What Happened? A 2016 Timeline in Vermont Arts | Live Culture

What Happened? A 2016 Timeline in Vermont Arts

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Anthill Collective's mural behind ArtsRiot in Burlington - COURTESY OF ANTHILL COLLECTIVE
  • Courtesy of Anthill Collective
  • Anthill Collective's mural behind ArtsRiot in Burlington
Before we take a deep breath and dive into 2017, it seems a good time to look back on the year from which we are about to graduate: 2016. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a sampling of events, exhibits and happenings in local arts and culture. It gives us one more chance to wax nostalgic  on where we've been and what we wrote about over the past 12 months.

OK, this didn't happen in Vermont, but it's relevant. Remember when Sen. Bernie Sanders ran for president? As a reflection of his popularity, a Sanders-themed art show titled “The Art of a Political Revolution” — which included Vermont artists — launched in Los Angeles.

Vermont Shakespeare Company greeted the year by announcing a name change — to Vermont Shakespeare Festival.  The new moniker symbolized another step toward the nonprofit's dream of presenting a full-blown, well, Shakespeare festival. Meantime, the company went on to present several events throughout the year, including its timely production of Julius Caesar in the summer.

Rhonda and Her Recycling Robo-Octopus, Team Vermont's winning snow sculpture - COURTESY OF CARL SCOFIELD
  • Courtesy of Carl Scofield
  • Rhonda and Her Recycling Robo-Octopus, Team Vermont's winning snow sculpture
Team Vermont took the gold at the Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckinridge, Colo.

The annual Spice on Snow Festival brought Cajun heat to frigid Montpelier in mid-February.  Curated by Montpelier's Summit School of Traditional Music, the festival featured traditional folk and zydeco acts of both local and national renown.

Founding artistic director Jonathan Verge launched Gatherwool Theatre Company in White River Junction.

A Defiant Dude, the documentary ostensibly about Eat More Kale guy Bo Muller-Moore and his long trademark feud with Chick-fil-A, hit another snag: a disagreement between Muller-Moore and filmmaker James Lantz about "framing" the story.
From 'A Defiant Dude' website - EMILY RHAIN ANDREWS
  • Emily Rhain Andrews
  • From 'A Defiant Dude' website


Burlington City Arts announced a new Community Fund to support local arts initiatives.

Again, not in Vermont, but we must note that some brazen Vermont artists highjacked a stairwell in New York City's Whitney Museum for a guerrilla exhibition.  Woo.

Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe announced sculptor and Johnson State College assistant art prof Michael Zebrowski its first-ever artist-in-residence. Curated by Rachel Moore of Helen Day Art Center, Zebrowski's outdoor installation, "Survey," captured time-lapse images of the horizon that would later be shown indoors.

  • Pamela Polston
  • DJ Hellerman
BCA Center curator DJ Hellerman announced he was departing for a new position at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y.

On March 26, local filmmaker Bill Simmon finally premiered his long-delayed documentary on beloved 1990s Burlington rockers the Pants. High Water Mark: The Rise & Fall of the Pants screened to a sold-out crowd at the Higher Ground Ballroom in South Burlington. Following the film, Pants front man Tom Lawson, backed by local rockers Swale, dusted off a number of Pants favorites. Several guests offered their own renditions of Pants tunes, including James Kochalka, Heloise Williams and Guster's Ryan Miller, among others.

The Women’s Film Festival in Brattleboro celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Vermont poet Leland Kinsey released Galvanized, his last volume of poetry.

Burlington graphic designer Lyn Severance, best known for her early work crafting the identity of Ben & Jerry's, received the AIGA Vermont Design Fellow Award.

The Burlington Writers Workshop debuted a compilation titled — what else? — The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2016, and moved into new Main Street quarters.

University of Vermont professor and photographer Bill McDowell released his new book Ground: A Reprise of Photographs From the Farm Security Administration.  The images survey land and people during the Great Depression, and each engages in a "prolonged dialogue with a black dot."

  • Courtesy of Burlington City Arts
  • Wylie Sofia Garcia
Burlington City Arts named Burlington artist Wylie Sofia Garcia the 2016 Barbara Smail Award winner.

