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Winona festival remembers artist Rockwell Kent

Rockwell Kent Moby dick.jpg
This is one of Rockwell Kent's illustrations for the 1930 edition of Herman Melville's classic "Moby-Dick." Kent's works are on display through March 10 at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona.
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WINONA — The time artist Rockwell Kent spent in Winona a century ago will be commemorated next week with a festival that includes a play, film, art exhibits and lecture.

"Rockwell Kent in Winona: A Centennial Celebration" begins Wednesday and continues through Feb. 10. Kent, born in 1888 in New York, was a young painter still trying to build his reputation when he was hired by an architectural firm to travel to Winona to supervise construction of two mansions just outside of town.

Later, Kent would become famous for his landscapes and seascapes, his illustrations for new editions of "Moby-Dick," "Leaves of Grass" and "The Canterbury Tales," and his left-wing politics. At one point during the 1950s, Kent was suspected of being a communist sympathizer and was denied permission to travel outside the country.

That was all in the future though, when Kent moved to Winona in 1912. Even then, he exhibited an independent and adventurous streak, winning a horse race at the county fair and organizing a work stoppage.

The tales of Kent's year in Winona will be told in a new play, "Angels in the Trees: Rockwell Kent in Winona." The play will be presented at 7:30 p.m Feb. 8-9, and at 2 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Historic Masonic Theater, 255 Main St. Tickets are $15 for general, $7 for students if purchased online at; or $18 for general, $10 for students at the door.


Related Rockwell Kent events:

— The documentary film "Rockwell Kent," followed by a discussion session with filmmaker Frederick Lewis,will be shown at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 and 9:30 a.m. Feb. 9, in Room 120 of the Science Lab Center, Winona State University.

— A symposium on Kent and his contemporary Carl Ruggles, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 9, Room 120 of the Science Lab Center, Winona State University.

— An extensive exhibition of original Kent paintings at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum , 800 Riverview Drive, continues through March 10.

— Saint Mary's University, Winona State and the Winona Public Library will also host exhibits of Kent's work.

Rockwell Kent painter in the early 1900's

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