Randolph installations part of effort to make community an arts hub

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 3:06 PM EDT
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RANDOLPH, Vt. (WCAX) - If you think Randolph is only a place to stop, because of the nice rest area off the highway, maybe it’s time to change your tune. Scott Fleishman reports on new musical and artistic installations to tap into it’s the community’s artsy side.

“There are no wrong notes,” said David Palmer, who led the local effort to create Harmony Park, a permanent installation of outdoor percussion instruments. The park, located off Route 12A and adjacent to the rec field, opened just a few weeks ago and is one of several of its kind across the country. Palmer first encountered one out in Utah.

“I saw what it was doing in terms of bringing people together,” he said. “People were just coming forward, I realized, just spontaneously joining in, and I realized I could too. I caught the bug and enjoyed it so much. I knew I had to bring it back to Randolph.”

It took Palmer and the rest of the Randolph Sunrise Rotary Club about a year for the project to be completed. The club has been a part of more than 20 community service projects over the last five years.

“Anything we can do to improve the life of people of Randolph and the surrounding communities, that’s our goal,” said George “Sonny,” Holt, another Rotary member that helped out.

Art teacher and Rotary member, Susannah Gravel, designed the park and is also in charge of “Whisper in the Wind,” an installation opening on Sunday along Route 66 near the whale’s tails. It includes 600 flags in six different colors, each with inspirational thoughts written by members of the community, from students to senior citizens.

“The idea is that when the wind blows, it will carry these flags and you’ll see all of these stories, symbols, and pictures of love, hope and empathy,” Gravel said.

“When we approached Susannah about doing this, we knew it was a huge project that involved a lot of people,” said Genny Albert executive director of the Arts Bus, a mobile studio that took on the project. Albert says their mission for the last 10 years is to empower children to find joy and self-expression through the arts. “What we’re doing is trying to achieve peace, p-e-a-c-e in the whole, by piece, p-i-e-c-e and the part.”

“Whisper in the Wind” and Harmony Park are just two examples of how Randolph is aiming to become the center for arts and culture in Vermont. “And we’re well on our way to doing that,” Holt said. “The people of Randolph are very fortunate to have a number of fantastic artists and sculptors, painters, musicians right here.”

Mixing music and sculpture brings us back to Harmony Park. “Music is an artistic language that creates community and a sense of belonging,” Palmer said.

With projects like this and others on the way, you can play until your heart’s content and stay until your heart’s fulfilled.

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