ST. ALBANS – This weekend, as a part of a fundraiser coordinated with the Artist in Residence Gallery and a celebration of Women’s History Month, the St. Albans Museum will be welcoming a trio of familiar faces for the history buffs of Northwest Vermont for an introduction to another side of presidential history.
At a quick glance, attendees might mistake Terry Buehner for one of the three First Ladies she’ll be portraying that night – Mary Todd Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy – but behind the costumes and replica jewelry is a history teacher from Colchester using roleplay as an alternative window to history at large.
“I use women’s history as a vehicle for telling history,” Buehner, who is also a jeweler with work on display at Artist in Residence, said. “Think of it as a portrayal of women in history… not just women’s history.”
She’ll be dressed as the three First Ladies, using her portrayal to tell the history of their presidential husbands and, perhaps more importantly, the First Ladies themselves.
For Artist in Residence, the event is seen as both another step into the community and as a way to help take some of their last steps in needed fundraising for the down payment that could buy their home. “We don’t want to just be a place for artists to sell their work,” Genzlinger said.
Currently, the building at 10 Main Street belongs to the City of St. Albans, which took on ownership after a manure truck slid through the building in 2011. The city, never intending to keep the building, is now looking to sell the building and, according to Artist in Residence’s treasurer Barry Genzlinger, the city’s been more than accommodating as the gallery raises funds.
The building itself, according to documents filed with the National Register of Historic Places, dates back to 1865.
The gallery, now organized as a nonprofit organization rather than a cooperative, has raised $21,000 of the $29,000 needed for a down payment on a loan to purchase the building, and Genzlinger said the gallery’s confident it’ll close that gap.
“The beauty of it is the artists will have our home,” Genzlinger said. “It won’t close tomorrow.”
“Without it, as an artist, you can feel isolated,” said member artist Martha McGinn. “[The gallery] becomes a family.”
This weekend’s event at the museum is likely one of the only such events celebrating Women’s History Month in Franklin County.
Women’s History Month, established through federal legislation in the early 1980s, is a month dedicated to celebrating women’s roles in history that, according to Buehner, had been underserved in history classes. “I taught for 30 years and I can remember a time when they wouldn’t mention women,” Buehner said. “There was a whole history out there that I hadn’t heard of.”
Buehner pointed out that there might be some irony in that fact. She turned to the Mao Zedong-coined slogan “women hold up half the sky” that’s since become a rallying cry for women’s equality.
“Women actually hold up more than half the sky,” she said. “There’s more women in the world than men.
“When you start talking about history, women were there from the beginning,”
Saturday’s event is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the St. Albans Museum’s Bliss Room and will feature a silent auction for original artwork from artists in the Artist in Residence Gallery, a cash bar and refreshments provided by the Northwest Technical Center’s culinary arts program.
Some of the artwork up for auction include reproductions of jewelry worn by the three First Ladies Buehner will be portraying that night, made by Buehner herself.
The museum will also be opening its women’s history exhibit for the night.
Tickets are $15 each and are available online at www.squareup.com/store/stamuseum, at the Artist in Residence gallery and at the door Saturday night.
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