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The league of extraordinary artists

Photo by Rachelle Klemme Mim Maas is the president of the Greater Wadena Arts League.

A newly formed nonprofit organization is bringing area artists together and supporting arts programming.

According to the group's president Mim Maas, the Greater Wadena Arts League has been in the making for two years and is now undergoing the process of being designated as an official nonprofit.

"We wanted to be an organization that would create, enhance, increase, plan and implement any type of arts programming that would add economic stability or business to the Wadena area, but also that would be some type of economic opportunity for artists," Maas said.

She said that "arts" in the organization include literary, musical, theatrical and visual arts, and that they want to include the culinary arts down the road as well.

Part of the "Greater Wadena" meaning is that the group hopes to draw memberships, including organizations and businesses, from a 30-50 mile range.

Maas said the group's website will have an art calendar posting any type of art-related events, classes or concerts held by businesses, schools, area theater companies and other entities.

Greater Wadena Arts League also has workshops where artists can network, exchange ideas and make projects in a relaxed setting.

"Mainly what we've been doing with those workshops is watercolor painting," Maas said. "The picture I painted ... a couple of weeks ago when we met, I wanted to have an egret in it because I had a little pond scene, and I couldn't draw an egret, so one of the other people there drew the egret for me."

She said the organization has a member who wants to start up a competitive photography group.

In terms of visual arts, Greater Wadena Arts League has oil painters, watercolor painters and photographers.

"There's a lot of people like me who aren't necessarily into a specific visual art," Maas said.

Maas, who was a reporter at the Pioneer Journal from 1984-1989, had photography as part of her public relations major in college, but is now trying to develop her skills with oil painting, watercolors and mixed media.

"Last week when we had our workshop, I did a watercolor painting of a sunset," she said. "Then I used pressed flowers with that in the background."

Greater Wadena Arts League also plans to start a recital series for local musicians and performers in late August or September.

Maas said the group hopes to partner with the existing arts organizations and help sponsor events.

The organization started as a small committee. Its first big project involved a lot of organizing, brainstorming and grant writing, all set to culminate in the Affaire de Arts festival at the Burlington Northern Park when hundreds of visitors would be in town for the all-school reunion.

The date they had chosen was June 19, 2010.

"And as you know, that was all history," Maas said. "The tornado was June 17."

The event was canceled, but has been rescheduled for next Saturday, June 4, as Affaire de Arts Revisited.

Another big project the group has taken on is involvement with the proposed tornado memorial garden. Tuesday, May 31 is the deadline for voting on a name for the garden which will be located at Fink Park.

According to its website, "The mission of the non-profit Greater Wadena Arts League is to stimulate, encourage, sponsor, develop, promote, and increase the public appreciation of the visual, literary, and performing arts in the Greater Wadena area."

Memberships start at $10.

Cheryl Prindle is the vice president and Shirley Nelson is the secretary-treasurer. Laura Spilman at Wadena City Library was the president for the first year, Maas said. Several other individuals in the community have been very involved with the group, and the organization has collaborated with the library and Green Island. Before nonprofit status, the group has had Stimulating Economic Progress (STEP) and then the Cultural Center as fiscal agents.

More information on Greater Wadena Arts League can be found on the website or on the group's Facebook page.