Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Hail Mary Drop Kick Exposé



Daughter of the Revolution Runway: The Main Street Museum,
first home of the White River Arts & Fashion Collective (WRAF)


I suppose I should get this down. I’m an obsessive. There are certain emotional responses that trigger my need to write and reflect, mostly to a specific audience. And then, there are those more abstract needs to reach out and communicate––universal concerns, general ideas, my ‘Hail Mary Drop Kicks.’ This morning’s post is ALL... one of each. (And this is just the beginning folks)

My mind is rarely quite. I do find a still point in acts of creation, usually further down the troth in ‘the’ design process. Aughh... and yes, the machine forth sewing... how it does bring forth that still point... the textiles, smells, the aroma, the act itself a marvelous dance that every oz. of my being is applied. Why were we, as an organization, so reluctant to go back there? I think this is the right question to ask. 

I fear this question is far from rhetorical. I’ve spent the last year charting a value system that I wish to see a non-profit founded upon––specifically to promote Fashion Art/Public Art––and the possibilities those two forces combined could manifest. These ideas have been put to the test, given their ritual run here at the MSM and now have been spit out––like a seed to sprout-up elsewhere––as have I, but un-like Jonna I never asked to be separated from the entrails of this non-profit––yet neither am I casting aspersions––everything has a reason, if you can find it––and really want to.... Yet for this no-fault travesty, I can see how it begun, and yes, it was the election of Donald Trump, herself (and yes, that does need a bit of explaining!)

MSM's Spring Fashion 2016: Looks by Allyce Good (front, center) & Alyssa Couture (back)

There is an art to masculinization, as there is to feminization. In the wrong hands, or applied for the wrong reasons such elements are either taken for granted or misused entirely. If the use of the feminine pro-noun ‘her’ associated w/ one DT causes you discomfort or anxiety--there certainly is enough of that these days to go around, now isn’t there? I should like to write more about this feminism prospective and Trump I've conjured, but I’m not here at this moment to promote this thesis, not quite yet. But let me say this: the pen is mightier than the sword; and not just because it can sign checks--digg it?  (Read: Charles Eisenstein’s writings on the Gift Economy)

However, there is more to say about the DT and how her election to the office directly and indirectly has ousted me from my role as assistant director of the Main Street Museum. Of this thesis I will summarize, briefly. 


The pen is mightier than the sword; and not because it can sign checks--Digg it?


Of the many things one can say I do not lack is vision. Since 2012 this vision has been to bring Educational Outreach Programming to this community, specifically an education far from academic.
This determination is based solely on first hand observation of need within certain "underserved" populations of our community.

One of the first ‘unexpected’ consequences of DT was the backlash that this organization and I, myself, personally experienced--not direct towards--but coming from the most liberal of all factions. This was devastating and soul wrenching and remains completely unexplained other than by some collective/progressive mass hysteria (a positive feminine force of (blind) justice countering the (random feminine) power of creation/destruction––now symbolized by the very weak male identity of DT himself.).

H. Seano Whitecloud's Amazingly Surreal Fashion Art with a Heart & Soul x 4 (2017)
April 4th is the anniversary of the Main Street Museum’s foray into fashion. There is no real reason (for what I see as a travesty) other than the failure of a sustain vision of what once was and the potential of what could be––and for this failure, I, indubitably, see a direct connection to the 2016 presidential elections––and am somewhat bewildered that no one else in my immediate circle sees this connection as i do––but then again, how could they... LOL

So, let me try to explain my reasoning. Understandably, these statements mean little without a proper context, so of my own relationship to the MSM, and this too I will briefly summarize. 

In 1992 the eccentric, David Fairbanks Ford (DFF), opens his home--the abandoned lunch counter, Lena’s Lunch’ on the newly ‘up 'n coming’ S. Main Street here in White River Junction, VT--as an exhibition space an cabinet of curiosity. Fast Forward >> to 1997 when I come into the picture--The Main Street Museum of Art (the ‘of Art’ later formally dropped) had become an Alt. Phenomena in & of itself, so much so, that DFF expressed a desire to incorporate as a non-profit, and at this point I become in action and on paper the MSM’s ‘vice president’––just like Clair Underwood once was. 

