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Noted Vermont Photographer and Writer Collaborate in New Book About Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

CONTACT:  Kathleen Finn, 802-388-4964

            A long-awaited fusion of the talents of two well-known Vermont artists, photographer John M. Miller and writer Howard Frank Mosher, comes together in their new book Granite & Cedar:  The People and the Land of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.  

        Granite & Cedar uses 60 arresting black-and-white photographs, interwoven with moving fiction, to examine a major cultural phenomenon of our time -- the striking change wrought on Vermont's most rural area, the "Northeast Kingdom," by outside social and economic forces of the late twentieth century.  Both of the books' creators have drawn inspiration from the "Kingdom" for more than thirty years.

        Northeast Kingdom native John M. Miller, who conceived the idea for this book, uses his brilliant collection of black-and-white documentary photographs both to evoke the physical texture of place and to express the values and inner realities of its inhabitants.  While his images, many captured in the 1970s, emphasize the harsh climate and stark beauty of the land and the architecture, they also pay homage to the innate dignity and pride of the rugged people who live in such hardscrabble circumstances.  Miller's work ultimately yields an elegiac, but unsentimental, portrait of a tradition-bound world.  Miller, who teaches photography at the University of Vermont, is perhaps best known outside of photography circles for his book Deer Camp:  Last Light in the Northeast Kingdom (published by The MIT Press and the Vermont Folklife Center).  His work is in the collections of New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Robert Hull Fleming Museum, Burlington, Vermont.

        Howard Frank Mosher, in "Second Sight", his companion story about the evolution of a fictional Northeast Kingdom community and its families over several generations, refers to a number of details and sites pictured in Miller's photographs.  Mosher's tale, which is artfully interwoven with the photographs, provides a poignant counterpoint to Miller's visual essay on the themes of persistence, succession and loss.  Mosher's well-known novels include A Stranger in the Kingdom, Where the Rivers Flow North, and Disappearances.

        The Vermont Folklife Center and Thistle Hill Publications, a new independent press in North Pomfret, Vermont, are publishing Granite & Cedar jointly.  A true composite of Vermont's excellent independent bookmaking industries, Granite & Cedar was designed by The Laughing Bear Associates of Montpelier and printed at The Stinehour Press in Lunenberg, Vermont.

        The Vermont Folklife Center will mount a companion exhibition of Miller's photographs from Granite & Cedar, opening on August 3rd.  The exhibition will travel throughout 2001-2002 to other regional museums, including the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, Vermont.



Thistle Hill Publications' Tranquil Vermont Chosen One of the Best Books Published in Vermont in 2000

CONTACT:  Jack Crowl, 802-457-2050

North Pomfret -- Tranquil Vermont, a compilation of artist Gaal Shepherd’s pastel interpretations of Vermont’s peaceful and verdant landscape, has been chosen one of the 12 best books published in the state in the Year 2000 by the Vermont Book Professionals’ Association.

The book was published by Thistle Hill Publications of North Pomfret. It is now being distributed to bookstores by Chelsea Green Publishers of White River Junction. The 48-page book contains reproductions of 26 of Shepherd’s paintings, plus an essay by the artist about why she is so obsessive about painting and drawing the fields, forests, and hills of her adopted state, why she wants to share her appreciation of them, and what in her view are the elements of successful landscape art.

 “I find a pervasive mystery in the landscape, the secret of which is difficult to explain, but which I am convinced is the essence of good painting,” Shepherd says.

            Shepherd’s pastel landscapes, primarily of Ireland and Vermont, have been featured at Simon Pearce restaurant and showroom in Quechee, Vermont, for the past decade. In addition, her paintings and wood sculptures are exhibited regularly at galleries throughout New England, and have been shown at many other venues as diverse as the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington and the State Capitol in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her work will be shown this spring and summer at the Chaffee Art Center in Rutland and at the Munson Gallery in Chatham, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.

Shepherd has been painting, drawing, and sculpting in Vermont for nearly 15 years. She was born in Florida and grew up there and in Atlanta. While still in her teens, she studied theater with the legendary teacher Stella Adler in New York, and later studied art at the University of Tampa and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington. When not working in her studio, Shepherd can usually be found either lobbying at the Vermont Statehouse on behalf of the elderly or in opposition to cell-phone towers, or else attending sessions at the Vermont Studio Center, the artists’ colony in Johnson.

Thistle Hill Publications is a recently established small publishing company in North Pomfret, Vermont, that specializes in art and photography books and works about and of interest to the people of northern New England. Tranquil Vermont is its first publication to hit the bookstores.

             Thistle Hill’s next book, due out in August, will be Granite & Cedar, a co-publication with the Vermont Folklife Center, which will showcase the dramatic black-and-white photographs of the Northeast Kingdom by John M. Miller, along with short fiction by Howard Frank Mosher. Miller’s most recent book is Deer Camp: Last Light in the Northeast Kingdom (1994, Vermont Folklife Center and MIT Press). Mosher’s novels and short stories about life in the Northeast Kingdom have gained him a national reputation. He is currently working on a short-story collection.


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