Back Talk | Back Talk | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published June 12, 2002 at 4:00 a.m.

moving objects After curating exhibitions at the Fleming Museum for 11 years, Janie Cohen is taking over as director on July 1. The 45-year-old Burlington resident has already proven she has the vision — and the connections — to deliver the big picture. She masterminded a Picasso print show that graced the Queen City seven years ago. Ditto a eugenics installation, a Rauschenberg print show and an exhibit of visual art by Günther Grass. Next year she’s bringing works by Andy Warhol and Rembrandt. Broad horizons haven’t compromised her local focus, though. A natural diplomat who lives right on Church Street, Cohen has been involved in virtually every visual arts endeavor in northwestern Vermont, including the Firehouse Gallery, Art’s Alive, the South End Art Hop and the Exquisite Corpse Artsite at Jager DiPaola Kemp Design. The late Burlington photographer Wes Disney bequeathed his entire body of work to her. Along with making the Fleming “an even more accessible place than it currently is,” Cohen hopes to work more collaboratively with other museums within the state. She also needs a new curator. “It takes more than one person to manage a collection of 20,000 objects and an exhibition program of 10 shows a year,” she suggests. Not to mention a growing inventory of public art . . . Barre sculptor Jim Sardonis — of “Whales Tails” fame — is hard at work on a new piece for the University of Vermont campus. University officials loved the idea of a fossil carved from black Isle La Motte marble for the atrium of the Perkins Geology Museum. “It’s a forerunner to the spiral Nautilus shell,” Sardonis says of the piece, which is a combination of rough and polished rock. He expects it to be done by fall, before construction at the Perkins is completed. Until then, it will sit on the green in front of the Fleming. No slouch, Sardonis recently crafted a sculpture for Harvard Medical School — the Global Environmental Citizen Award — that went to Harrison Ford.

book ends Calais must have more published writers per capita than any other town in Vermont. And the authorial outpost gets a little more exposure in Mirror Lake, a debut novel by Tom Greene due out next year from Simon and Schuster. Editor-in-chief Michael Korda, who also worked with Tennessee Williams and Larry McMurtry, barely touched the manuscript. “They changed six words and added a comma,” reports the incredulous Greene, a graduate of the writing program at Vermont College, where he currently works as communications director. In the meantime he’s signed a two-book deal with Random House in England and another one with the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann. “We are also getting a tremendous amount of interest from Hollywood,” Greene adds, describing the book as “two intertwining love stories set in Vermont.” He has since moved to Montpelier, where he was one of the wannabes in a regular writers group . . . A second stand-out in the same klatch, Suzi Wizowaty, also got lucky this year. The former librarian at South Burlington sold her first novel to University Press of New England. The Round Barn constructs multiple story lines around the acquisition and relocation of an historic farm building. Novelist Chris Bohjalian calls it “a delightful homage to a New England in transition, and to the people who live there — a Winesburg, Ohio for Vermont”. . . Sarah Strohmeyer wouldn’t be caught dead in a writer’s group. But the Montpelier mystery maker did recently attend a “Malice Domestic” convention, where she picked up an Agatha Christie Award for Best First Mystery. She got the “people’s choice” for Bubbles Unbound, the book that launched the detective career of her big-haired, short-skirted protagonist. Bubbles Yablonsky makes Nancy Drew look like a nun. She also seems to share some genetic material with the subject of Strohmeyer’s first book, a non-fiction parody of the Barbie doll. Her latest, Bubbles in Trouble, is out this month from Dutton.

hard-pressed Not too many commercial printers have a client list that includes the Met, the Guggenheim, the Getty and the Smithsonian. High-quality reproductions, rare books and limited editions are the specialty of the Stinehour Press in Lunenburg — a 50-year-old family business that sold out to an Irish public holding company in 1998. The company was languishing under its out-of-town owners when three investors from Chicago put together a deal that allowed Stephen Stinehour and Ric Walter to buy it back last December. Tom Yoder, Bob McCamant and Bob Roth — all owners of the alternative weekly Chicago Reader — are now partners in the business with Stinehour and Walter. “The whole company has turned around,” according to receptionist Cynthia Tardiff. “The life is back in it.” Sales coordinator Ruth Leporati agrees. “They want to keep it alive and operating as it is,” she says of the Windy City slickers, “not try to kill us.” Don’t stop the presses.