News Articles

Rochester Post-Bulletin: Winona man has passion for Rockwell Kent (6/28/2012)

Winona Post: Rockwell Kent—100 years (07/08/2012)

Winona Post: Theatre du Mississippi announces its 2012-2013 performance season! (10/07/2012)

Winona Post: Kent the artist (11/28/2012)/

Winona Post: Rockwell Kent Festival in February (11/28/2012)

Winona Daily News: Celebrating Kent (01/03/2013)

LaCrosse Tribune: Winona museum features artwork by Rockwell Kent (01/06/2013)

Rochester Post Bulletin: Publisher's Pick: From towering heights to ocean's depths — all in Winona (01/09/2013)

Winona Post: Ice Carving at FRFF (01/20/2013)

Winona Daily News: Iced whale to greet filmgoers (01/23/2013)

Winona Post: Carving and ice whale (01/23/2013)

Winona Post: Rockwell Kent's time in Winona subject of new play (01/23/2013)

Winona Post: ‘Rockwell Kent in Winona’ exhibit opens at Winona County History Center (01/27/2013)

Winona Post: Winona influence below the surface of Moby-Dick (01/27/2013)

Rochester Post Bulletin: Tip Sheet: Reel this one in (01/28/2013)

Winona State News: Rockwell Kent Festival in Winona (01/29/2013)

Winona Radio: Rockwell Kent Celebration (01/29/2013)

Chicago Journal Online: Winter Rises Through Arts, Recreation (01/29/2013)

Winonan: Moby Dick surfaces in Winona for FRFF (01/30/2013)

Winona Post: Fran Edstrom Editorial (01/30/2013)

Rochester Post Bulletin: Winona festival remembers artist Rockwell Kent (02/01/2013)

Rochester Post Bulletin: Winona exhibit brings Rockwell Kent to the people (02/04/2013)

Winona Daily News: Rockwell Kent festival starts today, runs through Sunday (02/06/2013)

Winona Daily News: Theatre du Mississippi to present original play about Rockwell Kent (02/08/2013)

Winona Post: Winona Arts Center exhibit part of Rockwell Kent fest (3/10/2013)

KQAL: Angels in the Trees: Rockwell Kent in Winona

We are very proud to share the content of the article that was published in "The Kent Collector" in December of 2012. We appreciate editor Don Roberts for featuring our celebration in this publication that is dedicated to Rockwell Kent's work.

Rockwell Kent in Winona: A Centennial Celebration

Winona, Minnesota, February 6–10, 2013

Why Winona? Most accounts of the journeying that was Rockwell Kent’s life glance past his 15 months in Winona, where he oversaw the construction of two elegant manor houses at Briarcombe Farm. Kent claimed that “all of the countless pictures I had painted were with me in Winona” and that he continued to paint while there, yet prominently absent in any retrospective of his career are paintings from 1912 and 1913. Most of what is known of the Winona sojourn comes from his memoir It’s Me O Lord, but with an intriguing disclaimer: “How very much of my one, full-packed Minnesota year shall not be told! … But oh, so much occurred in that one year!”

One hundred years later, Kent returns to Winona in what promises to be an extraordinary midwinter event—unprecedented in its scope and in perhaps the least expected of the places associated with his art and life.

Why Winona? Ask Taff Roberts, the organizer—and an adventurer in his own right: “I’m from Wales. Thirty-seven years ago I sailed west over the Atlantic from Africa on a small boat, headed for Argentina. Never made it, landed in Maine instead.” He first encountered Kent’s work during a visit to Monhegan in 1979: “There was something about a picture of Kent’s that spoke to me. I had never seen anything like this before, and I was taken in by it.” Now a longtime resident of Winona, he recalls, “It was sixteen years ago when four of us met to see if we could have an exhibition of Kent’s work in the rotunda of the public library, where he had shown some of his paintings in June 1913.” While that idea was never realized, it planted the seed for the upcoming centennial celebration.

As preparations began, Roberts launched a search for the artworks he’s convinced Kent left behind. “We know he traded two paintings with a local pharmacist, and we’ve located one of them, Kathleen by the Sea; the other, called Sleigh Ride is yet to turn up.” Another work relevant to Kent’s time there is The Seiners. Painted at Monhegan, it traveled to Minnesota with the artist and departed from there with avant-garde composer Carl Ruggles, marking the start of a long friendship that will be examined in the Centennial symposium.

“I think of Briarcombe Farm as a cornerstone in the life of this remarkably gifted artist and renaissance man,” Roberts says, “In April, I was hired to restore the original, hand-printed canvas wallpaper that was installed in the great stairway at Briarcombe. It was good to spend time in the old home and ponder its rich history and Kent’s presence a hundred years ago.”


  • The Saturday Symposium with Henry Adams, award-winning writer and professor of art at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio; Richard West, art historian, curator and director emeritus of the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington; Beth Christensen, music librarian at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota; and Emilio DeGrazia, professor emeritus of English at Winona State University. Hosted by Winona State University.
  • The world premiere of Angels in the Trees: Rockwell Kent in Winona at Theatre du Mississippi. This drama focuses on Kent’s relationship with Alex Geckler, an immigrant German housepainter, an unlikely friendship that continued by correspondence over the next forty years. In bringing their story to the stage, playwright Lynn Nankivil says she attempted to “re-create that time and place through the characters of Rockwell and Alex and their wives, Kathleen and Martha, and all of the other persons, now long gone, who made that year in ‘the West’ such a poignant memory for Kent.” For ticket information, go to
  • Not one but five exhibitions, including the previously unknown painting Kathleen by the Sea. On opening night at the History Center, a filmed walk-through of the interior of the surviving Briarcombe mansion will be shown, including the billiards room designed by Kent. (A private home, the house on Holler Hill can be viewed from the exterior.)
  • Frederick Lewis, in person, introducing Rockwell Kent, his landmark biographical film, with informal discussion afterwards.
  • A visit to the rotunda of the Winona Public Library, the site of Kent’s second solo exhibition in June 1913.


  • Minnesota Marine Art Museum, “The Art of Rockwell Kent: Images from a Wandering Man,” featuring paintings, drawings and illustrations on loan from SUNY Plattsburgh and a private collection. Sponsored in part by Winona National Bank.
  • Winona County History Center: “Rockwell Kent in Winona,” focusing on the town as Kent knew it and the story of Briarcombe and its residents.
  • Winona Public Library, “The Literary Art of Rockwell Kent.”
  • Paul Watkins Gallery, Winona State University: Lithographs and woodcut prints by Rockwell Kent.
  • Lillian Hogan Davis Gallery, St. Mary’s University: Lithographs and woodcut prints by Rockwell Kent.

If You Go

Situated on an island in the Mississippi River, Winona is a city of 28,000 with a vibrant cultural life year-round.

Cost: Except for theatre tickets, Centennial events are free of charge.

Travel: 30 miles west of La Crosse, Wisconsin (LSE airport), a 45-minute drive; 135 miles southeast of Minneapolis (MSP airport), a two-hour drive.

Weather: Winona is known for having the mildest winters in Minnesota, but expect freezing temperatures (Kent weather).

Accommodations: Special rates are offered by the host hotel—the Plaza Hotel & Suites. Call 888-292-0303 to reserve your room, using the RKCC code (discount guaranteed for reservations made by January 16).

*For updated schedule and event information, visit