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PRLAAC encompasses range of arts

n Editor's note: The Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council, PRLAAC, is a unique, proactive organization that works cooperatively to 'promote excellence in arts.' This and the ensuing articles will introduce the individuals and organizations that incubate and create the events and artistic endeavors that engage Park Rapids area audiences.

Members of PRLAAC shared information on the history of the organization they represent and the mission. This is the first of a sequence of articles.

Blank Canvas Gallery

and Education Center

Blank Canvas Gallery and Education Center (BCG) is a nonprofit cooperative of artists from the north central lakes region.

This organization offers many opportunities for the community. The Education Center provides workshops for both adult and youth. The workshops are offered June through September and will include writing and illustrating, watercolor, drawing, woodcarving, stained glass and many others. In addition to these workshops, the gallery artists donate their time for community service art activities.

The gallery is located at 311 Main Avenue in downtown Park Rapids. Many forms of local art is showcased, which includes paintings, stained glass, jewelry, pottery, fused glass, wooden bowls and furniture.

One of the gallery's members is featured each month with an open reception. An artist works the gallery during hours of operation and is available to answer questions. Memberships are available through five avenues.

BCG offers three levels of support. Sponsorship donations support the community educational activities and scholarship development.

Visit the website at

Classic Chorale

The Park Rapids Classic Chorale is an auditioned choir of dedicated singers with mature voices.

Almost 25 years ago, several community members who enjoyed choral singing persuaded the high school choir director, Patty Bjorklund, to organize a chorale group.

Close to 25 singers comprised the group, which now numbers 45-50. Nine of the charter members performed in the most recent concert.

No formal mission statement exists but bringing the best of the choral music tradition to the Park Rapids area has been central. As Dave Keller, current president of the PRCC board of directors and a charter member, comments, "We wanted to work on good music, perform it well and have fun doing it."

Audience response to the spring 2012 concert confirmed that aspiration.

Jim Wheeler, long-time band and choir director, is the current director, the most recent of several professional musicians who have held this post.

The director in consultation with the board of directors selects the music and prepares and conducts the choir in two performances a year.

Auditions are held in September and January and the choir rehearses one evening a week for about three months prior to December and late April concerts.

Recent performances have included choral works from J.S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Leonard Bernstein, Jacques Offenbach, Stephen Paulus, Cole Porter, John Rutter, as well as spirituals and traditional folk tunes.

The pieces range from light to heavy, slow to fast, simple to complicated, with the choir seeking to capture the special nature of each individual piece.

The choir is self-managed and secures its funding primarily through donations and freewill offerings at concerts. Proceeds go to stipends for the director, accompanists and guest artists.

PRCC is a supporting member of Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council. For further information, contact Keller, PRCC president, or Marvel Hayes, PRCC secretary, or Wheeler.

Headwaters Center

for Lifelong Learning

In early January of 2001, a group of interested citizens met to ascertain the possibility of forming an organization that would bring intellectually stimulating programs to the Park Rapids community.

The meeting was in response to the expressed interest of a group of senior citizens. Headwaters Center for Lifelong Learning was the title given to the organization, and with a grant from Minnesota Humanities Commission, a board was selected with meetings beginning in March 2001.

It was decided to present a series of programs in the winter and in the fall of each year. The initial program began in September 2001. For over 10 years this organization has brought to the community varied programs and speakers. HCLL averages 18 programs per year, with a typical audience being 40 to 50 people.

The board is made up of people from diverse professions who bring their expertise in selecting topics and speakers to present to the people in and around Park Rapids.

This season's topics addressed the future - from climate change to lakes in northern Minnesota to health care, Park Rapids and more.

Contact hclifelonglearn

Heartland Concert


The Heartland Concert Association has been providing top notch, world class concerts and entertainments to this community for 30 years at an affordable price.  

Five concerts, encompassing all genres of music are presented between September and May each year at the Park Rapids Area High School with 400-500 members attending these concerts.

For information regarding season tickets, contact Bobbi/Bill Zigmant, 218-732-9293.  Information packets can also be obtained at Beagle Books.

Jackpine Writers' Bloc

The Jackpine Writers' Bloc began in the fall of 1993 as a Community Education class. The intent was to engage Park Rapids-area would-be writers. It morphed into an energetic group that sponsors writing workshops and publishes "The Talking Stick," an annual anthology of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

The group has grown beyond its regional boundaries, attracting statewide attention, with members and contributors across Minnesota.

The mission of JWB is to encourage creation and appreciation of the written word. Meetings are held at 12:30 p.m. on the third Sundays of the month at Bella Caffé, Park Rapids.

The call for submissions for "The Talking Stick," is published, and details can be found at the JWB website, Contact Sharon Harris at

Jasper's Theater

Audiences are invited to join the 2012 Jasper's Theater Road Trip and journey through the faces and places that have become the landmarks of our musical heritage.

