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Forest Lake High School Student Lexi Morley
Forest Lake High School student Lexi Morley is among the Forest Lake High School National Honor Society members who volunteered to help measure and hang artwork at the Hallberg Center for the Arts in Wyoming. Ninety art students from Forest Lake High School, middle school and community school are being showcased at the center until Saturday, April, 15.

Published in the Lowdown
Written by Noelle Olson/Editor
Photo by Paul Dols, Press Publications
Apr 4, 2023

The Hallberg Center for the Arts/Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community (WACAC) features a new exhibit every month.  

“That's quite an achievement for a small arts community,” said Kirk Larson, vice chair and co-gallery director. “We split our annual exhibits between solo duo shows and open community collaborative shows.”

This month, the arts center will showcase the exhibit “Ranger Art” from approximately 90 students of the Forest Lake Area high school, middle school and community school. The exhibit is open until Saturday, April 15.

“The students began creating their art for this exhibit at the beginning of the school year,” Larson said. “It's exciting for them because they get to have their art hung professionally in a gallery.”

“We are so fortunate to have a creative arts center in our community,” said Maria Kaiser, art teacher at Forest Lake High School. “I also believe that having a partnership between the schools and the art center helps the larger community see the importance of art in both our schools and in our community.”

Another exhibit coming this month is from photographer Cameron Williams. It is titled, “The Many Faces of Nature.” A grand opening will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 20. The exhibit will be on display through Saturday, May 13.

According to Williams, still images have the power to capture the authenticity of the world around us. The art he creates is twofold, According to a statement from Williams on the WACAC website.

“First, I engage with a documentary approach. Here, I capture the splendor of our world through high saturated colors, dynamic compositions, and the graceful movements of nature. Landscapes and wildlife are revealed in vivid scenes that transport viewers to new corners of the Earth. These works evolved into the construction of a series of abstract photography. In these works, I reimagine natural landscapes and scenes in new visual forms, blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction. As line and shape dissolve beneath my experimental photographic techniques, I challenge viewers’ understandings of the landscape. These two distinctive aspects of my practice transform the landscape and work symbiotically with one another embracing my own unique perspective on the world around us.”

The Hallberg Center has a main gallery, an underground gallery and a stage. The center brings in songwriters to perform their original music.

 Songwriters in the Round will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27, for its 34th installment on the main gallery stage. There will be performances by Pine & Fire and the Roe Family Singers.

According to Larson, Pine & Fire is a working class, do-it-yourself (DIY) folk music duo from the Northwoods of Minnesota. The two blend traditional roots music influences with a modern punk sentiment, creating a unique and driving sound. Together, they sing original songs woven with themes of love, escapism, home and growth. Since their start in 2019, Pine & Fire has released three self-recorded projects. Recently, the duo was awarded a 2023 Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship in music.

Bonfire Music Group recording artists the Roe Family Singers are a good-time, old-time hillbilly band from the tiny community of Kirkwood Hollow, Minnesota. Led by wife and husband Kim and Quillan Roe, the band marries old-time sounds from barn dances, fiddle pulls and county fairs with the rock & roll passion of youth. In 2018, they won Entertainers of the Year and Album of the Year from the Bluegrass Music Association of Iowa (BMAI). In 2019, they won Best Band, Best Band Overall and Entertainers of the Year from BMAI. In 2020, their song “Don’t Worry About the Rich Man,” was  number 10 overall on the Bluegrass Grassicana charts.

Eleven years ago, a group of artists formed the Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community. The Hallberg Family Foundation was the primary benefactor; it donated $100,000. Larson said other key sponsors that helped buy the building were Rosenbauer America, First State Bank of Wyoming and B&N Sheet Metal.

“One question we get all the time is, 'Wyoming has an arts center?'” Larson said. “We try and provide a forum for the community to present their art but also experience new art.”