Three awards are given each year to recognize artists and arts advocates within our seven county region who stand out in terms of artistry or volunteerism in the arts. “Of the Year” Award winners were nominated by area residents.
Northwest Star Award Winner is Annelee Woodstrom
The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce that Annelee Woodstrom of Ada has been selected as the 2017 Northwest Minnesota Star Artist of the Year for her lifetime achievement in literary arts. Annelee is a writer and previously an award-winning school teacher in Twin Valley. She has written about her life in War Child: Growing Up in Adolf Hitler’s Germany and Empty Chairs.
Annelee grew up in Hitler’s Germany and moved to northwestern Minnesota in 1946 to marry an American soldier. At the time, she spoke 5 words of English: yes, no, hot, cold and Crookston. Her husband spoke no German. After attending college, she worked as a psychology, mass media, civics and English teacher. In 1984, she was selected as one of ten Teachers of Excellence by the Minnesota State Education Association. Annelee loved teaching and continues to stay in touch with many of her former students. After her husband died in 1998 she decided to start writing.
Annelee has published two books and has a third book coming out soon. Her first book War Child won the Jeanette Fair Award by the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. Of writing, Annelee says, “You have to be dedicated and put yourself out there.” Her writings are very personal. At times, she said it was painful to write her books, but it the process of writing was healing. “I dealt with the war through writing.”
Annelee speaks to many schools and other groups about her books, the writing process and growing up during the Nazi regime. She writes essays and letters to the editor about current events and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Asked if she had advice for aspiring writers, Annelee said, “Write for yourself. Don’t forget to write, to talk to each other and to read. We should all be encouraged to write. You’ll be surprised at what you learn. Writing has taught me a lot, even about myself. It cleans your mind.”
Joyce Schlagel commented, “Annelee is very deserving of this award for her writing. She really gives it her all. She really goes at it and I’m proud of her. Congratulations!”
The Northwest Star Artist Award is given each year to recognize artists within our seven-county region who stand out in terms of artistry. “Of the Year” Award winners are nominated by area residents. This award comes with $5,000. Artists can only receive our Northwest Star Award once, as a lifetime achievement award. Funding for the Northwest Star comes from the McKnight Foundation.
Jane Vigness is Northwest Arts Advocate of the Year
The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce this year’s recipient for the Advocate of the Year Award is Jane Vigness of rural Climax.
Jane Vigness is the public librarian in Climax, active in the Sandhill Historical Society and an avid art promoter in her community. She is also a dedicated and hard-working volunteer in the Association of the French of the North (AFRAN). As a board member, Jane helps organize their Chautauqua & French-Canadian Metis Arts Festival each year in August. Jane has written about the event, including AFRANS’s newsletters and article in their book titled Treaty at Old Crossing To Invite Enlightened Understanding (AFRAN 2008). Each year she comes dressed in costume with carefully arranged flowers she has grown to decorate the stage.
Jane is best described by some of her fellow volunteers. “Jane has an empathy for people of diverse cultures. Jane is a true working partner who enlightens every one of us. She sees differences and appreciates what they bring to the occasion.”
Jane is energetic and supportive of the arts. She is always looking for new and exciting artists to exhibit or teach workshops in the library. She tries to bring visual art, theater arts and music to the library to enhance the quality of life in Climax and the surrounding area. Jane was instrumental in arranging the publicity and space for community members to create a community mosaic bulletin board in front of the library with a grant from the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council. She encouraged young people in the community to attend the weekly mosaic sessions and made it a point to get the word out in the community. After the bulletin board project was complete, she arranged a well-attended and successful open house, inviting the residents of Climax and surrounding towns to showcase the project, as well as individual mosaics that were created by participants.
Our Arts Advocate of the Year award is given each year to recognize arts advocates within our seven-county region who stand out in terms of volunteerism in the arts. “Of the Year” award winners were nominated by area residents. This award comes with a cash award of $500.00. Funding for the Northwest Arts Advocate of the Year comes from the Minnesota State Legislature.
Northwest Artist of the Year Gayle Moen
The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce that Gayle Moen of Shelly is the Northwest Artist of the Year. Gayle Moen is a talented musician and choral director. She plays the piano and organ and directs with endless enthusiasm.
Gayle’s lifelong commitment to music includes teaching piano, giving vocal lessons, and working with numerous choral and local theater groups. Many of her students have gone on to have a career in music. Gayle became the church organist at the age of 12. She was the founder, director, accompanist and the arranger of the Inspirations, a traveling gospel concert choir for 37 years. Under her direction, the group released 9 albums. She now directs, accompanies and arranges the Praise Singers at Trinity Lutheran Church in Crookston. In addition, Gayle recorded a solo piano album.
Gayle has been described as a talented and knowledgeable musician full of creative and innovative ideas. She creates musical programs with masterful arrangements and directs the ensemble from the piano effortlessly. According to Gaye Wick, “Gayle worked with Crookston Community Theater on the musical revue “Swinging on a Star.” By show time we were well prepared and comfortable. She works with you until you know it! She does so with good humor and a smile on her face. Gayle has worked with many choirs and has helped with oratorios. Once again, she made it fun. I’m in awe of her abilities as a musician. Such talent!”
George French said, “I personally marvel at her keyboard skills while directing ensembles, and very much admire her abilities to arrange music to the level of musical expertise that her ensembles are able to achieve. She also gives all of her singers a chance to sing solos, realizing that a choir of soloists makes for a better ensemble.”
Dave Knudtson has known Gayle most of their lives. “Gayle inspires confidence in the people she works with. Among others, Gayle is certainly one of those who has given me the confidence to roar up on a theatre organ console, be it in Minneapolis, Fargo or New York City and I know I can pull it off. This is a gift she has given to any number of Minnesota musicians. But I am only one of the people she has encouraged and helped in our area.”
Gayle has been generous in sharing her talents with the greater northwestern Minnesota community.
The Northwest Artist of the Year Award is given each year to recognize artists within our seven-county region who stand out in terms of artistry. This award can be given to any discipline artist including visual, performing, or creative writing who are emerging or at a mid-way point in their artistic endeavors. “Of the Year” Award winners were nominated by area residents and comes with a cash award of $500.00. Funding for the Northwest Artist of the Year comes from the McKnight Foundation.