• Winter Light FestivalWinterLightFestival

    Monday, February 2nd
    4:00 pm to 8:00 pm

    • Charles Lume's light installation all evening
    • Slide presentation by Charlie at 5:30 pm
    • Live music by Dave Virnala at 6:00 pm
    • Award winning short films from Rural Route Film Festival at 7:00 pm
    • studio presentation by current artist in residence Nadia Alenov from 4-8 pm
  • Great American Think-OffThink-Off

    • Submit your essay by April 1

    • Win $500 prize and expense paid
      trip to New York Mills

    • Debate date is June 13, 2015

Winter Light Festival February 2, 2015

Winter Light Festival February 2WinterLightFestival

Shake off the winter blues and come to the Cultural Center for the 2nd annual Winter Light Festival on Monday, February 2, 2015.  All the events are free of charge and everyone is welcome to enjoy the activities from 4 pm to 8 pm.

1.  Experience Charlie Lume’s light installation titled “Death is the mother of beauty (for Wallace Stevens)”.  One of the poems reprinted in this show’s installation tells a lot about Charlie’s interpretation of winter light:

Regardless of the weather,
The moon shines the same;
It is drifting clouds
that make it seem different
On different nights.

- Basho

2.  Slide presentation by Charlie Lume about this and other light installations he has developed, and about his scheduled installation this coming summer in Finland.  5:30 pm.

3.  Live music presented by Dave Virnala. 6:00 pm.

4.  Award-winning short films from the Rural Route Film Festival at 7:00 pm.

5.  Studio presentation by current artist-in-residence, photographer and illustrator Nadia Alenov from 4:00 to 8:00 pm.


Sit-N-Stitch News

Sit-N-Stitch will not meet Monday, February 2nd because the Winter Light Festival will be taking place from 4-8 pm.  The group will meet again on Monday, February 9th from 5:30-8:00 pm.  And, please note:  the Center will now be open every Monday evening from 5:00 – 8:00 pm for Sit-N-Stitch, Yoga, the gift store, and who knows what else.  Now you can shop on Monday evenings in New York Mills.

A note about Sit-N-Stitch:


Knitted chair made by Sit-N-Stitch.

Sit-N-Stitch is a weekly gathering of people who knit, crochet, quilt, weave, and engage in other needle arts.  If you are a beginner, you can learn from skilled craftspeople.  If you are experienced, you can share your skills with the group.  It’s free and you’ll leave with tools and materials, yarn, and a project bag your first session.

Visiting Artist Nadia Alenov

Visiting Visual Artist Nadia Alenov will be staying in the Cultural Center’s Retreat House January 25th until February 14th.

“I am a freelance artist from St. Paul, Minnesota. I began my career in art as a photographer and expanded to including illustration in my Nadia2repertoire. I graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design where I received a BFA in illustration. I am currently living and working in St.Paul developing my career in fine art and illustration.

My illustrations are influenced strongly by fairy tales. If not traditional, then the modern self created ones which spring from dreams and everyday life occurrences. My style is a blend of art nouveau and traditional folk art with a contemporary flare.

I will use my time at the retreat to begin a new series of illustrations. This new work will go back to the origins of the fairy tale in its unprocessed form. For instance, there is a Chinese Cinderella story dating back to 850 A.D., a Japanese Beauty and the Beast from 713 A.D., and a French Bluebeard dating back to 1697. The list goes on and on. I plan on highlighting the cultural variations on well known fairy tales through illustration.”

An Open Studio date where visitors can have the chance to meet and see her work, is planned for Monday, February 2nd from 5-8p.m.

You can see more of Nadia on her website www.alenovart.com  and her facebook and instagram.













Death is the mother of beauty (for Wallace Stevens)

Charles Matson Lume’s light installation opens January 15 in the ground floor gallery

Artist reception Monday, February 2nd from 4 pm – 6 pm with presentation by the artist at 5:30 pm

Charles Matson LumeMinnesota artist Charles Matson Lume spent two weeks in early January this year in the Center’s gallery creating and installing an exhibit whose subject is light.  A special reception and presentation by the artist will take place on Monday, February 2nd as part of the Center’s Winter Light Festival.  Charlie will talk about his work and have a slide show of other light installations he has done as well as tell about his upcoming work in Finland and Sweden scheduled to take place this summer. The presentation is a part of this year’s Winter Light Festival at the Center which will feature live music and award-winning films from the Rural Route Film Festival as well as Charlie’s light installation.  The photograph shows one detail from a larger work that he created in 2014 while an artist in residence at the Center in 2014.  Charlie is a professor of art at the University of Wisconsin, Stout.

“Death is the mother of beauty (for Wallace Stevens)” opens on Thursday, January 15 and continues through Saturday, Februray 28.  There is no admission charge for this exhibition.  The following essay is Charlie’s statement about his work in creating images of light:

With common, disposible materials made from our culture, I seek to highlight and re-engage our senses and the sense of the unreal. With these cultural artifacts I ask questions such as: How can light be manifest in new ways to show us its delight and power? How does light shape our experiences in the world? Can light be altered to show us our elemental needs? These are some of the questions that assisted in creating this art at the New York Mills Cultural Art Center. Indeed, how does light touch you?

The title of this exhibition, Death is the mother of beauty (for Wallace Stevens), is taken, in part, from a line in Stevens’ poem, Sunday Morning. The phrase, “Death is the mother of beauty”, affirms and highlights metaphorically the ephemeralness of light. To me, the statement reveals and points to the paradox of change and stasis which mirrors our relationship to light, especially the sun. It embodies the cyclic and blind relationship we have to the sun. It is with us every day, but we cannot look at it, thus, often forgetting about it. Nonetheless, we need it near.

