Celebration Summary

Blackhead Monhegan, ©Plattsburgh State Art Museum.
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of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum.

The Winona Minnesota Rockwell Kent Centennial Festival was a huge success thanks to all the volunteers and people who attended from all across North America! Click here for our thank you list:

Thank You!

Even in the midst of winter, the city of Winona and its citizens embraced the idea of celebrating Rockwell Kent's visit to the great Northern Prairie State of Minnesota a hundred years ago! Significant collections of artwork were loaned from Plattsburgh State University Gallery in New York, and from the Ralf Nemec private collection. Substantial ice sculptures featuring Captain Ahab and the Great White Whale were created by artist John Njoes.

On opening night, Wednesday, February 6, there were four receptions: Winona State University, Saint Mary's University, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, and the Winona County History Center. On Thursday, February 7th, Frederick Lewis presented his acclaimed movie on the life and times of Rockwell Kent.

Friday evening saw the opening of Lynn Nankivil’s “Angels in the Trees,” a play based on Kent's time in Winona. Three sold-out performances and rave reviews of the first play on the life of Rockwell Kent were well-deserved. On Saturday morning there was a large audience present to hear Kent Gernander's talk on Rockwell Kent's Passport Case.

The Kent Symposium was held Saturday afternoon at Winona State University and was very well attended. Beth Christiansen's presentation was on the relationship between Kent and Carl Ruggles; Emilio DeGrazia spoke on Kent's journey with Herman Melville's "Moby Dick". Richard West discussed Kent's life's work, and Henry Adams presented “Rockwell Kent the Artist”. Also on Saturday there was a bus tour that visited Briarcombe, the mansions that Kent supervised during his time here.

A hundred years ago Rockwell mentioned that Winona was a cultural "no-man's land." No longer is that true.

Winona this year is in its tenth year of hosting the Great River Shakespeare Festival, and the Minnesota Marine Art Museum is now a world class institution. After visiting the museum, Richard West said there is not another museum like it in the country, and he will return here in October for the opening of the new wing. The Beethoven Festival is in its seventh year and attracts world class musicians. The Frozen River Film Festival has also put Winona on the map and partners with the Telluride Film Festival. Boats and Bluegrass and the Midwest Music Festival attract top musicians from all over the midwest and the country. This small town on Minnesota's southern most shore of the Mighty Mississippi is attracting much attention in the world of art and music.

In March students from Winona State University presented an art exhibition titled “Inspired by Rockwell Kent” including prints, pop-up pages, poetry, and music at the Winona Art Center. This June through August there will be a show of Ralf Nemec's collection of Kent's Shakespeare prints at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum to coincide with the Great River Shakespeare Festival.

Also, a group of locals are organizing a hundredth anniversary picnic at Briarcombe to commemorate Kent's Grand Intern Workingmen’s Anti-Boss Convention which was held on June 8th, 1913.

After leaving Winona the young Rockwell Kent embarked with his family aboard a freighter bound for St Johns, Newfoundland.

Carew Halleck, a fine young aspiring actor who played the part of Rockwell Kent in “Angels In the Trees,” his father and three friends are driving their motorcycles to St Johns, Newfoundland next May for the next festival event on the Kent calendar. That is another story!

– Taff Roberts

If you have any questions about these events, please forward questions to: info@rockwellkentwinona.org