SMAC brings Arty Party to Montevideo

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

Southwest Minnesota Arts Council (SMAC), has been hosting “Arty Party” events around Southwest Minnesota since August of 2021, and the latest is set to be held in Montevideo for Chippewa County on Friday, November 19th from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Java River. Krystl Louwagie, SMAC’s Marketing & Access Coordinator, explains the idea behind the Arty Party by saying, “The idea behind these parties is just for us to get out into the communities we serve to make face-to-face connections, letting people know about our organization and our services in a casual and fun way. This is an initial meeting to bring artists and art supporters together, hopefully to the mutual benefit of us all.” The organization serves 18 counties in Southwest Minnesota and is working towards networking more while covering such a large area by hosting the Arty Party events in venues that support the arts. “We try to support local businesses through the venue, and catering, as well as local talent for the entertainment,” says Louwagie. “We love highlighting rural artists and arts organizations.” 

SMAC has a representative in every county in their region, Georgette Jones of Watson is the representative for Chippewa County. Jones was able to provide the organization with a few suggestions for venues in Chippewa County that could serve appetizers and is known within the community to support the arts as a place for the Arty Party to be held. Java River Coffee shop was chosen as the location as the business features monthly artists displaying on their walls. The Arty Party’s local artist displaying will be area photographer Samantha Huntley. Appetizers will include buffalo dip, spinach dip, and assorted crackers and chips from Java River. There will also be a cash coffee bar available. Louwagie also says the event is a good time for networking. “If guests want to network with a social hour before or after the event, we thought Talking Waters being so close would be a great option, especially since they’ll be supporting the arts with their own live music as well,” Louwagie says. Talking Waters is hosting Radio Acoustic, a Willmar-based band from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. that evening as well.

Raxson Rax will be performing at the Arty Party to be held at Java River later this month.

Each Arty Party held has a different set-up and theme. “We like to keep it casual and just go with whatever that community naturally has as its art assets,” says Louwagie. “They all have networking and community support of the arts in common. These parties are about celebrating the arts in our region while making community connections. Sometimes that means SMAC can have one-on-one conversations with people about possible grants or services we offer, or sometimes that means just learning about an artist, organization or community member we’ve never interacted with before.” The Chippewa County Arty Party will also feature a performance by Raxson Rax, a performer with experience in musical theater who has been involved with the Southwest Minnesota State University Theater program and productions. Tax will be performing showtimes at the event. “I’m so excited to hear him perform,” says Louwagie. “I have seen him myself in some of SMSU’s musicals like Young Frankenstein.”

Other area Arty Party’s included a Yellow Medicine Party at the Bluenose Gopher Public House held in August, and one held for Big Stone County in Ortonville at the 2nd Street Cafe & Coffeehouse. “Each county or city kind of represents it’s own themes just through what they have to offer,” says Louwaige. “In Yellow Medicine, we have two co-board reps, and one of them, Betsy Pardick, is in the ‘house band’ (Sooner Than Now) for Bluenose Gopher Public House so the entertainment and venue was pretty clear. In Big Stone, the Big Stone Arts Council put together a mini one-night exhibition of talented artists at the OMG Hall downtown so guests could visit that before going to our event at the cafe, which was an interactive sing-a-long show that included audience participation and prizes through music trivia! Each one has been uniquely different and so much fun!”

Funding for these events has come through the regular budget SMAC holds. As an organization, SMAC is funded by the State of Minnesota’s general fund allocation plus the arts & cultural heritage fund, the McKnight Foundation, and local memberships from businesses, individuals, organizations, and counties. Additionally, SMAC receives general donations. Those interested in attending the event can find more information on the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council Facebook page at or on Instagram at  @southwestminnesotaartscouncil.