New York Mills school kids work with local artist/director Pam Robinson on part of a mural that will surround the new outdoor entertainment pavilion.

Archived Story

Cultural center asks NYM residents to paint themselves [UPDATED]

Published 11:47am Tuesday, November 27, 2012 Updated 11:47am Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The diverse New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is in the midst of a community participation gallery show. Everyone in town, and even people outside the community, are invited in to help create images of themselves and family on the walls of the Cultural Center gallery as part of an “Our Town” exhibit. Paper “canvas” lines the walls, and the Center provides markers and paint.

“Everyone in town, or outside of the city with some connection to the town, is invited to help create images representing themselves, their family or our community on the walls of the Cultural Center gallery,” said Jamie Robinson, NYMRCC executive director. “It’s a way to bring diverse people and organizations in to create a vision of our community in an inspiring, creative way — to get them involved and communicating with each other.”

Can’t draw? The Center has materials that you can use to make a collage image from magazines.

“You don’t need any art experience to help make a creative statement about your life or the community in 2012,” said Robinson.

Community groups such as the Lions, Civic and Commerce Association, schools, churches and the medical community have been invited to put their organization’s image on the walls. People have until mid-December to contribute.

“In December, we’ll celebrate all of our images and stories that tell about who we are and who we hope to be as part of a day-long celebration,” said Robinson. The celebration of “Our Town” will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Dec 21. The center will also host its “Longest Night Music Festival” at 7 p.m. that evening.

“Our Town,” which is funded in part from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, is just a small part of the innovate programs of this 22-year-old center for arts, culture and community-building. The Center developed The Great American Think-Off 20 years ago, where questions are posed on January 1, and people across the country respond by essay.

Four finalists are brought to New York Mills for a debate in the spring. The question for 2012 was “The Nature of Humankind: Inherently Good or Inherently Evil?” Apparently we’re evil. Past questions have included topics such as “Do we reap what we sow?” and “Is honesty always the best policy.” The honesty question, raised during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, received 820 essays, and the final debate was televised live on C-SPAN.

Center art offerings include an artist’s retreat, an outdoor labyrinth sculpture garden and an annual puppet parade, as well as numerous folk-art and dance classes. Events and concerts are held in the gallery and in a newly developed outdoor space, complete with murals and sculptures by local artists. Recent musical events have included an Irish bagpipe concert and an all-girl punk rock band from Sweden. Coming up on Nov. 30 is renowned folk/rock singer Michael Johnson, performing in the gallery. Johnson is best known for his 1978 hit song “Bluer Than Blue”.

The Center has contributed to New York Mills being ranked in the top 100 Best Small Art Towns in America. The Center is dedicated to expanding the cultural and creative opportunities of rural Americans by offering innovative, quality arts programming, and demonstrating how the arts can be used as an economic development tool in rural communities across the nation. New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is definitely a place to keep tabs on, as there is always something innovative going on. To learn more, visit

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