Trav­el­ling ex­hibit

Stanstead Journal - - CLAS­SI­FIEDS -

ery in Ver­mont at 7:00pm on Fri­day, July 12 in the opera house au­di­to­rium. Free ad­mis­sion. Do­na­tions gladly ac­cepted.

Ver­mont has an as­ton­ish­ing collection of pub­lic art in the form of painted the­atri­cal scenery cre­ated be­tween 1890 and 1940. Th­ese theater cur­tains (pri­mar­ily muslin roll­drops, not “vel­vet” drap­ery cur­tains) hang in town halls, grange halls and opera houses all over the state.

A hun­dred years ago, grand drapes and painted back­drops were the pri­mary artis­tic fea­ture in the cul­tural life of al­most ev­ery vil­lage and town in north­ern New Eng­land. The “cur­tains” pro­vided color and es­capism in in­sti­tu­tions that var­ied greatly in size and professional ca­pac­ity. The scenery was per­ma­nently in­stalled, avail­able as set back­drops for trav­el­ing troupes, speak­ers, lo­cally-pro­duced va­ri­ety shows and var­i­ous so­ci­eties and clubs.

In Ver­mont, three-quar­ters of the painted theater cur­tains were made for town halls, where pol­i­tics, ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial oc­ca­sions and en­ter­tain­ment all took place in one cen­tral build­ing with a stage. Another twelve cur­tains are in Grange Halls and four are in opera houses that still have some of their orig­i­nal scenery.

Dur­ing the last fif­teen years, the Cur­tains With­out Bor­ders team of Ver­mont con­ser­va­tors and their as­sis­tants has sta­bi­lized 182 his­toric theater cur­tains in Ver­mont. Most of the cur­tains have been re-in­stalled for use or dis­play on their home stages, but in or­der to pro­tect them from light, dirt and in­ad­ver­tent mis­han­dling, they are gen­er­ally kept rolled up ex­cept for spe­cial oc­ca­sions. About 15 have been put into stor­age be­cause they are too frag­ile or worn to dis­play, or their home stage can­not ac­com­mo­date them.

The trav­el­ling ex­hibit fea­tures large pho­to­graphs by Carolyn L. Bates, a Burling­ton pho­tog­ra­pher, in­for­ma­tion about some of the artists and the con­ser­va­tion process, and in most cases, an ac­tual his­toric painted cur­tain. The pho­to­graphs will be for sale through Cur­tains With­out Bor­ders.

For more in­for­ma­tion about th­ese and other cur­tains in New Eng­land, visit www.cur­tain­swith­out­bor­ders.org.Chris­tine Had­sel, Di­rec­tor, 802-863-4938

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