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Shake Rag Alley Offers a New Year of Creativity

Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts is pleased to present a new year of creative opportunities at small-scale arts and crafts workshops and retreats in Mineral Point and virtually in 2021.

The 2021 catalog was released online at www.ShakeRagAlley.org on Dec. 1. Beginning in mid-January, look for the gold catalog cover at a location near you, stop by the office at 18 Shake Rag St. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday, or call (608) 987-3292 to request one by mail. Staff will be glad to assist with workshop registrations or lodging reservations (workshop students enjoy a 10 percent discount off Shake Rag Alley lodging).

“Our nonprofit school of arts and crafts is incredibly fortunate to still be here cultivating creativity amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Executive Director Sara Lomasz Flesch, noting that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on public gatherings, only 30 percent of the adult workshops planned for 2020 were held. “We are exceedingly grateful to everyone who has continued to support us, and to all of the instructors, students and lodging guests who were patient and understanding as we worked through disruptions to our schedule.”

This year’s Winter Writers Reading Series of free readings by award-winning authors began in December continues virtually through March with Krista Eastman on Jan. 6. Born and raised in the Driftless hills of Wisconsin, Eastman is the author of “The Painted Forest,” which was named one of the best literary nonfiction debuts of 2019 by Poets & Writers and won the Council for Wisconsin Writers’ Nonfiction Book Award and an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association.

Flesch said Shake Rag Alley received disaster relief loans from the Small Business Administration and grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board and Mineral Point Community Foundation. She credited the school’s ability to maintain its staff of seven throughout this year to the disaster relief it received and the emergency cancellation policy that was implemented in March: Students and lodging guests were asked to accept gift certificates in lieu of cash refunds beginning with the statewide shutdown in March.

“With every 2021 workshop or event registration and lodging reservation we receive, we’re getting more excited about the new year,” Flesch said, adding that 170 arts and crafts workshops will be presented in person on the Shake Rag Alley campus and virtually via Zoom by scores of instructors in blacksmithing and welding, the Business of Art, ceramics and pottery, adding that creative writing, culinary arts, fiber arts, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting and 2D art, printmaking, and rustic arts and nature crafts. Workshops will be taught by more than 50 Wisconsin artists from 25 cities, as well as instructors from 14 states, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, Canada. The 2021 summer Youth Program will feature in-person and make-at-home art kits in June-August.

The first workshop of 2021 is the first in a monthly series of writing classes for veterans. A Hero’s Journey: A Writing Course for Veterans meets at 1-4 p.m. Saturdays with retired Navy Capt. Stephen Fuller. Utilizing Joseph Campbell’s depiction of the Hero’s Journey, the workshop will feature writing exercises, videos and a chance to share and reflect on one another’s work.  (See column, p. 6, and calendar, p. 10.)

In addition to fulfilling its mission to provide educational experiences in visual, performing, and literary arts for adults and children, Shake Rag Alley looks forward this year to continuing to cultivate the creativity that thrives in our rural community and to rehabilitate and preserve our historic buildings and rustic campus. 

This year’s Winter Writers Reading Series of free readings by award-winning authors began in December continues virtually through March with Krista Eastman on Jan. 6. Born and raised in the Driftless hills of Wisconsin, Eastman is the author of “The Painted Forest,” which was named one of the best literary nonfiction debuts of 2019 by Poets & Writers and won the Council for Wisconsin Writers’ Nonfiction Book Award and an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association.

The Driftless Poets monthly workshop also continues via Zoom through the winter months. Monthly Women’s Art Parties resume the third Wednesday in March through November, and annual family programs will include the June 4 Tour of Fairy Homes, June 17 Mineral Point Museum Night, Oct. 31 Trick’r Treat event and Dec. 4 Santa Day.

In order to continue the crucial conversations that began during this year’s NEA Big Read of Claudia Rankine’s award-winning “Citizen: An American Lyric,” Shake Rag Alley will begin hosting a monthly antiracism book club via Zoom beginning this month. The first selection will be The New York Times “1619 Project,” which will be discussed at 6 p.m. Jan. 21. 

Shake Rag Alley will again be hosting spring and summer garage sales full of fun and eclectic finds in April and August. And save the date for the second annual Halloween Masquerade Ball on Oct. 23. 

For more information and updates throughout the year, see the website, subscribe to twice-monthly e-newsletters, follow Shake Rag Alley on Facebook and Instagram or call (608) 987-3292.

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