Art Notes: Upper Valley arts offer to brighten winter nights

Alex Hanson. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Alex Hanson. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

The Pilgrims, shown during a 2019 performance, are playing with Petricore and Big Destiny as part of the Rock N' Roll Show on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, Vt. The event begins at 7 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

The Pilgrims, shown during a 2019 performance, are playing with Petricore and Big Destiny as part of the Rock N' Roll Show on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, Vt. The event begins at 7 p.m. (Courtesy photograph) courtesy photograph

By ALEX HANSON

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 01-10-2024 9:00 PM

Modified: 01-11-2024 4:52 PM


On the cultural calendar, September tends to be the biggest month. Summer is over, kids are back in school and theater, visual art and music are all ascendant.

But January is a close second, and looking at the events coming at us in the next few weeks, this might be the most packed month of the year.

That’s as it should be, I think. The arts are meant to brighten our long, dark nights, even if we opt to stay home and read a book.

So here’s a look at what’s coming our way in the next few weeks:

‘This museum goes to 11’

Joie Finley, chief volunteer at the Main Street Museum, has programmed 11 bands at the White River Junction institution this month.

The ruckus starts Saturday night with three bands from the Windsor-based collective What Doth Life: The Pilgrims, Petricore and Big Destiny. Doors open at 7; the suggested cover is $10, but the museum never turns anyone away for lack of funds.

The following two weekends promise just as much fun, maybe more. On Jan. 20, four bands — The Y Lie, Chodus, Coffin Flop and Dylan Patrick Ward & the Lovable Losers — descend on 58 Bridge St., to present what they’re calling “Nostalgia: Random Access Dreams, a Multimedia Event.” It sounds grandiose, but also adorable.

And on Jan. 27, the bill comprises Shy Husky, Phantom Suns, Vallory Falls and Ex-Temper.

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Finley jokes that this month, the museum goes to 11.

Joking aside, to me the most important aspect of these shows is that they’re all-ages. Kids need to get out and hear music they can’t get online. And they need to hear music live. Why the Main Street Museum is pretty much the only outlet offering all-ages space to bands is a mystery to me.

Music for grown-ups

Sawtooth Kitchen in Hanover hosts a Thursday night supper club featuring Jay Nash and Brooks Hubbard, starting at 6:30.

The performance is free with a dinner reservation, or $10 to walk in.

The music continues Friday and Saturday nights, with Moondog, a psychedelic-rock band from Burlington and a dance party with the DJ duo SABR, respectively. Both shows start at 9 and have a $5 cover. The dance party is marked 21+.

Speaking of music

I’m told there are still tickets available for the screenings at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at Woodstock’s Billings Farm and Museum of “Joan Baez: I Am a Noise,” the 2023 documentary about the celebrated folk singer-songwriter. Tickets are $15 ($12 for museum members) and are available through billingsfarm.org or at 802-457-5303.

High school art at AVA

AVA Gallery and Art Center opens its Annual High School Exhibition with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. next Friday, Jan. 19. This is the 16th installment of the high school show, which brings in art by talented students from all over the Upper Valley.

Winter hours and a student opportunity

The Hall Art Foundation, in Reading, Vt., has mostly been open in the warmer months but is offering winter hours on the weekends through Feb. 25. On Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m., a docent-led tour is available at a cost of $12 per person, and from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., visitors can look at the art on their own for an admission fee of $8. Reservations are not required but are recommended.

On view now is “Andy Warhol: small is beautiful,” which the Hall is billing as “a comprehensive and intimate retrospective” of Warhol’s paintings. There’s also an outdoor sculpture park and trails for hiking and skiing.

What’s of greater interest to me is that the Hall is offering free tours to school groups, including paying for school bus service for districts that otherwise couldn’t afford it. Art teachers who are interested should contact the Hall at 802-952-1056 or education@hallartfoundation.org.

The foundation suffered some damage in the July flooding and plans to reopen in full in May.

Theater on the horizon

Three shows loom large, starting with Shaker Bridge Theatre, which opens a production of “The Cake,” a play about a baker faced with a fateful choice, next week in White River Junction’s Briggs Opera House.

The following week, Northern Stage opens a production of “Constellations,” a winsome, cosmic two-hander.

And looking much farther ahead, Parish Players holds its annual Ten-Minute Play Festival over two weekends starting Feb. 8 at the company’s Eclipse Grange Theatre on Thetford Hill.

Alex Hanson can be reached at ahanson@vnews.com or 603-727-3207.