Michael Tonder and Katie Marshall win 2019 Arrowhead Arts Awards

Michael Tonder and Katie Marshall win 2019 Arrowhead Arts Awards

A creator of glass sculptures that invoke the beauty of nature and the director of the MacRostie Art Center are the winners of the 2019 Arrowhead Arts Awards from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. Sculptor Michael Tonder will receive the 2019 George Morrison Artist Award and MacRostie Art Center Executive Director Katie Marshall will receive the 2019 Maddie Simons Arts Advocate Award.


They will be celebrated and receive their awards at a ceremony on Friday, May 10, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. at the MacRostie Art Center at 405 1st Ave NW, in Grand Rapids.


Tonder’s work is widely recognizable. Original and yet classic works that once you notice, you’ll realize you’ve admired them before. The sculptures are made of recycled glass and reminiscent of nature and especially Lake Superior. He works from a studio outside of Two Harbors, where his studio is a frequent stop for many arts admirers and fellow artists.


Marshall is widely recognized as a strong advocate for dozens of individual artists as well as the role of art itself in the community. Her creativity and skills for organization have helped to make Grand Rapids an important destination for people who want to see how art can help a community thrive.


These awards are presented by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, whose mission is to facilitate and encourage local arts development. This mission statement grows from a conviction that the arts improve the quality of life in the region. ARAC is one of eleven regional arts councils designated by the State of Minnesota to distribute funds from state to artists and arts organizations as well as provide support to the arts community.


ARAC receives additional support from the McKnight Foundation, Bush Foundation, and the Blandin Foundation. ARAC’s seven-county territory stretches from Aitkin County in the South to Koochiching and Cook County in the north. ARAC’s geographic territory is more than 18,000 square miles, bigger than nine U.S. states.


Tonder – working with plate glass, kilns, and sandblaster – creates one-of-a-kind glass sculptures. Hand-cut from flat sheets of glass, each creation is carefully assembled, then fired in an electric kiln. After firing, the fused glass forms are then carved and etched to completion.


Within each form, Tonder employs internal lines, altered surface textures, and light reflection, refraction, and diffusion to create tension, stimulate curiosity, and engage the eye. His art reflects the many influences of his experience as a forester and park manager, and excursions into Minnesota’s Boundary Waters and Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park.


“Tonder’s studio is a place full of energy and creativity, clearly respected by the many artists you can see at his studio anytime the doors are open, which is often,” said Drew Digby, the Executive Director of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council.


The George Morrison Artist Award is named after internationally acclaimed visual artist George Morrison (1919-2000), who was an important member of the second generation of American abstract expressionist artists. Morrison was heralded for successfully synthesizing American Indian themes with abstraction and surrealism. A life-long member of the Grand Portage Chippewa, he resided and worked for many years in the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota. His work has been shown in museums around the world and was recently the subject of a special show at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.


Marshall has run the MacRostie Art Center since 2011. In one of the several nominations she received for the award, she was described “as one of those rare people who sees the ‘big picture,’ is very creative, and also has a head for details. She can come up with innovative art projects for our community, but also can sit down and write grants and guide our area artists in ‘breaking into’ the art world.”


Marshall has played a central role in the evolution of Grand Rapids into one of the most vital small cities in Minnesota for the arts, with its extremely successful First Friday Art Walks and presence of art in many aspects of community life. She’s also nurtured major shows that have started at MacRostie on suicide, mental health, female power in a male-dominated world, homelessness, and the environment. She also currently serves as chair of the Board of Directors of the Itasca Orchestra and Strings program, works with the Grand Rapids School District to help bring arts into the classroom, as well as worked with a program to bring arts to those in juvenile detention.


“Her work is clearly a model that any arts advocate would want to emulate, if they only had the time, energy, and creativity that Marshall possesses,” said Digby.


The Maddie Simons Arts Advocate Award is named for Madeline Simons, the first volunteer Chair of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council Board. A long-time resident of Grand Marais, MN, she owned a dance studio, helped start the Grand Marais Playhouse, the Lutsen Art Fair, and Minnesota Citizens for the Arts.


Past Recipients of the Arrowhead Arts Awards include:
George Morrison Artist Award Recipients: Craig Blacklock, photographer, Moose Lake; Dave Lynas, clay artists and teacher, Duluth; Jeff Savage, traditional artist and sculptor, Fond du Lac; Chris Monroe, visual artist and illustrator, Duluth; Elizabeth Jaakola, composer, songwriter, musician, Cloquet; Gareth Andrews, sculptor, Zim; Jim Northrup, poet, essayist, Sawyer; Cheng-Khee Chee, watercolor artist, Duluth; Mary Casanova, young adult author, Ranier; Connie Wanek, poet, Duluth; and Jim Brandenburg, photographer, Ely.


Maddie Simons Arts Advocate Award Recipients: Karen Sunderman, Duluth; Mary McReynolds, Virginia; Kathy Dodge, Grand Rapids; Amy Demmer, Grand Marais; John Faith, International Falls;Dr. Stanley Wold, Duluth; Cherie and Jerry Holm, Aitkin; Charlene Luoma, Britt; Cheryl Kramer-Milder, Cloquet; Patty Feld, Effie; and Betsy Bowen, Grand Marais.


ARAC receives funding from the state General Fund, Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, the McKnight Foundation, and other funders. Money from Minnesota’s Legacy Amendment originates from a Constitutional Amendment approved by vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. The intent of this funding is to support and create access to the arts for artists, arts organizations, and communities; to support arts education for Minnesotans of all ages; and to support diverse ethnic and cultural arts traditions represented in this state.