Vermont Crankie Fest celebrates rejuvenated multimedia art form
A still from Brendan Taaffe’s crankie “All I Ask Is a Tall Ship.” The scrolling story accompanies Taaffe’s original music.

Vermont Crankie Fest celebrates rejuvenated multimedia art form

BRATTLEBORO — Celebrate the magic and diversity of “crankies” at New England Youth Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m., when a consortium of artists in the midst of a revival of this centuries-old medium will present their work at the fifth annual Vermont Crankie Festival.

This show will assemble artists from far and wide, with crankies - illustrated scrolls that are hand-cranked within a small wooden theater, accompanying songs and stories - that accompany traditional and original songs, as well as a piece about current social issues.

As a special treat, Red Heart The Ticker (Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons of Marlboro) will come out of retirement to perform one of the songs of famed local ballad singer Margaret MacArthur (Robin's grandmother), accompanied by a crankie created for the occasion.

A crankie-making workshop at 2 p.m., led by some of the performing artists, will give everyone a chance to work on their own crankies, with artists providing prompts and helpful hints. The cost of the workshop is $10.

Other featured artists at the Crankie Fest include:

Maura Dwyer: Born and raised in Baltimore, Dwyer has spent the last decade creating work that supports place-making through teaching mural workshops. She creates visual campaign material and performances that fuse history, political action, and personal narrative.

Benjamin Foss and Addie Best: Foss is a musician, luthier, and wood turner currently based in Swanville, Maine, while Best is a printmaker, mender, and student based in Providence, R.I., with a love of age-old songs and traditional printing techniques.

Donald Saaf: A highly regarded artist from Marlboro, Saaf's paintings balance whimsy and depth and have been shown at museums around the country. He will perform with the Bluebird Orchestra.

Brendan Taaffe: A multi-instrumentalist, composer, and visual artist, Taaffe lives in Vernon and performs and teaches throughout the U.S. and Europe as a solo artist and with ensembles, including the Waxwing Four, the New Line, and the Bright Wings Chorus.

Julie Vallimont: A Brattleboro mainstay of the contra dance community on piano and accordion, Vallimont performs with Buddy System and many other ensembles.

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