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Five Wings Arts Council's first Celebration of the Arts recognized region's advocates

Photos provided Five Wings Executive Director Mark Turner named Sue Gens, Sheila Smith and Vickie Benson recipients of the Five Wings Angel Awards. Gens represents the State Arts Board, Smith the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and Benson the McKnight Foundation.1 / 3
Don Hoffmann received the 2012 Community Arts Leadership Awards for Wadena County.2 / 3
Mim Maas also received the 2012 Community Arts Leadership Awards for Wadena County. Not pictured, Amy Hunter received the Arts Advocacy Award from MCA Executive Director Sheila Smith.3 / 3

There is no doubt that the arts thrive in Region Five. Over 300 individual artists, 50 arts organizations and programs serve more than 75,000 people in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena Counties each year. On Thursday, March 22, approximately 120 arts advocates gathered at Prairie Bay Restaurant in Baxter to celebrate the hard work and dedication of many people who work to ensure that this region's residents can participate in and enjoy the arts in their lives.

The Five Wings Arts Council initiated this first ever Celebration of the Arts, including dinner, music and awards, to recognize those who make the arts thrive in Region Five.

Mark Turner, executive director of the Five Wings Arts Council, hosted the celebration. Turner recognized the state organizations that work along with regional arts councils. Sue Gens of the Minnesota State Arts Board, Sheila Smith of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA), and Vickie Benson of the McKnight Foundation were featured speakers and received the Five Wings Angel Awards.

The evening featured a vocal showcase by three students who have studied under private voice instructor Pam Harris of Staples. Through the Five Wings Student/ Artist Mentor Program, each of these students has benefited from dedicated hours of private instruction. Lynnea Iverson, Jaci Jeziorski, and Andrew Nelson, all of Staples, were accompanied in their vocal selections by Sandy Paskewitz.

Turner introduced the current board of directors: Bernie Nelsen and Jamie Robertson - Wadena County; Laura Busch, Pat Dullum and Lauren Nickisch - Crow Wing County; Peg Churchwell and Ann Finch of Todd County; Mary Schmidt and Lynn Houle-Bushinger- Morrison County; Kathryn Lohr and Bill Hansen of Cass County. Current board chair Bernie Nelsen gave Past Board Service Awards to Catherine Stoch, Sandy Johnson and Hank McKinney. Johnson and McKinney were not present to receive their awards.

Sue Gens presented the 2012 Community Arts Leadership Awards to two people from each county: Mim Maas and Don Hoffmann from Wadena County, Sheila Edin and Tim King from Todd County, Susy Prosapio and M.J. Nelson from Morrison County, Millie Engisch-Morris and Erin Herman from Crow Wing County, Joanne Moren and Therese Kunz from Cass County. Each of these individuals has given back to their community through organizations as well as on an individual basis. Gens also presented the Arts Organization of the Year Award to Brainerd's Crossing Arts Alliance.

MCA Executive Director Sheila Smith presented the Arts Advocacy Award to Amy Hunter of Staples. In accepting the award, Hunter said she feels blessed to live in Minnesota, a state that loves the arts. She used her moment with the microphone, also proving her worthiness as the award's recipient, to encourage people to thank their legislators and make them aware of the impact of the arts on the lives of people in their communities.

Arts Program Director for the McKnight Foundation Vicki Benson expressed the Foundation's commitment to individual artists, noting that $9 million in support for artists is distributed across the nation annually. She presented the Five Wings Master Artist Nominee awards as well as the Gilded Feather Award. The nominees were: Jim Daly, Royalton; Karen Knierim, Breezy Point; Jeff Kreitz, Breezy Point; Scott Lykins, Lake Shore; Laura Paycer, Nisswa; Wayne Renn, Staples. Daly, Kreitz, and Paycer were on hand to receive their awards. Renn's mother, Minnie Peterson, accepted his award.

Kayleen Horsma, Menahga, is the 2011-2012 recipient of the Master Artist Gilded Feather Award. She received $5,000, assistance to develop an artist portfolio, a one-person-show at the Five Wings Middle Ground Gallery, and recognition throughout the year and beyond with the intent of helping her become better recognized as a valued arts leader in our region.

Cyrus Swan, Pine River, was introduced as the creator of the one-of-a-kind ceramic platter awards, each one inscribed on the back with the name of the award. Kent Scheer, Wadena, was acknowledged as the creator of the metal, leather and glass livery collar-style Master Artist Gilded Feather Award as well as the Master Artist Nominee Awards which were made of similar materials. 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. Visit or call 1-877-654-2166 during regular business hours.