LITTLE FALLS-The Five Wings Arts Council recently announced the selection of Jeff Kreitz, a sculptor from Breezy Point, and Doris Stengel, a poet from Brainerd, as Master Artists. In addition to a cash prize, each will be presented with the Gilded Feather Award, an original artist-crafted medieval-style livery collar.

The award ceremony is part of the council's Celebration of the Arts, scheduled for today, March 31, at Great River Arts in Little Falls. The public is welcome to attend this event and can go to www.fwac.org for ticket information.

The Master Artist Program, initiated in 2012 and made possible with funding from the McKnight Foundation, honors artists who live in Region Five-Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena-who are recognized for mastery of the art form in which they work, have accrued a portfolio reflecting a lifetime of artistic excellence, have earned the respect of peers and the

general public, and contribute significantly to their community or region in which they live. The

2016 Master Artists were chosen from a list of candidates compiled by nomination, and finally

selected by the FWAC board of directors and staff.

Stengel has published three books of poetry: "Horizons Measured," "Small Town Lines" and

"Arrival & Departure." A frequent judge of poetry contests, Stengel has also led local, regional and statewide poetry groups. Her love of poetry began in her small North Dakota grade school in the days when poetry was a mandatory curriculum component. Her father read poetry to her and listened to him recite "The Children's Hour" written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which sparked her interest in poetry.

Since the early 1990s Stengel has been involved with the League of Minnesota Poets and the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. In the last 25 years, Stengel has chaired the local group, served as president of the state group and then in 2006 became president of NFSPS. She has participated in the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festivals rubbed shoulders with U.S. poet laureates and other world famous poets.

Stengel gives back to the community by sharing her talents with grade school classes, senior citizen groups and a teen hangout. She also mentors a man in federal prison in Nebraska and

shares correspondence about his poetry with a retired juvenile judge in St. Paul.

Kreitz received high praise from one of his nominators when artist Kent Scheer stated, "Jeff

has achieved a mastery which places his work at the top of the craft not only in our region but in our state. In addition, he is a 'crossover artist' who skillfully bridges two widely different worlds in metalworking. On one hand he has pushed himself to build a level of mechanical skill and shop capacity to execute large-scale commercial and private commissions of high technical

demand. This includes practical commissions such as estate gates, ornamental fencing and custom boat lifts. On the other hand, he readily switches gears to execute original designs in

the realm of pure sculpture, including: figure studies, wildlife sculpture, public art, and abstract art."

Kreitz started welding and working with metals as a 7-year-old boy in his father's shop. Both his

parents were artists, his mother a painter and his father worked in metal, and they introduced him to painting and sculpting at a young age. A 1980 graduate of Pequot Lakes High School, he spent one year in college and then went to welding school. Though interested in exploring metal sculpture he didn't think he could make a living as a sculptor. The quest for a way to support a family ultimately led him to becoming a skilled metal artist and a small business owner.

From small sculptures to large corporate commissions, Kreitz manipulates metals to create one-of-a-kind pieces. Each project requires extensive research and study, whether he's striving to understand the anatomy of birds or learning about the engineering required to fabricate the armature for a large scale sculpture. He works out much of the design in sketches and maquettes.

Kreitz, who owns Creative Steel Works in Breezy Point, regularly has groups of young people, touring his studio/shop and he has created sculptures for causes for Camp Knutson, the Veteran's Park in Breezy Point and most recently he created a life-size eagle that will be installed in the Staples Veterans Park this summer.

Visit www.fwac.org for more information or email vicki.fwac@arvig.net or call 877-654-2166.