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Northwest Star Award Presented to Donald Kakaygeesick of Warroad

Northwest Star Award Winner is Donald Kakaygeesick

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NW Star Award Winner Donald Kakaygeesick of Warroad

The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce that Donald Kakaygeesick of Warroad has been selected as the 2021 Northwest Minnesota Star Artist of the Year for his lifetime achievement in art. Kakaygeesick received his award at a program in Warroad on August 26.

Donald has had a long history of representing Warroad and Roseau County in the arts field. He was born in 1959 and comes from a long line of Ojibwe artisans and a well-known family of artists along with his brothers Robert, John and his sister Karen. The Kakaygeesick name is synonymous with Warroad history, culture and art. In high school, Donald designed the Warroad Warrior logo for the public school. He has experience with many mediums including acrylic, oils, watercolor, and carving.

According to Warroad teacher and NWMAC Board Member Jaimie Snowdon, “Not only has Donald contributed to the world of art but he has also been a leader and teacher in the Ojibwe culture and history. These skills were taught to him by his father, mother and elders in the Warroad community. Donald has spent his life passing on the traditions of making wigwams, teepees, how to process wild rice, drumming, dancing and sweat lodge ceremonies to name a few. In all of these activities, art is intertwined. With the passing of his brother Robert last fall, Donald is stepping into that elder role for Warroad and the whole region.”

Donald’s art can be viewed at the Warroad Library and Museum. He paints in the well-known Indigenous style called, “Woodland School of Art.” This visionary style emphasizes outlines and X-ray views of people, animals, and plant life. 

Asked about the impact of art, Kakaygeesick said, “You can make a big impact with your art. Artwork can bring change. If you have the talent, you can make changes in everything.” As for advice for aspiring artists, he shared, “Learn your skills. No one will be perfect. Don’t be afraid to express yourself. You might think it’s trash, but sometimes you find out that everyone else loves it.”

Henry Boucha shared, “I would like to thank the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council for recognizing one of our Indigenous peoples for this outstanding NW Star award. I congratulate my cousin Donald KaKayGeesick with this Lifetime Achievement Award and his dedication to the Anishinaabe/Ojibwa culture and traditions of our people.  As long as I can remember, The KaKayGeesick Family, our Guides and Medicine people, have stood strong traditionally, and culturally through the assimilation of our people. The degradation of the Anishinaabe society, and our way of life on Lake of the Woods. Experiencing racism, prejudice, and discrimination throughout their lifetime, they have maintained our language, culture and traditions whereas most of us assimilated and left our traditions and culture behind. Amazingly, when we were ready to come home, they were there to greet us and teach us what they knew. AHO!

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.  

Congratulations Donald Kakaygeesick on winning the Northwest Star Award!

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Arts Advocate Ann Novacek, Artist of the Year Connie Nelson, and NW Star Award Winner Donald Kakaygeesick

Artist Advocate of the Year Ann Novacek, Artist of the Year Connie Nelson, NW Star Award Winner Donald Kakaygeesick at the NWMAC Awards Presentation in Warroad.

Artist Advocate of the Year is Ann Novacek

Annethea (Ann) Novacek of Greenbush was awarded the Northwest Arts Advocate of the Year in Warroad

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Artist Advocate Ann Novacek with NWMAC Board Chair Katya Zepeda and NWMAC Director Mara Hanel

The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce this year’s recipient for the Artist Advocate of the Year Award is Ann Novacek of Greenbush. Novacek received the award at a program in Warroad on August 26.

Novacek is a prolific painter from Greenbush and has encouraged many others in art. In the 1960s Ann joined Artists Unlimited, a group of artists from the region who she has learned with and shared her talents. She remains a member of this group today and serves as its secretary. She has displayed her work in numerous art shows hosted by the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council and Artists Unlimited and displays at the Roseau and Greenbush libraries. 

Arts Advocate of the Year Ann Novacek

According to fellow Artists Unlimited member Bernie Wilebski, Ann is an “extraordinary watercolorist. She has been active in the community, church, Ladies Auxiliary, as well as worked on four large projects with our group – Lifecare Center in Roseau, Greenbush swimming pool, Hallock Senior Center, and the Kennedy Center.”