Longtime musician Bobby Gosh of Brookfield released a candid autobiography, Confessions of a Marijuana Eater: A Songwriter's Memoir.

On the first weekend in May, Waking Windows 6 in downtown Winooski kicked off Vermont's festival season in spectacular fashion. The 2016 edition of the ultra-cool indie music festival was the largest and best attended yet, featuring the likes of YACHT, Speedy Ortiz, Hop Along on the outdoor main stage. Scads of local acts played at popup venues all over the city.

White River Junction's Center for Cartoon Studies celebrated its 10th anniversary with a block party.

In Stowe, Helen Day Art Center executive director Nathan Suter stepped down after nearly 10 years, and curator Rachel Moore moved in to that role.

In Waitsfield, adjacent to American Flatbread, owner George Schenk began restoration on the farm barn, in order to create a new and improved art gallery and event space.

Americans for the Arts named Burlington's Dealer.com one of the 10 Best Businesses Partnering With the Arts in the U.S.

Jill Badolato of Dealer.com - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Jill Badolato of Dealer.com


The Lemon Fair Sculpture Park, at the home of Frank and Elaine Ittleman, opened to the public in Shoreham.

Randy Newman - KYM BALTHAZAR
  • Kym Balthazar
  • Randy Newman
The 33rd annual Burlington Discover Jazz Festival had the city bopping and be-bopping — and even post-bopping — along for 10 steamy days in early June. American songwriting icon Randy Newman headed a list of great artists that also included Diane Schurr, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, the Kenny Barron Trio and many others.

Following the death of former prizefighter and activist Muhammad Ali, California graffiti artist Jules Muck immortalized him in a mural on the side of Burlington's African Market.

Anaïs Mitchell's Hadestown was an off-Broadway hit. Seven Days headed to NYC to check it out, and wrote about the making of the musical.

Detail of "P-cock went hunting (peacock and buck)" by Katie Hunt - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Detail of "P-cock went hunting (peacock and buck)" by Katie Hunt
Katie Hunt, wife of outgoing Gov. Peter Shumlin, exhibited her papier-mâché animals satirizing media in the Governor's Gallery.  Jezebel took note.

Filmmaker Nora Jacobson won the Herb Lockwood prize — at $10,000 the largest art award in Vermont, presented annually by the late artist's brother, Todd Lockwood, and his family.

Though it happened a few months later than usual, the eighth annual Green Mountain Comedy Festival in mid-July was a weeklong laugh riot, with shows all over Burlington and in Montpelier. Headliners included Emo Philips, Sean Donnelly, Liza Treger and Seaton Smith.

Seven Days' "Feel the Bern" adult coloring contest attracted a number of entries from readers who like to color both inside and outside the lines.

Lots of local actors — with lots of fake blood — found temporary day jobs making it look real at a disaster-preparedness drill called Vigilant Guard. The federally funded exercise took place over nine days at 50 sites around the state with a cast of some 5,000..

Seven Days associate editor Margot Harrison released her debut YA book, The Killer in Me.

Frog Hollow Vermont Craft Gallery launched its new Artisan Grant Program.  To kick off the initiative, the craft center partnered with the WaterWheel Foundation (the charitable organization of Phish) for a month-long exhibition of hand-printed flags by Burlington artist James Bellizia.
  • Courtesy Of Frog Hollow And The Waterwheel Foundation
  • Hand-printed flag by James Bellizia

Sophie Pickens and Justine Jackson open Northern Daughters gallery in Vergennes.

The Weston Playhouse broke ground on its state-of-the-art theater compound, to be called Center for the Arts at Walker Farm, in Weston Village.

James O’Hanlon bought the Savoy Theater in Montpelier from Terrence Youk. The projectionist-turned-owner said he envisioned expanding the art house's programming with niche film nights, repertory screenings and showing Vermont filmmakers.

Detail of A-Dog mural for skatepark - COURTESY OF JOZIE FURCHGOTT SOURDIFFE
  • Courtesy of Jozie Furchgott Sourdiffe
  • Detail of A-Dog mural for skatepark
Jozie Furchgott Sourdiffe unveiled her mural in memory of her former partner Andy "A-Dog" Williams at Burlington's skatepark, which is named for the late DJ, artist and skateboarder.

