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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 limit crowds and sell tickets, rather than pass around a donation box, for the first time in their history. These live shows at their Glover farm are sold out for the year, but the company is touring the state this fall, and the Bread and Puppet Museum—a massive trove of puppets and artwork from shows past—is open daily until Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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. Through Nov. 22, Highland’s gallery exhibits A Critical Balance, paintings of endangered species by eight New England artists. The gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with tours available by reservation.

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.

For a unique experience at Burke Mountain Resort, catch soul singer Kat Wright’s vertical concert on Oct. 17, presented by Catamount Arts. Wright will perform to an audience gathered on the resort’s outdoor patio and stacked in balcony rooms, a concert format inspired by recent Covid-safe concerts in the Ukraine.

South of Burke Mountain is the NEK's largest town, Saint Johnsbury, home of Catamount Arts and a thriving creative community. Now showing in downtown storefront windows through Nov. 18 is “StJ Art on the Street Autumn 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.

The Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium, 1302 Main St., presents “Inside Out: Hidden Art in Natural History Collections” as part of the 2020 Vision: Seeing the World Through Technology, a statewide initiative of the Vermont Curators Group. The exhibit lets visitors dive into the hidden depths of the museum’s taxidermy collection. Radiographs and contemporary portraits of the same mount reveal what’s below the surface and what goes into creating the work. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit the museum's website for its current Covid precautions and visitor limits.

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.

At the Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild, 430 Railroad St., is “About What Remains,” an exhibit of watercolors and other media exploring meditations on objects as they age by the artist Sharon Kenney Biddle, through Nov. 21. 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.

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.

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Last updated October 14, 2020.