We'll travel from Nashville to New Orleans, Vegas to Vaudeville, and Broadway to Hollywood with a unique blend of music, dance, magic and comedy.

Jasper's strives to please even the most discriminating audiences with tributes to the theater, old time radio shows, the glitz and glamour of Vegas, the down home feel of the Grand 'Ole Opry, Southern Dixie, Patriotic, Cajun and Gospel music.  

Movies, musicals and memories throughout the years - now that's entertainment!  

Jasper's Theater is located one mile East on Highway 34 in Park Rapids.   Call early for reservations 237-4333 or go to


Folklore Theater

Minnesota Folklore Theater is dedicated to performing plays and musi- cals about Minnesota and the Midwest. We also perform plays and musicals that have created history in Minnesota arts.

The mission of Minnesota Folklore Theater is to create, develop and present professional community-based musical and dramatic productions that will further the knowledge and appreciation of the culture and heritage of the United States.

The theater is dedicated to maintaining standards of artistic excellence; celebrating and illuminating the human condition; reaching a large audience of all ages, including families; and fostering a humanistic work environ- ment with adequate and appropriate emotional, financial and creative support for all those asso- ciated with us.

The Children's Theater Company at Minnesota Folklore Theater will create extraordinary theater experiences, and advance theater as a means of educa- ting, challenging and inspiring young people.

The Minnesota Folklore Theater, formerly located in Akeley, announce its arrival in Walker. A partnership with Walker-Hacken- sack-Akeley Community Education has opened new opportunities.

Nemeth Art Center

In 1977, Park Rapids was offered a rare opportunity: to acquire an astonishing collection of 40 European paintings.

This collection, which spans six centuries, had been painstakingly preserved by art restorer Gabor Nemeth and brought to the United States after World War II. It had been widely accepted that St. John's University would be the beneficiary of the collection, but Gabor ultimately chose the site of his summer home, Park Rapids, as the permanent destination for his collection. Thirty Park Rapids families pledged the funds needed to purchase the paintings, and those works are now part of the permanent collection of the Nemeth Art Center.

Visitors to the Nemeth Art Center, which is located in the historic Hubbard County Courthouse in Park Rapids, can not only see a rotating presentation of these exceptional paintings, but also monthly exhibits of local, regional, and national contemporary art.

The art center also offers free lectures and workshops hosted by participating artists.

This summer, the Nemeth was pleased to present the annual Regional High School Juried Art Show in May.

In June, visitors will see an exhibit of northwest Minnesota photographers. The Nemeth will host Danielle Kimzey, a Los Angeles based painter, and Mary Laube, a painter from Chicago, in July.

Midwest Multiples, a juried show of prints and artist books from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan will fill the galleries in August. In September, we will show new work by local painter Kayleen Horsma.

For more information on the history of the Nemeth and the exciting programming offered this summer, visit the website

Noon Hour Concerts

The summer noon hour concerts series will begin its seventh season in June. It began as an opportunity for people in the community to listen to live music during their lunch hour.

The concerts are held at local churches - St. Johns Lutheran, Calvary Lutheran and Faith Baptist - from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. the second and fourth Thursdays of June, July and August.

People are invited to bring their lunch and eat while listening to live music performed by local musicians, dancers or writers.

The church provides beverages and sweets. The concerts are free of charge although a free will offering is received.

Northern Light

Opera Company

The Northern Light Opera Company was founded in 2002, incorporated and granted tax-exempt status, and introduced to the community as NLOC.

The past 10 summers, the Park Rapids high school auditorium has been home for productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operas and musicals that have entertained over 18,000 audience members from nearby communities as well as surrounding states and Canada.

"We can't believe the talent of your performers and costume/set builders from our small town area," a guest remarked. "Each year you seem to get better and more professional." Over 1,200 performers and crewmembers, ages 6-80-plus from a 60-mile radius, are actively sharing their artistic creativity with their community.

"I feel so blessed to be part of NLOC...the creation of NLOC has given me and many more a safe haven, a place where I can forget my problems and work hard, while creating a story through music...the new experiences and new powerful friendships are gifts that I hold tight."

In the 10 years of existence, NLOC has gained respect of the community members and contributed to the "quality of place" for our community and visitors.

NLOC welcomes persons who would like to create as a performer, musician, set builder, costume maker, publicity person or whatever your talent and skill to become part of our "family" to bring a special event to Park Rapids.

This year's production will be "The Sound of Music," to be staged July 27-29 and Aug. 2-4.

For more information, check out the website, or contact Paul Dove, 732-7096.

