Artwork by Colleen Flanagan

 

“Renewal Project”

Montpelier Alive, in partnership with generous grants from the Vermont Community Foundation and National Life, has installed art in downtown storefront windows with the “Renewal Project”. By activating downtown Montpelier storefronts vacated in the wake of the July 2023 flood, and still in the process of rebuilding, the project seeks to offer levity and inspiration to the downtown area. Witnessing the story of Montpelier’s history with flooding and the tenacity of its resilient citizens through artists' eyes nourishes conversations about how to move forward in light of such profound loss.

Local community members and visitors can view art that has been installed on Main Street, State Street, and Langdon Street. Be sure to take your time with the thoughtful creations that artists and artist teams have contributed to the city's beautification efforts. All Renewal Projects will be viewable through January 1 or until storefronts have reopened for business. We would like to offer our sincerest appreciation to downtown building and business owners for their time and effort to support this project. Thank you!

The original concept of the Renewal Project included a timeline of having public art installations on display until businesses returned or through the end of the year. Some projects have already been taken down and many still are on display. See below for the complete list or if you are out and about in Montpelier the December 1 Art Walk booklet lists most of the projects and there are currently sandwich-board signs in town that also highlight the project.

For more information about the Renewal Project, contact Monica DiGiovanni, Director of Downtown Arts, [email protected].

 

The Renewal Project in the press

Seven Days, December 13 issue
The Montpelier Bridge, December 20 issue

 

Featured Artists
 

Viewable at Various Locations Throughout Montpelier

“Montpelier Rising, Stories of the 2023 Flood” Vic Guadagno & Paul Richardson
Portrait photography with podcast links

Posters are displayed in different shop windows throughout town

Montpelier Rising is a collaborative project between the Bordertown Podcast and StoryWorkz. “Montpelier Rising'' combines dramatic portrait photography with intimate interviews to tell the stories of the people of Montpelier. Each podcast asks what life was like before the flood, the personal account of the two-days that changed the life of every citizen in the area, and what life is like now. We also begin to explore the difficult question of how to prepare for similar events in our uncertain future. Scan the QR code on each poster to hear the corresponding podcast. https://storyworkz.com/ & https://www.bordertownonline.com/

 

 

 

State Street

“First We Watched The Waters Rise” Kim Ward
Community poetry project

5 State Street, Delish

This interactive community poetry project offers the prompt, “We watched the water rise, and then we...” All viewers are invited to take a poem or leave a poem about the flood, the recovery, and/or possible hopes for the future. The creators of the project will come back regularly to catalog new poems. https://girlusinterruptus.com

 
Main Street

“Sunflower Still Life Paintings” Kristina Kane, Art Teacher & Union Elementary School Students Grades K-2
Childrens' art project

29 Main Street, Wallgreen's

Do you like decorating with icing or eating frosting? Vincent Van Gogh is famous for his paintings full of color and creative brushwork. If you look at his paintings in a museum, you can see that the paint is as thick and colorful as icing on a cake! Vincent Van Gogh loved to paint sunflowers as well as landscapes and portraits. We looked closely at sunflower still life paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and noticed the beautiful colors he mixed. IG: @ues_artists & @ueswiseowls

 

“Montpelier Lights” Chris Jeffrey 
Optical light paintings

90 Main Street (State Street Side)

This installation uses optical filters manufactured for high-tech applications including astronomical, medical and scientific imaging. When light is projected on them they transmit one color while reflecting a completely different one, and the colors change depending on the angle that the light hits the filters. The resulting artistic effects are almost limitless. http://www.lightstudioj.com

 

“Another Way” Andreas John
Photograph
90 Main Street (Main Street Side)

“Another Way” was created a week after the Great Flood of 2023 a few miles from my home in Calais, Vermont.  For months now I have been ruminating on adequate words to accompany this image and still don’t quite know what to say. In my heart I want to trust that the image alone is enough. 

It is a common trauma response to fall back on what is known as it feels safe, even though it’s clear that continuing on in the same way is the very definition of insanity.  As we put things back together, almost exactly as they were before the flood, knowing full well that within the next 10 years the waters will rise again, shall we first pause to consider Another Way?

This image was taken on a 5x7 large format monorail camera with a Fujinon 180mm lens at f4.5 1/30 sec exposure on Ilford HP5+ film stock rated at ASA 320. I developed the negative in my home studio and scanned using a Sony mirrorless camera with a custom built scanning table created from an old enlarger head. www.inthehandsofbeauty.com

 

¨What Lifts You? Community Wings¨
Kristina Kane, Art Teacher & Union Elementary School Students Grades 1-4

Kellogg-Hubbard Library children's room

What lifts you? What lifts our Montpelier community? Artists in grades one through four at Union Elementary School in Montpelier each created a feather for this community project in their weekly art classes. Each young artist included drawings of what lifts them! If you look closely, you will find turtles, snowflakes, symbols of our community as well as faces of our friends and families. Some UES artists also included messages of hope and love. Children imagined how people might feel when they see our collaborative project on display. We hope that our artwork lifts your heart and spreads joy in our community! IG: @ues_artists & @ueswiseowls

Butterfly

 

“When The River Rises” Mosaic Vermont with Mary Mackie
Community project handmade quilt
Kellogg-Hubbard Library - entrance lobby by the circulation desk

