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Take the Leap - journey to area artists' studios

The Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council (PRLAAC) will sponsor Art Leap 2011 Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24 and 25. Art Leap is an "open studio event" featuring artists' studios and culturally rich destinations in the Park Rapids area. For the sixth year, art lovers can use a map to find their way to area artists' and artisans' studios, workshops and other featured locations.

Maps are available at the Community Education office, Blank Canvas Gallery in Park Rapids and the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce or may be downloaded at or

There are familiar studio names to visit, as well as several new sites where visitors will have opportunities to meet mature artists/artisans who have been practicing their individual skills and talents in their chosen fields for decades. Studios will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

For 2011, Park Rapids Community Education is offering a handicapped accessible bus tour to Art Leap destinations. (A fee will be charged to cover bus expense.) Call 237-6600 to reserve a seat.

In addition to the Nemeth Art Center (formerly North Country Museum of Arts) and Blank Canvas Gallery in downtown Park Rapids, two new downtown locations have been added. They are are Smoky Hills Art, 307 Main Ave. So., and Moose Creek/Moose Creek Village at the corner of Main Avenue South and 4th Street.

Smoky Hills Art owner Robin Cunningham fabricates jewelry using all of nature's stones in a variety of fashions with beads, wire and metalsmithing techniques. Joining her will be Jim Kropp, who has been working on some new designs that do a good job of showing the potential that can be reached in lapidary and silversmithing. 

Three artists will show their work and do demonstrations at Moose Creek/Moose Creek Village: Ellen Jean Diederich of Fargo, Maureen O'Brien of Solway and Don Wattenhofer of Ponsford. The White Birch Artists will be showing their works in the back room of Jack Pine Cafe.

The Nemeth Art Center will feature its Nigerian collection, including spectacular textiles, and works by Melanie Bacon and Kayleen Horsma.

Three sisters - Bickey Bender, Jo Hill and Genell Poitras - will share studio space on Stony Lake this year.

Returning artists are Terri Young, Kathleen Ristinen Jonas and Abner Jonas (showing Abner's hand-pulled original prints and unique rag rugs and Kathleen's woodcuts and wheel-thrown, functional pottery), Sandy Fynboh, Gary and Marsha Wolff, Paul Albright, Paula Jensen, and five artists who live on Island Lake in the Rochert area of Becker County: David Norstad of Ragged Edge Art Studio, Judy and Jerry Wegenast of Touch of Art Studio and Jon and Lucy Normann.

Other cultural destinations on the tour are the Minnesota Folklore Theater, Akeley, where costume designs from Fred Rogers' extensive collection will be on display along with a showing of theater sets and historical theater documents from Minneapolis, Forestedge Winery & Gallery, Itasca State Park and Native Harvest and Minwanjige Cafe.

Live performances will be featured both days. Alex Ziemann will sing and play classic rock at 2 p.m. Saturday at Moose Creek/Moose Creek Village in downtown Park Rapids.

Alabaster Falls (Julie and Bill Kaiser and Paul Jones) will entertain with three-part vocal harmony and instrumental stylings at 3 p.m. Saturday at Paul Albright's Sculpture Studio in rural Akeley. Terrapin Station, Nevis, will be hosting the 2nd Annual Art Leap Music Festival and Open House. All performances are free and open to the public.

Art Leap is part of Legacy Weekend Sept. 23-25 in the Park Rapids area, with events celebrating the importance of arts, history and outdoor resources to the community and the local impact of funding provided through the Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment.

Art Leap 2011 is sponsored by the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council and is funded, in part, by Itasca-Mantrap's Operation Round Up and a Region 2 Arts Council grant through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.