The Arts of Red Wing

The Arts of Red Wing

Thomas Merton once said that “art enable us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”. A single glance can transform a moment into discovery and loss of words. A drive downtown is sure to include a sighting of public art or a mural. Red Wing has been blessed with local organizations dedicated to connecting the community together through art. One of those organizations is the Red Wing Arts.

Red Wing Arts
Walk a block down the street to the Historic Depot from the St. James and stumble upon a gallery of paintings, photographs, drawings, and other artwork. This is home to the Red Wing Arts. The Red Wing Arts is a nonprofit organization supporting the arts by providing opportunities and exposure for regional artists. They organize well-known events throughout the year like the Summer Concert Series, Plein Air and the Arts Festival, that drawn thousands of members of the community together to rediscover the power of art. In addition to organizing events, the Red Wing Arts supports displays public art like the Red Wing Mural and Pollinator Park’s “First Flight”, a sculpture providing sanctuary for bees and butterflies.

We sat down with Emily Guida Foos, the Executive Director of the Red Wing Arts, to talk about the importance of art culture and how the arts is represented in Red Wing.  “Arts culture does differentiate us from other towns”, said Guida Foos. “Art is an even playing field and crosses boundaries”.

One of the goals of the Red Wing Arts is to make it obvious that the community of Red Wing values art and show how it is thriving with new art organizations adding to the mix every few years. “We want to re-invite members of the community to go explore”, said Guida Foos.Two of the most well-known events happen during the summer and fall, Plein Air and the Arts Festival.


Plein Air
Plein Air is a week of painting in the open air. Regional artists are invited to Red Wing to paint scenes of Red Wing. Artists are required to turn in 3 paintings and in turn, the paintings are displayed in the train depot gallery. Over a hundred pieces capture Red Wing every year.  Plein Air celebrated it’s 11th anniversary this year, adding more paintings to the collection of Red Wing over the years.  Below are some of the pieces painted in 2018 for Plein Air.

Arts Festival
The Arts Festival happens during the fall where a juried selection of regional artists flood the main streets of Red Wing to proudly show the work they’ve created, and thousands of people gather to engage with their work. Every tent is unique to style, medium and presentation allowing for a different experience in each display. In addition, food and upbeat music adds to the experience for a beautiful day of art and lively atmosphere. This year, the Arts Festival is October 13, 10 – 5 p.m. and October 14, 10 – 4 p.m. There are new activities for everyone to enjoy this year, like the Youth Art Fair, a youth edition of the Arts Festival open to artists between the ages of 12-18 years old.

Clara’s Gifts & Coffee
With over 50 years of supporting and encouraging the arts, the Red Wing Arts continues to gather the community together to create or display art to interact with. Thankfully, stationed in our very own coffee shop, Clara’s Gifts & Coffee has artwork on display to engage our guests. Acting like a pop-up gallery, the artwork is rotated out monthly. This month, the walls tell the stories of single moments captured on camera by Sandra Borgen. Borgen collection captures local rivers and plant-life with bright colors and stunning contrasts. Below are some of the pieces on display.

For a small town of 16,000 people, Red Wing is flourishing with creative talent. Guida Foos defined art anything with “creative mindset”. Beyond galleries, unique shops house one-of-a-kind buys and quaint restaurants serve delicious food. There is something new to discover within each shop, restaurant, and frame in Red Wing.

Take a walk downtown to experience Red Wing through the eyes of an artist. One of the best aspects of art is the ability to interpret a piece of work differently from everyone else. It can begin a conversation, mend and strengthen relationships, and spark ideas. Next time you are at the St. James, stop by Clara’s, the depot, and discover a community immersed with art around the block.