Robert "Dr. Bob" Armstrong

The 2020 Fine Arts Commission Award winners


Lisa Douglas
Lisa Douglas

Ted Haaland
Ted Haaland

Yarnology Staff
Yarnology Staff

The Winona Fine Arts Commission is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Fine Arts Commission Awards, Robert Armstrong, Lisa Douglas, Ted Haaland, and Yarnology (Gaby Peterson).

The FAC Awards were presented by the mayor at a recent City Council meeting. The FAC Awards purpose is to identify individuals or organizations that should be recognized for their support and/or contributions to the arts in and around Winona, and this year the Fine Arts Commission opened the awards up to the community to nominate.

The awards criteria states that to be considered the nominee must organize, practice or support in an art-related field. In addition, it is encouraged that the nominee have contributed to the artistic and cultural life of the Winona area for five or more years. The nominee’s contributions must benefit the Winona or Winona County area.

Because of the unique conditions to the creative community brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the FAC gave special consideration this year to individuals or organizations that have responded to the crisis with important current actions and contributions to the arts and culture community and opened the nominations to the community for direct input in selecting.

Each of the winners were praised for unique and vital contributions to the creative landscape of the community. Below is some of the information submitted with their nominations.

Robert Armstrong (Dr. Bob): “Dr. Bob has contributed as much to Winona’s underground art scene as anyone we can think of. From vaudevillian puppet shows performed off the back of his granny trike, to fun, modern DJ sets, to his time as proprietor of the incomparable Green Lantern, he’s the real deal. He deserves way more recognition than he’s gotten over the years.”

Lisa Douglas: “has been an instructor at MCA in both music and art but grew up in the area and has been the musical director and accompainist for the Winona Hims, accompanied for Winona and Fountain City choirs and solo and ensembles and more. But most impressive is the work she has done during the pandemic. Since the last week in March (less than one week into the shutdown of MCA) she has been teaching piano lessons and art classes online. She has taught digital art, oil pastels, colored pencil techniques, doodling, and 3-D art. She has helped so many both young and old stay and get creative during these challenging times. In addition to traditional MCA students, since the pandemic began Lisa has taught intentional doodling classes to Elder Network caregivers, SMU alumni and other art techniques to Caledonia Public Library patrons and Winona Friendship Center members. She has helped these groups gather in a creative and meaningful way.”

Ted Haaland: “for his contributions as director and benefactor of the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest. The Sonnet Contest originated with the Great River Shakespeare festival in 2008. In collaboration with GRSF Artistic Director Doug Scholz-Carlson and Winona’s poet laureates throughout the years, the contest’s direct email list now has about 1,150 recipients.

“Maria W. Faust, a supporter and lover of poetry and the arts, inspired her husband Ted Haaland to enjoy the arts. Maria died in 2011 and her loss inspired Ted to start writing poetry for the first time in his life. The contest was renamed in her memory in 2012 when Ted offered to take over directorship. Under his leadership and funding, the contest continued to expand, bringing in more entries. Before the pandemic, Ted could often be found at the Blue Heron writing and discussing poetry with Winona’s poet laureates. Ted also sponsored the publication of two Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest collections, “The Melody Weaves in and Out” (2013) and “Poems from the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest” (2020). In 2020 there were 531 sonnet submissions, a 30-percent increase from 2019. The entries came from 39 states and 13 countries. The August closing event was a Zoom event facilitated by GRSF. The virtual format enabled winners to participate by reading their sonnets. Thirteen of the 24 winners were able to do so. Ted also provides funding for prizes, for the judges and administration. The Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest — and Ted Haaland — inspire artistic creativity and bring Winona to the world, giving both Winona and GRSF a wider reputation with contest entrants from afar wanting to visit.”

Yarnology (Gaby Peterson and staff): “Gracing downtown Winona with their presence since 2010, Yarnology has become not only a staple in the downtown community, but a place of creative encouragement and a haven for fiber artists. Their revolving artistic window displays add vibrancy to the community. Their dedication to their craft and Winona’s artistic community makes them a great fit for recognition from the Fine Arts Commission.”

For more information, please contact Lee Gundersheimer, arts and culture coordinator, at

For a complete list of past winners, please see the Fine Arts Commission page for the Fine Arts Awards at


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