Online giving for the Cultural Center

Giving to the Cultural Center – easier & quicker than ever

Just click on the button for Network for Good below.  You will be directed to the Network for Good website featuring the Cultural Center (our legal name is “New York Mills Arts Retreat”).  Thank you!


Norman Kennedy to kick off Think-Off weekend

normankennedy1Scottish balladeer and storyteller to kick off the 2015 Great American Think-Off weekend with a concert at the Cultural Center on Friday, June 12th at 7:30pm

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Norman Kennedy in concert at the Cultural Center on Friday, June 12th at 7:30pm.  This is the night before the 23rd annual Great American Think-Off (click for more information).  Join us in New York Mills for a full weekend of musical and philosophical entertainment.  Admission to the Norman Kennedy concert is $15 on the night of the concert or $12 with advance reservation.  Student admission is always $5.  Call 218-385-3339 for reservations.

2003NormanKennedyNorman Kennedy is an unaccompanied singer of traditional Scottish songs with a long history of performances around the world, including such venues as Carnegie Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival. Norman learned his songs naturally by growing up around some of the great Scottish singers of the last generation. He has a wide repertoire of songs learned directly from them without the facility of tapes and records. He learned them, not because he wanted to be a folk singer, but because even as a boy he was drawn to the music.

In concert, Norman draws only from that body of old songs. His concerts have a relaxed informality about them. He comes out on stage, takes a seat and seemingly starts a conversation with the audience. His dry sense of humor and memory of the stories surrounding the songs make his listeners appreciate not only the old songs, but the old ways as well. “You can tell stories, you can recite them, you can sing them,” he says. Singing and recollecting are all part of the same cloth. With this directness he presents ballads — stories of love won and lost, betrayal, death — in a way that holds everyone’s attention.

Norman shares what is enduring about traditional songs – their authenticity to life, the humorous turns of every-day events, the beauty of old melodies. As Norman explains it: “These songs are my roots; they’re older and more important than I am.” This unpretentiousness makes Norman’s music as wonderful to the audience as it is important to him.

Norman Kennedy was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, into a family with roots in that port city dating to the 13th century. The Kennedys had been shipbuilders and merchant seamen for generations. While learning songs, stories, and lore from family members and neighbors, Kennedy spent part of his teen years “hanging around” the local handweavers.

During the 1950s, he made annual trips to the Outer Hebrides to learn the local weaving, Gaelic songs, and cultural practices. In 1965, he was invited to perform at the Newport Folk Festival to represent Scotland in a program on the origins of the American ballad tradition. A year later, he returned to the United States to co-found Country Roads, a shop and organization intended to support traditional crafts.

From 1967 to 1972, he served as the master weaver at Colonial Williamsburg. Finally, Kennedy founded the Marshfield School of Weaving in Marshfield, Vermont, in 1976 where he taught until he closed it in 1995. Kennedy travels the country performing the old songs, telling stories, and instructing people in traditional weaving techniques, including the rarely practiced community method of waulking (shrinking) cloth accompanied by group song. He once answered someone, who asked him why he didn’t use some of the new labor and cost-saving devices for preparing cloth, with his own question: “How much is a pound of pride and maybe a half a pound of satisfaction?”

2015 Annual Kite Festival, NEW Rocket Launch

Kite2The Kite Festival is back at the New York Mills School

This annual program sponsored by the Cultural Center has in the past included classes from NYM building and launching various types of kites with help, instruction and supplies from the Cultural Center.  This year, Tammy Olson’s Exploring Art class will be building and decorating paper kites that they will fly May 28 or 29, and new this year, Travis Ekren’s science classes will be launching air powered rockets outside the school on May 26th.

Kite1Both launch and flight activities use supplies provided by the Cultural Center.  Many kids have never flown a kite much less launched a rocket, so this is a great opportunity to incorporate art and science learning, all while having fun in the great outdoors.  Thanks to all Cultural Center donors for making this activity possible.

Help Wanted: Program Coordinator

ProgCoordJobPostMay15Looking for a part-time job? Interested in the arts, culture, and community? Appreciate the value of lifelong learning? Then submit your resume and a cover letter telling us why you’d be the best fit for the job of Program Coordinator here at the Cultural Center. We are seeking a person to assist in carrying out various roles related to lifelong learning in the arts.  20-30 hours per week (some flexibility in schedule, prefer 3-4 days/week), beginning as soon as possible. E-mail resume and cover letter to


Art in Your Park 2015

Join us in the parks this summer for FREE art activities for kidsArtInYourParkPhoto

Each month will feature a different theme of activities and art projects that kids can take home at the end of the day.  Come and have fun being creative while enjoying the great outdoors.  Stop in or stay for the whole session.

All ages welcome, with children under the age of 7 needing to be accompanied by an adult or older sibling.  Activities will take place in New York Mills, Perham and Wadena. Schedule follows:
















We look forward to seeing you in YOUR park this summer!

2015 Regional Art Show

Submit your work and participate in the annual regional art show at the Center.  Everyone is welcome, all media are accepted, and this is a non-juried show.  Details below.

Wednesday May 27th – Thursday July 2nd, 2015
Open to all artists working in any medium
Reception for artists Saturday, May 30th from 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Submit up to two works in any medium for inclusion in this non-juried art show.  Bring your work to the Cultural Center on Thursday May 21st or Friday May 22nd from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm or Saturday, May 23rd from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  Need a special drop off time?  Call 218-385-3339.

Entry fee for one piece is $15, or $20 for two pieces.  This includes membership in the Cultural Center for one year.  This modest  fee helps the Center keep its gallery space available to regional artists.

