GRANITE FALLS — All things handmade will be featured this summer at a new outdoor arts and music event that will be held once a month in Granite Falls.

The Makers Market will be from 4 to 7 p.m. the first Thursday of the month, from June through September, on the River Promenade along the Minnesota River in downtown Granite Falls.

The first event is June 3.

“The idea is to get arts into the community and out of the building,” said Mary Gillespie, a volunteer with the Granite Area Arts Council, which is hosting the events.

Vendors who “make their own items” will be featured. That includes local artists but could also mean local vegetable farmers and bakers, she said.

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Free music by local and regional performers will be part of the monthly outdoor event.

The band Ring of Kerry will be performing June 3.

On July 1 the music will be provided by Sooner Than Now from Granite Falls.

Musicians for the Aug. 5 and Sept. 2 events will be announced later.

The event is being funded by a development grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council.

Patricia Buschette

Patricia Buschette, of Renville, will be at the Makers Market with her book, “Locked Up In Frost,” which she describes as a story about “a small Minnesota community and its members whose rituals have been threatened.”

Living with her husband on land that had been owned by her great-grandparents, Buschette has deep roots in Renville County.

She worked as a legal assistant for many years, served as an agricultural legislative assistant in former Congressman David Minge’s office in Washington, D.C., and worked as a lobbyist representing the wheat growers of the United States, before ending her commute from Washington to Renville.

The West Central Tribune asked Buschette about her book and work as a writer.

WCT: What’s the premise of your novel?

Buschette: “Locked up in Frost” is the story of the parallel paths of a man and a community, each seeking relevance. Conflict arises in both as they struggle to integrate the values of the past and the possibilities of the future. The premise is that conflict and imagination often open the door to opportunity. The question is whether each has the courage to move forward.

Patricia Buschette, of Renville, author of "Locked Up In Frost," about a small-town Minnesota community. Photo courtesy of Patricia Buschette
Patricia Buschette, of Renville, author of "Locked Up In Frost," about a small-town Minnesota community. Photo courtesy of Patricia Buschette

WCT: Describe the process of how you turned an “idea” for a novel into a finished book.

Buschette: For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to write a novel. I felt satisfaction in the articles and columns I wrote, but the possibility of writing a book was never forgotten. Once I got started, I often felt as if there was an element of inspiration apart from myself that created the people and places of Glenview. I would often see the characters move about on the horizon of my imagination as they came to life. I simply reported what they said and did.

However, the writing was the easy part. I was unable to find a publisher who could open up the opportunities of a greater market. Any marketing that was established, was the fruit of my own effort.

WCT: What/who inspires you?

Buschette: I am inspired by writers who, through their imagination, created a world to which they invite the reader. I am mindful of Harper Lee and Margaret Atwood who have educated and inspired me. I am inspired by possibility, creativity and hard work. Success is often a matter of determination.

WCT: What are the benefits and challenges of being an author in rural Minnesota?

Buschette: I had believed that friends and neighbors in a small town would be anxious to read a novel written by someone they have known for years. While there are those who have read “Locked up in Frost,” and are effusive in their praise, many of the books I have sold have been to those I meet when traveling or those who live some distance away.

WCT: What is your next project?

Buschette: I continue to write on the history of my community, but I do not find the fire within me to write another book. I believe those who live on the pages of “Locked up in Frost” have insights to human conflict and possibilities. My desire is that more people read and are enthusiastic about discussing their responses. I love the exchange when I am invited to join a book club discussion and respond to questions and insights of readers.

For more information email: patricia.buschette@gmail.com.

Krystl Louwagie

Krystl Louwagie, of Cottonwood, is the full-time marketing coordinator for the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council. With a degree in studio arts and art history from Hamline University, Louwagie fills the rest of her time by teaching art classes, working as a professional face painter at celebrations and festivals and creating her own artwork that will be on display at the Makers Market.

The West Central Tribune asked Louwagie about her art and work as an artist in rural Minnesota.

WCT: Describe the art you’re currently making.

Louwagie: Currently, I do mostly portraits; I'm working on a new series to exhibit that features people in their COVID masks. I do commission portraits of people and pets. I also do short comics about my daily life.

A portrait made by Cottonwood artist, Krystl Louwagie. Photo courtesy of Krystl Louwagie
A portrait made by Cottonwood artist, Krystl Louwagie. Photo courtesy of Krystl Louwagie

WCT: How has your art changed over the years?

Louwagie: In some ways, it's gotten a lot simpler. I'm more concerned with producing art at regular intervals than I am with making something "perfect" or profound. I ask the question, "What is keeping me from working on my art?" and I find a way to eliminate that barrier and move on. I'm more efficient with my time and I've gotten a lot more confident in my own unique style.

WCT: What/who inspires you?

Louwagie: People who write and draw their own comics. And, friends just taking selfies on my social media feed. I love imagining how I'd draw them.

WCT: What are the benefits and challenges of being an artist in rural Minnesota?