“When the River Rises” is a collaborative quilt project that invited contributors to use art as a creative exploration for healing and processing the experiences during and after the flood. Together we thought about our experiences of loss, community, and what it looks like to rebuild and move forward using fiber as a tool to capture this. https://www.mosaic-vt.org/

 

Langdon Street

“Roots of Change” Mosaic Vermont with Mary Mackie
Collective healing art project
20 Langdon Street

This piece is a collective expression of aspirations for what a future looks like that is free of violence. We asked folks to think deeply about what healing looked like, what it sounded or felt like, and what it would take to get there. Participants included youth leaders and survivors engaged in prevention work in their schools, a survivor who uses her art as activism, a group of older adults at the senior activity center, survivors that we’re working with, and more. Mosaic is a non profit in Washington County that does sexual violence response and prevention. www.mosaic-vt.org

 

“Montpelier Strong” Elliot Burg
Documentary photography

8 Langdon Street, ROAM Vermont

Shortly after the July flood, my wife and I joined hundreds of volunteers to help local businesses in Montpelier clean out watery basements and sort through water-soaked merchandise. The scene was both grim, in the scale of the destruction, and inspirational, in the number and spirit of the people who showed up to work. The following day, I brought my cameras to town and went out on the street to try to capture scenes of resilience and recovery. http://www.elliotburgphoto.com


 

Completed Projects

“Expansive and Irrepressible” Colleen "Flan" Flanagan
Mural-sized Art Poster

During the exhaustion in the aftermath of the flood, I asked pals "what's a good other word for resilience?" Henri June Bynx, of Ishtar Collective, replied "expansive and irrepressible." From those two stunning and powerful words came the imagery you see here. I added "that is our love" after seeing the response of the community- both local and from surrounding areas- that held us for those first few weeks after the flood. The design was originally printed as a poster sold to support the Barre Community Relief Fund. Colleen-Flanagan.squarespace.com

“Spread the Word” Wilder Arts Studio, Brian Herrick with Jess Operoski
Inspirational Posters From Kids

40 State Street

Wilder Arts Studio’s “Spread the Word” class began learning about printmakers and printmaking techniques and includes children grades 3 to 5. For the past several weeks, they have been interviewing members of the Montpelier community, on after school walks downtown, to listen to their stories and learn what messages of hope they need to hear right now. The children are taking those words and phrases and pulling them together into inspirational posters. Messages of hope and recovery will in turn help boost their city, and help their community. https://www.wilderartsstudio.com/

“Begin Again” Madeline Goddard 
Mixed media installation

43 State Street, Filibuster Cafe

This installation is a love letter to my hometown. I grew up just outside of Montpelier and was out of town at the time of the flood. I found myself hopeless and helpless, relying on headline news images, photos and videos of friends and family on social media of the rising murky water, and later, the heaping piles of damp floor boards and shelves on the streets in the days following. These shocking images will forever serve as reminders of one of Montpelier’s worst tragedies, a moment in its timeline tainted by yet another historic flood. In contrast, the images in the coming days of community members, business owners and strangers alike banding together to reverse the irreversible reminded me why I love Montpelier. www.madelinegoddard.com

“Montpelier Strong” Elliot Burg
Documentary photography
68 Main Street

Shortly after the July flood, my wife and I joined hundreds of volunteers to help local businesses in Montpelier clean out watery basements and sort through water-soaked merchandise. The scene was both grim, in the scale of the destruction, and inspirational, in the number and spirit of the people who showed up to work. The following day, I brought my cameras to town and went out on the street to try to capture scenes of resilience and recovery. http://www.elliotburgphoto.com

“Montpelier Parade” Peggy Watson
Painting

68 Main Street

I have painted many Montpelier scenes, because I paint what is beautiful to me. Montpelier is a place where an errand is also a pleasant interaction with friendly, familiar people. When I went downtown after the flood, I was heartbroken, as we all were. And yet, witnessed the beauty of the old and young, working to save our city. And once again, I am inspired to paint it. I’ve frequently found myself humming an Irish song called “The Town I Loved So Well”. It’s about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and is sad, but filled with resolve. Montpelier, like many towns in Vermont, has been dealt a mighty blow, but we’ll be back. It is the town we love so well. https://www.peggywatsonart.com/

Illuminated paper bag stars
T.W. Wood Gallery afterschool with teachers Fiona Sullivan,  Mollie Hoerres and Kevin Malier and children grades K-6

22 State Street, Positive Pie

Displayed are the star creations from the TW Wood - After School Arts program (K-6th grades). The stars celebrate both the dark and the light. They are a magnificent display of color, texture and mark making reminding us to persevere through the highs and lows in life. Students first painted paper bags and then decorated with pastel creating a rich variety of design and image. Along the way, the students learned about sticking with a project all the way through to the finish until they finally got to see their stars unfold into a new creation. https://www.twwoodgallery.org/

 


 

Monica DiGiovanni (she/they), Director of Downtown Arts Renewal Project is an artist, yoga teacher, and event producer who loves calling Montpelier, Vermont her home and enjoys the endless beauty of Vermont’s natural landscape. In her free time she’s an avid reader, haphazard gardener, meditator, and music lover.