Rhythm @the River was attneded by people of Winona and the surrounding area on Sunday, Sept. 15, at Levee park.
The event included dance lessons, live music, craft beer, and food trucks.
Organizers spent between $12,000 and $15,000 to organize the event.
Lee Gundersheimer, arts and culture coordinator at WINONArts said many sponsors believe in WINONArts and helped pay for the event, in addition to fundraising.
Rhythm @ the River is an expanded 2018 version of “Swinging in the Streets.”
Organizers said the event was moved to Levee Park and made it bigger because last year 400 people participated on Third Street.
Rhythm @ the River was created as a part of a series of events that WINONArts puts on according to Gunersheimer.
“The event is part of the Dance Plein Air events in WINONArts, the City’s initiative to bring as many folks together with the arts and through as many different art forms as possible, dance being one of them,” Gunersheimer said.
Winona State Students Emma and Scout were on their way to study at Blue Heron and decided to see what was going on.
The two got snow cones at one of the food trucks and sat down in the grassy area of the park to enjoy the music.
“I really like the Spanish music,” Emma said. “I think we definitely would come to this again.”
Rhythm @ the River was also the kick-off to Project FINE’s Welcome Week.
Welcome Week helps create a more welcoming community for immigrants and people who have relocated to Winona, according to Gunersheimer.
A new painting by a Winona State University faculty member was puton display in a campus building on Friday, April 22.
ChunLokMah, chair of the Winona State art department, showed off his painting entitled “Storm: Before and After” in Baldwin Lounge of Winona State’s Kryzsko Commons student union building.
Mah said his piece walks the viewer through the emotions of a storm starting at the left and going to the right.
In his artist statement,Mah wrote about what the piece means to him.
“The emotions were a collision of past and present experiences that reminded me of all the harsh, bitter and difficult events that I fought for years that often resulted in bittersweet endings,” Mah said. “It was like having an epiphany of life condensed in one moment.”
The painting is about 17 feet wide.
Joe Reed, Winona State’s student union/activities director, bought the painting from Mah after President Scott Olson told him about the piece.
The total cost of the painting and instillation was $4,800.
“Storm: Before and After” was on display at an exhibit when Reed first saw it. Reed said the display of the painting did not do it justice.
Reed wanted to find a good place in Kryzco Commons for the painting.
“We are walking around Kryzco and all of a sudden it hit me…Baldwin,” Reed said. “Since the renovation to the bookstore and this edition it was always a dark room and now we got all these windows.”
Mah said there were some difficulties during the installation process.
“The chosen design proceeds to post many challenges like lack of proper lighting, wall dimension, weak drywall, and thermostat outlet position, during the installation,” Mah said. “We made some major tweaks so the artworkfits seamlessly to the setting.”
At the reception,Mah said he hoped students would see the painting and talk about what it means to them.
Mah said he used raw brush strokes to evoke anxiety from the viewer.
At the conclusion of Mah’s speech he asked those in attendance to talk about the feeling the painting evoked.
Hedi Ryan, Winona State art and design office assistant, talked about the feelings the painting evoked.
Ryan said she saw the painting as a metaphor for how to approach life. She said because thereis still light in the darkest photo,which for Ryan shows optimismthrough good and bad times.
Baldwin Lounge, where the reception was held, is a quit study place for students.
Reed said he took the purpose of the space into consideration when he was planning the reception.
Reed said to him as with students he views Baldwin Lounge as a place for studying.
“Because to me, as is the students, Baldwin is kinda like a sacred ground for study time,” Reed said. “It’s appropriate we have the reception there and Friday would be a good day because it’s the least used.”
When Reed arrived at the reception, he walked up to students studying at the tables and explained what was going on and apologized for the inconvenience.
He also told studying students to help themselves torefreshments.
Mah is honored to have a piece in the Kryzco collection.
“Joe’s proposal and the location choice was a dream come true to me,” Mah said. “It turns out to be better than I thought.”
For more information about ChunLok Mah or to see more of his art visit:
The culmination of four years of dedication to art will be on display at Winona State University during the last two weeks of the 2019 spring semester.
The annual Senior Art Show will feature work by students graduating on May 10 or who will be graduating in the fall, all majoring in art, art education and design.
Roger Boulay, the Gallery and Art Collection Coordinator said the addition of the design students is new to the show this year which brings a new element to the exhibition.
“They’re presenting a range of work; some have altered photographs, some students have designed their own patterns that will be printed,” Boulay said. “One design student is making clothing, he’s really interested in fashion so he’s making his own jacket that will be laser engraved with text on it.”
The show opens on April 29 and features six students with a show called “Fluid Studio,” that will deal in color and the challenge of a group show.
“It’s a little bit tricky in a group show when you have six different artists with six very different points of view to find one theme that really encapsulates everyone,” Boulay said. “So Fluid Studio is meant to speak to that conundrum of a group show.”
