Vermont Arts Council

Hop to It!

SEABA’s Art Hop is next weekend. As always, there’s a ton to see, from local media screenings to comedy shows, chocolate sculptures to live art-making. You can even paint a tiny canvas, roll papers for a community quilling project, play recycled mini golf or cardboard pinball (this is how that got started), make a screen print, pour an artsy latte, dance, eat, drink, color, drum, shop, aRT, DJEMBE, CARNIVAL, ART, YOGA, ART! YES! And, you can swing into SEABA’s tent to have a beer and vote on a label design.

Wait. There’s Beer?

Yep. According to Magic Hat Brewing, art is beer’s best friend. (Maybe I paraphrased, but stay with me.) See, Magic Hat has been involved with SEABA’s Art Hop since about as long as it’s been a brewery. And for the last five years, this brewery-slash-arts center has invited Vermont artists to design a label for a limited release beer, fittingly called the Art Hop Ale. Experts at Magic Hat and SEABA, along with last year’s Labels for Libations winner, Zelde Grimm, selected five finalists from more than 100 submissions. What did they look for? Original, unique art that captures the spirit of both Magic Hat and the Art Hop. “And it’s gotta be pretty,” as per Zelde.


You can expect pretty, and probably also weird and wild, coming from the artists of Vermont. Speaking of the artists of Vermont, Magic Hat is a bit of a champion. (By “bit of” I mean “up there with Simone Biles.”) The winner of the Labels for Libations contest gets an impressive prize: his or her artwork on the year’s run of Art Hop Ale, distributed across the nation; a two-month gallery show in the Magic Hat Artifactory; $1,500; and pushes on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

When worlds collide. National Donut Day meets Art Hop Ale.

Magic Hat Brewing Co. brand manager Harry Kahn explains that all this social media stuff is meant to get people HYPED about art. His hope is that Magic Hat can “bring a lot of excitement and value to the artist” and to SEABA by printing information about both right on the can. And it seems like he knows what’s up. An image of Zelde Grimm’s design garnered 367 likes. The finished can in a box of doughnuts brought in 411. Tmathews11 commented, “Must find it in Delaware. Love that artwork.” Aleshare wrote, “That can looks dope…Don’t suppose this will make it to Houston?” Though Kahn insists that Zelde “doesn’t need our help,” a few extra likes never hurt anyone.

Let’s Take Stock

This is what we know. Magic Hat = good beer. Vermont artists = good art. Art hop = good fun. Cheers to all of that!

But what I didn’t know before talking to Harry was how much Magic Hat cares about Vermont’s art (lots, BTW). “The brewery itself is made up of people who really wake up in the morning because they love the arts,” Harry says. “And that’s what makes us go.” The Artifactory houses an art gallery and a theater. Magic Hat hosts all sorts of arts events, like last month’s Wall to Canvas. But they don’t focus solely on visual art; Harry calls their approach “all-of-the-above.” If you have ideas, throw ‘em out there. Chia pet sculpture contest? They’d be down! Heavy metal Battle of the Bands? Neighbors might not like it, but what the heck? And there’s more to come.

So, I asked Harry about his future art-supporting endeavors. That’s when he got a little weird. Seems he wants to keep some things on the DL. He looked over his left shoulder, then his right. No one there. He took out his phone, flipped the camera to check behind his back. No one there. He took a selfie. Then he lowered his voice: “Art Hop Ale is a signal for me that we are going to be able to move in a new and exciting direction, where we invest in great beer and in Vermont arts.” Before I could assure him that his secrets would be safe with me, he vanished…

As for me, I scurried off to publish everything I know and count down the days to the Art Hop. Come next Friday I’ll be throwing back a cold one (or two) and casting my vote. And you should too. The fate of a Vermont artist — and consequently, Magic Hat’s Instagram – is in your hands.

Rachel Stearns

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