State of the Arts
Sometimes it takes a bunch of completely stoked twentysomethings to remind everyone that the Queen City, like, totally rules. University of Vermont students Connor Boals, 20, and Lily March, 21, are so enthusiastic about Burlington’s creative scene they’ve founded an online magazine about it. “We’re all just really in love with Burlington,” confessed March, the magazine’s art director, at the launch party last Wednesday night at Halvorson’s.
Their creation, phoebe.  — small p, statement-making period — contributes to B-town’s artsy scene itself. Freed from the cost of print, the 58-page semesterly zine — presented via a Flash-based, magazine-format viewer — is attractively laid out and dense with full-color photos that pay attention to form. One image vividly capures tattoo artist Rachel Schilling’s bottles of colored ink; another, the green curl of Champ’s neck on the side of the ECHO Center. In a nine-page fashion shoot by Lead Photographer Bobby Bruderle — a freshman with an uncanny eye for light — Burlington suddenly looks way cooler than New York City: Student models strike disaffected, ironic poses with a Welsh Corgi, or smash in a TV on the abandoned concrete tail end of 289. The clothing was donated by, among other hip outfitters, Maven, Steez, Stella and Tribeca, said a thrilled style editor, Magdalena Jensen, 21.
The articles enthuse about everything from Burlington’s fixed-gear bicycle culture to hip-hop locals The Aztext to Pine Street café Four Corners of the World — where the writer accepts a sandwich with “semi-riotous adulation.” Boals, a former features editor of the Vermont Cynic, explained that most of phoebe.’s editorial crew have roots in the college weekly but were happy to leave behind the studied objectivity of a newspaper. For the dapper Midwesterner, in fact, phoebe. is “like that obsessive girlfriend that you can’t get out of your life” — though he named it after his bicycle, not a former sweetheart.
Created in the Cynic’s newsroom, phoebe. took all of a “couple hundred dollars” — donated by two students’ parents — to launch, says March. Through their “intensive Facebook campaign,” the editors attracted student contributors eager for experience. “This is building a portfolio for all of us,” Jensen pointed out. While initially disappointed at not being able to afford print, she said, “our new take is that we’re 100 percent green.” Eventually, Jensen added, advertisers will “see how the magazine has gone viral and get really excited.”
Editorial Director Boals asserted that phoebe. is the kind of thing people are surprised to find doesn’t already exist in Burlington. (Previous generations have tried, and ultimately failed, to make it with print.) The magazine aficionado subscribes to “15 different arts-and-culture mags,” he said. “There are, like, 200 hip magazines like this in New York. But Burlington is a cesspool of creativity. Why are we the first?”