State of the Arts
The Firehouse Gallery's new curator was just getting the hang of it. Less than a year after accepting the Burlington job, C. Sean Horton is heading south to run a gallery in Chelsea... New York City. "I planned on being here a lot longer, but the opportunity just came up," says Horton, 29, who'll take Manhattan in late winter or early spring. He leaves behind a year of already-curated shows as well as a few thoughts on local culture: "I'd like to see more artist-initiated and alternative spaces for art," says Horton. "There are a lot of empty spaces that could be used, even for one-night exhibitions, to create some enthusiasm and get some buzz going." Speaking of departures, three other people are leaving -- or have left -- the downtown art gallery. Education Director Suzanne Rexford-Winston and Program Coordinator Heather Driscoll are on the way out. Former Gallery Manager Claire Robinson-White is already gone. Is there a fire in the building? "It's been a stressful period," says Administration Director Sara Katz. "We've gone from trying to save a building to trying to run it."
A group of old English ladies started the naked calendar craze, and their risque business inspired a major motion picture. One small Vermont town followed suit with a dozen dressed-down dudes. "The Men of Maple Corners" sold 39,000 copies and raked in a half-million bucks. Now, just in time for 2005, two more Vermont organizations are trying to raise money by dropping their drawers. Randolph's Gifford Medical Center has unveiled "Birthing Center Babes," featuring naked midwives holding strategically placed babies and occupation-appropriate props. Another charity project, "Barn Beauties," has an equestrian angle. It catches glimpses of naked horsewomen and their mounts to benefit therapeutic riding programs in Vermont. "It just goes on and on," says Sarah Semler, a buyer for Montpelier's Bear Pond Books. And not just in overexposed central Vermont. Daring date-keepers are popping up all over the country. "We said no to a group from New Hampshire," says Semler. Last week The New York Times wrote a story about the middle-aged male members of an upstate Rotary Club who "bared all for charity." Pictured is a buck-naked, bifocal-wearing investment banker discreetly covered by an issue of the Wall Street Journal. Like "The Men of Maple Corner," the calendar captures a dozen unlikely subjects in cleverly composed photos. Unfortunately, both of Vermont's new nude calendars are marred by amateurish photography, and neither gets that essential funny formula right. There's nothing humorous about a baby-catcher in a bubble bath, or a naked woman in riding boots feeding her horse. "We were thinking about doing a Bear Pond one," Semler says with a laugh. "Just kidding. None of us are taking our clothes off for anything."
You could say Burlington writer David Diefendorf got a clue. One of his original crossword puzzles will appear this Tuesday, December 7, in The New York Times. When he's not creating the word game "Fickle Fannie" for Seven Days, Diefendorf does a variety of other kinds of writing, including poetry, fiction and what he calls "cryptic crosswords." This particular puzzle is fairly straightforward, although it does have a theme. That's where crossword creators tend to start, according to Diefendorf. Then "you work the edges... What takes the longest is making up clues that are interesting or funny or clever." That, and the submission process. It's been two years since Diefendorf got word the Times wanted his work. As for the puzzle, it's on the easy side -- they get progressively harder as the week progresses. But here's another hint, just in case: The title, which won't appear in the paper, is "Two-timers." Let's hope Diefendorf also gets a second chance . . . They'll be praising braising in next week's Book Review. The latest from Williston author-chef Molly Stevens is one of about two dozen recommended cookbooks in the review's annual holiday gift guide. The timing of her all-in-one-pot approach couldn't have been better. Ever since 9/11, comfort food has been hot. Predicting a "spiritually challenging winter," the cookbook critic singled out a couple of recipes in All About Braising. She described the lot as "transformative." . . . Burlington playwright Adriano Shaplin and the three other actors in his Riot Group have not one but two plays running Off-Broadway at the moment. The Times caught up with him for a "Q&A" that appeared two weeks ago. In a conversation that ranges from presidential politics to Antonin Artaud, Shaplin observed his troupe is "very much like the community theater I did in Vermont, where everyone would be hanging the lights, everyone would be there for tech, nobody got paid."