Great River Arts kicks off new year in Morrison County
The Little Falls-based community-supported art and cultural engagement center will host this month an Ojibwe presentation by Michael Lyons and a meet-and-greet with three artists exhibited in its gallery that was rescheduled from last month because of the weather and snow.
LITTLE FALLS — Old Man Winter ended last year with delays or cancellations of many area events after more than a foot of snow fell in the region.
Great River Arts plans to kick off the new year by hosting this month one of those rescheduled events along with an Ojibwe-based presentation by a children’s author.
First off is a reminder for the Little Falls-based nonprofit organization’s monthly Open Mic Nite on Thursday, Jan. 6. Sign-up begins at 6 p.m. with performances to follow starting at 7 p.m.
The performing arts event is one of Great River Arts’ longest-running activities and is open to all ages and all talents.
“It's a judgment-free zone for all skill levels, so let your humor, poetry, storytelling and music shine,” stated Executive Director Mike Worcester in a news release.
Rescheduled from December, the artists behind the current main gallery exhibition, “Of Three Minds,” will have a reception from noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 15. “Of 3 Minds” showcases the artworks of Suzann Beck, Donna Meyer and Marko Fields.
“Take a moment to meet the brilliant minds behind their two and three-dimensional works. Artists’ receptions are free and open to the public,” Worcester stated in the news release.
For those interested in learning more about Ojibwe culture, join Great River Arts for the 7 p.m. Jan. 27 by Michael Lyons, author of “Ojiberish: An Introduction to Ojibwemowin,” a children's book on learning the Ojibwe language.
According to GoodReads.com, a website for readers and book recommendations, Lyons is an Anishinaabe cartoonist from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe reservation in northern Minnesota. In the early to mid-1990s, Lyons created two college comic strips, "Coffeehouse-Five" and "Prairie Rose.”
He has also written and illustrated underground comic books including: "Gray Alien Meditation" and "Rockstar Cartoonist: A Comic Book Autobiography.”
Lyons’ first children’s book, "Little Cutie: A Teddy Bear's Vision Quest," is about a ragged red and white teddy bear who goes on a "vision quest" to find out who he is and where he belongs. “Along the way, Little Cutie gets advice from a number of woodland animals (all with Ojibwe names) about life, living with humans, and how to find ‘the great spirit,’” according to GoodReads.com, and he adapted and directed 13 Native American girls in the musical version.
Lyons is also behind the podcast “Boozhoo Nanaboozhoo,” which utilizes music and puppetry to teach about Ojibwe language, culture and history. (For more information about Lyons and his work, visit https://bit.ly/3sSQmEB .)
Lyons focuses on Native American history (specifically the Indian boarding school era); historical and intergenerational trauma; and the forgotten warriors of World War II. He is also an accomplished studio musician and was the lead singer and guitarist for the band ISHII.
He has more than two decades in Native American education, according to the Great River Arts Facebook page, and has taught Ojibwe language and culture, created Ojibwe language curriculum and authored two suicide prevention comic books.
“Learn how to say ‘blueberry pie’ in Ojibwe the musical way and much more,” Worcester stated in the news release.
Lyons’ program is co-sponsored by the Morrison County Historical Society and the Great River Children’s Museum, which will host a puppet-making class beginning at 6:30 before the main program.
Great River Arts is a community-supported art and cultural engagement center at 122 First St. SE, in the historic district of downtown Little Falls. Admission to the galleries and retail store is free and open to the public.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information about the nonprofit serving the Morrison County area, call 320-632-0960 or visit greatart.org .