by Emily Kaminsky
Barre is often called the Granite City. Thanks to the work of Studio Place Arts (SPA), funding from the Charles Semprebon Fund, the Vermont Granite Museum and other community partners–and thanks to its abundance of granite–Barre has now established itself as a sculpture city, too.” SPA, a nonprofit community visual arts center in downtown Barre, has created an online “art stroll” map which guides visitors to sculpted granite artwork around the city. Check out the so-called Gargoyle Bike Rack on North Main or the larger-than-life stone zipper, Unzipping the Earth, next to Barre City Place. Both are the creations of Calais sculptor Chris Miller. Or head over to City Hall and discover Barre artist Giuliano Cechinelli Sr.’s, sculpture of Col. Isaac Barre, for whom our fair city is named. For more rock art, check out “Rock Solid: In & Out,” SPA’s annual exhibit showcasing stone sculptures by local artisans. The show starts Tuesday, September 16 and runs through November 1. The reception for the show–and two others running concurrently at SPA–is Friday, September 19, at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets are now on sale for the Barre Opera House’s Celebration Series. The line-up of talent includes comedian Steven Wright and folk singer Arlo Guthrie. Now is also the time to sign up as an usher for the season. Dan Casey, the Opera House’s executive director, says, “It’s a great way to support Central Vermont’s premier performing arts center and an opportunity to see wonderful shows at no cost.” There are a few requirements, including signing up for at least six shows for the year and an ability to climb stairs and stand for extended periods of time. All ushers must also be at least 14 years of age. Those interested can call the Opera House’s box office at 476-8188.
Dan Jones of the Barre Partnership, the city’s downtown improvement association, reports that the branding work for downtown Barre begun earlier this year by the Vermont Downtown Action Team has been fully implemented. The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development used federal disaster-recovery funds to assemble the team, in order to help Barre and seven other communities impacted by the 2011 floods to develop ideas to improve the vitality and flood-resiliency of their commercial centers. Have you seen the “Love Barre” posters or the new downtown Barre brochures? Or the lamp-post banners? All have contributed to a cohesive brand image for our city center.
And, according to Jones, there’s more to come. New banners are on order for the holidays and winter. With October 31 just around the corner, the Partnership wants to hear from organizations and businesses planning activities for Halloween. The Partnership is willing to bundle activities together and publicize the events as “Halloween in Barre.” To join in the marketing blitz, contact Jones at 477-2967.
Granite City Grocery and Cooperative Vermont are hosting a free screening and discussion of “Food for Change,” an acclaimed documentary on food co-ops in the United States, on Wednesday, September 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Old Labor Hall in downtown Barre. Cabot Creamery Cooperative will provide crackers and cheese, and popcorn and other refreshments will also be available. The film’s director, Steve Alves, will be on hand for a discussion of how food co-ops can change the equation for struggling downtown economies. Event co-sponsors include Hunger Mountain Coop, VSECU, and Washington Electric Co-op. The Labor Hall is the perfect setting for the event: it once housed a co-op grocery called the Union Cooperative Store, established by Italian socialists at the turn of the last century, and at one time the largest grocery in Barre. Granite City Grocery organizers hope to bring a food co-op to downtown sometime in the near future, providing residents, workers and visitors with a steady supply of fresh, local, bulk and organic food options. For more information on the event, visit www.granitecitygrocery.coop.
Got a story to share? We’re queuing up intriguing stories about Barre and its people for upcoming Barre Beat columns. Please send your story ideas to The Bridge at firstname.lastname@example.org (802-223-5112). Follow @BarreBeatVT and @TheBridgeVT on Twitter for regular updates on Barre and additional stories. And if you’re coming to Barre, remember: we’ve got some awesome stone art and a hopping downtown!