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Vermont's Winter Scene: Where Arts and the Alpine Define the Landscape

Smugglers' Notch by Eric Tobin

As if stunning vistas and the joy of an exhilarating winter sport were not enough, today's ski resorts and communities also offer a cultural immersion that is equal parts pride and pleasure. While Vermont's ski resorts are well known for their local beer and farm-to-plate offerings, they're also virtual galleries and exhibition halls for Vermont artists; tastefully outfitted lodges and rocking, local après bands are just the beginning. A deeper look at the resorts’ "Made in Vermont" vibe reveals mountains of art to be discovered. The breadth and depth of talented Vermont artists wholly enrich experiences in Vermont mountain towns and ski resorts.

The mountains are well known for legacies of "firsts" in skiing and snowboarding history - Vermont was home to the first ski lift, first ski academy, first resort to offer snowboarding and the first Nordic ski center -  as well as touting a disproportionately high number of winter Olympians in residence. The state’s pro athletes are in good company, too:

“According to the 2012 U.S. Census, ‘Vermont ranks third in the nation for artists as a percentage of the workforce, second for fine artists and writers, and eighth for both musicians and photographers,’” Kira Bacon, Vermont Arts Council communications manager said.

“The huge presence of the arts and artists is undeniably part of what has sculpted  Vermont’s creative culture. The arts should - and arguably do - have the same allure as the state’s beloved landscape, its beer-food culture, and its skiing."

Skiers and riders come to Vermont for its legendary terrain, and for many, when the lifts stop, the arts begin. Ski resorts and ski towns offer an abundance of arts and culture venues; it’s common and welcome to see visitors sporting “helmet-head” at concerts and galleries. A quick drive along the mountain access road will readily reveal local makers, performing arts venues, and thriving hubs for some of the state’s dozens of arts organizations.

Explore Vermont’s Mountains of Art. A sampler of arts and après arts activities at resorts and nearby mountain towns:

That Okemo Mountain Resort brims with so much original artwork is not happenstance; art is a personal passion of Co-owner Diane Mueller, herself an artist with a lifelong commitment to the arts. “I think it’s really important that the experience people have here is related to who we are,” said Mueller. “Featuring local artists is really important.” The resort has a wealth of exclusively New England artists’ works on site, including artwork for Jackson Gore’s 284 rooms and public spaces, as well as a commissioned series of paintings by Vermont Artist Donald Saaf, located in Epic at Solitude Village. Photos are available.

After mastering moguls at Okemo or Killington, head to Rutland’s Chaffee Art Center and Paramount Theatre for nationally known entertainers appearing in an exquisitely restored 1912 opera house. Also along Route 4, the Crossroad of Vermont Byway, there’s the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center and Quechee Club, a private ski resort that offers an annual Artisan Fair with more than 20 Vermont artists in attendance early in the season.

The new Base Lodge at Stratton Mountain Resort has the distinction of artful illumination. Skiers can appreciate the lodge’s hand-forged lighting and chandeliers, made by the nation’s oldest and largest commercial forge, Hubbardton Forge in Castleton, Vt. Also onsite, ski photography icon, Hubert Schriebl’s works on display add the finishing touches to the new gallery-quality alpine space. While there, you may also hear local favorites, the Bondville Boys performing in the new Grizzly’s space.

Once you’ve explored the glades of Stratton, venture into Jamaica for a tour of Elaine Beckwith’s Gallery and dine at the Garden Cafe, a culinary-art-space and market. Or, head into Manchester to visit some of the town’s many arts offerings, including Southern Vermont Arts Center and the Museum of Creative Process at the Wilburton Inn.

Another southern Vermont artists’ enclave and cross-roads junction for nearby Mount Snow skiers is the town of Wilmington, along the Molly Stark Byway, and home to her memorial statue. For a town with one stop light, visitors are regularly impressed by J. McGrath Fine Art Gallery, Ann Coleman Gallery, Quaigh Design Centre and Gallery Wright Sticks & Stones. Plus, there are even more arts opportunities to the east and the west, in the towns of Brattleboro and Bennington, respectively.

