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Northeast Kingdom Arts Excursions | Fall 2020

A Bread and Puppet show in 1989

Bread and Puppet performing "Domestic Resurrection Circus" in 1989. Photo courtesy of Clarke Mackey.

In Vermont’s rugged Northeast Kingdom (“the NEK” or “the Kingdom” to locals) you’ll find hidden gems like Glover’s Museum of Everyday Life, a roadside museum-in-a-barn featuring eclectic artifacts and ephemera. Drop in any day before 8 p.m. for a self-guided tour and a socially distanced picnic on the lawn, and even take home souvenirs like a brief meditation on dust.

Not far up the road is the iconic Bread and Puppet Theatre, where one-of-a-kind performances occur every Sunday. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced them to cancel their shows after a summer season of socially distanced tours and performances at the farm. You can still enjoy the magic of Bread and Puppet through their installation at Vermont Studio Center in Johnson.

In the hills of Greensboro is the Highland Center for the Arts, a state-of-the-art venue, gallery, and hub for NEK arts, complete with a full-service, locally-sourced eatery. From Jan. 1 through March 31, Highland is offering an outdoor art trail accessible by ski and snowshoe. A variety of works by Vermont artists will be on view over 1.8 miles of trails for all ages and abilities.

In Greensboro village, on the shore of Caspian Lake, two galleries sit kitty corner from each other. Borealis Studios is the workplace and showroom of glass artist Devin Burgess and ceramic artist Jerilyn Virden and is open by appointment. Miller’s Thumb Gallery, set in a historic gristmill, features the work of over 100 Vermont artists and is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Artist Naomi Bossom setting up at 446 Railroad Street in St. Johnsbury

Artist Naomi Bossom setting up at 446 Railroad Street in Saint Johnsbury. Photo Heather Alger.

The NEK's largest town is Saint Johnsbury, home of Catamount Arts and a thriving creative community. Now showing in downtown storefront windows through Feb. 28 is “StJ Art on the Street Winter NEK Starlight Exhibition,” a public art project featuring works from a selection of Northeast Kingdom artists. At 166 Eastern Ave., you’ll find the 16-panel “Musaic Project” depicting four genres of music along with the seasons. The mural was created by artist Tara Goreau in collaboration students at St. Johnsbury School, Concord School, Newark Street School, and Walden School, and sponsored by Catamount Arts. Also in the Art on the Street exhibit are works by Benjamin Barnes, Naomi Bossom, Laura Heijn, Anni Lorenzini, and Trenny Robb.

On display at 142 Eastern Ave. is the Community COVID Discovery Quilt, with 16 “quilting” squares submitted and assembled by community members of all ages who answered the question, “What have you discovered or learned while staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, something that brought you joy, inspired you, something you may pursue after life goes back to ‘normal’?”

Other St. J art options include St. Johnsbury Athanaeum, the national historic landmark housing a public library and the oldest unaltered art gallery in the United States. Located at 1171 Main St., the museum was built in 1873 to display the art collection of founder Horace Fairbanks (1820-1888). The art gallery offers an opportunity to experience an American art collection as it would have been seen during the nineteenth century, including the grand 10- by 15-foot canvas displaying The Domes of the Yosemite by Albert Bierstadt. Visit their website for hours and Covid safety information.

At the Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild, 430 Railroad St., is a holiday fair of special handmade wares, open 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily until Jan. 6. The exhibit pairs the paintings with assemblages of handmade books, poetry and other pieces. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.

Longtime St. Johnsbury Academy art teachers, Bill and Kim Darling, co-own Gatto Nero Press and Gallery, 190 Eastern Ave., on the ground floor of a restored 1894 building in downtown St. J. Home to printing presses for more than a century, the building now houses the gallery which hosts exhibits in printmaking and fine art intaglio, which is done onsite. By appointment, contact Kim Darling at kdarling@stjacademy.org.

St. J’s newest mural is located at the Three Rivers Path Trailhead, considered the beginning section of the 93-mile Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, on Bay Street across from the Ide Building. The trailhead’s bike pavilion showcases the work of ARCY, a street artist known for over a decade for his large-scale, paint-splashed style.

Barr Hill Natural Area in Greensboro

Picnic Pairing: Barr Hill Natural Area, Greensboro. An open field and easy trails offer panoramic mountain views. Photo by Charles Wohlers.

Next, for refreshments with your art, there are a few choices. Central Cafe, 481 Railroad St., serves coffees, fresh-baked pastries, and an upscale brunch and currently features the work of Northeast Kingdom photographer Shaun Terhune, including his vast Franconia Ridge metal panorama. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Tuesdays.

At the Cosmic Cup Café, 139 Eastern Ave., you’ll also find lots of food options, espresso and pastries, as well as the wolves and foxes artwork of Emma McGuire. Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.

Whirligig Brewing, 397 Railroad St., premieres an exhibit by Harlan Mack, an interdisciplinary artist based at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson. Mack uses blacksmithing, steel fabrication, painting, and oral storytelling. His recent body of work incorporates brightly painted reclaimed wooden fence and blackened forged steel to construct a narrative with animal figures and human faces that invites viewers and listeners into an imaginary future. Hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 12 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Did you know that the Vermont Curators Group has a fun Passport Program for sharing Vermont’s arts and culture? Sign up, visit participating museums and galleries, and win prizes!

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Last updated January 4, 2021.