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Artsminded: Check out all end-of-the-year offerings

Check out all end-of-the-year offerings

Concerts, theater and art shows are winding down in the St. Croix River Valley as winter presses its snowy way toward the solstice and the holidays that follow.

I commend the music students at UW-River Falls for their splendid musicianship and wonderful concerts in the first two weeks of December.

One of many highlights was the St. Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra under the spirited baton of Dr. Kris Tjornehoj that included a rare singing performance by River Falls' own Jen Burleigh-Bentz (who has performed on Broadway), joined by poetry and prose reader, Michael Norman.

It's remarkable to have a rich palette of free or low-cost concerts right in River Falls. If you didn't get there, try to attend next year. Soul medicine of this kind will warm you even as the mercury drops mercilessly.

Of the several UW-RF student recitals I had the pleasure of attending (I don't get to every one but try to get to as many as I possibly can) there were two I feel merit particular praises. Katelyn Peterson sang her beautiful way through a wide range of classical and contemporary songs. Jaimie Arnold's recital was elegant, passionate and masterful. Hopefully we'll have a chance to track their future achievements.

Once again the Wearable Art and Fashion Show brought a standing room only audience to Gallery 102. Hosted by Global M.A.D.E. and Interior Concepts and in its second incarnation, it added greatly to the artistry of the post-Thanksgiving River Dazzle Day. Unusual materials used by participating artists ranged from paint swatches to sausage casings -- enough to bring joy and laughter to even the most reserved.

The River Falls Community Arts Base is grateful for continuing community support. Please consider a CAB membership as a holiday gift.

Remember that membership includes an Arts Partner card good for discounts on a variety of goods and services at local merchants and a free book, "Waiting For the Dough" for first time members. For more information, go to

Here's an original recipe from the book:

Chip Chocs

In a saucepan melt 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips at low heat (or use a double boiler).

Roll 7 ounces of ripple potato chips into coarse crumbs.

Mix together and fill candy cups.

Cool before serving.

CAB wishes everyone a safe, joyful, delectable holiday and a creative New Year! Some offerings to take you into the New Year (please confirm details):

Earth Angels Coffee House on 321 N. Second St., presents live music, art classes and poetry events frequently. A sampling of coming events includes: Thursday, Dec. 16, at 8 p.m., Poetry Jam; Friday, Dec. 17, at 8:30 p.m., Tommy and Jen Bentz; Saturday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m., Derek Washington. For more information, call 715-425-7504 or go to:

The following are at The Phipps Center for the Arts, 109 Locust, Hudson. For more information, call 715-386-8409 or go to:

Saturday, Dec. 18, at 2 p.m., Jelani Eddington plays holiday favorites on the American Theatre Organ, adults $22, students with ID $15; Friday, Dec. 31, at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Colleen Raye and Company with the Minnesota Jazz Orchestra, call for tickets.; Saturday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m., Billy McLaughlin, acoustic guitar, and the Eclectic String Quartet, adults $24, students $17; Unique art items available at The Phipps Gift Gallery

Sunday, Dec. 19 to Jan. 16: Exhibition of brass rubbings from England's Monumental Brasses by Mark Nippoldt, who will also present a talk on the technique of historic preservation by "rubbing" a wax image on Saturday, Jan. 8, at 1:30 p.m. at River Falls Public Library.

Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m.: The Tin Pan Alley Cats annual "Wassailing" or "Christmas-in-a-Bag" show at the Hammond Hotel, Davis St., Hammond.

Call for Wisconsin artists by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters for exhibition at the James Watrous Gallery in Madison's Overture Center for the Arts. Application deadline, Jan. 1; For more information, call Jody Clowes, exhibitions manager, at 608-265-2517 or go to:

Saturday, Jan. 15, from 5-9 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 16, at 10 a.m.: "Vessel", the Hammond Arts Alliance presents artists Barb Bend, Barb Erickson, Doug Johnson, Carol McClelland, Wendy Olson, Doug Peterson and Davis Wyrick at the Foster Art Vault Gallery, 915 Davis St., Hammond.

Children's dance classes at River Falls Academy: Pre-dance, tap, jazz, ballet, showkidz, zumbatomics. For more information, go to:

Note that in February 2011, a stimulating film festival on the art of food and sustainability will be presented by What We Need is Here. Watch this column and the River Falls Journal for further information.

To sign up for the What We Need is Here e-newsletter, send an e-mail to Anastasia Shartin at