Better Late Than Never–News on Bemidji Sculpture Walk Reception and the Opera Night Gala.

I wanted to wait until more information came in on these two very exciting events so that’s the reason for the delay.

Bemidji Sculpture Walk 13th Annual Juried Public Art Exposition is coming up soon.  With new board members at the helm, some major changes and addition to this event: change of venue, a Gala Fundraiser Event and Kevin Cease, comic, actor and “good guy” will be the master of ceremonies.

Here’s the way it plays out this year–A reception and auction at the Hampton Inn, Bemidji on Saturday, May 21. The Awards Ceremony (did you vote yet?) for the current statues on display will begin at 5 p.m. A cash prize for the 2010 People’s Choice Award of $1,000; Critic’s Choice Award of $500; Critic’s Choice Runner-up $250 and an Honorarium of $300 to all 2010 participating artists.

The “Beavers” Auction will begin at 7 p.m. on the same day and will feature the 2D work of local artists created on the 3D beaver totems. Here’s where Kevin Cease comes in–he will call the bidding on each of the 11 unique artworks. The artists will receive 30% of the final price to reimburse materials and labor. The remaining 70% will go toward sustaining the Bemidji Sculpture Walk Fund.

This annual event is free and open to the public: good food, drinks and pleasant company. There will be a cash bar at the Hampton Inn. Tell your friends: out-of-towners and in towners, art lovers and public arts supporters.  Even if you can’t afford to bid on a beaver but would still like to contribute to this fund, my personal feeling is that any contribution would be gratefully accepted by a board member.

The Opera Night Gala—with an cash bar social hour starting at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. seating on Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 4 at Ruttgers Birchmont Lodge. Fulton Gallagher, Director and Abe Hunter, Musical Director are rehearsing the singers and actors for an extraordinary evening of song. Gallagher has decided to feature five recent graduates from Bemidji High School and one from Laporte High School, all of whom have participated in past opera productions here: Matthew Goinz, Jake Kaehne, Mattea Elhard, Lacey Homuth, and Jessie Fisher from Bemidji High School and Tony Tammaro from Laporte High School. An earlier alumna of Bemidji High School, now a Professor of Music at B.S.U, Jennifer Swanson will be singing the famous “Bird’s Song” aria from Pagliacci. Another teaser is Tony and Matthew will be singing the “Pearlfishers Duet” from Lakme.

A unique feature of the program will be a “Mostly Gilbert and Sullivan Tribute” with five of their best known numbers from their operettas. If you need more teasers, how’s this: returning to the gala are Mark Christensen, John Peterson, Danielle Stadick Joe Vene, Linda Wagner, Sara Wabrowetz and Fulton.

As in the past, the music will be interspersed with five different food settings which include a spinach salad alla Union Station, a zesty Firenze tomato bisque soup, lemon sorbet, a main entrée of your choice, and Italian cake with fruit compote for dessert.

The main course menu choices are:

  1. Stracotto alla Florentina (roast of beef in tomato sauce).
  2. Pollo Scaloppini (thinly sliced chicken sauteed in a wine sauce with mushrooms).
  3. Lasagna e Spinnaci (Lasagna with Spinach and three specialty cheeses).

Space is limited in the Garden Room, so early reservations are suggested because this event fills up quickly. The cost for the evening is $60 per person with proceeds going to promote opera offerings in this area. To make reservations, call Dr. Fulton Gallagher at 586-2536 or email him at with questions or special requests.

As in the past, your check will serve as a receipt and table assignments will be posted the night of the performances.  If you wish to be seated with others (up to 10 per table), make a note on the check. The check should be make payable to ONG (Opera Night Gala). Check and reservation may be sent to 3216 Gryce Style Rd. NE, Bemidji 56601.

Abe Hunter is mounting a fully staged production of the “Marriage of Figaro” the end of July. More information to follow but the cast is already on board with a guest artist who worked with Abe in Italy.


First Friday art offerings, holiday shows to open, literary news and just some catching up.

If the weather holds out ,or rather if it stops snowing for any length of time, this month’s First Friday activities will be very festive. Do you know that there will be puppies and dogs for adoption at Gallery North this Friday. There will be a fund raiser for Whipstaff Animal Rescue with greeting cards for sale with illustrations from “Twas the Week Before Christmas,” from a dog’s point of view. Author Mary Knox Johnson and artist Caroline Reil will be there to meet and greet on Friday.  I stopped for coffee at the Wild Hare Bistro today and saw the menu for this Friday’s Wine Bar and Dinner-WOW!! A couple of shows open this weekend, “Gasman Recollections, A Christmas Carol” at the Historic Chief Theater and “Ole and Lena’s It’s a Wonderful Life” at Long Lake Theater. Ticket information is listed in the Dec. 1, Wednesday arts column in the print version of the Bemidji Pioneer and under Entertainment, on-line version.  The Bemidji Chorale will hold its annual holiday concert on Sunday, Dec. 5 with some new voices, three youngsters, and some solos with oboe and violin. The full information can be found on feature article in the Friday, Nov. 26 hard copy and on-line edition of the Bemidji Pioneer.

Last week I had the opportunity to interview Prudence Johnson about her upcoming program this Saturday,   “The Golden Age of Radio.” The full information can be found on feature article in Sunday, Nov. 27 hard copy and on-line edition of the Bemidji Pioneer. Remember seating is limited so get your reservation in early.

The Madrigal Dinners will begin this weekend at BSU. Tickets can be had at the box office located on the second floor of Bangsberg Hall;  9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is only one matinee, this Sunday, Dec. 5 at 5 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 25 at the Wild Rose Theater, Steve Saari and DeeJay Arens of Saarens Productions, Fred Thomas of Minnesota Folklore Theater, Ernie Rall of Bemidji Community Theater and I met to talk about the possibility of having a regional community theater group “information sharing organization.” This was just an introductory meeting with the promise of more to come. People like Cheryl Winnett and Mary Knox Johnson have been trying to get local performing arts organization interested in finding a performing arts space here in Bemidji. Perhaps, there is some light at the end of this tunnel, keep your fingers crossed!

A very special thanks to a mentor from Grand Forks—Mike Brue from the GF Herald, a sister publication. Mike has been generous with his advice, wise counsel and support since the beginning—thanks Mike, couldn’t have  done this without you.  That’s all she wrote, folks.