Along the St. Croix and Namekagon rivers on the boundary of Minnesota and Wisconsin is a wealth of nature to be relished by artists of every stripe and nature lovers alike. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which gives protected status to these rivers.

The act was ushered into law in 1968 by then U.S. Sens. Walter Mondale and Gaylord Nelson. It reads, in part, that its purpose is "to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations."

In celebration of the anniversary, a signed, limited edition of "St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers: The Enduring Gift" is available featuring a stunning collection of Craig Blacklock's photographs of these rivers in all seasons plus Mondale's essay.

More information about the book and related events is available a

Like many rivers, the Kinnickinnic River - a tributary to the St. Croix River - is under pressure from many forces, as it grows increasingly popular and development threatens its health as a clean, cold trout stream. Ecology of the watersheds is a subject of particular concern to many artists.

"Everything is connected. Everything we do will be visited upon our rivers," says Rebecca Wodder, chair of the Board of River Network.

Work by artists nationwide will be on exhibit at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson this Fall (see below), a juried art show that explores the significance of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. "Heart of the River" expresses the meaning of the River in the artists' lives, and communicates that connection through interpretations, impressions, memories, and hopes for the future. The Phipps encouraged artists to explore the Riverway and let their experiences inspire their art for this show.

Events and opportunities

Continuing through July 22, Community Art Show, River Falls Public Library, 140 Union St.

Continuing through July 29, Ekphrasis A Sister Arts Exhibit of Poetry and Visual Arts, The Phipps Center for the Arts, 109 Locust St., Hudson

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and Saturday evenings 7 p.m., Music in the park, through Sept. 1.

UW-River Falls Summer Concert Series, Melvin Wall Amphitheatre (rain site, University Center), Tuesdays, 7 p.m.,

July 17: Roe Family Singers, live action folk

July 24: St. Croix Valley Community Band, classic big band

July 31: Chris Silver and the Good Intentions, bluegrass

Aug. 7: Gaelynn Lea, melodic storytelling

July 12-15 Great River Road Theatre presents "The Music Man"

Performing Arts Center, Prescott High School, 1010 Dexter Street Prescott, WI 54021;

Friday, July 20, 4 to 7 p.m., Artful Friday opening at Art's House, 108 E. Maple St., RF

Friday, July 20, 7 p.m., and 2 p.m. July 21, Prairie Fire Children's Theatre, sponsored by River Falls Community theatre presents Robin Hood at the River Falls High School Doris Fuka auditorium. $5 general admission. For more information call 715-307-1516.

Saturday, July 21, 5 p.m. Hammond Arts Alliance Opening reception, Bees and Bowls, Foster Hall, 865 Davis St, Hammond, WI.

Monday, July 23, 7 p.m. and Mondays through Aug. 27, foreign films at RF Public Library, 140 Union St. Free.

Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Art on the Farm, Milkhouse Gallery, four miles south of Ellsworth, W6762, Cty. Road V. Artists wanted - call Jary Gilseth, 651-380-8344.

Save the dates:

UWRF presents Frances Kohler Coffee concerts Fridays at noon, Sept. 7, Oct. 12, Nov. 15, Dec. 7. Free. Abbott Concert Hall is closed for renovation, check locations at

Saturday, Sept. 8, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., RF CAB presents Art on the Kinni, a juried art fair, Heritage Park and White Pathway, RF.

Friday, Sept. 14, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway celebrates its 50th anniversary with an opening at The Phipps, 109 Locust, Hudson, featuring a juried show, works by Craig Blacklock and Northern Clay Center

Other sources for classes and/or events:

RF CAB. Art's House, 108 E. Maple, openings monthly.

River Falls Public Library

River Falls Community Theatre

Kinnickinnic Clayworks, 109 W. Cedar St., RF 715-821-3982

Fox Den Books, 120 S. Main St., RF 715-425-6180

The Phipps Center For The Arts, 109 Locust St. Hudson, WI

Hammond Arts Alliance

Check out summer art courses at