Jericho muralist Mary Lacy, who made her mark on Burlington with public works around downtown, announced her 10-city mural-painting tour across the U.S.

Jarvis Antonio Green - COURTESY OF ARTISTREE
  • Courtesy of Artistree
  • Jarvis Antonio Green
New theater company JAG Productions launched, in partnership with ArtisTree of South Pomfret. Founding artistic director Jarvis Antonio Green said he means to produce "bold theater that reflects the times."


Grand Isle photographer and director of Burlington City Arts' Community Darkroom Mary Zompetti began photo documentation of the nooks and crannies of Memorial Auditorium, sharing the images on Instagram, in advance of BCA's departure from the aging building.

On September 4, local psych-pop phenoms Madaila closed down Main Street in Burlington for an all-day mini-festival, Madaila on Main. The show, which included performances at Nectar's and Club Metronome, featured the likes of Arc Iris, Lady Lamb, Marco Benevento and others.
  • Courtesy of Luke Awtry, @lukeawtryphotography
  • Madaila at Madaila on Main
The 24th annual South End Art Hop in Burlington was bigger and better than ever. We wrote about the people behind it and how it all comes together.

Glassblowers huffed and puffed at the Bern Gallery's Pipe Classic 10 in Burlington.

  • Courtesy of Lois Eby
  • David Budbill
Vermont poet Leland Kinsey died on September 14, and poet/playwright/musician David Budbill died on September 25.

In mid-September, Grace Potter again hosted her annual Grand Point North festival on the Burlington Waterfront. Joining the homegrown pop star this year were, among others, Kaleo, Guster, Blind Pilot, Old Crow Medicine Show and several local acts.
  • Courtesy of Ben Hudson, benhudsonphotography.com
  • Grace Potter at Grand Point North
Burlington cartoonist Harry Bliss purchased the former J.D. Salinger home in New Hampshire and established a monthlong residency program with the Center for Cartoon Studies.

Poet and University of Vermont professor Major Jackson won the Vermont Book Award, granted by the Vermont College of Fine Arts, for his recent collection Roll Deep.

Middlesex artist August Burns was selected to paint Gov. Peter Shumlin's official portrait.

Heather Ferrell - PAMELA POLSTON
  • Pamela Polston
  • Heather Ferrell
Heather Ferrell came on board as the new curator and exhibitions director of the BCA Center in Burlington.

After a year's hiatus, the Burlington Fringe Festival made a triumphant comeback at Off Center for the Dramatic Arts for four nights of fringy-ness.

Vermont native Sophie Bréchu-West returns home after a stint in New York City to establish an independent art curatorial and consulting enterprise called 571 Projects.

Vermont artist dug Nap released an autobiographical art book titled Artsy Fartsy.

Vermont cartoonist Alison Bechdel created a special post-election edition of her former comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For.” It was published in Seven Days along with her election-themed Thanksgiving cover.

Saxtons River painter Eric Aho received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Arlington-area locals were treated to a staged concert of Perfect Picture, a musical about the life of Norman Rockwell, in an old former grist mill. With the inaugural performance, owner Dr. Joshua Sherman announced his plans to turn the mill into an arts center.

Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Jacqueline Woodson - COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR
  • Courtesy of the Author
  • Jacqueline Woodson
For its 2017 iteration of Vermont Reads, the Vermont Humanities Council selected Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.


On December 3, beloved punk-rock haven 242 Main hosted its final show. The closing of Memorial Auditorium, the building that houses 242, ended the venue's 30-year run as the oldest all-ages punk club in the country.

The closure of Memorial also necessitated the exit of BCA's print and clay studios, as well as administrative offices, and the maker space Generator. Both found new homes in the city's South End.

In Memory of Pluto
  • In Memory of Pluto
On December 17, the Monkey House celebrated 10 years under owner Ryan Smith, during which time the Winooski night club has become a hotspot for hip, underground music. The bash featured 10 hours of  music from a slew of locals including Swale, Blue Button, Paper Castles and others.