Her sister Loreen Hanson of Thief River Falls shared, “Ann is an encourager to everyone who has an interest in the arts. She has worked with many children, instilling the love of art and appreciation of the beauty that is all around us. Ann’s influence has enriched and influenced so many.”

Artist Margaret Anderson said that Ann has been promoting the arts for more than 35 years in her community and the region. “With Artists Unlimited, Ann has set up and taken down numerous shows and mentored new artists to create paintings. Ann is one of the quiet doers working behind the scene making a project, no matter what it was, proceed without a hitch. Without these quiet doers no project would succeed.”

Asked about the impact of the arts on individuals or society, Ann explained, ‘It’s necessary for one thing if you are artistic at all. Art makes people happy and relaxed and so many things that are positive. If you have a finished product that people like, it’s uplifting, as well. However, you learn disappointment, too. There is lots of art that you throw away or there’s no hope for. It’s not always a success.”

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.


Connie Nelson Receives Northwest Artist of the Year Award

Northwest Artist of the Year is Connie Nelson of Hallock

NWMAC Director Mara Hanel, Artist of the Year Connie Nelson, NWMAC Board Chair Katya Zepeda
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The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce that Connie Nelson of Hallock has been awarded the Northwest Artist of the Year Award. Nelson is a talented visual artist and performer in our area.  The award was presented in Warroad on August 26.

Connie has a strong history in the arts. She organized and exhibited at the Hallock Art & Wine Walk. She painted numerous murals including ones for the City of Kennedy, C&M Ford, the Hallock Telephone building, Two River Golf Clubhouse, the City of Hallock, personal commissions, and others in progress. She has exhibited art in many NWMAC exhibits and has an enhanced artist listing with the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council. 

Connie has also been active in the theater arts. She acted, directed, or designed sets for numerous performances in the Hallock Community Theater, Stephen Community Theater, 42nd Street Theater in Kennedy, Murder Mystery Dinner Theater in Santa Rosa, California, Always Patsy, Sod House Production of Enemy of the People, and the Kittson Central One-Act Play. 

Connie’s community and regional involvement includes serving on the NWMAC Board of Directors, 42ndStreet Theater Board of Directors, International Theater Festival Board of Directors, Hallock Community Theater Board of Directors, Cornerstone food pantry volunteer, City of Hallock Strategic Planning Committee, and Ladies Golf League Treasurer.

According to Hallock Main Street Board Member and Hallock Business Owner Cheri Reese, “Connie captures the quirkiness and warmth that IS Hallock – both in her art and her approach to making it. She brings something playful and unexpected to her projects that very much appeals to people across the spectrum — she makes the familiar fun again.”

Artist Advocate Ann Novacek, Artist of the Year Connie Nelson, NW Star Award Winner Donald Kakaygeesick

The late Kay Rosengren, who served on the NWMAC Board with Nelson and lived in Hallock described her as “an outstanding muralist. There are many places where Connie has brightened both interior and exterior surfaces. She approaches each endeavor with enthusiasm, originality and careful planning.” She went on to say that Connie’s stage presence is “a treat for her audience.”

Fellow actor Tom Silewski said, ”Connie is a ray of sunshine. You can have 100 people on stage and she’s the one who will stand out. She has a glow about her that catches everyone’s eye. There’s only one Connie. She’s unique – she’s talented at art, singing, acting and she can climb a telephone pole.”

When asked about the impact of the arts on individuals or society, Nelson explained that “the arts in general have a lot of purposes. There’s the entertainment factor, but there are some things in visual arts, theater arts, or writing that can really make you stop and think about serious issues. The arts can make you more introspective and really enrich your life. They help you get to know who you are.”

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. 

Congratulations, Connie Nelson on being named the Artist of the Year!

Northwest Minnesota Art Exhibit Awards Announced

Northwest Minnesota Art Exhibit Winners Announced

The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is excited to announce the Northwest Minnesota Art Exhibit Winners. Student and adult artists residing in a seven-county region including Kittson, Marshall, Norman, Polk, Pennington, Roseau and Red Lake recently entered into the Northwest Minnesota Art Exhibit and competed for $2,300.00 in cash awards. The winners were recognized at the Northwest Minnesota Artist Reception in Warroad on August 26.