The second week will focus on the remaining six students starting May 6, the theme for that show is “Roots,” which explores where people are from, ideas of home and self-portraiture.
Kieran McDonnell, a senior majoring in studio arts is in the “Fluid Studio” exhibit.
McDonnell expressed his excitement on showing his work in a gallery that has featured many nationally and internationally known professional artists.
“To be in the same space as them is really an honor, but this show is really a wonderful opportunity for us,” McDonnell said. “Our show is based around our perception of how we’ve grown as artists…everyone in here has worked hard and we are all looking forward to seeing this show come to completion.”
“Fluid Studio” was originally going to feature the students’ first self-portrait alongside a current one, but for spacing reasons that element was cut from the first show.
This element will be featured in “Roots,” allowing gallery viewers to see the progress of each student and compare the two works.
In Boulay’s class, students create a professional portfolio and learn how to install , so they will be installing the exhibit in the Watkins Gallery.
“It’s entirely up to the students to design and install their own exhibition,” Boulay said. “I’ve taught them how to install their work and now it’s up to them to get everything organized and decide how everything is going to look. It’s also really exciting for students who are graduating to have an exhibition in the gallery during commencement, so they can bring their families through and look at their work.”
The Watkins Gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours on Wednesdays.
For additional information about Watkins Gallery and the exhibit follow these links:
For many locals in Winona, creating a sustainable environment plays an important role in combating climate change.
Members of Winona Women for Healthy Communities have been active in addressing this contemporary concern.
On Saturday, April 15, members of the group held an art workshop at the Winona Arts Center, where attendees made art for a local version of the national People’s Climate March.
The march will occur Saturday, April 29, in downtown Winona and will bring attention to changes in climate.
Organizer of Arts Day and Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Mary Kaye Perrin said sustainability was the main theme of the art workshop.
Paint, brushes and watercolors were available for attendees to make posters, and decorate umbrellas as a way to show the abundance of rain that has occurred this year.
“People need to pay attention to the recent downpours of rain and flooding,” Perrin said.
According to Perrin, the march aims to make people more aware of the effects of global warming and reflect people’s concerns on the current regulations. This issue, she said, affects a community like Winona with flooding, loss of apple crops and loss of natural resources.
Through the march, the group will also support the Minnesota renewable energy goals and the progress being done toward them, Winona Women for Healthy Communities member Emilie Falc said.
In Winona, Falc said the group is trying to help locals continue to work on issues related to clean air, clean water and offer good jobs to encourage healthier communities.
“We don’t want to lose momentum toward those sustainability goals and legislation that would reduce them,” Falc said. “ We would like for people in the community to come forward and to talk about what their needs are.”
The event at the Winona Arts Center gave attendees, both children and adults, a chance to show sustainable efforts while expressing their creativity.
Attendee Julian Kohner was painting a butterfly with yellow and green colors, and his mom was holding the brush with him.
The canvas, paints and umbrellas were supplied from donations, and most of them were recycled items, Falc said. The art center contributed to the initiative by providing the space for the workshop.
Falc said the expenses for the march are low and volunteers will provide the music and PA system.
Nancy Bachler, one of the art workshop attendees, was outlining the red and yellow paint for the poster “Sustainable Future Now” with Lynette Powers, another organizer and member of Winona Women for Healthy Communities.
Bachler said about 98 percent of all scientists agree climate change is a real threat to the world, and that is why people need to be concerned about such issues.
Sometimes people can show individual efforts by simply recycling and being aware of the changes in the environment that affect health, Bachler said. Water is being polluted, she said, and the air quality is not as clean as it used to be.
“There really is an important connection to health, wellbeing, and the earth,” Bachler said. “We are trying to help people make their own part, while having fun.”
Besides sustainability, Falc said another important theme is local effort.
“We want to celebrate what we are already doing in Winona,” Falc said.
According to Falc, Winona is involved in making sustainable choices and Winona County has recently shown its contribution by purchasing energy from the solar garden, a solar power plant whose electricity is shared by more than one household.
She added people will come together at the march to support not only solar energy and solar gardens, but also geothermal, and wind energy in the community as sustainable energy sources.
In terms of sustaining local foods, Falc said the group is involved with supporting community gardens, local and organic family farms, orchards and farmworkers.
“We want to make it easier for local growers to sell their foods,” Falc said.
Because the march will start next to the Mississippi River, participants were making fish kites to symbolize the creatures people share the river with. Other posters displayed pollinators and apple trees that are under threat because they cannot evolve quickly to adapt to changes in climate.
“We need to use our creative energies to come together as a community,” Falc said. “And inspire people to choose the resources we already have.”
