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Town Hall Theater throws a gala with dozens of local artists

Who doesn’t love a good gala? I mean, come on… especially in springtime. It’s the best excuse to dig out those not-at-all-practical-but-oh-so-wonderful shoes that have been hiding in the back of your closet all winter and get out on the town.
Those fabulous shoes and you are in luck, because Town Hall Theater in Middlebury is hosting a first-time gala that’s gonna be glamorous. “A Toast to the Arts” is a unique opportunity to meet and celebrate dozens of Vermont’s best visual artists and to buy their works at an exclusive fundraising gala at the theater, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., on Thursday, May 9.
A BOWL BY local artist Michael Mode.
This new event will highlight 28 top artists — 16 from Addison County — and their carefully selected paintings, pastels, ceramics, wood and glass sculptures, tapestries, wearable art, basketry and photography in all price ranges.
Participating artists include: Judy Albright, Kris Andrews, Bonnie Baird, Gabriele Baumann, Anne Cady, Kathy Clarke, Christine Compton, Robert Compton, Lyn DuMoulin, Danielle Gori-Montanelli, Wright Hartman, Chuck Herrmann, Leslie Kameny, Kathleen Kolb, Cristine Kossow, Ellyn Mack, Gabrielle McDermit, Michael Mode, Barbara Nelson, Don Ross, Hannah Sessions, Stacey Stanhope, Elinor Steele, Patricia Todd, Rose Umerlik, Lynn Yarrington, Carolyn Zuaro and Joe Zuaro.
All of the artists will donate half of any art-sale proceeds to THT’s performing arts and educational programs. Funds will also be raised by ticket sales to the event.
“Town Hall Theater and Jackson Gallery are amazing, and a central part of the Middlebury art scene,” said Kathleen Kolb, a painter from Lincoln. “They structured this event so that it’s respectful of artists who participate, and it was a delight to say yes! The two watercolors of mine, which are part of the sale, both have springtime greens in them.”
A PAINTING BY Leicester aritst Hannah Sessions. Below, a painting by Barbara Nelson.
Hannah Sessions, an oil painter and goat farmer from Leicester echoed Kolb’s sentiments. “I’m so happy to have the opportunity to support the Town Hall Theater through the auctioning of two paintings,” she said. “As a theater it’s large enough to bring in big names, but small enough to create true community feel. I have a wonderful memory of watching Iris Dement perform in their intimate concert space. My kids became enthralled with Shakespeare during the THT’s outreach program to local elementary schools. It culminated in a performance on stage in front of their family and friends. What a gift.”
So who came up with this great idea to throw a fundraising art gala?
You can thank Andrea Landsberg of Cornwall, and the Town Hall Theater’s events committee.
“I’d been on the events committee at Town Hall Theater for about two years and have worked on the annual Fabulous Fleas event and the Auction, which is held every three years,” Landsberg explained. “I recently joined the board and am now the chairman of the development committee… We wanted to come up with another annual event to bring in some sizable dollars.
“The theater is committed to the visual arts with Jackson Gallery, along with the performing arts,” Landsberg continued. “So we thought, why not have the visual arts help support the performing arts? Theresa Harris, director of the Edgewater galleries in Middlebury, is also on the Town Hall Theater’s board, as is Barbara Marlow, who is connected to Northern Daughters gallery in Vergennes. With their help we’ve been able to connect with a lot of great artists in the area and bring them together for this event. This is really exciting for us, and we’re hoping this is going to be a big success.”
Mark Bradley, the new executive director of Town Hall Theater, is equally enthusiastic about the May gala.
“I’m super excited about it,” said Bradley, who came to live in Middlebury last year after having lived in Lebanon, N.H. “For me being new, this event is a convenient way to get to know the visual artists in the area. There are some incredibly talented people around here. It’s going to be great to bring everyone together and offer this opportunity to our community. This event certainly fits with our mission: entertaining, educating and engaging.”
Sure, it’s gonna be all those things, but does the Town Hall Theater really need more money?
“Every dollar that comes in, we get the most out of that dollar that we possibly can,” Bradley assured. “We have a growing staff to maintain administration and this historic building, and already for the next year we have 150 events… and that’s still growing. The work we do here keeps us quite busy, and it costs money.”
Bradley’s not only talking about building maintenance and show scheduling. Town Hall Theater has what he calls a “really robust education program.”
“We’re almost at the point where every kid in Addison County comes to Town Hall Theater at least once a year,” he said. “The price of the ticket — that portion goes straight back out to the artists. If we didn’t have support from the community we wouldn’t be able to keep the doors open.”
Thankfully, the community does support Town Hall Theater. And this event is no exception.
Aside from the support of all the contributing artists, Raintree handcrafted jewelers in Vergennes is donating a brilliant, gold, turquoise and diamond ring to the winner of the evening’s raffle. Danielle Gori-Montanelli will also be donating felt pieces of wearable licorice for the second and third prize winners of the raffle. Underwriting from the National Bank of Middlebury, Haymaker Buns and J.P. Carrera and Sons will also make this event possible.
THESE RINGS FROM Raintree Handcrafted Jewelers in Vergennes are the raffle prize.
Wait, back up. How do you get in the raffle for these excellent pieces of local jewelry?
First you need a ticket to the “A Toast to the Arts” event; that costs $25. Then you need to buy raffle tickets: $5 each or $20 for five tickets. Good luck!
The evening will also feature live entertainment, hors d’oeuvres, Haymaker Buns, wine and beer.
So mark your calendars to come out — with your dazzling shoes (or not) — meet over two-dozen artists and support Town Hall Theater. Let’s make this an annual event.
“I would love it to happen every year,” said Bradley, who, by the way, was a freelance clarinet player in another life — (yes, you read that right, freelance clarinet player, amazing). “It’s such a great opportunity to bring focus onto the Jackson Gallery; it’s such a nice space to be in and come visit. Having the focus on what’s going on downstairs is really neat. And it’s an honor to have so many artists contribute.”
Tickets to “A Toast to the Arts” are available at townhalltheater.org, by calling (802) 382-9222, at the box office, or at the door one hour before the event. A preview event exclusively for ticket holders will be held on Wednesday, May 8, from noon to 5 p.m., at Town Hall Theater.

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