In 2005, I assist on yet another start-up, The ‘J.E.W.E.L. School’ (Justified Education With Experiential Learning) later to become ‘Bryant Academy’ (BA) in Claremont and Henniker, NH. In 2008 I leave the MSM and immerse myself full-time in the field of primary and secondary education and see the career path ahead as an academic one (mind you it would be another two years before I would ever press the peddle of a sewing machine). Fast Forward again to August 2012 and everything changes for me when my home in Claremont, NH  is robbed and vandalized--to such an extent that I leave Claremont and return to White River to work full-time once again with DFF & the MSM (Bryant Academy having since closed it’s doors in 2010–via a perfect storm involving state DOE corruption--oh, let me tell you what a joy that was).

Deeply saddened by the closing of BA two years prior, I am overjoyed to bring a new skill set to my new directive of community arts & education. In 2015 we launch the MSM’s first EOP (Educational Outreach Programming)––the Fashion Arts Collective and beginning a year of planning for it’s second EOP--‘Representation Matters’ and in 2016 we are wildly successful with each--and begin planning for a Mural Arts and Visiting Artist Program until in 2017 when it all falls apart (after I might add the largest, and in many, many ways the most successful MSM Fashion Arts event of them all) . If you’re involved with this institution I'm sure you may have your own opinion as to the ‘state of things’ but I see it like this: Those who fear losing everything will risk nothing, while those who have nothing to lose, will bet everything they have again & again & again––until they get it right. 

Those who fear losing anything will take a chance on nothing, while those who have nothing to lose, will bet everything they have, again & again & again--until they get it right. 


I was sure in 2012 that by going all in at the Main Street Museum I was getting it right (and I’m still not entirely  convinced I have not). ‘Stronger Together’ was not simply a campaign slogan as much as it is a philosophy––once which I ascribe to completely. I wonder how many ‘break-ups’ and splintering and failed attempts at very worthy causes you, yourself, have experienced since her majesty DT has taken office? (and for those who see my gender-bending commentary as a derogatory comment towards women, "Yes, to some at first it may seem as such, but trust me, it's not", said the white privileged male).

With out our symbols, or rather without the faith in these symbols, we are nothing. As of Nov 10, 2016––these symbols are now gone––all of them, and some will argue they were all gone well before that––that is if they ever existed at all. So, there ya go, you can finally get a good nights sleep––it's only the total obliteration of our most deeply held 'collective subconscious symbols' (not like it hasn't before happened before on this continent). So now, considering this dialog how far-out out on this 'collective' limb are you willing to crawl out?  This is the deepest insecurity of them all, because we now do it for ourselves and crate our own––in this shit show (boycott school kids).

Of DFF and the MSM I will never say an unkind or untrue word, as the founder of this institution is long suffering, generous to a fault as well as a man of equal vision. Our visions are just different and now diverge.  My vision is to expand, explore and adapt. While David's (I suspect, you'd have to ask him) wishes to contract, specialize and focus. And all of these goals are worthy to their cause, it’s just that silly ol' meme come to life–––sort of––"this on-profit ain't big enough for the both of us..." and sure maybe 200 years ago the right thing to do would be to duel it out in the streets—but this ain't Back to the Future Part III either... because we both seek the win-win scenario.

To Be Continued...



Monday, January 16, 2017

A CALL for Designers. Models & Technicians



A CALL for Designers, Models & Technicians 


Please join us for Sunday, January 29th @ 2:00pm for our first development meeting for the Main Street Museum’s Annual Spring Fashion Event.

White River Junction refuses to stop innovating. If you’ve been wishing there’ll be something you can really get behind in 2017, the wait might be not too much longer! After nearly two decades of inspired, revolutionary DIY fashion events, WRJ will soon get its first look into a new two-year FASHION ARTS DEGREE PROGRAM under development at the Main Street Museum.

For the 2017 Spring Fashion Collective we currently have volunteer and paid positions open for the following Department Teams:
  • Team Chevron––Swag Gatherers, Tickets Management, “Day of” Ushers & House Management
  • Team Neoprene––Social media, Web-management, Publications, and Photography, Direct Advertising
  • Team Tartan––Gofers, Model Wranglers, Backstage Manager, Hair & Make-up Technicians.
  • Team Stretch Denim (Black)––Sound & Lighting Technicians, Pre, Post, and After Manager & DJs
  • Team Faux Fur––Designers, Models, Lead Developers, Organizers, Fundraisers
If you’re interested in being a part of our very dynamic production, please contact me e-mail at markezramerrill@gmail.com 

Monday, April 18, 2016






WRJ FASHION WEEKEND 2016
MAY 7, 2016



Advance & Discount tickets available at Main Street Museum Advance Ticket Sales

Doors open at @7:00pm all seats $25 at the door. 

