by LAURA HAYES
After deciding to move to the Twin Cities, Gina Mullozzi wanted to give her two daughters, Daniella, six, and Camilla, four, something to remember their life in Winona. She soon found the perfect gift — a Winona-themed coloring book. “Now, the kids will remember Winona and the good memories from here,” Gina said.
Visit Winona partnered with three local artists — Toni Ambrosen, Julia Crozier, and Julie Johnston — to create a coloring book filled with iconic Winona images. Coloring books, Visit Winona’s Partnership Director Kate Carlson said, have been trending for the past several years. In the past, Winona has offered Minnesota coloring books, but never a book solely based on Winona. “People have asked for Winona coloring books … It was meant to be,” Carlson said.
So she reached out to the River Arts Alliance, which directed her to Ambrosen, Crozier, and Johnston. Johnston said the three had already toyed with the idea. “It was a lot of fun,” Johnston said. The book has 16 pages and each page is sponsored by a local business or organization such as Winona State University, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Minnesota State College Southeast, Great River Shakespeare Festival, Mid West Music Fest, and Bloedow’s Bakery, among others. Ambrosen said when they received the list of page sponsors, they sat down and hashed out potential ideas for each image and whoever had the best idea got the page. Usually, artists create work by themselves, Johnston said. “Working with two other artists was a lot of fun bouncing ideas off each other,” she said.
After coming up with some potential images, the artists collaborated with the sponsors. Some of the sponsors had clear ideas of what they wanted in the picture. For example, Johnston said that Winona Health staff really wanted a picture of Sugar Loaf, which is visible from the hospital, in their picture. “We had ideas to burn,” Ambrosen said.
“I really liked thinking about what each sponsor was all about and summing it up on one page,” Crozier said.
Carlson saw the coloring book as an opportunity to market Winona in a new way. Coloring books stick around, she said — their pages dotting refrigerators and walls of loved one’s homes. It was a fun way to engage the arts community while also promoting Winona’s attractions, Carlson added.
Plus, Winona is the perfect subject for a coloring book. “I think it’s one of the best subjects for a coloring book. We’ve got so many businesses, industries, bluffs, people, and festivals here … It’s such a gorgeous area and we offer so much,” Johnston said.
“There’s so much depth to Winona,” Crozier said. “We have a lot going for us and all of those things are represented in the book." In the future, the artists hope to make a second coloring book.
On August 12, Visit Winona will kick off its “Second Saturdays” celebration. As part of the first event, the artists will be at the Visitor Center to sign the coloring books and talk about their process. Also, there will be a coloring competition for both adults and kids. The event will be held from 12-2 p.m. at the Visitor Center. The coloring books cost $5 and can be purchased at a number of local retailers including the Visitor’s Center, Winona County Historical Society, Plaza Hotel and Suites, AmericInn, Paperbacks and Pieces, Ocooch Mountain Music, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, the Mid West Music Store, Holiday Inn, and Chapter 2 Books.