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Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

Winter Escape

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The six-week-long River Arts Festival in Sauk Prairie begins Feb. 23, a rural delight just an hour-plus drive from the metro Milwaukee area. This year’s annual offering coordinates with an exclusive exhibit traveling from the Smithsonian Institution, “Between Fences,” which speaks to the barriers and boundaries existing between neighbors, neighborhoods, communities and countries. Each event hosted by the River Arts Festival develops this central theme through a variety of unique artistic experiences.

Christening the festival at 4 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the Prairie du Sac River Arts Center is the opening performance of “First Person: Stories from the Edge of the World.” National Geographic, National Public Radio personality Neal Conan and Celtic chamber group Ensemble Galilei celebrate the spirit of exploration throughout the evening.

Another grand opening reception takes place 5 to 8 p.m., Feb. 28, with photographer Mike Price presenting a slide show, “Religion & Politics: The Spirit of Sauk County,” several times over the course of the night. The following Sunday, Feb. 29, at 7 p.m., Curt Meine inaugurates the Wisconsin Idea lecture series that is programmed through March 29. Meine is the first of five scholars who will examine issues relating to the boundaries surrounding sacred land, landscape, conservation and property rights.

An exciting array of visual and video exhibits is planned through April 5 to entice visitors to participate in this winter expression of art. These include a 6-foot-by-7-foot image by Madison artist John Miller, A Sauk Prairie Meander, and an exhibition from the Qual Line Fence Corp. Poetry slams, photography contests and tours of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant contribute to the festival as well. For a complete schedule of the exhibits and performances, with venues and time listings, go to www.saukprairie.com.

To complement the festival, Wollersheim Winery, Cedar Grove Cheese Co. and other Sauk Prairie area businesses are highlighting special events. Downtown Prairie du Sac offers fine food at Wyttenbach’s Meat Market Grill or the Blue Spoon Caf, a great spot on the snowy banks of the Wisconsin River for eagle watching.

Coming closer to home, Milwaukee Street Gallery, on 717 N. Milwaukee St., features 11 artists from Grafton’s Spectrum Gallery in an exhibit titled “The Country Comes to the City.” The opening reception takes place Friday, Feb. 22, 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, Feb.

23, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The exhibit includes artwork in multiple mediums from Sally Duback, Leon Travanti, Patsy Aster and Fujie Moses. Part of the proceeds from any sales at the gallery through the close of the show on March 15 will benefit Artists Working in Education. This nonprofit organization brings art programming to central city schools and neighborhood parks.
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