Louwagie: Challenges are things I miss from living in St. Paul, like artists cooperatives where artists can share expensive equipment and studio space because there's enough interest/members to pay smaller, practical increments and a system in place for shared expenses. There's just some equipment I don't have any access to here.

A portrait made by Cottonwood artist, Krystl Louwagie. Photo courtesy of Krystl Louwagie
A portrait made by Cottonwood artist, Krystl Louwagie. Photo courtesy of Krystl Louwagie

On the flip side of that, being an artist in rural Minnesota in some ways means there's less "competition." Once you establish yourself as an artist in this area, almost everyone in the arts community knows who you are and what you do and it's easy to network and find the right connections.

WCT: How do you make your art available to the public?

Louwagie: Mainly through social media, artist-featured gift shops and exhibiting in galleries. I have works for sale at the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council gift shop, I maintain an Instagram page (www.instagram.com/artbykrystl/) as well as an artist Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ArtByKrystl. In 2020 I had an exhibit at the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council, in 2021 I had an exhibit at the Bird Island Cultural Centre, and in 2022 I have an exhibit paired with another local artist at the Hutchinson Center for the Arts.

WCT: Where do you see yourself, and your art, in five years?

A portrait made by Cottonwood artist, Krystl Louwagie. Photo courtesy of Krystl Louwagie
A portrait made by Cottonwood artist, Krystl Louwagie. Photo courtesy of Krystl Louwagie

Louwagie: For my art career to be more established, streamlined and organized. A professional website where my services for commissions are clearly listed, an inventory of past works and works that are still for sale and an updated calendar of events for when/where I'll be teaching arts classes, exhibiting and selling works.

I'm also planning on having a more structured format for my comics so that I can "release" them on a predictable schedule. I'll still be creating and exhibiting new exhibits for galleries, and I'd love to have done an artist residency or completed a compilation of my comics or a completed graphic novel.

Melissa Peterson

Born and raised in Willmar and living now in Granite Falls, Melissa Peterson has always been “a very curious person” who loves learning new things. While working full-time as a configuration analyst for a regional health plan, she has “dabbled” in different types of arts and crafts.

“I am only an artist for fun and as a creative outlet,” said Peterson, who is involved with the Granite Area Arts Council, the Granite Falls City Artist in Residence program and is chair of the board of directors for Bluenose Gopher Public House, a cooperative-owned pub in Granite Falls. She’ll have her arts and crafts for sale at the Makers Market this summer.

WCT: Describe the art you’re currently making.

Peterson: Most recently, I have started working in fiber arts, using yarn and macramé cord to create wall-hanging decor. I’ve also been teaching myself the art of stone wrapping, creating ‘zen stones’ using knotting and basket weaving techniques.

WCT: How has your art changed over the years?

Peterson: My art is always changing — because I love learning new things, you never know what I’m going to do next!

WCT: What/who inspires you?

Peterson: The people who inspire me are those who are unafraid to be unique, different and true to themselves. Artists, writers, musicians and creators of all kinds who continue to put themselves out there and pursue their passions despite criticism.

WCT: What are the benefits and challenges of being an artist in rural Minnesota?

Peterson: I think the benefits of being an artist in rural Minnesota are that we have easy access to amazing natural beauty, places to seek solitude and inspiration and certainly some built-in support. Small towns and rural areas take a great deal of pride in the success of one of their own. The challenges include more limited access to resources, materials and classes for learning new skills and techniques and sometimes a more closed-minded view of what art is and should be.

WCT: How do you make your art available to the public?

Peterson: I have sold some of my handmade items locally and briefly had an online presence. Otherwise, my art has not generally been public.

WCT: Where do you see yourself, and your art, in five years?

Peterson: In five years I see myself still living here in Granite Falls — the combination of the natural beauty of the river bottom and the growing creativity and diversity of the residents makes this a great place to be.. Who knows where my art will be? What I do know is that I’ll still be creating something.

Makers Market vendors

The vendors may change from month to month, but the current list includes:

  • John G. White, matted photo prints, wooden plaques and cards
  • Renae Stemper, fabric garden flags and windsocks
  • JoAnn Almich, greeting cards featuring original artwork
  • Nan Kaufenberg, art cards, block prints and jewelry
  • Greta Franklin, acrylic pouring art
  • Audry Arner, hemp products from Moonstone’s legal cannabis
  • Mary Carlson, magnets, coasters, sun catchers and ornaments
  • Melissa Peterson, wooden wall art and fiber art/macrame
  • Barb Lewis, tree danglers
  • Stephanie Bekaert, baked goods
  • Reinaldo Ocasio, soap and jewelry
  • Patricia Buschette, author
  • Kelly Roth, butterfly art and crafts
  • Yvonne Bruner, baked goods
  • Andrew Meuleners, jams and jellies
  • Kathy Kimpling, jewelry and cards
  • Steve Keillor, author (September only)

For more information and an updated list of vendors and musicians go to www.granitefallsarts.org/makers-market