At Bolton Valley Resort, avid skier, mountain volunteer and in-house artist Natasha Bogar's local landscapes "canvas" the resort’s lodge, tavern and hotel. She offers BYOB Paint Nights on the mountain several times throughout the season. Her landscapes, of which many are original works for sale, are of Bolton Valley vistas and feature dynamic use of light and color reflected on snow. And while technically not a ski town, Burlington is just 20 miles from Bolton and offers dozens of arts venues, galleries and opportunities to purchase arts exclusively “Made in Vermont,” like Burlington City Arts, the Flynn Center and Frog Hollow State Craft Center to name just a few.

Smugglers’ Notch Resort offers various multi-age and discipline craft and painting classes, with local artists Nancy Schade and Cheryl Pecor. Choose from adults’ advanced acrylic painting and sculpting to children’s offerings like painting a mug with a snowman.  Every week, the mountain also hosts an open jam night - don’t just tune into apres, bring your instrument and play!

At the foot of Smugglers’ Notch Resort, the village of Jeffersonville has been a haven for landscape painters for the last century. Visitors will see plein air artists along the roadsides, particularly in autumn. In town, the Mary Bryan Gallery and Visions of Vermont Gallery offer exceptional opportunities to appreciate or purchase the works of local artists and special exhibits.

At Rikert Nordic Center, the trails lead through forests, old farm fields and to many writers’ delight, also to the historic Robert Frost Summer Cabin. While skiing in this Vermont Poet Laureate’s footsteps, it’s easy to understand the inspiration this area has offered to so many visiting writers, students and skiers.

 The region surrounding Rikert Nordic Center and Middlebury Snow Bowl is also brimming with arts offerings. Meet Artist and Ski Coach Jean Cherouny for a private print-making or painting workshop or peruse group class offerings at Middlebury Studio School. Visit the Middlebury College Museum of Art and also get to know Vermont Artist Woody Jackson’s works beyond his cows of Ben & Jerry’s fame.

New this season, Sugarbush Resort partnered with Burlington Paint and Sip to offer apres arts evenings during busy holiday weeks. The resort’s events calendar also offers special arts events, like Snow Drawing with Sonja Hinrichsen. At the resort, you’ll regularly see current exhibits of the works of Photographer Sandy Macys in the Gatehouse and Farmhouse Lodges.

 The Mad River Valley is home to several arts spaces, including the Artisan’s Gallery, Mad River Glass Gallery and the Vermont Festival of the Arts Gallery as well as private ceramics lessons at the Naked Potter, just minutes from Sugarbush Resort and Mad River Glen.

 At Stowe Mountain Resort, the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center’s calendar of national acts is likely the best known arts offering. But “Made in Vermont” features are also found in the details here too. Within Stowe Mountain Lodge, functional art items like custom-made lamps by Simon Pearce, pottery by Miranda Thomas, and furniture by Charles Shackleton offer up comfort and artistic integrity. There are also classes for arts enthusiasts, like Furniture Making with Turner Mill Timbers; where students learn basic woodworking, joinery and finish techniques to produce log furniture that they can take home at the completion of the course.

After accumulating vertical at Stowe Mountain Resort, relax with a performance at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center; take a class or tour the latest exhibit at Helen Day Arts Center in the village or enjoy the West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park: a contemporary space, the small sculpture garden is a peaceful, contemplative place to walk in all seasons.

If Vermont’s peaks and arts have piqued your interest in Vermont arts events, visit VermontArts2016.com. Please contact jenbutson@gmail.com if you are interested in visiting Vermont ski resorts and mountain towns for arts and alpine immersion this season. Visit SkiVermont.com and VermontArtsCouncil.org, and tune into #VTarts2016 and #SkiVermont on social media.

Images are available: Here’s a small selection.

Contacts:
Jennifer Williams, Vermont Arts Council
802.355.5072
jenbutson@gmail.com
www.VermontArtsCouncil.org
@VtArtsCouncil, #VTArts2016

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