“Covid Gothic” by Kansas Jensen won 1st place in the student category

Exhibit cash award winners were chosen while the exhibit was on display at the Discovery Development Hub, 201 Lake Street NE, Warroad from August 13 to 26 by qualified juror and Region 2 Arts Council Grants Manager Holly Alcott. “I humbly thank you for the opportunity to experience all these beautiful works of art. What an amazing amount of talent in one room, both by adults and students. I was completely blown away by some of the works that obviously came from and spoke to our shared struggles against the COVID pandemic this last year. To all of you, those who received awards and those who did not, know that the decisions were very difficult because the art works in this exhibit were of great originality and quality. You should all be proud of your work – well done!” Alcott said.

“Daddy and Son” by Debbie Aune won 1st place in the Adult Category

Exhibit Awards include:

Adult Winners

1st Place $500 Debbie Aune of Gatzke in oil painting “Daddy and Son”

2nd Place $300 Heather Sabian of Crookston for sculpture “Skin Hunger”

3rd Place $200 Dennis Kinkead of Hallock in sculpture “Alarmed Dragon”

Merit $100 Nick Reitzel of Karlstad in oil painting “Track of the Wolf Pack”

Merit $100 Richard Jensen of Crookston in sculpture “Crow Mother”

Merit $100 Summit Kuehn of Roseau in painting “Princessa Eagle”

Merit $100 Nancy Vraa of Red Lake Falls in folk/traditional fine craft “Home Spun Origin”

Merit $100 Glen Heppner of Warroad in oil painting “Jordan”

People’s Choice $100 of Irene Bertils of Crookston

Student Winners

1st Place $300 Kansas Jensen of Goodridge in acrylic painting “Covid Gothic”

2nd Place $150 Aubree Bonham of Fertile in mixed media “No Evil”

3rd Place $100 Alexis Jalbert of Ada for sculpture “Sushi”

Merit $50 Brennon Collins of Greenbush for hand-colored intaglio print “Lake Lounging”

Merit $50 Eskyla Manriquez of Ada in sculpture “Air Jordan 1 Chicago Black Toe”

Merit $50 Macrina Herbel of Fertile for drawing “Vignette”

Merit $50 Donavin Hagen of Goodridge for printmaking “Bandit”

Merit $50 Riley Saurdiff of Grygla for drawing “Pencil Pachyderm”

People’s Choice $50 Kansas Jensen and Aubree Bonham

Fifteen exhibit pieces of student and adult art were chosen to be included in the Traveling Art Exhibit, which will travel this next year to area libraries. Watch for the schedule to be announced and for it to arrive in your community.


Elemental: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Space –NWMAC Exhibit at NCTC is Open

Northwest Minnesota Arts Council Announces

elemental: earth, air, fire, water, space

An Art Exhibit at NCTC in Thief River Falls

Open Until September 27

Poetry, Writing, Illustration

Featuring the work of chalk artist Zack Rowatt

elemental exhibit at NCTC in Thief River Falls

Warren, MN. The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce our current exhibit, elemental: earth, air, fire, water, space is open at the NWMAC Gallery at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls until September 27. This exhibit features a number of pieces of chalk art from Roseau artist Zack Rowatt, as well as poetry, writing, and illustration around the theme of the elements from area writers and illustrators.

The elements provide the foundation for the physical world. Illustrator Therese Jacobson of Alvarado whose work is featured in this exhibit explained, “The elements – earth, air, fire, water, space – are where we begin. One’s natural inclination is to seek inner peace through all of our encounters with the world, to satisfy our need for air, to plant our feet on the earth, to warm ourselves, to drink pure water.” 

Rowatt’s individual pieces of chalk art are accompanied by detailed information about the natural and historical background. Viewing these pieces of art and reading the descriptions provides the audience with a natural resource education. For example, you might learn why the water isn’t clear, the age of rocks or why they look the way they do, what a bog is, or about Glacial Lake Agassiz. 