Another attendee, Marv Camp, was bending over a table and coloring the letters for an “Earth Day” poster in red and green. Camp said he hopes to be part of the April 29 march.
“Seeing our current political scene, it’s great that we can make an impact in our small community and hopefully on a bigger level, too,” Camp said.
With a vision for a better and sustainable future in mind, Perrin said she encourages making better choices every day by choosing to bike, and walking for clearer air instead of driving.
To promote walking, she added the group will work to make safer streets and crossings and improve public transportation including evening and weekend busing and more routes.
On Saturday, April 29, Perrin said she hopes for a great attendance from the community and invites people to bring giant apples or suns, and decorate umbrellas, skateboards, bikes and posters to express their commitment to climate justice.
Perrin said, “This is our vision for a better future and a better world for our children, our grandchildren, and ourselves.”
Something about the Mississippi River has always drawn Matt Fluharty to it.
In the late winter of 2015, just as the river was roaring back to life after months of an icy stalemate, Fluharty was on his way back to his home in St. Louis, Missouri from a conference in Minneapolis. He said was tired, ready to be home and contemplated taking the interstate back.
“I called my wife Kelly, and she said, ‘No, you should really drive the river, again,’” Fluharty said. “’It’ll be so much better.’”
On his way down the river, Fluharty stopped at Blooming Grounds in downtown Winona for a cup of coffee. He continued to venture around the city, noticing stores like Yarnology, bars such as Ed’s No Name Bar and some empty storefronts. As a professor with a Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and as someone who studies modernism of rural America, Fluharty said he noticed the character of the town he stumbled upon.
“You could tell there were empty storefronts, but there was also this amazing vibrant economy happening downtown,” Fluharty said. “You see that in a lot of river towns, but there was something special about Winona, you could just tell. I think people sense it when they come downtown.”
Then the self-described river rat found his way to Winona’s Levee Park and the Mississippi River.
“I was just like, ‘Oh God.’ It was just like the best view of the river is here in Winona,” Fluharty said. “I mean every community along the river would kill to for that view and to be in between the bluffs, and then it really struck me.”
After the experience by the river, Fluharty said he texted his wife and his business partner, urging them to search for Winona online.
By April 2016, he and Kelly were moving their family to the river city for it become the new official headquarters of Art of the Rural, an organization founded by Fluharty. The organization focuses on connecting rural America to its arts, culture and policy, building off of the narratives already in place.
As a poet, designer and artist who has been published in art reviews, such as To Make a Public: Temporary Art Review 2011-2016, Fluharty said he began the organization in 2010 and has watched it transform to connect rural economic policy and its arts and culture.
The headquarters for Art of the Rural has officially opened as the Outpost on the eastern side of Third Street in Winona and will officially open with an exhibit featuring portraits of Winonans by Jon Swanson on May 5.
Fluharty is a fifth generation farmer in Ohio. During the 1980s, around the time Fluharty was in third grade, his parents lost their family farm to the farm crisis. Fluharty said moving away from the only kind of home he and his family had known for generations struck in him what he believes eventually led to Art of the Rural.
“I felt very connected to this place because those early formative childhood memories were of a farm that we no longer had, and for a long time that was source of personal pain,” Fluharty said. “But as I got older and became an artist and a writer some of those feelings began to be translated into a set of questions about what does it mean that I had that experience and that a lot of other people had that experience and that we don’t talk about it.”
As Fluharty grew up, he said his family moved around the Midwest a lot, including Indiana and Missouri, but he eventually left home to study English and modernism in poetry and writing.
Fluharty said original ideas for the organization came to him when he was working on a project about the eastern side of St. Louis, Missouri while in graduate school. That side of the river did not have its own history, Fluharty said. It was scattered and mixed into different stories.
As he was finishing up his dissertation in late 2009, the passing of a grandmother he was close to prompted him to finally say out loud to someone how he was going to start Art of the Rural. He said was walking in the woods with his brother when he finally said, “Yeah, I think I’m going to start a blog.”
“After her funeral, I kind of had this moment of revelation,” Fluharty said. “…sometimes you just have to say something out loud to someone for you to feel responsible to that idea.”
Expanding beyond the blog
With the original blog up and running by January 2010, Fluharty said he kept the idea and concept a secret until April 2010, just to see if it was something he would actually continue.
When he finally started to spread the word, he said he found it had gained attention not only from audiences but also from people wanting to contribute to the writing and work Fluharty was doing.
The work started to include blogs about rural artwork, culture and histories of rural communities in the Midwest. Fluharty starting gaining more partners, such as Program Director Savannah Barrett and Kenyon Gradert with Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
The organization also sponsored Next Generation, which supports a network of art possibilities and promotes engagement in younger people to the arts, according to Art of the Rural.
It was at Next Generation where John Davis, executive director of the Lanesboro Arts Center in Lanesboro, Minn., said he met Fluharty.
