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Art of Action work lands in county

ADDISON COUNTY — Three Addison County communities have been selected as recipients of artwork from the “Art of Action” project, an arts program designed to interpret the social, cultural and political issues affecting the future of Vermont.
Bristol, Middlebury and Vergennes will each receive one of the 26 pieces being distributed to towns around Vermont. The Bristol Downtown Community Partnership, the Vermont Folklife Center and the Vergennes Opera House/Downtown Partnership were selected as recipients, according to Art of Action program director John Zwick, because the three towns were “exemplary partners” in the Art of Action project.
“Bristol, Middlebury and Vergennes immediately understood the potential this project offered to their communities. They were among the first to sign on to host exhibitions of the artwork and produce local events related to it,” Zwick said in a press release from the Vermont Arts Council.
The donations come at the end of a year-and-a-half-long collaboration among the Vermont Arts Council, philanthropist Lyman Orton and Janice Izzi. The program awarded grants to 10 artists, including Lincoln resident and painter Kathleen Kolb, to research and portray different issues facing Vermont in the coming years. All told the grants totaled $250,000, the largest award to individual artists in Vermont history.
Local projects included Kolb’s work examining the state’s logging industry, and Charlotte artist Annemie Curlin’s aerial maps of the Vergennes region.
Kolb expressed gratitude for the chance to participate in the program, and delight that one of the five paintings she did during the Art of Action program will be on display in Middlebury.
Kolb’s work focused on the future of forestry in Vermont, and her painting of Lincoln logger Stephen Taylor will become part of the permanent collection at the Vermont Folklife Center, which is headquartered in downtown Middlebury.
She’s glad the project managed to bypass some of the elitism she sometimes sees in the art world.
“This project was all about getting around the elite and getting to the everyman, and I think that happened,” Kolb said.
She thanked Orton and  Izzi and the Vermont Arts Council, but also singled out the Vermonters in the region who helped her paint scenes from the forest — everyone from truck drivers who deliver woodchips to the Middlebury College biomass plant to students at the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center.
“Every time I asked for that kind of contact, people were generous and excited and kind,” Kolb said. “That was really the best part of the whole business, that contact with Vermonters who cared.”
For the past 10 months, the entire 105-piece Art of Action collection has been traveling the state, stimulating conversations about the issues depicted in the art and, according to the Vermont Arts Council, inspiring people to take action on the issues.
Several have already been acquired by private collectors, and 10 works are still available for purchase. Thirty-two of the paintings will be up for auction on July 17 at Main Street Landing’s Union Station in Burlington. Proceeds from the sale will be used to fund more artists in another round of the project.
Fore more information about the Art of Action artwork, artists and exhibition schedule, visit www.artofaction.org.
Reporter Kathryn Flagg is at [email protected].

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