Northland Studio

of Dance

Northland Studio of Dance offers a noncompetitive approach to dance education, developing attributes that can serve the child well throughout a lifetime, promoting and enhancing musicality, coordination, flexibility, creativity, and various developmental skills, to name a few.

Classes encompass:

n Training in correct dance techniques building upon solid skills within a structured relaxed class environment.

n Small class sizes provide students with personal attention and hands-on instruction

n Student placement in age and level appropriate class

n Each combination is class designed to provide accelerated studies in multiple dance disciplines that may include ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, theatre performance, creative movement, and others.

n Classes are provided in a professional dance studio environment that promotes proper dance technique and development.

Denise Gulbranson, director, and primary instructor at Northland Studio of Dance, began studying dance at the age of 4; received her dance training in Chicago Ill.; performed professionally with the United Artists Dance Company in Chicago, and had taught various dance disciplines in Chicago. Gulbranson has taught dance in Park Rapids for the past 19 years.

Park Rapids Area Community Band

Park Rapids Area Community Band was established in October 1991 by Solon Green and Jim Wheeler.

Wheeler was the first director with Green and Steve Perry the managers. The band was co-sponsored by Community Education and American Legion Post 212.

The mission was "to build a unique musical group to provide traditional band literature as well as special band arrangements that only the band would have in its library."

  The current director is Dr. Russell Pesola. The band rehearses on select Saturdays throughout the year, culminating with a fall and spring concert. Summer concerts include Itasca State Park and Detroit Lakes in June, July 4th on Fish Hook River and Hackensack in August.

Full rehearsal and performance dates along with other band information are on the band website (

For further information contact Paul Peterson at 732-4760 or visit the website.

Park Rapids

Community Education

Park Rapids Community Education is happy to support our artistic community.  

Community Education contributes through the elementary and middle school art club, youth theater camp, music lessons and bringing musical guests to the area.  

Community Education is proud to partner with PRLAAC to sponsor the Youth Art & Music Showcase, transportation for the Art Leap and special evening concerts.

Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce

In 2011, the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with PRLAAC and others and won designation to host a Legacy Destination Weekend Sept. 23-25.

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, Conservation Minnesota and Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state's tourism promotion office, assisted in promoting Park Rapids' clean lakes, historic trails and unique artists statewide.

The purpose of the weekend in Park Rapids and 11 other Minnesota communities was to highlight local outdoors, arts and cultural resources supported by the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment. Some of the arts, outdoors and historical sites and events featured received grants from the Legacy Amendment approved by Minnesota voters in 2008 to dedicate a portion of sales tax revenues to conservation, parks and cultural programs.

The Chamber also assists PRLAAC in promoting members' events.

Red Bridge Film Festival

Red Bridge Film Festival was organized by Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council for the purpose of promoting motion picture arts locally.

  Each festival, starting in April 2008 with repeats in 2009, 2010 and 2011, screened at least six feature films, even Academy Award winners, at Park Theatre on Main Street in Park Rapids that would not otherwise have shown here on a big screen. Most selections have been new, but occasional classics have also been included.

  Each festival also brought a visiting filmmaker with an exceptional production that spurred vivid discussions. In 2011, nine programs screened a total of 30 times over five days.

  Enthusiastic audiences and solid business support for the first four festivals prompted this year's festival, held in April.

  For information, head to Anyone interested in working on the festival committee is encouraged to contact Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council (

Terrapin Station

Terrapin Station is an art, music and wellness centre in Nevis that encourages a wide range of creative expression by providing performance and exhibit opportunities for artists and musicians on location in Nevis and other events throughout the region.

In addition to scheduling  performances at Terrapin Station, owner Brian Skinness helps coordinate the music for other events, this year including Second Street Stage, Bite of Park Rapids and Legends & Logging in Park Rapids, Nevis Muskie  Days and Walker Ethnic Fest.

There are a number of YouTube videos recorded at Terrapin Station that can be viewed online, along with a Common Ground feature from Lakeland Public Television. All events are posted at

White Birch Artists

The White Birch Artists group meets to paint together from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays in the lower level meeting room of the Park Rapids Area Library.  The group has been inactive this past winter but will resume meeting with the return of summer members. 

  White Birch Artists welcomes anyone in the area who likes to do visual art. It is a social group that can provide help and encouragement as well as friendship to other artists. In the past WBA has sponsored workshops, demos and shows, and has participated in community events to stimulate interest in the arts.

  White Birch Artists are honored to be "Guest Artists" for the month of July at the Blank Canvas Gallery. The reception is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, June 29, 

In September WBA participates in the Art Leap event. Their display will be at the Coldwell Banker Clack and Dennis Real Estate office in downtown Park Rapids.

  The Blank Canvas Gallery will also be hosting a book signing featuring a children's book illustrated by White Birch artist Betty Porter. The date has not yet been determined, but will be publicized soon.