Artist Zack Rowatt at elemental: earth, air, fire, water, space at NWMAC Gallery at NCTC

Rowatt revealed, “As an artist I have been working the past 2 ½ years to better understand the environment around me and capture special moments and sights as I see them. I studied geology and earth science in school and upon its completion found that I didn’t want the application of the knowledge that I had gained to go towards anything but the simple praise of its magnificence.” Rowatt spoke about his artistic process, “The work that I produce is done so in one of two ways, outside in the elements in plein air or inside from photograph.” He went on to recount his desire and process to capture what he sees in a meaningful and personal way, “…sitting down by a river, taking a nice break on a strenuous hike or relaxing atop a large pile of boulders, to focus on the land around and build up a memory and a story with one’s hands is quite a thrill when it comes together.”

Zack Rowatt’s chalk art in the NWMAC Gallery at NCTC. Exhibit: elemental: earth, air, fire, water, space

The writings, poetry or illustrations in this exhibit are from Dale Jacobson of Alvarado, Therese Jacobson of Alvarado, Catherine Stenzel of Beltrami Island Forest, Alexandria Maxwell of Warroad, Kristin Eggerling of Hallock, Rock Bakken of Hallock, Kim Hruba of Warroad, Cindy Kolling of Gully, Glenda Long Eggerling of Ames, Iowa and Judi Jerde of Inver Grove Heights.

elemental: earth, air, fire, water, space

Alexandria Maxwell explained, “As a poet, my medium is words. I love the way words play, and I love to manipulate language to express my thoughts, both existential and elemental. My works are deeply rooted in nature, in exploring the essence of life. What does it mean to be fully alive, to be fully human?

Artist Cindy Kolling

According to Catherine Stenzel, “Survival isn’t possible without the elements that constantly surround and support us. But how often do we stop to notice this with gratitude for the obvious?” Catherine spoke of her writing process, it “comes in the form of a boulder of inspiration that I chip away until I have a sculpted poem; I keep the draft I’m working on with me at all times, as I do multiple revisions. Poetry is always a work in progress. Even after I have a “final” version, when I take out the poem for submission for something like our exhibit, I revise yet again, even if only a word or two.”

To visit the exhibit virtually click here.

Twenty-seven of Rowatt’s pieces of art are available to purchase. All are framed chalk pastel originals.    

Here’s the list with title, sizes and prices:   

  • Frenzied Many…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75,
  • Archaean Architecture…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75,
  • Where it Takes Its Time…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75,
  • Rapid River Rapids…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75,
  • Rapid River Refuge…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75,
  • Wave Washed…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $60,
  • Sidling Sands… 9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $60,
  • Outcrop Overlook… 9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $60, 
  • Des Moines Lobe Lodgment…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75, 
  • Precambrian Presence…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75,
  • Bogs and Swamps and Not a Mire Around…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75,
  • The Path of Least Resistance and the Ground You Stand On…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75,
  • Left for the Lichen…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75,
  • Window to the Soul… 9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $50,
  • Residue, Reclamation, Revival… 9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $30,
  • Bay Boulders…9×12”  $25,
  • Wet-times Inlet…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75,
  • No Trespassing ‘cept for Deer…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75, 
  • Shrouded Stream… 9 x 12” $25, Plain to See… 9×12” $25,
  • It’s A Shore Thing… 9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $75,
  • Borrow-Pit Beach Day 9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $60,
  • Meander Merits…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $60,
  • Field Fringe…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $60, 
  • Bedload Bedlam…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $60,
  • Characteristic Vegation… 9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $50,
  • VE…9×12” (12 x 16” matte) $30.

The NWMAC Gallery is located at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls. The summer gallery hours are Monday-Thursday from 7:30-4:30 PM, Friday from 7:20- 2:30 pm and at other times when events are held at the college. Regular hours  — Monday to Friday, 8:30-5:00 will resume once school begins. Enter through Door A. Visitor parking is free at this time in the large end lot. 

For more information about our exhibits look to our website at www.NWArtsCouncil.org, or if you are an artist interested in exhibiting a body of work with NWMAC, please contact Trey Everett at (218) 280-4917 or treyeverettcreates@gmail.com . This exhibit is made possible with funding from The McKnight Foundation. Please sign up for our e-newsletter on our website home page to see the latest news and grant announcements.  Email director@NWArtsCouncil.org or call 218-745-8886 to reach our office during regular business hours.