The new art presented at the New York Mills Cultural Art Center is also centered on my experiences in Scandinavia during the summers of 1985, 2009, and 2012. During those trips I visited in total: Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark. On my first trip, I was a teenager playing soccer there and could sense both consciously and unconsciously the light’s distinctiveness in these countries, but it was not until I was trained as an artist and returned to Scandinavia that I could begin to fully understand and appreciate what I was experiencing, especially its light.

Additionally, this current work is based on my experience last winter and this winter as artist resident at the New York Mills Cultural Art Center. My goal while a resident artist was to pay attention to the light and notice how it was different from my experiences in Scandinavia. I also wanted to explore some of the history of New York Mills and its connection to Scandinavia via the Finnish migration to the area in the 1800s. I did some research and reading on the subject, but was also taken the “Polar Vortex” that landed on Minnesota in the winter of 2014. The low arc of the sun never seemed to generate heat or much brightness. Or the illumination that did occur was brief and hurried. Sometimes the summer light in Scandinavia provided little warmth too, although it lingered well past midnight. Illumination has often been associated with thoughts, while heat has been paired with the body’s activity. In my art at New York Mills, I found illumination in unexpected places and warmth from the people I met there.

As a final thought, the length of sunlight in a day matters to our species. The amount of sunshine we receive in a day matters. It matters because these facts shape our wellbeing and health. They shape our daily outlook and how we go about each day. Over time, short days and/or little sunlight can have powerful negative health effects on us mentally and physically. Our connection to the sun is so elemental it almost seems not worth mentioning. But that is my point. In our overheated culture, we have lost touch with this basic knowledge. We forget, at our own peril, that many cultures worshipped the sun.

2015 Great American Think-Off question

Does technology free us or trap us?thinker

  • Submit your 2015 essay no later than April 1, 2015

  • Winners will be notified no later than May 1, 2015

  • The 2015 debate will be held in New York Mills on Saturday, June 13


NEW YORK MILLS, Minn. – The 2015 Great American Think-Off has released the philosophy question for its 23rd annual essay competition. Individuals nationwide are invited to participate in the national debate by submitting a well-crafted essay arguing their position on the question “Does technology free us or trap us?”

The Great American Think-Off is an exhibition of civil disagreement between powerful ideas that connect to your life at the gut level. The Cultural Center, located in the rural farm and manufacturing town of New York Mills, sponsors this annual philosophy contest and encourages people of all ages to submit an essay of no more than 750 words for a chance to win one of four $500 cash prizes.

Last year’s contest featured essays from several hundred writers. Jennifer Nelson of Morris, Minn., won the debate and a gold medal with her argument that love motivates us to act more than fear. She based her essay and her case on her personal experience recovering from an automobile crash in 2004.

Writers should ground their essays in personal experience rather than philosophical abstraction. Four writers will be selected and invited to debate the question on Saturday, June 13, 2015 in New York Mills. Costs for winners’ travel, food, and lodging will be covered by the Cultural Center.

Essays are accepted Jan. 1 through April 1, 2015 (postmark or electronic date stamp), and can be submitted by mail (Think-Off, PO Box 246, New York Mills, Minnesota 56567), email (info@think-off.org) or by submitting online at www.think-off.org using the online submission form. There is no fee. Finalists will be notified by May 1, 2015 and the debate will be held on Saturday, June 13, 2015.

Longest Night Music Festival Sunday Dec. 21

Listen to musicians from around the region at this annual free concert

Longest NightJoin us for this free concert as the world turns toward the longer days of spring. A bevy of artists (including Lisa Winter, Fr. Peter Kirchner, John Perry, Dave Virnala, Tyson Cavalier, Todd Voss, Fern Belling, Amanda Standalone and more still to be named) will be at the Center to celebrate the solstice and the season of light. We hope you can come to this free, informal concert, the last Cultural Center event of the year.  And, as always there will be food shared by the community with all who attend.  Doors open at 6:30 pm on the 21st of December and the music starts at 7:00 pm.

And we’ll introduce everyone to the coming “winter light” festivities to be held February 2nd (Candlemas Day and Groundhog Day, midway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox), and enjoy the Winter Light exhibit that will fill the main gallery with beautiful interpretations of light brought to you by visiting artist Charles Matson Lume. Other festivities associated with this Winter Light show will be posted by year’s end.

Special thanks to Festival sponsors Toni Ebner, Dean’s Country Market, and Dennis Happel.

Holiday concert with Tim Sparks

The Nutcracker Suite – Saturday December 13

Hope you can take time this holiday season to enjoy Tim Sparks’ playing of his arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite here at the Center on Saturday, December 13 at 7:30 pm.  Admission is $12 by advance reservation (call 218-385-3339) or $15 the night of the concert.  Student admission is $5.  Tim is from Frazee, and he is also a world renowned guitarist and interpreter of world music.

Tim Sparks is an award-winning guitarist whose blending of musical styles has won him extensive praise from all corners of the music world. Guitar Player Magazine has called his music “Fresh, exotic, and totally cool.”, Acoustic Guitar Magazine calls it “rich and sensuous”, and guitarist Leo Kottke simply says “He’s really one of the best musicians I know.” From the early traditional country blues and gospel music he learned in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Jazz, Be Bop, classical and world music from his varied career across the U. S. and Europe, Tim has thrilled and inspired audiences and musicians world-wide.

Here is a little sample of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”  Thanks to Carol and Neal Myhre who sponsored this concert.