Show @ 8pm After Party Dance Marathon @ 9pm w/ DJ KB Noize free!


Underwriters: Revolution, Hiv/HCV Resource Center Sponsors: Susanne Abetti, Nancy Heyl, Raq-On Dance, Hotel Coolidge, The Silver Screen, Streamline: Artisan Upholstery, Northern Stage, Daily UV, Ronin Hair for Men Contributors: Farnum Hill Ciders, Harpoon Brewery, Co-op Food Stores, Upper Valley Food Co-op, Valley Flower Co., Oodles, Aujudi, Nutty Steph’s, Elixr, Molly’s, Candela Tapas Lounge, Stinson’s Village Store, Yama, Base Camp, Oriental Wok Express


2016 SPRING COLLECTIVE FEATURED DESIGNERS, CAST & CREW:




< ReneFrancesG––Rene France's Gerrior has been designing and producing women's small run ready to wear and one off pieces for the past eight years. With sewing skills fostered by her grandmother and a manifold background in the arts of painting, make-up and lutherie, this unique combination has lent Rene's fashion designs a signature that has been warmly received in the upper valley.












> Keeny Paige––Keeny Paige is a local fashion designer born Colleen McCleary in Canaan, NH. Keeny started making clothing at age 16 when she wasn't satisfied with her current wardrobe selection.  She quickly took to fabric as a medium and produced three original fashions shows while attending Mascoma High School. After graduation Keeny went on to Fashion School at Lasell College in Newton, MA. She graduated in 2012 magna cumulate, with Honors. She interned with the Boston Ballet Costume Shop, Opera North, and Cotton, Inc. Currently, Keeny is working on her new tailoring and clothing alteration small business: Keeny Paige Fashions and Alterations.






< Mark Ezra Merrill––After working for nearly fifteen-years as a studio artist having found a particular panache for big, complex, and intentionally messy canvases––it was revealed to me (on the road to Damascus style) that I would soon become a Fashion Designer––a destiny I found myself more than somewhat hesitant to fully embrace. I have, however, seen the light as it were. My design modality I see as a “problem solving aesthetic” one which allows to me to ‘fix my mistakes’ quite literally, through the transformation of my personal values and the expression of inner freedom.








> Sophie Kirpan––Vermont Tribe. I grew up in central Vermont with ten adopted siblings and plenty of canned fruit. My greatest art mentor has always been my dad, who started taking me to hunt for project supplies in free piles, dumpsters, thrift stores and yard sales from the time I was five. Thankfully, my mom taught me how to live debt free, so my greatest accomplishment has been the ability to survive on a part time job with plenty of time to do artsy sorts of things, and I take a month off each year to backpack abroad. I split my year living with my partner in an off-the-grid yurt in Duxbury, and the colder months in a house in Fayston with an actual shower and a beautiful washer and dryer.





< Allyce Good––I am 17 and attend Hanover High school. I have always loved fashion and have been sewing ever since my grandmother first gave me a needle and thread. The WRJ fashion show will be my first runway show!
















> Alyssa Couture––Alyssa Couture is owner/designer of her womenswear brand Alternative Fashion. Her fashion is chic, effortless and stylish.  www.alternativefadhiondedign.com



< Daisy Shaver––Daisy Shaver, aka Jeff Huyett, lives in a Radical Faerie intentional community in Grafton. He has sewn clothes for himself since he was a kid. Now he is sewing for others, too. This is his first fashion show.















> KB Noize––aka Kevin Burke comes to the Upper Valley via Philadelphia and Provincetown, MA. Knighted as Provincetown's favorite street artists by John Waters, he is a mixed media artist whose formal graffiti training was learned on the streets. He finds his motivation by sublimating music and heartbreak. Drum & Bass for President 2016













< Orin Pacht––Orin Pacht is deeply influenced by his connection to place, land, and people. He first began making jewelry at Hanover High under the instruction of Peter Lange. Educated as a bench jeweler at Pearce Jewelers, he later joined Designer Gold in 2000. Orin wears many hats at Designer Gold. His time is split between creating his own work, collaborating with customers on commissioned projects and managing all repairs, often doing many of them himself. If this was not enough, Orin has recently begun teaching classes at the Hanover League of New Hampshire Craftsmen as well as instructing at the Claflin Jewelry Studio at Dartmouth College. In addition to his jewelry experience, He has worked extensively in White River Junction designing and making clothing and costumes. He is truly excited to be participating in this fashion show!