Work must have been completed in calendar years 2013, 2014, or 2015.  You may choose to make your work available for purchase.  Please note that the Center charges 25% commission on all gallery sales during the show; please price your work accordingly.  All work must be ready for presentation.  For example, photographs must be matted and framed.  Paintings must be prepared for gallery hanging.Attach a completed entry form (click on form below) firmly to the back or underside of each work submitted and another on the front or top.

There will be a $50 “People’s Choice” award announced at the conclusion of the show.  There will also be four $50 “best in category” awards given at the reception on May 30th.  Categories will be established after submissions are complete and will be based on the number of submissions in each medium.

Please click on the entry form below to print the submission guidelines and the entry form.  Thank you for entering this annual people’s art show May 27th to July 2nd, 2015.  Reception Saturday May 30, 7-9pm.

2015 Regional Show

2015 Garden Party: Thursday May 14

gardenparty2Join us for our annual live & silent auctions

Spring is here to stay…let’s celebrate with the annual Cultural Center Garden Party fundraiser!   We will have many gardening and other items for your bid at our May 14th event.

The Cultural Center’s annual spring fundraiser, the Garden Party, is happening on Thursday evening May 14th at the Center.  Please save the date and join us. Weather permitting, we plan to open up the back doors and extend the party out onto the back deck this year, where we will be selling brats, beans & beer.  As usual, we will also have wine, soda, and other treats & sweets for your culinary enjoyment.  The Mills Locker Plant has generously donated their award-winning brats in a variety of yummy flavors, and Dean’s Country Market has contributed the buns. Thanks to these wonderful business supporters – please be sure to frequent these local businesses!

gardenparty4Bidding for silent auction items begins at 6:00pm and concludes at 8:00pm.  At 6:45pm, a live auction segment will begin, featuring live plants and other exciting items.

New this year – we are partnering with several area greenhouses for a portion of the live auction items for which the proceeds will be split with those businesses; greenhouse/floral partners include Red Barn Greenhouse, Perala’s Evergreen Gardens, Clover Hills Farm, Jean’s the Right Plant Place, and Designs by Tes.  Again, please be sure to stop by these local businesses and support them as well.

Back by popular demand is our Wall of Wine fundraiser. Donate a bottle or two to add to the wall and a lucky winner will take home all the wine!

In addition, current visiting artist Kiki Farish has donated several paintings completed during her residency, two of which will be in the live auction, one in the silent auction, and two in a drawing.  Kiki will be at the Garden Party and looks forward to meeting local residents and supporters.

Get ready for gardening and life outdoors after a long winter at this year’s annual Cultural Center “rite of spring.”   We look forward to welcoming Spring together.

Donations are being accepted now and can be dropped off at the Cultural Center. If you would like to arrange for a pick up, please call us at 218-385-3339.  Thanks to all generous donors and bidders for making this a fun and successful event each year.

The donations are coming in and staff members can’t help but make lists of items to bid on! A sampling of items include 18-hole rounds of golf  at several regional golf courses, a canoe trip for four down the Crow Wing River with lunch or dinner at a local restaurant, kid’s gardening sets, lawn ornaments made of metal, glass and even fiber (handmade by the Center’s Sit & Stitch group), homemade pickles, and so much more. Click here to check out our Facebook page for photos and updates!

2015 Think-Off Finalists Announced

Think-OffThe four finalists have been chosen for the 23rd annual Great American Think-Off, to answer the question “Does Technology Free Us or Trap Us?” Arguing that technology traps us will be Paul Terry and Marsh Muirhead, while David Eckel and David Lapakko will argue that technology frees us.

Think those names sound familiar?  You’re right — all four competitors have debated in the Great American Think-Off in the past. This twist will make for a truly epic Great American Think-Off debate on Saturday, June 13th, 2015. You won’t want to miss it.

Please visit our Think-Off website for the full story of the four finalists, details on the event, and more.

Tickets are available now, click here to purchase online, or call the Cultural Center at 218-385-3339.

2015 State High School League Arts Festival

DSCN6624Annual student gallery show April 29 – May 6

Each Spring the Cultural Center hosts the annual Minnesota State High School League Arts Festival for Region 6A North.  This year the show will be in the gallery April 29 – May 6th.  The festival will be on Wednesday, May 6th from 9am-2pm. During this time, approximately 125-150 students will be in New York Mills to see their artwork in the gallery, participate in two workshops given by area artists, and attend an awards ceremony.

All pieces entered in the show are scored by qualified visual arts judges according to MSHSL rules and regulations in a variety of categories including imaginative content, skill and technique, style, and more. Workshops available for students this year, taught by local/regional artists, include Woodland Indian Style, Zentangle Drawing, Cut Tear & Paste, Water Color Pencil, Art Through Play, and The Art of Stamping.

DSCN6636Twelve area schools are participating in the 2015 show: Barnesville, Bertha-Hewitt, Dillworth-Glyndon-Felton, Frazee, Hawley, Henning, Lake Park – Audubon, Menahga, Pelican Rapids, Sebeka, Staples-Motley, and Verndale. Students compete in a variety of categories including Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Media Arts, Crafts, Print Making, Ceramics, 2D Mixed Media/Collage and Graphic Design.

There are approximately 140 pieces of original artwork on display at the Center. The talent and diversity is notable, and is worth a visit during this very limited time (April 29 – May 6). Gallery hours are Mondays 5-8pm, Tuesdays-Fridays 10am-5pm, and Saturdays 10am-3pm.