Elsie Lynn Parini

REBECCA STRUM WILL lead the first session of Middlebury Acting Company’s six-part play-reading series, “The American Dream Project.” The project begins Dec. 13. INDEPENDENT PHOTO / STEVE JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — When the days get short, the sticks are bare and, oh yeah, COVID is still lurking dangerously close, it’s easy to slide into your slippers, grab a blanket (and maybe a glass of wine), and stay safely tucked in your comfort zone. But before you settle in to a pleasant stupor, consider this alternative: What if instead you remembered the passion and outrage that filled this country after the killing of George Floyd on May 25? What if we continue that conversation? Middlebury Acting Company (MACo) is doing just that with a new six-part series called The American Dream Project that...

JANET FREDERICKS AND Tom Verner perform in an orphanage in South India. Since the pandemic hit, the duo’s travel plans have all been canceled. While at home in Lincoln, they have created a 13 session video series on “Becoming a Magician.” This virtual course is available through local libraries and the Town Hall Theater.
Have you ever watched the audience at a magic show? Everyone’s eyes are glued to the performers, their eyebrows are slightly furrowed, mouths agape and their bodies motionless as they try desperately to spot the “trick.” Then — poof! How did she do that? The audience sits back, laughs and relaxes into what we can only assume is magic. Tom Verner and Janet Fredericks of Lincoln bring this kind of happiness all over the world. They are the founders of Magicians Without Borders and have traveled to over 45 countries bringing love, laughter, magic and hope to hundreds of thousands of refugee and...

MOIRA SMILEY Alexandria DeFurio Photography
Election Day is gone, but fear is not. As we wait for the unfolding of our new political landscape, we remember that no matter the outcome, the world is still gripped by COVID, racial divides and increasing unrest. It’s a pretty bleak way to enter winter. Local singer, composer and song-collector Moira Smiley has a gift for us all with her freshly released folk single “Days of War.” Originally written with guitarist Seamus Egan soon after the horrific events at the Unite the Right neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, the song “asks how we go on... singing, making things,...

A COUPLE OF Lauren Ringey's dolls
Being stuck at home all day has probably inspired more than a few of us to revisit our passion projects and hobbies that have just been collecting dust in the basement for months. For Lauren Ringey of Cornwall the isolation of COVID-19 has reignited a creative flame for her handmade doll company.  “I’m home all day with my machine,” said the 30-year-old Middlebury Union High School grad who started sewing just four short years ago for her son. “I’ve been making a lot. Recently I advertised some stock that I had on Instagram and sold it really quickly. Then, because everyone is stuck at home...

NEW YORK GALLERIST and artist Martine Bisagni has a passion for building bridges between the creators of art and the broader community. She brings that passion to her new role at an art gallery in downtown Bristol. Photo by Amani Ansari
While most everyone has felt the strong effects of COVID-19 on day-to-day business, Art on Main (Bristol’s Main Street art gallery) recently had a leadership change too. Annie Perkins handed her role of gallery manager over to Martine Bisagni in mid-April.  “We had a perfect plan in place for a month of overlap and training between us and high hopes for a very smooth transition,” Perkins wrote in her farewell newsletter. “Well — such is the way of plans… It has been an immense pleasure working with and getting to know all of you Art on Main folks: artists, customers, teachers, students,...

ANDREA CHESMAN AND Richard Ruane hosted one heck of a house-warming/jam session dinner party back in 1994, which spurred the idea to start up the Ripton Community Coffee House on the first Saturday in May 1995. RCCH celebrates 25 years this May, but because of the coronavirus has had to pause any performances until the fall. Photo by Beth Duquette
RIPTON — This May, the beloved Ripon Community Coffee House was set to celebrate its 25th year hosting musical gatherings at the historic Ripton Community House, a block up from the General Store on Route 125. But like so many other events, this celebration has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, too.  A special concert of local all-stars — Matt Flinner (mandolin), Brett Hughes (guitar), Caleb Elder (fiddle) and Pat Melvin (bass) — was scheduled for the first Saturday in May; now RCCH is looking at opening their 25th season in the fall — probably in October.  Instead of...

TWO-YEAR-OLD IDA AND mother Elsie are excited to meet that new addition to their family. Photo by Oliver Parini
I’ve never felt much like one of those beautiful, glowing pregnant people. I hear they exist, but as far as I’m concerned those folks are unicorns. It’s hard work growing a human, and if some days I’m a little dull — oh well.  At 38 weeks pregnant in the middle of April, what I’m thinking about is less if I’m glowing or dull and more about the swirling vortex of virus germs spreading violently around the globe. As if there’s not enough to worry about — thanks raging hormones — add in COVID-19 and pregnancy gets pretty interesting. Gone are the beautiful birth plans we made with our doula. The...

EILEEN GOMBOSI IS the art teacher for Ripton and Salisbury elementary schools — she’s also an artist herself. Recently she’s been feverishly working on a new series of paintings, drawings and pastels that concern the balance of the planet and how climate change is affecting creatures large and small.
RIPTON — Right from the start, Eileen Gombosi knew her next art series was going to be a statement on balance in the ecological world, and now amidst the COVID-19 pandemic it feels more timely than ever.  “I’ve been on fire,” she said in a remote interview earlier this month. “I have more time to be working at home in my studio. Those times of working and intense creativity are the same for me.” When she’s not doing her personal work in her studio, Gombosi is online with her art students from Ripton and Salisbury elementary schools. “My work teaching is very different these days,” she said....

LILLIAN KENNEDY IS hosting a Staycation Art Series on her blog weeklyartlesson.com. Every Friday through the coronavirus crisis, she posts a new tutorial intended to “refresh your spirit with fearless drawing and painting.”
When the coronavirus hit, Lillian Kennedy knew she wanted to help. But how? “I didn’t want to sew masks, and I’m not a healthcare professional,” she said over a video interview last week. “So I started the Staycation Art Lessons series as my way of volunteering during the crisis.” Kennedy is posting weekly art lessons every Friday on her blog weeklyartlesson.com.  “Refresh your spirit with fearless drawing and painting” is Kennedy’s tagline for the series because, well, she believes that.  “The very simple act of drawing is a gift to give yourself,” she said. “Join in, build your skills and...

JUDITH GIUSTO HAS worked in fiber arts for 25 years, but these days she’s turning more to her interest in jewelry making. She will be one of the many artists featured at Town Hall Theater’s “A Toast to the Arts” fundraising event that’s been rescheduled for May 21 (though that’s subject to change). Independent photo/Steve James
MIDDLEBURY — For the second year in a row, Town Hall Theater is planning “A Toast to the Arts” — a fundraising party that celebrates 27 of Vermont’s visual artists and gives guests the opportunity to buy art and support the local theater. This year’s event was originally scheduled for Thursday, April 16, but due to the coronavirus has been rescheduled for Thursday, May 21, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.  While we’re all furiously washing our hands and trying to stay healthy, we can still get excited for this upcoming exhibit and sale that will showcase artists’ carefully curated works in paint, pastel,...


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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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