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Wadena County residents receive Five Wings Arts Council awards

Jamie Robertson1 / 3
Deb Fitzsimmons2 / 3
Sue Gens of the Minnesota State Arts Board and Steve Hoemberg3 / 3

The Five Wings Arts Council (FWAC) recently recognized three Wadena County residents at the region wide Celebration of the Arts, held at Great River Arts in Little Falls.

Jamie Robertson received the Arts Advocate and Leader Award which is presented once every two years to an individual who has provided extraordinary leadership and service as an advocate for and leader in the arts of our region, bringing arts opportunities to people of all walks of life. In his service as executive director of the Cultural Center at New York Mills Robertson makes arts experiences of all kinds available to Wadena county citizens. He is the founder of the Whiskey Creek Film Festival, which brings first run, art-quality films to the Cozy Theater each September. Robertson is also an artist who specializes in photography. According to Mark Turner, FWAC executive director, “Jamie Robertson actively weaves the arts into every aspect of his own life and the lives of everyone he comes across, with the intent of enhancing the quality of life in greater Minnesota.”

Deb Fitzsimmons’ work with the Madhatters Community Theater earned her recognition with the Community Arts Leadership Award. Turner noted that, “Deb’s dedication to both the theatre arts and Wadena area youth is unparalleled.  She is the primary force behind the group’s very successful Camp Madhatter summer theater camp for young actors.” He also noted, “she is valued by all involved in the organization as one of the most supportive, reliable, and helpful leaders in the organization.”

Steve Hoemberg, musician, teacher, and director of the Staples Area Men’s Chorus received the Community Arts Leadership award for his work as the director of the Staples Area Men’s Chorus, teacher and musician. Turner, described Hoemberg as “not only dedicated and tireless when it comes to excellence in his craft, but also a true visionary in promoting the arts and encouraging unique collaborations and partnerships to build audiences and participation within the community.” Turner added, “Steve Hoemberg continues to challenge the organizations that he is involved with is an inspiration to the choral arts in the region.”  

Artists and arts leaders from throughout the Five Wings region of Wadena, Todd, Morrison, Crow Wing and Cass County were recognized at the biannual event that drew 175 people.

FWAC presented additional Community Arts Leadership to recipients in the other four counties. Don Shafer (Long Prairie) and Pam Collins for Todd County, Cleo Kuelbs and EVElyn Matthies for Crow Wing County, Jill Moore and Robyn Gray for Morrison County, Delina White and Joanna Aamodt for Cass County.

Sue Gens, executive director of the Minnesota State Arts Board, presented the Arts Organization of the Year award to Great River Arts of Little Falls.

The Celebration of the Arts culminated with the Gilded Feather Master Artist Award, which was bestowed upon Charles Kapsner, Little Falls, for his lifetime of accomplishments as a painter and fresco artist.

In addition to special guest, Sue Gens of the Minnesota State Arts Board, Sheila Smith of the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts spoke about the impact of the arts on the lives of the people of Minnesota.

Kent Scheer, Wadena, custom designed and hand crafted the brass, aluminum, and glass livery collar-style Gilded Feather Master Artist Award. Tom Larson, Brainerd, hand crafted the individual wood turned bowls for the other awards.  Both men are active artists and recipients of grant support from Five Wings.

As one of 11 regional arts councils in Minnesota, the Five Wings Arts Council encourages and promotes arts creation, appreciation, and education through grant programs and technical assistance to enhance the quality of life for Minnesota residents in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena Counties. For further information, visit email or call  1-877-654-2166.