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There will be an air of artistry down by the river

Creatives are sharing their talents to bring more people and businesses to the West End of Cloquet.

Come out from 4-7:30 p.m. Friday Aug. 27, and watch watercolor and oil painters capture the St. Louis River, hear musicians play the new community piano, meet Star Wars Rise of the Podcast hosts, visit floral displays and grab a great dinner — all in Cloquet’s historic West End.

New businesses are relocating to the West End and joining current business owners working with West End Flourish creatives. Lake Shore Tobacco Vapor and Split Rock Private Trading and Wealth Management have moved in since West End Flourish got started in 2020. Robert’s Home Furnishings has recently been bought by Jeremy and Kara Manthey who are planning to open a studio and gallery soon.

Artist Julia Jaakola and a group of watercolor and oil painters will all paint what they see on Friday, Aug. 27 and again Friday, Sept. 3.

The rest of us get to look over their shoulders and watch the artists make decisions and adjustments right before our eyes.

The artists will be painting “en plein air,” or outdoors, and, in this case, finishing an entire painting outdoors along the St. Louis River during a three-hour period.

Jaakola recently stood by the river where it flows by the West End on Dunlap Island. “At first I didn’t feel a connection. I couldn’t find a good vantage point, and I couldn’t feel what was happening there.”

Then she researched the human and natural history of this area. She was inspired by a video made by Fond du Lac Reservation Cultural Center & Museum director Jeff Savage and learned through maps and archives about the histories of the people who are believed to have been living on the banks of the river since 800 A.D.

“I was connected to the people and their lives, nature, and the river itself,” Jaakola said.

The artists will “blend the place with the comfort of exploring as a painter and the joy of being human,” Jaakola said.

West End Flourish is one of several creative community development projects in Minnesota. Funding was provided by Springboard for the Arts, RETHOS/Artists on Main Street, Bush Foundation, City of Cloquet, and Oldenburg Arts and Cultural Community.

Writer Emily Swanson and her husband, Glenn, own Oldenburg House in Carlton, home of the Oldenburg Arts and Cultural Community working with local creatives on West End Flourish.

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