Art Notes: Happy Birthday, Jon Appleton
Photographed at his home in Hartford, Vt., on Dec. 17, 2013, the Cartoon School is throwing a 75th birthday party for Jon Appleton, a composer, author and long-standing member of the Upper Valley arts community. Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
Currently at the BigTown Gallery: Virginia Beahan and Laura McPhee, "Galaxy of Orchids, Hilo Hawai'i 1991," chromogenic color photographic print.
Although he moved to the Upper Valley in the 1960s to take a teaching job at Dartmouth College, composer and musician Jon Appleton has developed a greater affinity for the burgeoning arts community in White River Junction.
So it’s fitting that a concert next week to celebrate his 75th birthday will be held in the Center for Cartoon Studies’ old Post Office building. Michelle Ollie, president and co-founder of the cartooning college, suggested Appleton hold a concert and made the venue available, Appleton said.
“Originally, my thought was to do it at my home for just friends,” he said in a phone interview this week. “But it was clear that there were a lot of people who would want to come to this.”
To call Appleton a fixture in the Upper Valley doesn’t quite do him justice. Born in Los Angeles, he studied at Reed College in Oregon and at Columbia University and came to Dartmouth in 1967. With the support of Dartmouth President John Kemeny, who believed everyone should make use of computers in their work, he became a pioneer in electronic music. Dartmouth had one of the first digital music studios in the country, and Appleton developed the Dartmouth Digital Synthesizer.
Appleton later cofounded New England Digital with Sydney Alonso, a professor at the Thayer School, and Cameron Jones, a graduate student, a company that developed the Synclavier, a groundbreaking commercial synthesizer. Musicians on the order of Laurie Anderson and Sting visited the New England Digital offices in White River Junction, Appleton said. He left the company after a year and had no financial stake in its brief, bright success in the 1980s. New England Digital went under in 1992.
In addition to teaching at Dartmouth, Appleton has held positions in Sweden, Japan, Russia and France. He left Dartmouth in 2009, citing weariness with the growing emphasis on money in higher education.
The concert, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 27 with doors to open at 6:30, will feature a performance by Appleton himself, an unusual event for a musician who works primarily as a composer. Other performers will include Appleton’s son, singer-songwriter JJ Appleton; Woodstock jazz musician Fred Haas, who was a student of Appleton’s at Dartmouth; Kojiro Umezaki, a collaborator of Appleton’s who also performs with YoYo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble; Paul Botelho, a composer and former Dartmouth grad student of Appleton’s; composer Yuri Spitsyn; and pianist Minkyung Oh, who just recorded a CD of Appleton’s recent compositions, short works based on pieces by Domenico Scarlatti and Francois Couperin.
Admission to the concert is free, but it’s standing room only — all the seating has already been reserved. The concert poster said no ticket or RSVP is required.
In addition to celebrating Appleton’s birthday, the concert is also a celebration of the arts community that has grown up in White River Junction.
“I’m thrilled that I can see White River Junction become what I consider the cultural high point of the Upper Valley,” Appleton said.
∎ AVA Gallery and Art Center has added hours on Sunday and Monday for its annual holiday exhibition and sale.
∎ The Hood Museum of Art in Hanover has extended a pair of related exhibitions, “Picasso: The Vollard Suite” and “Cubism and Its Legacy,” through Dec. 22. Also on view at the Hood: “Evolving Perspectives: Highlights from the African Art Collection of the Hood Museum of Art.”
∎∎Newport’s Library Arts Center hosts its annual “Gallery of Gifts” exhibition, which features art and crafts for the impending gift-giving season. Through Saturday .
∎ Chandler Gallery in Randolph holds its “Holiday Bazaar,” through Monday.
ArtisTree Gallery and Art Center in Woodstock hosts “Fine Works in Miniature,” a holiday show of inexpensive art. There’s also a show within the show. Artistree gave panels measuring 50 square inches to 50 artists and is selling the resulting works for $50 each, setting the tone for an affordable holiday show.
∎ BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vt., hosts “Juice Bar,” a winter group show.
∎ “Out on a Limb,” new work by Betsy Derrick, is on view in Ledyard Gallery in Hanover’s Howe Library.
∎ AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon hosts its annual Holiday Sale and Exhibition.
∎ Deluxe Unlimited, the nom d’art of Ben Peberdy, has installed “Wreckage,” the first exhibition in the Utility Arts Center, a janitor’s closet on the first floor of the Tip Tip Media Arts building.
∎ Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction holds its annual Holiday Show. The show features work by the studio’s artist members in a variety of printmaking media, including tiny prints that are matted and ready for gift-giving.
∎ Scavenger Gallery in White River Junction shows recent prints by Elizabeth Mayor.
∎ Zollikofer Gallery in the Hotel Coolidge hosts “Lemurs Will Follow You Home,” a show of recent watercolors and acrylics by Cecily Herzig.
∎ The Main Street Museum in White River Junction hosts “Written in Stone: Voices of the GLBTQ Community,” the museum’s first show consisting solely of work on the expression of gender and sexual identity.
∎ Nuance Gallery in Windsor holds a group holiday exhibition to benefit Good Beginnings of the Upper Valley, a nonprofit that assists parents with infant children.
∎ Tunbridge Public Library hosts “Intersectionalism: An Interdisciplinary Art Show” by Tunbridge artists Jennie Harriman and Christopher Smith.
∎ “A Year of Natural Color,” pastel and digital paintings by Grantham artist Paula Dorr, is on view at West Lebanon’s Kilton Public Library through Jan. 31.
Alex Hanson can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3219.