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BRATTLEBORO – As December 18th becomes the 19th – at the stroke of midnight – the creators of Sonic Blanket invite us all to listen to WVEW, 107.7 FM, as three local artists launch a year-long multimedia collaboration designed, according to a recent press release, to address the “themes of isolation, community, history and place” generated by the pandemic.

Designed by Brattleboro artist Jonathan Gitelson and featuring poet / writer Diana Whitney and composer, performer and sound artist Weston Olencki, Sonic Blanket was born out of a pandemic.

The idea occurred to Gitelson to envision the dichotomy between the heat felt while walking down his quiet, dimly-lit neighborhood street and the inevitable melancholy COVID-19 had engendered under such iconic heat.

“When I felt isolated and looked for a unifying way to connect,” he recalls, “I liked the idea” – and the challenges – of initiating artistic and community collaboration within the boundaries defined by the pandemic.

A multi-faceted photographer and holder of a chair in art and design at Keene State College, Gitelson first became interested in the region when he was a student at Marlboro College, from which he graduated in 1997.

Ten years ago he returned from Chicago to Brattleboro with his wife and three children and put down deep roots here.

Her CV mentions works exhibited in various institutions, from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

This project, however, is all local.

Hence the name, Sonic Blanket, which describes the signal for the Brattleboro nonprofit community radio station, WVEW, which has a radius of 10 miles, more or less, from downtown.

Gitelson collaborators also work under this cover. Whitney is a writer and poet whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Kenyon review, among the publications.

A Dartmouth alumnus with a graduate degree obtained as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Whitney won the Rubery Book Award for her anthology You don’t have to be everything: poems for girls who become themselves, published by Workman Publishing and critically acclaimed.

At the start of Sonic Blanket’s gestation, Gitelson, via Epsilon Spiers, an emerging downtown art venue linked to Olencki – yet another local artist with chops who has presented works internationally in venues. places such as the Borealis Festival, the Gent Jazz Festival, the Blanton Museum of Art and the American Academy in Rome. He has recorded with a wide range of cutting edge labels.

An artistic synergy on the air

Gitelson, Whitney and Olencki have created an artistic synergy that can be unique among us.

During WVEW’s midnight launch this Saturday night – “just after the December Full Moon,” Whitney observed on Facebook in a public message Tuesday – listeners can expect to hear the developed interweaving of the creative intentions of these three. artists.

Beginning with what the Sonic Blanket press release calls “local field recordings,” the listener will hear a range of environmental sounds, from running water to steeple bells, which produce an auditory – sometimes eerie pastiche, sometimes soothing – before which soon emerges Whitney’s inaugural poem “Sonic Blanket,” spoken by many voices, all from Brattleboro.

These voices reveal the nuances offered by Whitney’s work, sometimes fading, then building, often overlapping.

A visual element of the launch comes with the performers urging listeners to take a photo of their windows, gardens, or where they are at the time.

The resulting images can be posted on social media with the hashtag #SonicBlanket or emailed to [email protected]. Images sent by email will be published on Sonic Blanket’s website and displayed in one of his upcoming exhibitions.

As the language of the project’s website prompts: “Let us connect through the sky and the radio waves hovering above us, aware that at this moment there are other people in our community who are sharing. the same experience, that we are not alone. “

Throughout the coming year, Sonic Blanket will encourage, design and produce community-driven and inspired art events, installations and collaborations.

Building on their fruitful work over the past year, the Sonic Blanket trio will deepen the relationships between the literary, performing and visual arts, generating what Gitelson calls “a collaborative back-and-forth, a dialogue throughout the creation process ”which allows for optimal integration. Aiming to nurture the community, the project will depend on Brattleboro’s participation in both content and form.

Plans to date include monthly midnight listening parties, the installation of forest signage under WVEW sound coverage, and advertisements in the local print media using “the newspaper as a local forum,” Gitelson notes, as ” showcases for Brattleboro art ”.

Sonic Blanket can be applauded not only for tapping into the rich and diverse local art scene, but also for engaging community participation in such an essential way.

As the press release says: “Everyone involved in this project is living under this sound blanket. The sound recordings were made here, the poem was written here, and the voices in the room are those of the community members who inhabit Brattleboro.

“Each event will be held within the boundaries of the coverage, encouraging people to celebrate our interdependence and resilience as a community, despite the isolation we have experienced over the past year and a half,” they said.

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