St. Croix Valley ‘Big Read’ seeks to connect people and books

Poetry collection by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo inspires programs across region now through April.




3 minute read

Poet Laureate of the United States Joy Harjo, June 6, 2019. Photo by Shawn Miller.

For the 8th year in a row, the St. Croix Valley has been chosen as an NEA Big Read community. The NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley is a one book, one community program that brings together residents from throughout the lower St. Croix Valley in Minnesota and Wisconsin around a common book.

Art programming in 2022 will be centered on themes found in An American Sunrise: Poems by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Join your St. Croix Valley neighbors in reading An American Sunrise. In April, we celebrate the arts with activities related to themes found in Joy’s poetry.

Read & Release copies are available in the ArtReach gallery and in our Little Free Library. Once you’re done reading, pass it along or return it to ArtReach. More information

Main events:

  • March 14 – May 5 – Art on Tour: Gwen Westerman at Multiple Locations
  • March 31 – May 7 – Jim Denomie, Sweet Dreams exhibit at ArtReach
  • March 31 – May 31 – Photo Essay by Ne-Dah-Ness Rose Greene at Stillwater Public Library
  • April 4 – Stories of Sky Father and Earth Mother at Belwin Conservancy
  • April 6 – Birch Bark Workshop at Somerset Public Library Maker Space
  • April 13 – Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask, with Anton Treuer, Online
  • April 18 – An Evening with Joy Harjo at The Phipps Center for the Arts
  • April 21 – Jingle Dress, A Pandemic-Inspired Healing Tradition with Dr. Brenda Child at Marine Village Hall
  • April 27 – Chapbook Launch Party at St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Visitor Center
  • April 29 – A Night of Documentaries Produced or Created by Native Women at The Zephyr Theatre

Full Event List and Details

Jim Denomie exhibition

Join ArtReach St. Croix as we kick-off a NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley 2022 with the opening of Jim Denomie, Sweet Dreams. This exhibition is happening in cooperation with the Jim Denomie Estate and Bockley Gallery.

Known for his narrative paintings and multi-media work, Denomie’s pieces relate to outsider art and often pertain to Native American issues and identity. His work can be found in museum collections including Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Walker, the Denver Art Museum, and Indianapolis’ Eiteljorg Museum. (Note: Denomie passed away March 1.)

Opening: March 31 from 6-9 pm. Registration link below.
Location: ArtReach St. Croix, 224 4th St N, Stillwater, MN 55082

Registration Required

Piecing & Layering

Gwen Westerman, MN Poet Laureate & Quilt Artist

This year’s NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley programming will feature a touring exhibit of poetry and fiber art by Minnesota Poet Laureate and quilt artist Gwen Westerman. The exhibit, which will stay at each location for one week, highlights the creative results piecing and layering both in words and fabric.

2022 Art on Tour Schedule

  • March 14-20: Stillwater Public Library
  • March 21-26: Wilberg Memorial Library of Osceola
  • March 28-April 2: St. Croix Falls Public Library
  • April 4-9: Somerset Public Library
  • April 11-16: Friday Memorial Library, New Richmond
  • April 18-23: Bayport Public Library
  • April 25-May 1: Pleasant Hill Library, Hastings
  • May 2-9: Chalmer Davee Library, UW-River Falls


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St. Croix Valley ‘Big Read’ seeks to connect people and books