I was happy to read Rachel Elizabeth Jones' article on the exciting art of Rueben Vidrio and Ross Sheehan at the Flynndog gallery [Art Review: "Inner and Outer Space," December 13]. There's enough energy there to melt the most frigid of winter doldrums. I disagree, however, that "a meaningful dialogue between two artists' styles feels thwarted." I see the combination of these two artists as a nuanced duet in which each artist is brightened in the presence of the other. Some correlations I enjoy:
Both artists delight and experiment freely with the sheer sensuality of materials. They are both fluidly comfortable in the language of abstraction.
Both have an unapologetic, restless creativity that is not afraid to jump around with multiple styles or materials in search of just the right expressive note. That trait seems connected to the antennae that Jones speaks of in Sheehan's work, but I see it in Vidrio's paintings, too, bringing a shared dynamic tension into play.
Most importantly, both artists seem drawn to the theme of home. Jones articulates that characteristic with insight when describing Sheehan's work. But it's present in Vidrio's work in many dynamic ways, too. His haunting Aztec imagery feels like a visceral call from his native Mexico — a courting, a trance-inducing urge to integrate that heritage with his life now, while at the same time bravely inventing new, original forms and techniques.
I'm excited to have a painter as prolific and original as Vidrio in our midst! The meaningful dialogue between these artists is loud and clear to me.
Say No to Pot
[Re "Two Notorious Crashes Fuel Marijuana Legalization Debate," December 6]: Legalizing pot opens the door for more. It will bring more traffic deaths, more ER visits, more psychotic issues, more crime, and a jump in homelessness numbers and the use of soup kitchens and food shelves from out-of-state folks. It will create challenges for employers needing clean help. There are more cartel influences and black markets, and there's more use among teens. These aren't scare tactics; this is drawing from what other states have experienced.
Marijuana has been tested. MRI studies at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University show that it impairs brain development. Many know marijuana to be a gateway drug that leads to opioids. We don't need more opioid deaths; 112 a year in Vermont is enough.
Vermonters, keep a clear head — say no to pot in Vermont.
Real Traffic on Church Street
[Re Bite Club: "Bruegger's Bagels Closes on Church Street," December 12]: Church Street quickly became a vestige after the city's "visionaries" 40 years ago decided that closing it to cars would help it stay relevant as suburban malls came into vogue.
The closing of Bruegger's on Church Street is merely the latest vacancy illustrating the difficulty of trying to keep downtown's main shopping area vibrant in the face of the obvious. The only thing that will keep the stores healthy is to reopen the street to traffic and old-fashioned parallel parking.
Towns across New England that have been successful at keeping their downtowns alive — while competing with suburban malls — have kept the old model in place: They have not shut those streets to vehicular traffic.
Burlington can call Church Street a marketplace or a mall, but the reality is, it's neither. And people aren't stupid.
If people have to walk to a store after wrestling with complicated parking meters several blocks away — or have to park in a garage — they will go to the suburban malls.
Ron Redmond, head of the Church Street Marketplace, tried to mask the obvious with pure sputum. Redmond said that Bruegger's is "typical of the cycle that happens on Church Street, where you have stores coming and going."
Then he topped it with this: "If you think of all the stores that were on Church Street 30 years ago, the scene is much different."
Pure, unadulterated, incomprehensible nonsense.
The redevelopment of Burlington Town Center, meanwhile, will do nothing to solve the underlying problem.
Taxpayers have to spend an additional $20 million to believe our lyin' eyes.
Wondering About Kisonak
Usually, I just dismiss Rick Kisonak's movie reviews, because when he likes something, I usually don't. When he pans a movie, I usually like the movie. But his review of Wonder [Movie Reviews, November 22] goes over the top. I read the book. Then I read Kisonak's review and was amazed, since many other reviews have given it good ratings. I saw the film this past weekend and, for once, felt that I had to address the wrong that Kisonak does to the movie. Don't pay attention to his review. He is a Scrooge who'll never be visited by the ghost of Christmas past.
Wonder is a book everyone, especially every middle and high school kid, should read. The movie is worth watching. Unlike Kisonak, I felt moved during many parts. It would be better to pay attention to the many reviews that gave it good ratings. Follow the advice of Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, who, on November 17, wrote: "Wonder is an emotional wipeout, that's for sure, but Chbosky [the director] handles it with such tenderness and delicacy, you won't hate yourself (too much) for giving in." It is a good movie. Go see it.
