On Tuesday, May 22, 5-9 p.m., Rovito will host an open house with her studio mates, Taylar Main and Lindsay Van Leir, who moved in over the winter.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Cultural Mosaic: The Kiesse Brothers Bring Congolese Performing Arts to Vermont

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 1:54 PM

Rodrick (left) and Beny Kiesse - COURTESY OF BENY KIESSE
  • Courtesy of Beny Kiesse
  • Rodrick (left) and Beny Kiesse
Beny Kiesse describes himself as a producer, singer, dancer, designer, illustrator and model. Recently,  he's earned another title:  community organizer.

On Saturday, May 12, Kiesse will perform alongside his brother Rodrick and other local artists at the Social Club & Lounge in Burlington for an event that he's dubbed "International Affairs Night."

"Many of the performers are talented but don't have any support," explained Beny, whose stage name is BenyGola. He said it took him about a month to organize the event, which will include performances by A2VT and Cadoux Fancy. "The sole purpose of this show," he continued, "is to show everyone that we, indeed, have undiscovered talents within the city."

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Fourth of Nature for Shelburne, With Muppets

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2018 at 4:57 PM

A fallen tree at Shelburne Museum - COURTESY OF SHELBURNE MUSEUM
  • Courtesy of Shelburne Museum
  • A fallen tree at Shelburne Museum
Anybody out there watching "Twin Peaks: The Return?" (It's OK, I'm still working through it, too.) Or maybe you remember that one meteorologically unsettling scene from Magnolia? How about Donnie Darko's plasmatic time-travel portal? Thanks to last Friday's not-actually-a-tornado — it was a "microburst," according to the National Weather Service — a Shelburne Museum presentation on "Sesame Street" took a turn for the absurd, Lynchian and vaguely apocalyptic.

And now this arts writer gets to experientially report on the weather, among other occurrences.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ray Vega to Host 'Friday Night Jazz' on Vermont Public Radio

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 6:12 PM

Ray Vega - COURTESY OF RAY VEGA
  • Courtesy of Ray Vega
  • Ray Vega
To anyone who had Ray Vega in the "Who's the Next Host of 'Friday Night Jazz?'" office pool: congrats! Vermont Public Radio has tabbed the acclaimed trumpeter and educator to helm the show, beginning May 18.

Vega is the latest in a line of local jazz luminaries to take up residence behind the VPR mic on Friday evenings. The most recent inhabitant was Reuben Jackson, who hosted the show from 2012 to April 2018. George Thomas hosted FNJ before Jackson.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Radio DJ Mike Luoma Fired From the Point

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 12:29 PM

Mike Luoma - COURTESY OF MIKE LUOMA
  • Courtesy of Mike Luoma
  • Mike Luoma
Mike Luoma has been let go as the music director of local radio station 104.7 WNCS-FM the Point. The longtime local DJ announced the news last week on his Glow in the Dark Radio blog and via social media. Luoma, who has been a prominent figure in Vermont radio since 1983 — including nearly two decades at 106.7 WIZN-FM — had been with the Point for almost eight years.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Bhutanese Community Prepares to Host Major Kirat Rai Festival

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 1:10 PM

Sakela dance rehearsal at the Old North End Community Center - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Sakela dance rehearsal at the Old North End Community Center
For the past three years since he resettled in Vermont in 2014, Harka Rai was unable to perform ceremonial rituals to celebrate Ubhauli Sakela. On that day, members of the Kirat Rai community ask Mother Nature for healthy crops and protection from natural calamities.

Last week, the octogenarian was at the Old North End Community Center in Burlington to watch a dozen people practice a dance that they'll perform on Saturday, April 28, to mark Ubhauli Sakela. "It's good. This is the way," Rai said of the dance rehearsal.

And Rai will lead the day's rituals, as the local chapter of the Bhutanese Kirat Rai Organization of America hosts the festival in Vermont for the first time.

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