Year in Review!

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To our readers,

We hope this message finds you well as the New Year approaches. Today's newsletter highlights some of the East Central Regional Arts Councils (ECRAC) most consequential and inspiring arts activities sponsored in 2023.  Throughout the year, our commitment is to bring you resources for and from the arts community. This can often be overlooked but we feel the arts are important to understanding the diverse and evolving landscape of our Region and how art impacts our quality of life here. 

How can you participate in the arts?

Enter the IMAGE Art Show! This is a judged event and some highlights from IMAGE 2023 were the following. 

IMAGE Art Show Logo

IMAGE 2023 Show

IMAGE Art Show 2023 Awards

The IMAGE Art Show is an annual event open to any artist residing in Region 7E (the MN counties of Chisago, Kanabec, Isanti, Mille Lacs, Pine and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.) The Art Show and the awards honor some of the finest art in the area. The judges for this year’s show were Jonathan Thunder and Susanna Gaunt. They both have a wide range of artistic skills and art show judging experience. A total of 130 artists from the East Central Minnesota region entered this year’s IMAGE Art Show.

Gary Carlson newsletter photo

Judge's Choice Winners:

Paradise Lost by Gary Carlson (above) & Lucky 7 by Carole Bersin (below)

Carole Bersin newsletter photo

Judge’s Choice, People’s Choice, Artistic Excellence Award in each along with Artistic Merit Awards, were given and winners, and their county of residence, are as follows:

Judge’s Choice

Carole Bersin (Pine), Gary Carlson (Chisago)

Awards of Artistic Excellence

Amanda Brewer (Pine), Mary Ann Cleary (Isanti), Karla Dahms (Kanabec), Lois Lapp (Pine), Mike Menasco (Chisago), Don Semelhack (Kanabec), Emily Sheridan (Kanabec), David Spohn (Chisago), Bruce Thompson (Kanabec),

Richard Vincent (Chisago)

Awards of Artistic Merit

Elias Beamish (Kanabec), Jeff Bracken (Kanabec), Robert DesJarlait (Mille Lacs), Rhonda Felland (Kanabec), Dell Gross (Pine), Cathie Hendren (Chisago), Jim Larson (Mille Lacs), Sherry Pearce (Isanti), Kristina Peterson (Isanti),

Keith Raivo (Kanabec)

People’s Choice

Jerusha Steinert (Chisago)

Vist www.ECRAC.org to see all the art entered in the 2023 IMAGE Art Show

Special thank you to:

All the artists that make the 2023 IMAGE Art Show possible!

Show Manager - Kelli Maag

Curator - Terri Huro

Videographer - Matt Utecht

Photographer - Kirsten Faurie

Judges - Susanna Gaunt & Jonathan Thunder

Special Musical Guests - Nathan Frazer, Samuel Hines & Tawny VanVleet

ECRAC Staff: Mary Minnick-Daniels & Katina Eklund

ECRAC Board Members: Patricia Black, Sarah Ratermann Beahan, Matthew Krousey, Roger Nieboer, Deborah Trent, Stephanie Henry and Carla Vita

*all above images provided courtesy of Kirsten Faurie* 

How else can you Participate?

Apply for an art project grant! Grant award amounts have increased for 2024 due to the strong need and we encourage you to apply. Check out our grants page for the details. Upcoming grant deadlines February 1, March 1, and April 1. You can sign up for a grant workshop, too.

2023 Grants last went to a wide variety of art projects throughout the Region!

ECRAC Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund Legacy Grants for Organizations

East Central MN Pride, Franconia Sculpture in Schafer, Friends of the Karl Oskar House/Chisago County Historical Society, City of Hinckley, City of Isanti, Mille Lacs County Fair/Agricultural Society, City of Mora, City of North Branch, City of Onamia, City of Pine City, Pine City Arts Council, Pine County Fair/Agricultural Society, Play Inc. Arts in Cambridge, Unexpected Company Chorale in Lindstrom, Walker Methodist Levande in Cambridge, and the Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community at the Hallberg Center for the Arts.

 ECRAC Essentials (Operating) Support Grant Program

210 Gallery and Art Center (formerly known as the Old School Art Center in Sandstone), Pine Center for the Arts, Unexpected Company Chorale, and the Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community. 

ECRAC Small Art Project Grant Program

Dala Heritage Society/Kanabec County Historical Society, Franconia Sculpture Park, Hinckley-Finlayson Public Schools, Kanabec County Historical Society, Pine City Arts Council, and the Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community. 

ECRAC Art in Our Schools Grant Program

Hinckley-Finlayson Public Schools, and Onamia Public Schools/Community Education. 

ECRAC Resiliency Grant Program

210 Gallery and Art Center, Amanda Brewer, Catherine Colsrud, Stacey Foster, Susan Foss, Fred Keller, Samuel Hines, Connor Hopkins, Shurika Kikuchi, Jordan Ottoson, and the Pine Center for the Arts. 

ECRAC Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund Legacy Grants for Individual Artists

Fred Keller, Samuel Hines, Jerry Carlson, and Desmond Merkwan. 

ECRAC Mid-Career Artist Grants Awarded

Marie Brown, Donna Budzynski, Jake Callahan, Rachel Coyne, Peter Genheimer, Samuel Hines, James Larson, Sharma Luedke, Natalie Patera, Shawnda Schelinder, and Dustin Wayne. 

ECRAC Essential Artist Award Grant Program

Mary Ann Cleary and Ani Kasten. 

ECRAC K-12 Scholarship Program

8 Kindergarten through 12th grade students received funding for their specific art learning projects or programs.


Attend our upcoming Art Show in March with Bear Paws Cultural Art! Watch your inbox for further details.

There are additional seats available at our table if you are interested! Click here to apply to either become a Board Member or a Grant Reviewer for ECRAC. Speaking of, we are proud to announce that ECRAC recently added a new Board Member from Mille Lacs County. Stephanie Henry is an accomplished musician and has experience with ECRAC’s Individual Artist grant programs

Announcing upcoming building construction: Please be advised that during 2024 ECRAC is expecting updates to our building including a new roof and windows. These are very much needed, and we will keep you posted as we learn more about the timing of the work. This will not affect the ECRAC grant deadline schedule.

As always we ask for your support, but not monetarily! For us your support is sharing the resources available for the arts community. This is not just an endorsement of our work, but it helps with our commitment to elevating artist’s artwork and voices and examples of how community art projects matter. Please help us by sharing this email and encouraging other arts interested people to learn about ECRAC.

Thank you all for your work in our communities and for sharing your artwork and art projects and ideas with us.

Wishing you a great artful year ahead!

from all of us at the East Central Regional Arts Council in Hinckley

Both Logos with extended credit line