> Stacy Hopkins––Originally from Hanover, NH Stacy received her Goldsmith’s certification in Florence, Italy, where she began her career as a jeweler in 2001. She returned to the US in 2009, where she opened the jewelry and fine art gallery, Scavenger, in downtown White River Junction. Her work is internationally renowned and has been featured in acclaimed publications including Italian Vogue.











< Connie White––Connie White owner Ronin Men’s Salon: I have owned Ronin going on 10 years, I love my salon and love what I do, it is a wonderful feeling to go to work and do what you love. I am from Norwich VT and have lived in the Upper Valley most of my life. When I am not at the shop I enjoy my family, pets and the outdoors.













> Katie O’Day––Katie O'Day is the go to make up artist of the WRJ elite. She is cofounder of O'Hey Productions. Her work has been captured by world renown photographers such as Nigel Barker and Matt Bucy. Her skills with an eyebrow pencil are unsurpassed.She has created looks, such as her pop art crying girl last Halloween, that inspired millions when snap chat stole it and made it a filter. She also shaves cats.











< Ben Fleishman––Ben Fleishman is a local photographer specializing in wedding, portrait, event, restaurant, and website photography.  You can see his work at www.benfleishman.com
















> Timothy Duggan––Timothy Duggan was recently awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at Revolution’s Oscar party this year.  

















< Rebecca Webber––Rebecca is a web developer and craft designer and teacher. When she's not coding or crafting, she's watching B-movies at the Main Street Museum, cooking, keeping in touch with friends and family, or doing puzzles. Though she's worked in alterations and costuming in the past, this is her first involvement in any kind of fashion show.












> David Fairbanks Ford––David Fairbanks Ford was born in the Republic of Moldova, in the mid-20th century. With the help of double agents from both the CIA and the Soviet KGB, he was reassigned his identity as an aging, bowtie wearing, museum curator in a small town in central Vermont. From his lair in the town’s former fire station, he listens to Reggeton and Champeta music while researching everything from Russian kitsch, to Latin American novelists, to the Seminole and Miccosukee American Indian nations. He is considered an expert in crystal ball “scrivening” raising small, annoying dogs, and finding larger, older American luxury cars that routinely break down.  He has never considered being left-handed as a source of shame or a liability, as he considers it a symbol of greater intelligence and creativity than average.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Fashion, Revolution & White River Junction


In 2002 Kim Souza began a Revolution, and I don’t just mean the eclectic boutique in the Gates Block where you’ll find thoughtful selections from the most recognized names in the industry right-alongside the latest from local fashion designers. Perhaps you’re aware (if not already having personally benefited from) the latest Renaissance of White River Junction beginning in 2002 and continuing to present. Recently inquiring about our neighboring sister to the south, Claremont, NH, Senator David Pierce asked, “What formula” was responsible for WRJ's current boom years? If I were to attempt to answer the Senator’s question I’d have to say, “It was… R e v o l u t i o n ”.

On the surface, the Revolution of WRJ is quite simple, people with similar or common purposes form alliances to better serve a community as a whole, and over time develop infrastructures, each supporting their own unique economy of culture, which ideally, enriches a community by offering more opportunities to those who live within it. Souza’s Revolution has done precisely this by forging a much recognized and celebrated cultural economy, she has simultaneously nurtured the emergence of a visible and active Local Design Community. And so it is, after 24 seasons, when sheer success and the popularity of Kim’s Tip Top Couture Spring and Fall Fashion events roused a production scale too large to manage bi-annually, WRJ premiered its first annual Spring Collective in 2015, a new runway event hosted by the Main Street Museum featuring 100% local designers.

What’s next you ask? Well, you can never plan the future by the past, or at least so says Edmund Burke. But if you ask me, it’s the mojo responsible for the success of Kim Souza’s Revolutionary Runway and birth of Main Street Museum’s Spring Collective that has the potential to take things to another level. Right now, the goal is the continued growth and nurturing of our local design community. Later, who knows; White River Junction is home to a Cartoon School, so why not a new Fashion Institute as well? 
Anything is possible!

Mark Ezra Merrill
Designer & Co-founder Fashion Weekend White River Junction 2016