Short Takes on Film
State of the Arts
From "Napshots of the Suburbs"
“Are there any therapists here?” Burlington artist dug Nap asked an audience at his live FlynnSpace show last June. It was a reasonable question. “Napshots of the Suburbs,” an autobiographical monologue paired with brightly colored slides Nap created on his iPad, suggests a tale of American childhood coauthored by Charles Schulz and Sigmund Freud, with occasional touches of David Lynch.
This Friday, Nap will release a DVD version of “Napshots” that combines a video recording of the performance with sound effects and occasional animation. So fans who missed the show can experience the traumas visited on its narrator and main character (also called “dug”) by the scary matriarch Rose (“I think she was my mother,” he says, still sounding unsure), and his struggles with the strictures of midcentury morality. (Our hero is a budding voyeur.)
The story may be material for a therapist’s couch, but it’s also funny, much like Nap’s popular prints and greeting cards. The artist’s deadpan delivery bleeds any self-pity from anecdotes such as one where Rose waits until she’s washed her hair to bring young dug — unconscious from a concussion — to the doctor. Viewers may shake their heads in censure, but Nap presents these stories from a kid’s point of view, without judgment or sentimentality, his monologue generally as straightforward as his cheerful, artfully “primitive” drawings. In the process, characters such as Rose — memorably depicted as a control-freak Amazon toting her consort, Harold, around like a child — gain human dimensions.
Nap is in many ways the polar opposite of Vermont’s best-known autobiographical cartoonist, Bolton’s Alison Bechdel. His images are bold and simple, while hers are detailed and meticulous; his stories often end in one-liners, while hers are full of erudite self-analysis. But both artists have captured uniquely messed-up childhoods — and the taboo topic of childhood sexuality — in ways bound to appeal to an audience extending well beyond pros paid by the hour.
The DVD gives us a vivid glimpse into Nap’s world — and makes us hope he’ll continue the series he calls “Napshots of My Life.”
You can watch clips and meet the artist at a First Friday launch party at Burlington’s Frog Hollow. For more about Nap, read Kathryn Flagg’s June 20, 2012, cover story “Outside In” in Seven Days online.
Launch party for ‘Napshots of the Suburbs’: Friday, December 7, 6 to 8 p.m. at Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center, Burlington. Free. DVD with a suggested retail price of $20 is available at Frog Hollow, Bennington Potters and Phoenix Books in Burlington; Artists’ Mediums in Williston; Artisans Hand Craft Gallery in Montpelier; Sweet Cecily in Middlebury; the Warren Store; Unicorn in Woodstock; Stowe Craft Gallery & Design Center; and the Gallery in the Woods in Brattleboro.
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about Burlington’s lost Little Italy. But what about the city’s once-thriving Jewish immigrant community? How did itinerant peddlers fleeing European persecution become the founders of three synagogues and a department store? Just in time for Hanukkah, Little Jerusalem, a new documentary produced by Vermont Public Television, examines the tight-knit Orthodox community that flourished in the Old North End from the 1880s to the 1940s. See its premiere on December 6.
‘Little Jerusalem’: Thursday, December 6, at 8 p.m. on Vermont Public Television. Additional broadcasts December 8, at 5:30 p.m. and December 10, at 9 p.m.