Valley Reads events and exhibits will connect people and books

April programs throughout lower St. Croix offer community and creativity.




4 minute read

Dougie Padilla

Valley Reads is a month of events centered on around themes found in this year’s book selection, The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea. Big Angel, the family’s patriarch, is dying and everyone is gathering for one more big birthday party! This is not a story about death as much as it is a story about living. The events produced by ArtReach St. Croix and partner libraries and organizations connect communities in the St. Croix Valley to the joy of reading a great book.

Upcoming highlights include:

Author Event with Luis Alberto Urrea
A prolific and acclaimed writer, Urrea explores themes of love, loss and triumph. His 2018 novel The House of Broken Angels is a masterpiece swirling around death, celebrating living, touching sorrow and embracing joy. Urrea will discuss the story of Big Angel and his final fiesta. As part of Valley Reads, ArtReach St. Croix is pleased to present this author event. The evening is supported by Valley Bookseller.

Author Talk with Luis Alberto Urrea will take place at Ascension Church, 214 3rd St N, Stillwater, MN on Thursday, April 25 at 6:30pm. The event is FREE, but registration is required at or call 651-439-1465.

Conversations with Jim new work by Dougie Padilla
In 2022, Minnesota artist Dougie Padilla’s great friend, Ojibwe artist Jim Denomie, passed away suddenly. Shortly thereafter, Dougie visited ArtReach’s exceptional show of Jim’s last work, “Sweet Dreams.” To face his grief, Dougie dove into an intense aesthetic and spiritual conversation with Jim and his art. Within six months, 60+ works of art had been born. This solo show is the best of those efforts.

Conversations with Jim new work by Dougie Padilla will be on view April 4 through May 11 at ArtReach St. Croix, 224 N. 4th Street, Stillwater. Free

Gallery Artist Talk
A prolific, self‑taught, visionary artist, Dougie Padilla is an arts polymath and a great storyteller. Nicholas Harper of Rogue Buddha Gallery noted that, “One look at his work and the viewer knows instantly that they are dealing with subject matter that cannot be tethered to this world alone.” Enjoy refreshments as Dougie Padilla considers his new body of work, “Conversations with Jim” (Denomie).

Gallery Artist Talk with Dougie Padilla will take place at ArtReach St. Croix, 224 N. 4th Street, Stillwater on Sunday, April 14 at 2pm. Free

Poetry Reading
Long ago and far away Dougie Padilla was a young poet. He wrote constantly. Then came the Viet Nam war, protests, San Francisco, psychedelics and communes.

Heart failure came… and ashrams and organic farming. Later, there were kids and houses and marriage and businesses and a long career in the art world. Eventually, after he moved his studio to rural Wisconsin, poetry returned quick and sure, wave after wave of poems. Join Dougie for a performance of selections from his sixth book, 40 feet down.

Poetry Reading with Dougie Padilla will take place at Washington County Heritage Center, 1862 Greeley Street S., Stillwater MN on Sunday, April 28 at 2pm. Free

Art on Tour: Borderlands photography by Xavier Tavera
Mexican-born Minneapolis artist Xavier Tavera documents the aesthetics of the borderland landscape. He reminds the viewer that, historically, artist-rendered landscapes were not meant to be contemplative. Rather, they were a statement of ownership. “Arid and rugged, the landscape is divided by a man‑made scar that snakes through the topography in fragmented sections from west to east along the continent.”
Art on Tour: Borderlands will be on view at each location for one week:

  • March 18-24 Stillwater Public Library 224 3rd St N, Stillwater, MN
  • March 25-30 Bayport Public Library, 582 N 4th St, Bayport, MN
  • April 1-6 St. Croix Falls Public Library, 230 S. Washington St., St. Croix Falls, WI
  • April 8-13 Wilberg Memorial Public Library of Osceola, 310 Chieftain St, Osceola, WI
  • April 15-20 Somerset Public Library, 208 Hud Street, Somerset, WI
  • April 22-28 Pleasant Hill Library, 1490 S Frontage Rd, Hastings, MN
  • April 29-May 5 Chalmer Davee Library, UW–River Falls, 330 E Cascade Ave, River Falls, WI

One Big Birthday Bash!

Adults and teens are welcome to join this celebration. Friends (and strangers) will reminisce about life’s milestones with people born in the same month. Gather and share memories. Cake and story prompts provided. $5-$20 per person suggested donation with proceeds going to Valley Outreach. RSVP at

One Big Birthday Bash! will take place at Bayport Public Library, 582 N 4th St, Bayport, MN on Wednesday, April 17 at 6:30-8pm.

To learn more about Valley Reads and find information about the full month of programming, visit

Valley Reads in the St. Croix Valley is presented by ArtReach St. Croix in conjunction with core program partners including Valley Bookseller and public libraries located between St. Croix Falls, WI and Hastings, MN. Valley Reads 2024 is supported by Hugh J. Andersen Foundation.

ArtReach St. Croix is a nonprofit regional arts organization committed to the mission of connecting communities to the arts throughout the St. Croix Valley. ArtReach supports the work of artists and arts organization through events, marketing initiatives and education opportunities that foster and celebrate the visual, literary and performing arts in the St. Croix Valley. The work of ArtReach St. Croix is made possible through generous donations from individuals and grants from foundations.