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ISSUE 119 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/23/2005

Town art flourishes

By Allie Helling
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 23, 2005

While Northfield has long had a strong affiliation with the arts, various organizations from the town have recently joined together in hopes of turning Northfield into even more of an "arts town."

The City of Northfield, Carleton College, St. Olaf College, Northfield Arts Guild and ArtOrg, one of Northfield's non-profit arts organizations, are some of the groups involved in the effort, which aims to market Northfield as a destination for artists and art lovers alike.

"The idea of Northfield being an arts town has been around for a very long time," said Jill Ewald, assistant professor of art at St. Olaf and the director of Flaten Art Museum.

However, a more concerted effort was initiated this May to nourish the town's talent and showcase it to other communities and residents.

Much of the effort is related to drawing others into Northfield through arts related events.

"People think of an ‘arts town’ as a destination, and some have centralized arts councils," Ewald said.

"The goal is to market Northfield as a destination, by having more activities," said Dave Machacek, the executive director of ArtOrg.

Another focus of the new initiative relates to improving artists' access to facilities. "We started realizing how many artists live in this town, and noted the enormous amount of talent," Ewald said.

"The goal is to address the needs of artists in town," Machacek added.

One of the ways in which the city is working to provide for artists is by creating affordable space to live and work.

"We're working with a developer, Mendota Homes, and the city of Northfield to put together a building for low-income artist apartments," Machacek added. The building would house "equipment-intensive studios," such as print-making, ceramics and glass-blowing work spaces.

"It would operate like a co-op, where each artist would pay a certain amount each month to use the facilities," Machacek said.

Besides an attention to the visual arts, Northfield is putting more effort into fostering the fine arts in general.

"There is talk of starting a northfield film society," Ewald said.

St. Olaf students seem aware of and interested in the developments.

Kali Johnson '07 thinks the town has made progress but also could remain open to new suggestions. "I think the new wine bar in the Ole Café was a good idea to attract artsy folk down here," Johnson said. "We could use some more statues, or perhaps an old cinema that plays old movies."

Meg Jensen '07, a Northfield resident, thinks the town's relationship to art has always been impressive.

"I think Northfield has always been really conscious about art. My elementary school had a huge art program, and in high school we were always going to plays," Jensen said. "I don't necessarily think that making Northfield more artsy brings tourists here, but I do think it keeps people in Northfield. Instead of going to a play in the Cities, people can go to a play here."

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