Anderson: ArtWorks has ongoing impact

Published 10:00 am Thursday, September 5, 2013

This is the last in a series of columns about the second annual Astin ArtWorks Festival.

By Janet Anderson, Austin ArtWorks Festival

The afterglow of the second annual Austin ArtWorks Festival may fade but its impact will continue to be seen and felt in many ways. It’s exciting that attendance grew to more than 6,500 people from near and far over two days. Expand those numbers to include more than 100 dedicated volunteers who also enjoyed the artists, authors and performers.

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Festival goers experienced a fascinating mix of first encounters and happy reunions with artists, many who have the distinction of an Austin connection. Long-range, positive results include building a fan base that will now follow participating artists.

Locally, people can continue to enjoy lasting impact with festival artwork on permanent display in Holton Intermediate School, Pacelli Catholic School, Austin High School and Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Austin. Last year’s Purchase Award by Pat & Gary Ray was Eric Anfinson’s “The Golden Fish,” and they donated it to the new I.J. Holton Intermediate School.

This year’s Purchase Award was made possible by Dr. David Agerter and Dr. Mark Ciota representing Mayo Clinic Health System ­— Albert Lea and Austin. They chose two paintings by Michael Murach, along with several other art pieces to display at the clinic. They also donated two paintings by Micah Ofstedahl to I. J. Holton School.

A group of supporters pooled money to buy the Cloud Cult concert painting by Scott West and donated it in honor of Pacelli Catholic School’s 100th Anniversary celebration. Concert goers will remember the white dove surrounded by blue “living water.” Visit Pacelli for a closer look to see that it holds a shamrock in its beak. Bruce Loeschen purchased the other Cloud Cult concert painting by Connie Minowa and just might be persuaded to put it on public display on a temporary basis. Many of the books by the 15 authors and illustrators who did presentations are available at Austin Public Library.

The Austin ArtWorks Festival chose to encourage young artists by establishing a Student Scholarship Award. Andrew Baker, an Austin High School student, was the first recipient with a $100 scholarship in recognition of his photography work. The ArtWorks Festival also showcased the talents of five students in the Annex Gallery. Students also performed on both the outdoor and Turbine Gallery stages.

Another first this year was an art raffle with tickets sold during the Festival. A large pottery piece by Joseph Sand was the coveted prize. People are still talking about the wide appeal and growing success of the Austin ArtWorks Festival.

Marketing Committee Co-Chair Gretchen Ramlo had an interesting conversation with representatives from the Edina Art Fair who had heard that something special was going on in Austin so they made the trip to check it out. Many others are sharing stories and Festival organizers would love to keep the conversations going by getting comments and suggestions from the public. Feedback can be sent via Festival Facebook page, Twitter or Be sure to save the dates for the third annual Austin ArtWorks Festival Aug. 23 and 24, 2014. It will be another glorious celebration of the arts …because art works!

This festival is funded in part through support from the Hormel Foundation and the SE MN Arts Council through the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund as approved by the state legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota in November 2008.