Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Happy 13th Anniversary, Fiddlehead at Four Corners! (or how the "old marble bank turned art gallery" celebrated Mayfest '13)

Get used to doing this, buddy ...
(Joey Kulkin photo)

BENNINGTON -- Joel Lentzner didn't graduate Bennington College then go to Iowa to get his Master's in Educational Administration only to end up pouring beer in a Vermont art gallery.

Yet there he was yesterday in his Vermont art gallery, pouring beer after beer after beer.

Free beer after free beer after free Northshire beer.

In that regard Joel's idea worked on a day rain kiboshed Bennington's biggest street party -- Mayfest. The wet, gloomy weather that soaked Bennington all week struck again and forced most of the 150 Main Street vendors to pack their art tents and fried dough makers and hit the road hours before they wanted to. Which must have hurt in ways many cannot conceive because "15,000" usually is the number town officials put the Mayfest crowd at every year so losing out on "15,000" potential sales means an awful bottom line to vagabond vendors who pay between $150 and $275 for a Mayfest permit (here) and depend on every penny they make to recoup that cost before profits kick in.

At least vendors can make back some losses if it's a 2-day event but, alas, Bennington's party runs just 7 hours for one day during mud season.

Fiddlehead at Four Corners wasn't immune to the rain either but the "old marble bank turned art gallery" soldiered on and celebrated its 13th anniversary with a Mayfest party that crawled for the first 90 minutes then picked up about 2 o'clock and flourished till 8.

Free beer after free beer after free Northshire beer enticed plenty of bummed-out Mayfesters into the gallery. Once inside, they stayed awhile. Great beer does that

Indeed, when it rains Fiddlehead pours Bennington's best beer.

"It's smooth, like a lighter beer," Adam Thompson of Bennington said of the Battenkill Ale. Compared with the beer he's been drinking lately, "I like it better. I usually drink Coors Light, but this is better than that."

"It's really good. Good stuff," Trish from Ithaca said of the Battenkill Ale. "It's light but has a lot of flavor to it." Her boyfriend, Chris, drank Equinox Pilsner. "Very drinkable. I could definitely have a few of these."

Art Gallery Dude captured Fiddlehead's best Mayfest with these bullet points:

* opening show for Olympia Hostler, the award-winning painter from Rumson, New Jersey, and yoga and wellness practitioner who brought 9 more pieces to Fiddlehead, including the never-before-seen "Chakra" series; there's a lively video below featuring AGD, Hostler and Paul Harris, who prides himself on being a patron of the Bennington arts scene

* exhibit featuring winners of Fiddlehead's photo contest; a Wisconsinite who worked for President Clinton and has strong ties to Southern Vermont College athletics won 1st place and $100 in Fiddlehead cash

* 20 sales from mugs, Christmas ornaments, vinyl record bowls, glass Saturn bowls, Buddha candles, ceramic tumblers, glass golf plates, Lodiza Lepore photographs of the Bennington Monument, gorgeous glass vases and John DeAmicis lithos

* 6 videos of gallery-goers tasting and reviewing Northshire Brewery's Battenkill Pale Ale and Equinox Pilsner, to interviews with award-winning painter Olympia Hostler and winners of Fiddlehead's photo contest

* 42 photographs of life at the party

* red cups galore of beer ...

... free beer from Northshire Brewery at 108 County Street in Bennington.

"Nina and I are really happy with the way things turned out," Joel Lentzner said; Nina being his wife, whom he met as a freshman at Bennington in '87 and with whom he opened Fiddlehead at Four Corners on Memorial Day 2000. "We probably would have made three times more in sales if it didn't rain but this was the gallery's best Mayfest."

Here is AGD's chronological visual in pics (click to embiggen) and vids ...

Bruce Norman and his frau Cheryl
(luge story on Bruce to follow this week)

Christie from East Dorset buys 2 stoneware mugs from Middlebury
(watch a video of Christie below)
Rest of the selection HERE

Longtime Bennington teacher Judy Pennock points to her top 10 photo
in Fiddlehead's photo contest

Here is Judy's photo looking toward the four corners. Stunning!

Jane Swensen won the contest with this photo ...

This is Jane Swensen ...

Read Jane's bio HERE

Jane worked for President Clinton and her son is the new men's basketball coach at Southern Vermont College, which completes Friday's Beltway-Bennington riddle. She was in Kosovo yesterday and missed Mayfest but here's a Q&A with her.

Olympia Hostler showed up and showed off her 9 new pieces ...


"Blooming Ohm"

"Power of Insight" (6th chakra)

"Heart Power" (4th chakra)


"Relational Power" (2nd chakra)

"Personal Power" (3rd chakra)

"Root of All Power" (1st chakra)

(watch a video of Olympia talk about her work below)

2 more mugs sell. Mugs make great gifts. Click HERE

And the 5th mug sells

The beer from Northshire Brewery arrives!
Russell Harwood from Bennington is the first taster

Trish and Chris (watch their video beer review below)

Adam and Kayla of Bennington (watch their video below)

Olympia Hostler talks with a fan of her work, Paul Harris of Bennington

Upon closer inspection ... (watch a video of Olympia and Paul below)

Jeff bought a repurposed Jimi Hendrix vinyl bowl;
for a story behind the Fiddlehead's vinyl click HERE

Dan Malmborg went to Georgia Tech,
Charlotte Malmborg just graduated from Lehigh U.;
upon closer inspection of the words below the hawk ...

The rest of the Mayfest Graffiti Vaulters ...

Dried milk, huh?

Olympia talks to Ann Webster-Lang of the Vermont Arts Exchange

Lou contemplated buying the Janis Joplin vinyl bowl

Elise and Elizabeth were part of a quartet of hotties from NYC
whose hubbies were playing golf at the country club

A third from the trio, Maureen, bought a Christmas ornament

While Elizabeth bought a Bonnie Doone golf plate (more here)
and Lodiza Lepore photo of the monument (more here)

Northshire brewer Earl McGoff (right) chats with folks about his craft beer

... while Northside's other owner, Chris Mayne (right),
talks beer with Trish and Chris

Olympia Hostler in front of her acrylic-liquid polymer paintings

Minutes later she chatted up Elise and Elizabeth

She also loved this glass vase from San Carlos
and bought it for a friend's wedding gift;
3 other San Carlos vases HERE

Marjorie Berg of Ho-Ho-Kus
bought a Saturn Bowl (here)

And then Mrs. Berrrrrrrg bought a Buddha candle
and 2 John DeAmicis lithos. She was in town
for the 80th birthday party of a friend

Joel and Carson whose "heart was healed in Bennington"
(see Graffiti Vault picture above)

Mark Schiffner of Bennington points to his top 10 contest photo

Watch the video of Mark explaining his photo below

AGD and Mark chatted it up for an hour and then he left.

It was 8 o'clock. It was raining, still.

It was drippy this morning, too.

Here's to another 13 years at Fiddlehead at Four Corners.

We'll check on Joel in 2026 to see if he has moved up the ladder to burger flipper.