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Updated: November 21, 2022 @ 4:02 am
Pam Bidelman, whose paintings were displayed at River Rock Coffee in downtown St. Peter, visited with attendees during Saturday’s inaugural Art Stroll.
Art Stroll organizer Bryan Holland talks with visitors during Saturday’s events at his new St. Peter studio, which hosted four participating artists.
Kasota sculptor Mark Hall admires the pottery of fellow St. Peter Art Stroll artist Shawn Bagley.
Jenny Kapernick supervised a basket weaving session in The People’s Store, recently opened in downtown St. Peter by Allison Ellingson.

Pam Bidelman, whose paintings were displayed at River Rock Coffee in downtown St. Peter, visited with attendees during Saturday’s inaugural Art Stroll.
Art Stroll organizer Bryan Holland talks with visitors during Saturday’s events at his new St. Peter studio, which hosted four participating artists.
Kasota sculptor Mark Hall admires the pottery of fellow St. Peter Art Stroll artist Shawn Bagley.
Jenny Kapernick supervised a basket weaving session in The People’s Store, recently opened in downtown St. Peter by Allison Ellingson.
Bryan Holland joined fellow artists with a high-five Saturday after hearing reports of packed places and plenty of out-of-town visitors Saturday during the inaugural St. Peter Art Stroll.
Holland, who helped lead a frantic two-and-a-half months of organizing and fundraising, hosted three other local artists at his Dodd Avenue studio: potter Shawn Bagley, sculptor Mark Hall of Kasota, and photographer Cheryl Casteen.
The foursome were among 25 artists who displayed their diverse artforms, some from public locations, others who opened their private studios. Holland and Casteen, along with paper conservationist Amanda Malkin, teamed up to launch Saturday’s events.
Holland thought about such an effort for years but the COVID pandemic slowed local planning, he said. But as things have opened up again, he and others moved quickly, earning grants from the Saint Peter Tourism and Visitors Bureau, the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation and a host of other private contributors.
An impressive social media marketing campaign, including a glossy brochure highlighting participating artists and interactive social media presence, also drew rave reviews.
“We wanted to do a good job with it,” Holland said. “I think there’s a lot of amazing artists in town.”
Malkin, a more recent St. Peter arrival, handled much of the marketing and has promoted a community move into public art since she and husband Mark Plotz founded and opened The Smallest Cog, a downtown bike shop.
“Amanda’s been great,” Holland said. “She’s connected to the chamber and a lot of downtown businesses.”
Veteran St. Peter-based artists and newcomers praised Holland and cohorts for pulling off the Art Stroll in such a short amount of time.
“I’ve just had a wonderful experience,” said painter Pam Bidelman, 79, who’s been refining her craft over 30 years, but really picked up since retiring. She displayed several of her paintings at River Rock Coffee & Tea.
“This art journey has just been a thrill for me,” she added. “It was a Herculean effort to get it going.”
Malkin, too, was pleased with the inaugural Art Stroll. In an email, she said:
“The Saint Peter Art Stroll is the embodiment of the richness of our creative community here in Saint Peter. All 24 artists went above and beyond to create an event that felt fresh, unified, positive and, of course, beautiful.”
While Malkin didn’t display any of her work as a paper conservator, she was able to visit several stops along the way.
“Visitors I interacted with were astounded at the level of skill exhibited throughout the stops along the way,” Malkin said. “This creative community, and there are others who weren’t able to join us this year, is deep and extensive and now it feels more visible.”
Photographer Jon Smithers, who displays his works at Patty Conlin’s Stone’s Throw Gallery, praised the marketing and social media campaign launched by the organizing team.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever seen of marketing and organizing such an event in Saint Peter,” Smithers said.
What’s next?
Malkin hopes this first Art Stroll will lead to other public art efforts throughout St. Peter.
“I aim to continue this trend of visibility for our artists and hope to begin integrating their passions and skills into more permanent projects around town,” she said.
Hall’s growth as a sculptor, he admits, has benefitted from public art showings in Mankato, which has been part of a five-city consortium of communities: Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Mason City, Iowa; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; and in Canada. But his sculptures have also been placed in Bemidji, Grand Rapids and Duluth.
“When you see what it does to bring people in, it’s amazing,” Hall said. But he notes that there’s also a great benefit to the participating artists, who get to meet others and talk about their crafts.
“We get to meet each other, and that’s important,” Hall said. “Most of them are like me, loners.”
Bagley, 26, views the Art Stroll as yet another step on his personal journey, which started as a 16-year-old beginning potter while a student at Minnesota New Country School in Henderson. After an eight-hour inaugural event, he continued to beam.
“I think it’s pretty amazing,” he said. “This has been such an amazing day. To have people recognize your art, it’s such a special feeling.”
Holland said he’s going to try to survey all the participating artists for thoughts and suggestions but is hoping the momentum from the inaugural Art Stroll will grow in 2023.

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