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Five Wings Arts Council doles out awards: Pine River couple wins award

Jennifer and Isaac Anderson. Submitted Photo1 / 5
Delina White. Submitted Photo 2 / 5
Fred Rogers. Submitted Photo 3 / 5
Lisa Jordan. Submitted Photo 4 / 5
Jennifer and Isaac Anderson. Submitted Photo 5 / 5

The Five Wings Arts Council recognized Cass and Crow Wing County residents - including Jennifer and Isaak Anderson, of Pine River - at the region-wide Celebration of the Arts on Wednesday, May 1, at Great River Arts in Little Falls.

Sue Gens, executive director of the Minnesota State Arts Board, presented the Outstanding Community Arts Leader awards for Cass County to the Andersons and Fred Rogers, of Walker, and for Crow Wing County to Lisa Jordan.

The Andersons are founders of the Pine River Community Theater, which works in conjunction with Pine River-Backus Community Education to produce live theater in the Pine River area. Their productions include Pine River area residents ranging in age from 7-70, some theater veterans, others brand new to the theatrical experience. Their shows have included as many as 40 cast members, numbers that rival stage participation in much larger communities.

Both Jennifer and Isaak work for the Pine River-Backus School District, where Jennifer coaches the speech team and directs the annual school musical. Isaak, who has taught social studies there since 2000, has an intensive theater resume and provides leadership and volunteer contributions either backstage, on stage or as director of the community theater.

Since moving to Pine River, both have performed in plays at Central Lakes College Performing Arts Center, Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts and Northwoods Arts Council.

Their commitment to provide live theater activities in the Pine River area has created opportunities for scores of adults and children who might not otherwise have that chance.

Jordan is the executive/artistic director of Crossing Arts Alliance, a 500-plus member arts organization in Brainerd. Jordan provides leadership to the artists, arts enthusiasts, and interested community members who comprise Crossing Arts, working with them to inspire and enrich the community for those who create, and those who appreciate the arts.

Under her leadership, workshops and exhibits from artists around the globe are made available to the residents and visitors to the region. In 2017, Jordan spearheaded moving the 19-year-old organization from its longtime home in Franklin Arts Center to Laurel Street in downtown Brainerd. In doing so, membership has increased, foot traffic has grown and community enthusiasm has swelled.

Jordan is an accomplished artist and creative entrepreneur who owns Lil Fish Studios, which specializes in her nature-inspired creations in felted wool. She has earned the reputation of being one of the most accomplished artist/business owners in the region, navigating and using social media to sell her art work. She also conducts workshops teaching wool felting technique and applications at locations across the state, as well as at Crossing Arts.

Rogers brings more than 45 years of arts experience to his role as artistic director of the Minnesota Folklore Theater in Walker. Rogers spent 30 years designing in cities across the country and was the lead costumer for Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede in Orlando, Florida.

He taught costume design for 10 years at the University of Central Florida and for two years at North Hennepin Community College. He has directed shows for the past 20 years, spending three years with Burt Reynold's Dinner Theater in Jupiter, Florida.

His work has appeared on HBO and the Lifetime Channel. Rogers regularly designs costumes for the annual opera of Lakes Area Music Festival in Brainerd. He also teaches, directs and designs for the theater and music departments at his alma mater, Bemidji State University.

Under his leadership, the Minnesota Folklore Theater recently purchased its own home in downtown Walker, the Walker Bay Theater and Gallery. This facility will also serve as a permanent home for the Leech Lake Arts League and be host to ongoing gallery exhibitions, in addition to the plays and presentations by the Minnesota Folklore Theater.

Rogers recently concluded his second three-year term on the Five Wings Arts Council, where he was president in 2017 and 2018. With that responsibility behind him, he is working to make Walker an arts and cultural destination in the northwoods.

Delina White, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Native apparel designer and beadwork artist from Onigum received the 2019 Gilded Feather Master Artist Award. The Master Artist distinction is given to only one artist every three years.

To qualify, the artist must have created an extensive body of artwork that reflects maturation of their personal creativity, demonstrated a high aesthetic level of artistic ability with a strong consistency of expression over the course of his/her career and have made a significant impact on their community, region, state and/or nation as demonstrated by respect and recognition of peers and community, contributions to excellence and public appreciation of the art form through teaching, preserving and/or advocacy.

The award was presented by Sarah Lovan, program officer of the McKnight Foundation, which also funds grant associated with this award.

FWAC presented additional Outstanding Community Arts Leadership Awards for the other four counties of Region Five, its service area. The recipients of the Outstanding Community Arts Leader for Todd County were Mary Dye Moen (Wadena), musician, music teacher and director of the Central Minnesota Boys Choir and Colla Voce Girls Choir; and James Ruiz (Long Prairie), artist and community leader.

Dawn Rossbach (Menahga), artist, art educator; and Lina Belar (Wadena), executive director of the Wadena County Historical Society, received the awards for Wadena County. Nancy Ratzloff (Little Falls), artist and art educator; and Kathy Braud (Little Falls) received the awards for Morrison County.

Lisa Kajer (Staples) and Mary Noska (Browerville), dubbed "The Barn Quilt Ladies," received the Outstanding Regional Arts Advocate/Leader Award in recognition of their work to create and promote the Central Minnesota Barn Quilt Trail. Given every three years to an individual or organization who has served over and above the call of duty to promote the arts as a way to improve the economy and well-being of the region, this award heralds the actions and words that have led to the creation of a new attraction and means of creative engagement in the region, the Central Minnesota Barn Quilt Trail. The award was given by the executive director of the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, Sheila Smith.

The Outstanding Arts Organization award went to the St Francis Music Center, Little Falls. This award is given every three years to one organization that exemplifies excellence in community arts programming, access to the arts and high quality organizational management.

Lakes Printing, Brainerd, a business with a long and deep track record of supporting arts ventures throughout the Brainerd lakes area was recognized with the Outstanding Business Support of the Arts Award.

Steven Weagel, of Weagelworks, Pequot Lakes, was commissioned to create the hand-blown studio glass platters that served as the Outstanding Community Arts Leader awards.

Kent Scheer, Wadena, designed and hand-crafted the one-of-a-kind, livery collar-style Gilded Feather Master Artist Award of brass, aluminum and abalone shell.

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. For more information, visit, email or call 1-877-654-2166.