Friday, June 14, 2024
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Grand Marais North Shore Readers & Writers Festival

As I described my recent attempt at using a potter’s wheel to Lucy Carlson, Business Manager and Registrar at the Grand Mara-is Art Colony (GMAC), she agreed it’s not an easy feat. “There’s a steep learning curve for that for sure.” Lucy is a potter who lives in Lutsen. She’s been working with GMAC since February of this year.  As my better attempts at art have been in writing form, connecting with her at the upcoming North Shore Readers & Writers Festival, seemed more up my alley than pottery.

Grand Marais is a beautiful city and a perfect place for artists of all kinds to be inspired. Birney Quick, an instructor at the Minneapolis School of Art, recognized this in 1947 when he opened the Outdoor School of Painting in Grand Marais. A couple years later, the school migrated to Red Wing, Minnesota, due to difficulty in traveling to the area. Undeterred, the City of Grand Marais wrote to the Minneapolis School of Arts and asked for them to return. In 1952 the school moved into the old City Hall and was dubbed Town Hall Art Colony.

The history of GMAC, which celebrated its 75th Anniversary last year, is colorful. Much has changed since 1947 but, throughout the decades, Grand Marais has always been a mecca for art in all its forms. The North Shore Readers & Writers Festival is a biennial event, though Covid put a damper on that cadence. The last festival was held in 2019. “This is our rebuild year,” Lucy said of the event that is expected to bring in 70-75 participants. As of the interview, over 30 were already enrolled for the festival, which will be held November 1-4.

The festival begins with a myriad of instructional classes to choose from. One, titled The Art of Finding Truth in your Fiction, is led by Four-time and widely published author Mona Susan Power, a Minnesota resident. GMACs enrollment states the “discussion-style class will inspire fellow writers at any level of practice who wish to write from a place of adventure and vulnerability.” Power’s recently published book, A Council of Dolls: A Novel, has received incredible reviews.

Many regional authors of all genres are slated to instruct classes, participate in panels, and provide author readings. One such instructor, David Maura, who has published nearly a dozen books that range from poet-ry to essays, to memoirs, will participate in an author panel along with Power, Michael Kleber-Diggs, and Michael Torres. The panel discussion is to be held November 2nd at 7:30 PM and will be moderated by authors Carol Miller and Staci Drouillard. It is free and open to the public, but prior registration through GMAC’s website is required.

Another big draw to the Readers and Writers Festival is the Exhitbitors’ hall which brings together Minnesota book professionals, presses, and local writers. “We’re hoping to give opportunities for new or emerging authors to connect with some publishers,” Lucy said. “That’s always been a really important part of the festival.”

Lucy mentioned, also, that GMAC offers four classes throughout the winter. “We’re going to be having lots of classes published on our website soon that are more catered towards people living locally,” she told me. This will allow for “more evening times for clay and print making classes.” More time is also available for those who rent a studio or members who purchase a punch card to use the studios at their convenience.

GMAC moved into the former North Shore Pharmacy building at 21 W Highway 61 and also purchased the adjacent building in 2019. More room has helped to expand offerings. Opportunities for more kid activities are on the horizon. “We’re really trying to build up our youth programming,” Lucy said, as we talked about how much kids tend to love creating art. I know I did when I was young but, looking back at my hurried awkward creations, I’m surprised my mom kept any of it.

Visit grandmaraisartcolony.org for more in-formation about the festival and all the other offerings GMAC has to offer. I could write a novel about GMAC’s history and what it means to the community and artists. Maybe I should go to the North Shore Readers & Writers Fest for tips on how to do so!

Feel free to contact me at sarahwritesnsj@yahoo.com  with any news we should news about!

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