Here's a feel-good story for the end of the year. It's a story about perfect serendipity, and turning lemons into lemonade.
"Lemons" in this case were the news that the University of Vermont art department was going to phase out its fine-metals program upon the retirement this year of its longtime instructor, Laurie Peters. (An example of her work is pictured here.)
That news was part of a November 27 article I wrote about a then-upcoming exhibit featuring jewelry by Peters and a number of her former students, who have gone on to make beautiful, sculptural work and names for themselves. Names such as Timothy Grannis, Jacob Albee and Jane Koplewitz, among others.
But on to the lemonade.
While the idea of losing a fine-metals facility outraged those who had gone through UVM's program, it spelled a golden — pardon the pun — opportunity for Burlington City Arts. At the opening, executive director Doreen Kraft revealed that BCA was going to buy the fine-metals equipment and develop a studio at Memorial Auditorium, where jewelry making is already a popular class.
"After reading your article, there was a flurry of phone calls and emails both reacting to the loss of this studio and the honoring of Laurie," says Kraft. A brainstorm, and an action plan, came together very quickly.
"BCA — the board and staff — talked about how we had a fledgling jewelry program that suffered from not having the equipment," she says. "This felt like the perfect moment to respond to a community need."
A fine-metals studio in Mem Aud would also jive with the Generator makers' space in the same venue — "It's a perfect bridge between the two," Kraft says.
"So," she continues, "we got in touch with the art department. They were excited to hear from us … and that's how it happened!"
Next will come a fundraising campaign to actually pay for UVM's equipment. But it's an achievable sum: $2500 for the equipment itself, says Kraft, and another $2500 to $5000 to set up the studio and probably augment the quantity of tools for a community setting.
"Being there the other night at the reception and seeing the work of Laurie Peters' students was very inspiring," Kraft adds. "Not just that extraordinary talent, but [the idea of] having the facilities available to people and seeing what comes out of it."
For now, the fine-metals studio will be a "pop-up" at Mem Aud; down the road, Kraft says, it will be part of a hoped-for much larger facility that puts all of BCA's scattered educational programs under one roof. The fine-metals studio will be named in honor of Laurie Peters.