Noted regional photographer Craig Blacklock will present a multimedia presentation titled “St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers: The Enduring Gift,” based upon his book of photography, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, at The Park Center in Hayward.
The presentation also will feature a live performance by Stillwater, Minnesota-based singer-songwriter Peter Mayer.
Advance tickets at $20 are available at Art Beat in downtown Hayward and online at www.TheParkCenter.com. Admission is $30 at the door. Students 18 years of age and younger are admitted to Park Center events for $5.
In 2014, Blacklock’s hands and face were badly burned in a sauna fire. Realizing that the cold water of his normal subject, Lake Superior, might be painful to his still-tender hands, Blacklock’s friend, Mark Kozlak told Craig, “The St. Croix River needs a Blacklock book.”
The summer after his accident, Craig, his wife Honey and their daughter Charis made an exploratory photography/paddling trip on the upper St. Croix River. The water was so low they had to walk their canoe and kayak much of the time, but Blacklock felt the subject worthy of a full-scale book project.
He soon connected with the folks at the St. Croix River Association (SCRA) and learned that 2018 would be the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, co-sponsored by Wisconsin’s Senator Gaylord Nelson and Minnesota’s Senator Walter F. Mondale. That act gave federal protection to the Namekagon and much of the St. Croix, and created the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, a national park.
SCRA adopted Blacklock’s book as one of its signature initiatives to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and the creation of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Blacklock donated all images made for the book to the SCRA and the National Park Service. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from book sales benefit the SCRA.
During 2016, Craig paddled every mile of both the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers, returning to many areas throughout the seasons with his friend and colleague, Jon Smithers, to photograph the rivers from Jon’s drone. Craig continued to make photographs for the project through the fall of 2017. The book will be on press in January, for an April 2018 release.
The SCRA adopted Craig’s subtitle from the book, The Enduring Gift, as the theme for the entire 50th anniversary celebrations. A listing of these events will be found at the SCRA website, www.stcroixriverassociation.com.
Singer-songwriter Peter Mayer wrote and performed original music for the video made up of hundreds of Craig’s still images from the project, and will perform live for the Aug. 31 presentation at The Park.
Besides the books, a photography exhibition of selected images toured throughout the region in 2018 and 2019. The project and tour is partially funded through grants from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota State Legislature’s general and arts and cultural heritage funds.
Craig’s photographs also are used extensively in the John Kaul video “Saving the St. Croix,” broadcast on Minnesota and Wisconsin Public Television stations.
Peter Mayer has been performing full-time for over 20 years in venues across the U.S. and beyond. With 11 albums to his credit, he writes songs about inter-connectedness and the human journey, songs about life on earth and the mysterious and wondrous fact of human existence.