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Area Voices: 5 ways to experience local arts

 Actresses wearing styles of minidresses, gogo boots and bouffant hair gather on stage in front of a backdrop of large, graphic designs of the 1960s.
Paul Bunyan Playhouse
The Paul Bunyan Playhouse cast of "Shout! The Mod Musical" take the stage at the Chief Theater in Bemidji.

Arts events abound around Northern Minnesota in the summer. "Area Voices" host Katie Carter notes five things to look for these first weeks of June.

BEMIDJI — Northern Minnesota is ripe with arts events this time of year.

Whether it’s a visit to Park Rapids with a walk-through of the Red Bridge Park Sculpture Walk and the Nemeth Art Center to see the layered photography and collage work of Pao Houa Her or attending a woodburning or painting class with the Borealis Art Guild in Hibbing, opportunities for the witness and creation of creative expression abound.

Two women, one with a long brown ponytail and baseball cap and the other in short white hair and a white jacket, show off the welded butterflies they made with metal artist Al Belleveau at Belle Thalia Creative Arts Space in Puposky.
Belle Thalia Creative Arts Space

For my first-ever First Friday Five, I consider events at the Belle Thalia Creative Arts Space in Puposky, the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji, a Pride Event and Drag Show in Leech Lake Reservation and upcoming events at the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji and The Crossing Arts Alliance in Brainerd.

1. Belle Thalia Creative Arts Space in rural Puposky, will host a reception for artist Donna Alena Hrabcakova and her exhibit “Four Guardians” at 6 p.m. Friday, June 2. A public potluck dinner is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and at 7 p.m., Rhiana Yazzie, a Navajo playwright, director, filmmaker and artistic director of New Native Theater, will be on hand for a viewing and conversation around her new film Winter Love. 

Attendees are welcome to stay inside for the film or enjoy the sculpture gardens and/or weld a garden ornament with metal artist Al Belleveau. Alene Hrabcakova’s exhibit will be on show at Belle Thalia through the month of June. Bell Thalia Creative Arts Space is at 24011 Highway 89 NW, 15 miles north of Bemidji.

2. For theater enthusiasts craving a professional experience, the Paul Bunyan Playhouse summer stock has returned to Bemidji and the season kicks off this weekend with Shout! The Mod Musical, June 2-10. The rest of the production schedule includes The Play That Goes Wrong, June 16-24; Godspell, June 30-July 8; Greater Tuna, July 14-22; and Elf The Musical, July 26-Aug. 5. 

For tickets and other information, visit

3. June is Pride Month, and the Leech Lake Tribal College kicks it off Friday, June 2, with a Pride Event and Drag Show. Drag queens, an art market, food vendors and opportunities to share stories and connect with others are happening from 5-7 p.m. at the college. Opening drum and prayer begins at 4:45 p.m. with the drag shows at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. and story time between and after sets. Everyone is welcome.  

4. The Watermark Art Center will host a new exhibit by textile artist Blair Treuer beginning June 9, with a reception 5-7 p.m. for Treuer’s new collection “Becoming — the Transition from Childhood to Womanhood” that celebrates her daughter’s journey and ceremonial rite of passage into womanhood.   

Watermark will host a pop-up art market 10 a.m. 4 p.m. June 10 on its south lawn with arts for sale and live music. Treuer will be at the Watermark all day Saturday for the signing of her new book PORTRAITS: An Exploration in Identity, which features her textile art collection of the same name.

This painting from Chholing Taha is part of "Clans Gather," an exhibit at the Miikanan Gallery in the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji. The exhibit runs May 27-Aug. 12, 2023.
Watermark Art Center
This painting from Chholing Taha is part of "Clans Gather," an exhibit at the Miikanan Gallery in the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji. The exhibit runs May 27-Aug. 12, 2023.

Inside the Watermark, in the Miikanan Gallery featuring Indigenous art, Chholing Taha’s exhibit “Clans Gather” is on display with an artist talk and reception set for 2-4 p.m. June 17. Taha is an award-winning, textile artist and painter. “Clans Gather” will be on exhibit until August 12.

5. The Crossing Arts Alliance in downtown Brainerd unveils its yearly “Salute to the Arts” collaborative exhibit with a public reception 5-7 p.m. June 9. Nearly 100 works from artists across Minnesota were curated for the exhibit by the Crossing Arts Committee. Awards will be selected by potter Nick Devries. “Salute to the Arts” will be on show until July 1.  

Summer offers special programming for kids at The Crossing Arts Alliance. Youths have creative opportunities every Wednesday with Studio Wednesdays. More information can be found at

Summer provides the perfect weather season for getting out and experiencing art, whether it’s attending a workshop, visiting a local gallery, walking through an art festival or enjoying theater, murals and public art around your community, Northern Minnesota is rich in inspiration.

If you have an upcoming arts event in Northern Minnesota, email

Area Voices is made possible by the MN Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of MN.

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Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. She returned for a second stint in 2016-23. She produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota.