Hidden Treasures in Southwestern Minnesota

Our eyes were opened due to the talents that spring up from our prairie roots at the Southwest Minnesota Arts & Humanities Council 2012 Celebration at Milan, Minnesota on October 28, 2012. The community welcomed us with open arms as we toured their city, shops and art studios within the main street and the two former school buildings which are now used to provide art opportunities and studio space for local artists.  I was amazed at the diverse talent that prevails in this little prairie village.  Pottery, weaving, fiber arts, silversmithing, blacksmithing, photography, mixed media, framing and painting which also includes rosemal, a decorative Norwegian painting style (I apologize if I’ve left an art form out.) may be found within this quaint community.  Milan Village Arts School is a tremendous asset to their community and surrounding areas.

We found the museum on main street especially interesting as it is the passion of one man for his community. The old photographs with their unique frames of depth with inside lighting added a unique twist for the viewer. Walk through a doorway from the museum and you will find a quaint little shop called Billy Maple Tree  that sells items made by local artists as well as handmade items from around the world through the  SERRV project.  SERRV is a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide.

Outside the building we found the ArtOrg 2012 project which involved learning about the printmaking process using a steamroller method. The images below are from this “hands on” experience.  We can’t turn down an opportunity to learn by doing!

The final result – Tah – Dah!!!

Throughout the afternoon and evening we were were able to listen to local area musicians and take folk dancing lessons thanks to Tamarack Dance from Duluth, MN. A special performance by visual artist and musician,  Malena Handeen, who was presented the Prairie Star Award at the evening banquet was icing on the cake, so to speak.  Who would have thought an accordian could be so cool with a blend of gutsy blues, hip hop(?), ballads and folk. I’ve just added attending a Maleena Handeen concert to my bucket list and I’m putting a Malena Handeen album purchase on my Christmas Wish List.

A big “thank you”  to Milan Village Arts School, Milan, MN and the Southwest Minnesota Arts & Humanities Council for a wonderful Sunday.  Kudos to all of you!

It’s Photo Friday featuring the Old Cupola


I have walked and driven by this barn with its majestic cupola countless times as it slowly sinks toward the ground and usually think only of its decorative features, not considering that it once had an important function. Since the construction of the first cupola they have had a vital purpose to the function and contents of the barn. Barns contained hay stacked in high towers in order to accommodate greater amounts in less space. Cupolas on top of barns contain holes that provide light and constantly draw in circulating air, which dries the hay stored nearest to the top of these stacks.

To me the cupola evokes a sense of nostalgia and and appreciation of the hard work involved with farming in the past. I imagine how hot, sweaty and dusty it must have been back in the days of farming with horses and when daily life of a farmer involved hard physical labor. It was also a farm kid’s playground for games that may or may not have involved broken bones or wounded egos at some point. The barn is a symbol of farming in American but is a vanishing site as they become too expensive to repair and modern technologies have deemed them impractical for present day use.

There may be fewer of the “old style” barns as we drive through the rural regions of our country but you can’t help but have a “Norman Rockwell” moment you when you drive by an old farmplace after a fresh snowfall and see the cupola on the barn roof jutting into the skyline with its majectic features as if to say “Remember me?”

Photo information: Canon 5D Mark 2 / available light with reflector / Aperture priority 2.8 / Edited with Photoshop CS5