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Printmaking project comes to Becker Market today

The Thousand Print Summer project, shown here at an event earlier this summer, is coming to Willmar today for the final day of the downtown Becker Market. Photo courtesy ArtOrg, © 2012 ArtOrg

WILLMAR -- Take a group of kids and adults interested in art, and give them the materials to make a printing block. Add ink and paper, then apply a small motorized steamroller.

The block prints that result from this unconventional approach to art have been brightening community events across Minnesota this summer.

Now the Thousand Print Summer project is coming to Willmar for the final day of the downtown Becker Market from 3 to 6:30 p.m. today.

The event will help close the Becker Market season on a high note, said Nancy Johnson, coordinator of the outdoor market.

It will be a chance for the public to browse the market, buy some fresh vegetables and participate in the printmaking, she said. "I hope it brings some children."

Thousand Print Summer is an initiative by ArtOrg to engage communities -- especially children and Latino communities -- in creating art and learning about the traditional process of block printing.

Over the past five months, organizers have traveled with their ink, paper and steamroller to more than a dozen towns across Minnesota.

In partnership with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and artist Maria Cristina Tavera, a curriculum also was developed to help children, adults and teachers learn about the history of Mexican printmaking on which the Thousand Print Summer project is based.

The project's visit to the Becker Market in Willmar was arranged with the help of the West Central Integration Collaborative, Johnson said.

Funding for Thousand Print Summer is provided by an arts access grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board with money allocated by the Minnesota Legislature. In the four years since the project was launched, ArtOrg has helped make more than 6,500 block prints at nearly 100 events. This summer it made a record 380 prints in six hours at the Minneapolis Monarch Festival.

Johnson said the Becker Market is hoping for a good crowd today during the last market of the season.

"There's still an abundance of vegetables," she noted. "We'll have a bread vendor there this week too."

The Becker Market Café is serving chili with market bread and cheeses. Volunteers with the Willmar Community-Owned Grocery also are selling ice cream.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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