Welcome to the
Willmar Area Arts Council

In 1997, a group of citizens responded to an incentive from a COM-PAS and Blandin Foundation partnership to build stronger support and appreciation for creative arts in the Willmar area. Along with financial support from the Minnesota Rural Arts Initiative (RAI), the City of Willmar, Willmar Public Schools, a development grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council (SMAC), and membership fees, the Willmar Area Arts Council officially came into existence in the fall of 1997 and became a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity in 1998.

Since its inception, the Willmar Area Arts Council has been a visible advocate for the arts in West Central Minnesota. Besides providing the rotating exhibits in the Willmar Education and Arts Center, administering the Arts in the Schools project for the Willmar Public Schools and hosting themed, invitational exhibits in the Barn Theatre’s mezzanine gallery that run in conjunction with the current production, it is the force behind two popular events: Studio Hop and Celebrate Art! Celebrate Coffee!

Find out more »

Upcoming Events

See All Events
Loading Events

Past Events

April 2020

Sunrise at Midnight

April 4 @ 7:00 pm
New London Little Theatre, 24 Central Ave E
New London, MN 56273
+ Google Map

Dreamland Arts presents the rich Kabyle folktale tradition from Algeria.  New London Little Theatre.  $15.

Find out more »

June 2020

NEW FEATURE! – “Artists’ Spotlight”

Watch for a brand new feature now on our website's Home Page! -- "Artists' Spotlight"

Find out more »
+ Export Events

Council Happenings

Bill Gossman

The art scene in our area lost a great artist, musician  and arts supporter.  Bill Gossman died at home  from cancer May 26, 2020.  Potter, musician, and friend, Bill will be missed by all of us.  A memorial service was held June 7 on the High School grounds.   Friends and family spoke and the Green Lake Blue Grass Band performed several pieces.  If you were unable to attend the service you can watch it at this link.  In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred.

The ARTS today!

I hope everyone is staying safe and sane!  I know staying sane is a real challenge, but we can do it – especially now that we have such beautiful  weather and can be outdoors!

For the past few weeks we have featured all the artists who had signed up for Studio Hop this year on this homepage.  We are now going to feature an artist – some you may know and some will be new to you.  We hope you enjoy this feature and please let us know if there’s someone you’d like us to spotlight.


Janet Olney ~ Executive Director

Spotlight on Cam Johnson, Willmar native and 1993 graduate of Willmar Senior High

Artist’s Statement:

My paintings are an exercise in disciplined improvisation. My goal is to go beyond what I can preconceive and spark my interest by consciously pushing the boundaries of space, depth, layering, contrast, composition, color, cropping, rhythm, and beauty of form. Recognizable subject matter is (usually) maintained which acts as a relatable doorway allowing the viewer access to the expression therein. This results in rhythmic abstractions combined with the skewed perspectives of distorted figures in augmented environments. Each scene is frozen and out of context and left wide open for individual viewers’ interpretation that will often change over time. Ever emulating life, some pieces are simple, others complex. Yet they all share a similar visual language or style that I’ve developed and nurtured over the years regardless of medium.

For the last 5 years, my life has undergone many changes.  The deaths of my best friend/collaborator and remaining 3 grandparents destabilized my existence to its core but through it all, my work has been my solace. After being forced to move 3 times this year alone, consequently losing my oil painting studio space in the process, watercoloring has become my sole focus.  Returning to drawing in the initial stages along with working smaller has stream lined the process and rejuvenated my creative drive. For these reasons, personal themes of subconscious, inner struggle, quantum realms, cycles of love, connection to nature, loss, grief, growth, and healing to permeate my current body of work.

His work shown here is titled Be With Me Now | 11 x 15″ | watercolor, acrylic, and pencil on paper | 2017.

More samples of Cam’s work may be seen at  http://artbycam.com/


Our bench project is temporarily on hold, but four benches are finished – one in front of the Barn Theatre, one in front of Rositta’s,  one in front of Midtown Market and the fourth in front of the Health and Human Services Building.

We received a lot of press about this project – a nice article in the West Central Tribune on June 26 and a feature in the Minneapolis Star Tribune Sunday, July 7.  Watch for more benches to pop up!  And have your creation on one of them!

When we’re ready to start the project up again, we’ll post information here, so be sure to check back.



Donate while shopping!

Did you know that while you’re shopping at Amazon you can make a donation to the Arts Council?   Simply shop at www.smile.amazon.com, find the Willmar Area Arts Council in the list of organizations, and they’ll give a percentage of your purchase to us.  It’s simple, it’s quick, and we’ll be very appreciative!