Arts & Leisure


CAROLYN CRAVEN'S GREEN House won best in the adult-amateur category and best in theme.
The Vermont Folklife Center announces its first virtual gingerbread house competition and exhibit. This ever-popular 22-year annual tradition will continue safely despite the pandemic. “If we can’t all crowd into a room to admire these fantastically creative confections and cast our ballots, we’ll do so online,” said the Folklife Center. “There is no shortage of creativity and excitement around this holiday tradition; bakers and creators documented the process and their completed gingerbread houses in photographs and audio recordings.” Visit the Vermont Folklife Center’s website to view over...

THE BENGSONS, CLINT & Ty Bierman, The Middlebury Congregational Church Choir, and Francois Clemmons are on the Holiday Jukebox lineup this season. Town Hall Theater will stream local music live, Dec. 24-26. Tickets are $10 per household, with proceeds benefitting the Addison County Food Shelf at HOPE.
Christmas means music — choirs in churches, carolers on the street, performances in theaters. But due to the pandemic, we’re facing a season in which musicians, and their music, are stuck indoors and socially distant from one and other, as well as from appreciative audiences. The people at Town Hall Theater have cooked up a solution. They’ve gathered together videos of the area’s most popular musicians under the title Holiday Jukebox, which will be streaming online beginning Dec. 24. The ticket price is $10 per household, with the proceeds benefitting the Addison County Food Shelf at the...

A SIX-YEAR-old visitor takes a closer look at the flashing icicles, one of the thousands of details in Wayne and Diane Smith's epic holiday lights display in Salisbury. Independent photo/Megan James
SALISBURY — When I called Wayne Smith to ask him about his magnificently over-the-top holiday lights display, which I had visited for the first time the night before, he said incredulously, “How long have you lived in Addison County?! And this was your first time?!” Wayne and his wife, Diane, have created an outrageous wonderland of illumination on their Salisbury property every December for more than 25 years. In the nearly two decades I’ve lived in Vermont, I had never seen it. Wayne, who just retired from 28 years driving a bus for the MUHS sports teams, said he’s seeing even more visitors...

THE ALMENDROS
Sure it’s time for jingle bells and carols, but sometimes we need to mix in a few fresh tunes. Addison County band The Almendros released an album of all-original songs just before Thanksgiving. Check out “All Over the Place” on Spotify, Apple Music or at their website almendrosband.com. The songs are written by Pete Ryan, the bassist and an earth-science prof at Middlebury College. “Pete is a terrific, very intelligent and interesting songwriter,” said Doug Wilhelm, a local author and musician. “A couple of years ago Pete left two local bands to work on developing his own stuff the way he...
(Mariner Books) Robert Macfarlane, author of “Underland,” “The Lost Words” and “The Lost Spells,” as guest editor this year, ushers readers into this most peculiar time, a time when dreaming about travel, and thus reading and writing about travel, is surging, even as travelers have been forced to cancel and delay plans. “Lockdown,” he writes, “has triggered a greed for what cannot now be done…” His is not the only recognizable name in the collection: Heidi Julavits, author of “The Folded Clock,” one of our favorite and most unusual memoirs, immerses herself in an avalanche course; Yiyun Li,...
The Scott Center for Spiritual & Religious Life and the Music Department at Middlebury College present the annual Christmas service with traditional hymns and anthems sung by the Middlebury College Choir, and Biblical readings of the season by faculty, staff and students. YouTube premier on Sunday, Dec. 20, at 4 p.m. Tune in at go/lessonsandcarols, or go.middlebury.edu/lessonsandcarols.  The program will be available to view online anytime until Jan. 1. Donations will be accepted for H.O.P.E, Elderly Services, and Addison County Home Health & Hospice.  For more information and direct...
Join Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society via Zoom at cvuus.org on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 4 p.m., for cuteness, chaos, costumes and Christmas cheer with a UU spin. Come be part of the joyful story with Mary, Joseph, shepherds, sheep, angels, animals, wise people and stars. Anyone can play any part — no limits based on gender, age, size or anything else. Put together your own costumes (extra points for virtual/physical backgrounds) and just show up. Take part or just watch and sing along with the traditional carols. Ends with candle lighting and singing Silent Night. Led by Director...

BRISTOL ARTIST SUSANNE Peck is making portraiture with pencils her main gig these days.
Sometimes life gives us a great, big shove in a direction we never anticipated. For Susanne Peck, like many of us, the pandemic precipitated an epic change in her career.  “I lost both my main gigs: teaching singing at Middlebury College and as the St. Stephen’s Church choir director,” Peck said in a FaceTime interview last week.  So, what next?  Well, Peck saw this shift as the opportunity she’d been waiting for to launch her business as a portrait artist. She works out of her home in Bristol and primarily uses pencils for her drawings.   “I’m in love with that medium,” she said. “I think...

'PORTRAIT OF A Girl,' 1862, sculpted white marble portrait relief roundel, diameter: 18 1/2 inches; depth: 2 inches. Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art, purchase with funds provided by the Reva B. Seybolt ’72 Art Acquisition Fund and the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Fund, 2019.
MIDDLEBURY — In the past year the Middlebury College Art Museum was able to acquire a stunning neoclassical marble portrait tondo carved in 1862 in Rome. What is particularly notable about the relief is that it is among the first identified sculptures of its kind by a Vermont-born woman artist. The relief, signed and dated “M. F. Foley. SC. Roma. 1862,” is by Margaret F. Foley (1827–1877) who grew up in Vergennes. While stories abound of artists overcoming challenging odds to establish themselves and make a living from their work, it was many times more difficult for American women than men...

'SATURDAY,' BY HANNAH Morris, is one of the pieces on display at Northern Daughter’s Gallery in Vergennes.
Northern Daughters Gallery presents “Winter White” this holiday season. The exhibit features the work of artists Julia Jensen, Matthew Monk, Hannah Morris, Erika Lawlor Schmidt, Hannah Sessions, Pamela Smith, and Susanne Strater and will be exhibited through Jan. 15 at Northern Daughters Gallery in Vergennes, and Jan. 16 to Feb. 28 at the Annex Gallery at Village Wine and Coffee in Shelburne. “As curators we approached this exhibit from an aesthetic standpoint, with the muted colors of winter putting emphasis on composition and texture of work,” noted Sophie Pickens and Justine Jackson. “And...

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