“Matt is an amazing individual,” Davis said. “I think he is thoughtful, articulate, always interested in learning about rural and arts and community, seeking out new ways to help communities.”
For the last four years, Davis said he has seen the significance of Art of the Rural, primarily on its impact with younger generations.
Swanson, curator at the Minnesota Marine Art Musem in Winona, said he also believes in the power of young engagement. Swanson first met Fluharty when
Fluharty was contemplating moving to the area and setting up the Outpost.
Swanson said he has often seen college students leave Winona after graduation because of the need for a larger city feel. With festivals Mid West Music Fest and Boats and Bluegrass, Swanson said he believes the addition of Outpost to the Winona scene will only be a more attractive feature to young graduates looking for a place to call home.
“I’d like to be able to retain some people that want to live here and have a better quality of life,” Swanson said. “Just trying to build a better community to live in.”
As Art of the Rural began to support more rural arts and works, it also became more engaged with larger organizations, such as M12 Studios, motivated by the same goal of promoting the rural arts, Fluharty said.
According to Richard Saxton, director of M12 Studios, working with Fluharty has enhanced his creativity and work.
“I think we’re kind of a sounding board for each other,” Saxton said. “What I do as an artist directing M12, and what he does with the Art of the Rural, there are some crossovers there. We’re friends as well as colleagues.”
M12 Studios, according to Fluharty, enters into a community and builds off its culture, creating statues and exhibitions within small rural communities. Art of the Rural, meanwhile, has more of a digital platform and outreach, Fluharty said. M12 Studios will utilize the Outpost in Winona as a space for most of its exhibitions, Fluharty added.
“I think it’s actually a really nice synergy, because between the two, we’re really talking and engaging with folks across a pretty wide series of disciplines and sectors,” Fluharty said.
Building personal connections
Art of the Rural began because of a farm, but it was in the city of St. Louis, Missouri where Fluharty said he started to understand its need.
Fluharty said he did have doubts about his ability to promote the meaning to this organization, as he remembered thinking about one day when he was dropping off his son Will at day care in St. Louis, Missouri.
He had a busy day of phone calls and meetings about rural culture scheduled for that day, and as he was dropping off Will, he began to realize he was raising his son outside of what he taught and studied.
“I had this moment of realization where I thought ‘Will isn’t rural.’ Like I’m talking about rural America and rural culture, and here I am taking my son to day care in St. Louis,” Fluharty said. “And for about 30 seconds that like kind of shook me on some level.”
The realization, according to Fluharty, eventually only encouraged him to keep pursuing what he was teaching and to understand the significance of the fluidity among rural and urban communities.
There has also been another father-son relationship in Fluharty’s life that has been impacted by his studies, Fluharty said.
Fluharty said his organization has brought him and his father together, which was something Fluharty said he would not have seen as possible when he was younger.
According to Fluharty, his father had always wanted to create a cultural center about the history of northern Appalachian culture and was always interested in rural economy and policy.
Meanwhile, as Fluharty grew up, Fluharty became more engaged in rural arts and culture. In the pair’s conversations together as Fluharty began Art of the Rural, he said they realized their goals were more common than different.
“You can do all the arts and culture you want, but if the economic development isn’t happening and if it’s not inclusive and we’re not welcoming young people, we’re still going to fail,” Fluharty said. “So it’s those three things coming together, and that I think to some degree was just the subject of just a lot of conversations we had as I got older and Art of the Rural began to grow a bit.”
Now, Fluharty’s organization has begun to work closer with economic policy and laws as a way to build and share the culture in small towns.
Fluharty’s father has since gone back to farming with Fluharty’s brother on the farm he took over from their grandparents, Fluharty’s father’s parents.
Back to the river that started it all
Fluharty said he envisions Outpost as a space designed after a building in Des Moines, Iowa. This building is an old fire station turned community center that on any given night can host events from open mic night to wrestling in the same building. Eventually the groups meet in the common area for food and drinks, intermingling among their interests and hobbies, he said.
“Maybe they’re sharing a snack or they’re having a drink together, and they’re building a really different kind of set of relationships there that you can’t make that happen,” Fluharty said.
Outpost has already hosted events, but it will officially open on from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 5 as it hosts Winona Characters Portrait Photography project by Swanson. The project includes 147 portraits of random people in Winona, with an age range of three months to 80 years old.
The project, Swanson said, is perfect for the Outpost.
“It directly aligns with their core values and their missions,” Swanson said., “bringing art to an audience in smaller more rural communities.”
As for his ongoing project with Art of the Rural in Winona, Fluharty said they will be examining towns along the Mississippi River understand how the arts, cultures and economies are all interwoven together.
Landing in Winona as Art of the Rural continues this project and its outreac, Fluharty said, was just fate.