“Saving Higgins Eye Clams” by Ellen MdDonah.

‘One Woman’s River’ at Winona Art Center


The Winona Arts Center is pleased to present “One Woman’s River; Inspiration on the Mississippi” oil and acrylic paintings and drawings by Ellen Kolbo-McDonah from January 12 to February 28, 2018. There will be a reception for the artist on Friday, January 19, from 5-6:30 p.m., with a presentation by the artist about her artwork and book from 6-6:30 p.m.

Seldom venturing on an expedition without her paints and sketchbook, Kolbo-McDonah’s style of art reflects the adventurism art movement that she has identified and practices. In 2014, artist, paddler and educator Ellen Kolbo McDonah left the security of her home and family to find creative power along the banks of the Mississippi River and during the spring flood celebrated her 60th birthday in the headwater marshes. After 107 days, she entered the Gulf of Mexico on September 8, 2014. The purpose of the trip was to create adventurism art and capture inspiration for a body of work to be produced upon her return. Through her color paintings and sketches in this exhibit, view scenes like sunsets from Lake Itasca to the towering cityscape of New Orleans, her camp at the Gulf of Mexico, as seen from the perspective of an artist’s 14.5-foot kayak.

With the experience of her 2014 solo source-to-sea paddle down the Mississippi River in a kayak named “Inspiration,” Kolbo-McDonah wrote and illustrated a book titled “One Woman’s River.” This book shares a unique perspective on her 2,350-mile expedition, infusing her own artwork with stories and pictures about this 107-day challenging and creative passage, including lessons that only the Mississippi River can teach. What first began as a creative quest soon became the discovery of a lifetime.

Kolbo-McDonah is a retired educator, practicing artist and adventurer from Galesville. After completing her solo source to sea expedition of the Mississippi River, she completed 1,500 miles on the Missouri River, resuming the expedition this summer. Her art studio is close to the Black River and Mississippi River near Trempealeau.

The Winona Arts Center is located at 228 East Fifth Street in Winona. Gallery hours are on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. and on Fridays from 3-6 p.m. or by appointment. For more information contact Mary Coughlan at 608-525-0050 or mcoughlan@centurylink.net.


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