Cultural Happenings At The US Open

At 21 years old, the US Open Of Snowboarding is no minor league affair. These days it has enough strength and staying power to fuel an array of cultural happenings designed to entertain, educate, and raise funds for charity. The normally subdued village of Stratton goes off at this time of year, allowing the likes of me to take in (all in one evening, mind you) an art show, an auction for charity, and a made-for-live-TV party with a band. That’s right, pretty bitchen.

Stop number one was the Put Title Here art exhibition in downtown Stratton village, showcasing the works of seminal East Coast artists Michael Nevin, Scott Lenhardt, Tim Karpinski, David Wien, Randy Gaetano, and Seth Butler. Sponsored by everyone’s favorite subversive zine, The Journal, the event displayed a wide range of mediums, from Butler’s documentary photography of the American flag to Wein’s Keith-Herring-style paintings on canvas. Plenty of dudes wearing black hoodies and/or army fatigues made an appearance to check out the works.

Next, I wandered over to the Stratton base lodge to take in a charity auction organized by gold-medallist Ross Powers and his foundation designed to help give opportunity to poor young Vermont athletes like he once was. Items up for auction included snowboards signed by Olympians Kelly Clark and Tricia Byrnes, art by Michael Nevin, and jerseys signed by Anna Kournikova and John Elway. When I left, the Foundation was well on it’s way to a hefty sum to help out the little Vermont shredders.

And last but not least, I made it over the Sun Bowl base lodge for the faux party scene set up by the OLN channel. The highlight of the “party” was the band, Buttpie, which included such members as artist Scott Lenhardt and David Wein, as well as photographer Jesse Loomis. Since it was live TV, the band could only play for 40 seconds at a time and had to perform on demand. The rock and roll was spliced in between interviews with the athletes and shots of people “having a good time.”