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Small Craft Warning

State of the Arts


Published June 14, 2006 at 4:00 p.m.

What's more worrisome to festival organizers than a 10-day forecast for rain? The changing demographics of cultural consumers, says Charlie Dooley, Vermont's premier producer of outdoor craft shows. "Boomers are hitting 50 and 60; they don't need as much stuff anymore." The next generation is not only smaller -- and probably less affluent --they're also tempted by cheap knock-offs from China and the 24-hour allure of the Internet.

Dooley used to go the Camelot-tent route when he put on a weekend-long craft show -- and he still does in Stowe, where the whole town embraces the event. But that "high-risk, high-overhead" formula doesn't appear to be working in other locations. "If we want to stay in business," Dooley warns, "we need to figure out different ways of selling art and craft."

So Dooley is taking his show on the . . . water. Next Friday, June 23, he's launching the first aquatic "Art Sail" in collaboration with the Spirit of Ethan Allen III. Twenty artists and craftspeople have been invited aboard; a handful of them hail from Vermont. For three hours, their handcrafted glass, jewelry, leather and fiber works will compete with the charms of Lake Champlain. Essex sculptor John Brickels, who constructs whimsical, off-kilter clay structures, plans to show some of his sturdier pieces. "If I'd had time, I would have done a Titanic, or a ship sinking," he quips, exhibiting a sense of humor as wacky as his works. "But that might be in poor taste."

He adds, "Do you think people are really going to pay $65 a head?"

Dooley certainly hopes so. Admission includes culinary creations paired with wines and champagne. With three enclosed decks, the exhibitors will be spread out enough to avoid a Champlain Valley Fair feel. "People can talk to them, get to know their work, spend the whole evening with them," Dooley offers. If Brickels' repartee is any indication, it promises to be a fun float. Functional, too: A portion of the proceeds from the art sales benefits the King Street Youth Center. Here's hoping everyone raises a boatload of cash.


Creative fundraising is standard operating procedure for the South End Arts and Business Association -- the nonprofit behind Burlington's annual Art Hop started festooning flamingos way before the rest of the state got the idea of painting pigs and palettes. Now in its fourth year, the Flamingo Fling promises to be even more uplifting than in the past. Organizers redoubled their efforts this time around to get pink plastic birds out to anyone who showed an interest in transforming them. Many of them landed at the SEABA office yesterday, including the one brought over -- and created by -- Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss. "It's quite the fancy 'Moosingo,'" says Associate Director Brooke Hunter, who is largely responsible for the size of this year's flock. "He put antlers on it. It's in an oasis with flowers that look like they might have been handmade." Many of the birds came from local design firms, such as Jager DiPaola Kemp, where they'll be auctioned off in the Maple Street gallery from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday. Bids start at $15. Entries range from a mirror-ball flamingo to the "Flacasso," with two heads and two bodies. The next day, Friday, is "Palette-Palooza," when 1000 artfully altered palettes -- of 37,000 across Vermont -- will be displayed on the statehouse lawn.


Ever wonder what happened to Vermont's hardest-working panflutist? Douglas Bishop hasn't played on Burlington's Church Street Marketplace since he was assaulted several years ago. According to his website, at, the former busker is alive and well and living in South Burlington, playing up to three gigs a day in area nursing homes. The site also features Bishop's five-page "short" bio in which he defends his "unorthodox" musical philosophy against panflute purists. "I refused to conform," Bishop declares in myriad ways. But he also wants to fit in. He's assembled his own "Panflute Hall of Fame," featuring photos and links to more than 100 pipers from around the world. Bishop assumes his rightful, alpha-order position between Nicolas Besancet and Walter Bruhlmann. Way to blow.

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