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Southern Vermont Arts Excursions | Fall 2020

The Latchis Hotel & Theatre in Brattleboro.

The historic Latchis Hotel & Theatre in downtown Brattleboro.

Spanning the rolling hills of Windham and Bennington Counties, the Southern Vermont arts scene centers around the towns of Brattleboro and Bennington.

In the riverside town of Brattleboro, the first Friday of every month is Gallery Walk, when the town’s galleries and arts venues open their doors to the public, and the historic downtown bustles with activity and special events. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the town of Brattleboro has worked to make Gallery Walk a safe, socially distanced night that brings together the community.

Among Brattleboro’s many galleries are Vermont Artisan Design, a fine arts and craft shop and gallery open daily and by appointment, and Harmony Collective, a new gallery featuring eclectic work from 31 local member-artists. For a unique cinema experience, see a show in the main theater at Brattleboro’s Latchis Hotel & Theatre, known for its lavish Art Deco design.

Overlooking the Connecticut River, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) features six newly installed exhibits, from Rachel Portesi's hair portraits and photographs of ice fishing shanties to an artisanal map depicting the Brattleboro Words Trail, a new series of audio tours exploring the history of words and literature in the area. BMAC and the Retreat Farm are currently seeking entries for their first ever Artful Ice Shanties Design-Build Competition. Artists, ice fishing enthusiasts, tiny house aficionados, and design-builders of all ages and experience levels are invited to build artful ice shanties that will be displayed at Retreat Farm from February 13 through February 28.

Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester.

Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester. Photo by Catherine Crawley.

Also in Putney is Next Stage Arts, a historic general store restored as a gallery and venue. The Next Stage gallery is currently exhibiting paintings by Susan Parenti by appointment only.

Travel northwest on Route 30, into the Green Mountain National Forest, and you’ll descend into Manchester, home of the Southern Vermont Arts Center (SVAC). Through Jan. 10, SVAC’s 2020 All Member Exhibition features work by local artists on the theme of “Hope” in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Manchester Center is Hildene, the former home of Abraham Lincoln's eldest son and now a musem. Much of the museum is closed due to Covid-19, but visitors are welcome to view their permanent exhibit Many Voices, a look at the lives of Black railroad porters.

Travel south, through the Shires of Vermont, and you’ll reach Bennington, southwestern Vermont’s cultural hub. In a repurposed bank on Bennington proper’s Main Street is Fiddlehead at Four Corners, a fine art and craft gallery featuring artists from across the country.

Also on Main Street is the Bennington Museum, which celebrates the art and history of southern Vermont and New Hampshire, northwestern Massachusetts, and eastern New York State. The Bennington Museum’s current exhibits include an extension of the Outdoor Sculpture Show, an exhibit of objects chosen by popular vote, and the world’s largest collection of paintings by the 20th-century folk artist Grandma Moses.

The Retreat Farm in Brattleboro.

Picnic Pairing: Retreat Farm, BrattleboroA waterfront community farm and forest, with gardens, trails, and a center green open to the public.

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.