Having read your article about athletes taking a knee during the national anthem ["Vermont Schools Prepare for More Kneeling Athletes," November 29], I felt compelled to write in support of these courageous young people who choose to do so even in the face of audiences that may be quite hostile.
Whether or not one agrees with these athletes is immaterial. In "The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience," William Penn wrote that "Liberty of conscience is every man's natural right, and he who is deprived of it is a slave in the midst of the greatest liberty."
Choices such as the one these athletes are making form us in character and in conscience. In this case, their action is not out of disrespect for the national anthem or veterans; rather, it's about bearing witness to festering racial injustice.
A heavy responsibility falls upon the individual who opposes the majority. He or she must choose whether to dissent privately, to express personal reservations to a trusted few, or to protest in a public forum and decline to withdraw one's protest. And when one does the latter, one calls upon his fellows to ponder not only the weight of his argument but also the difference between unanimity and unity. It is the difference between these two that I hope we as a society can learn to respect.
Call Out Misogyny
I'm a sustainable food systems major at Sterling College, and this article is really timely for me ["Women With Knives," December 13]. As part of my senior project, I interviewed several local female farmers about their challenges and successes entering and participating in the field of agriculture. I am also a feminist who has found work in the restaurant industry.
This paragraph in particular resonates with me: "Echoing others, Guillemette said it was a constant internal debate about whether to speak up, knowing that a skilled employee, even one arguably crossing the line of acceptable workplace behavior, would likely be given wide latitude."
It's so unbelievably true. I dealt with a lot of nasty stuff when I worked at Parker Pie because management wouldn't take a stand. Companies don't want to suffer a loss of employees, so, even though people are miserable and treated terribly by their catty coworkers, nothing is done.
Granted, the restaurant industry is completely different than the meatpacking industry in terms of what the actual work is. But there seem to be some similarities in terms of the misogynistic behavior and everyone else laughing at it or turning a blind eye. These similarities, in turn, appear wherever women break into a professional field, including agriculture.
It is of the utmost importance that women — especially women of color — continue speaking out about the injustices we face. We need your voices badly! Thank you, Pasanen, for such an effective article.
Super-duper! When I saw the cover photo of the December 6 issue, a large grin popped on my lips. Memories of Vermont back in the '60s were cultivated by your feature story "Picturing Vermont" by Rachel Elizabeth Jones. I just wish there could have been a bit more emphasis on the locals, their work ethic and habits born from an era when the northern region of Vermont was isolated and a culture unto its own. We're talking about pre-interstate days when few out-of-staters traveled Route 5 north to visit or buy a summer home, when back dirt roads were named for a family who had lived there for three generations and rarely traveled their own roads to leave the county — let alone the state.
Yes, I appreciate the Richard W. Brown, Ethan Hubbard and Peter Miller collections of photographs documenting the population of residents from the '70s, but unless my St. Johnsbury library buys copies of their books, I can't afford one, let alone four or five of 'em.
Why not do a feature story on a northern Vermonter in his or her eighties and get a full picture of what made them unique in the New England states? Why not interview people who were born and grew up in one of those hill-town farms, asking questions that go beyond the stereotype? Are there young couples turning their backs on modern life and living simply within a few acres? Has that ingenuity really died out?
Defending Gun Sense
William Moore's letter "Gun Sense-Less" [Feedback, December 13] suggests that Gun Sense Vermont has "had little success in efforts to restrict Vermonters' lawful gun rights." I disagree, because the author misunderstands the purpose of Gun Sense. The purpose of Gun Sense is not to restrict lawful gun rights. It is to make sure that there are laws that make these rights responsible.
The letter employed the usual canard of the Vermont gun lobby: "Vermont is the safest state in the nation." Apparently, it was not safe enough for four women in 2015; one of them was a friend of mine. It was also not safe enough for the 237 Vermonters murdered from 1994 to 2014, 60 percent of whom died via guns. By American standards, with its 30,000 or so annual gun deaths, this does constitute the safest state in the nation. I would hate to see what is "unsafe" in this person's view.
As a survivor of a shooting, strong in my memory is the Seven Days story in which a reporter bought a semiautomatic in a Burlington parking lot without a single check, background or otherwise [Fair Game: "The Gun," June 15, 2016]. What if, for example, the purchaser of this gun had been another Las Vegas shooter? A friend of mine was one of the targets of that shooter. The bullets from his rapid-fire weapons somehow missed her, and she wrote of how "terrifying it is to have to plan your next move to safety."
This is what Gun Sense and I look at in that "ideological bubble."