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From the Publisher: Welcome Diversion


Published September 28, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

Art at the Kent exhibit - PAULA ROUTLY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Paula Routly ©️ Seven Days
  • Art at the Kent exhibit

Once a year for a month, a historic home in the coolest corner of Calais becomes a pop-up art gallery. Fleeting as the fall, the Art at the Kent show features 20 Vermont artists working in all manner of media. Selected by a trio of expert curators, their paintings, prints, sculptures, handblown glass and other creations fill every inch of the otherwise empty edifice — itself a work of art — and dot the grounds outside.

The building has no insulation, so you have to dress according to the weather, which on Saturday was glorious. My friend Erin and I were all ready for "Interplay," as this year's show is called, when on County Road north of Montpelier, we hit a detour.

The sign didn't actually say "Road closed ahead," though we discovered it was. There was only an arrow pointing in the direction of a side road neither of us knew. With no map or internet, we followed a mostly dirt route in the general direction of Adamant. It narrowed briefly to one tree-lined lane but also brought us past some of the most spectacular barns — and vistas — I've seen anywhere in Vermont.

Was the diversion part of the show? I wouldn't put it past cocurators Nel Emlen, Allyson Evans and David Schutz. It turned out to be an apropos way to happen upon the Kents' Corner State Historic Site, which once lodged travelers on the old stage road between Canada and Montpelier. Instead of an inn, we found "a merry convention of creativity," as Seven Days cofounder Pamela Polston described the show in last week's art review. And, in one of many carefully considered corners, there was a tribute to my late friend and neighbor, community artist Maggie Sherman. Art at the Kent closes on October 9.

Corner tribute to Maggie Sherman - PAULA ROUTLY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Paula Routly ©️ Seven Days
  • Corner tribute to Maggie Sherman

Next stop: Barre, the urban opposite of Kents' Corner, a central Vermont city with a colorful past and all the makings for a 21st-century rinascimento. In an alley off North Main Street, we found Little Italy in the spacious, hip Pearl Street Pizza serving "grandma"-style slices that were huge and every bit as good as Seven Days food writer Jordan Barry promised. The pizza place has a symbiotic relationship with Pete Roscini Colman's AR Market — a neighborhood grocery store with an Italian flair — which occupies the other side of the historic Homer Fitts department store. Colman owns the building and has turned the back of it into a dry-cure plant for his Vermont Salumi business.

From there, it was a short walk to the Barre Opera House for a performance by music legend Sir Richard Thompson. We got two of the last tickets for the sold-out show and found our seats in the balcony just in time for the opening duo, Willa Mamet and Paul Miller. Yes, that Mamet. I don't think I'd been inside the historic hall since renovations began, almost 30 years ago.

Beautifully restored, it was the perfect place to hear guitar-playing Thompson, who is essentially a one-man band. The acoustics were so good, in fact, that the guy next to me complained that the sound of my clapping hurt his ears. He wore a mask, as did a large percentage of the audience — a reminder that while things may seem "normal," they are decidedly not. I stopped applauding for Thompson's mid-song virtuoso guitar play but noticed my neighbor was still plugging his ears between songs in anticipation of my expressions of appreciation.

At one point, he leaned toward me, put his hands over my head and clapped super loudly — presumably to show me how it felt. I got the message: People are weird right now. Rather than risk getting thrown over the balcony, I stopped applauding altogether.

I held my end-of-show bravos, too, so I'm clapping very loudly now for bustling Barre and beautiful, always surprising central Vermont.