BENNINGTON -- Joey Kulkin sees a lot of people walk into the Fiddlehead each day. They come and go, sometimes making purchases. But Kulkin and Fiddlehead owners Joel and Lina Lentzner decided that they'd like their guests to leave something with the gallery: a story, and a chalk drawing. Thus began the inspiration behind Kulkin's new book "Chalk It Up! Fiddlehead at Four Corners presents the Graffiti Vault."
Those familiar with the Fiddlehead will recall that the building is a converted bank, and as such a vault that, until recently, had been used as gallery space. The interior of the vault was coated in chalkboard paint, and soon the stark black walls began to fill up with the drawings of people of all ages.
"They come out of there with big smiles on their faces and chalk on their hands," Kulkin said.
The vault opened on Oct. 13, 2012, the same date as the listening party for the newest Trey Anastasio (Phish) album at the Fiddlehead. The gallery was one of only a handful of locations chosen to hear the new album prior to its release.
The book, which contains 88 photos of chalk enthusiasts from all over the region, is the first of many. Kulkin hopes that in the future there will be a "Chalk It Up! Bennington Edition" or "Bennington College Edition," as well as several other themes.
Each page of the book features a photo from, what Kulkin described as the world's only graffiti vault, and a short description of who or what is in the picture.
But other stories are more complex. 26 pages into the book two pairs of self-described Hurricane Sandy refugees make an appearance. Rebecca and Regina of Long Beach, N.Y. and Ernie and Betty from Monroe Township, N.J.
Some photos are of thought-provoking questions that beg other visitors to fill in the blank. Other photos are of messages of love of all kinds, with some couples writing their initials on the wall and posing. But another message, left anonymously, resists so-called normality, simply reading: "Just because it's different doesn't mean it's wrong."
"It's been a blast beyond my wildest dreams," Kulkin said.
The books were self-published by Kulkin using the service Blurb. For more information about the books visit Fiddlehead at Four Corners on Main St. in Bennington. More information about Fiddlehead can be found at www.getartbehappy.com.