Teaching Artists in a V formation dancing

Upstream Arts Teaching Artists dancing at The Art of We: Are Family (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


On Thursday, May 18, 2017, the Upstream Arts community gathered for The Art of We: Are Family, our 4th Annual Community Celebration and Fundraiser at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

To mark “The Year of The Teaching Artist,” this year’s event honored the 30 remarkable professional artists who daily teach our programs. We are also humbled and grateful to share that, as a community, you contributed more than $42,000 at and surrounding this event toward another year of groundbreaking work at the intersection of art, disability, and learning. (Scroll down to see the names of the individuals that make up our amazing community of supporters.) Your generosity is laying a strong foundation that will allow us to hire more Teaching Artists and bring high-quality arts learning experiences to even more people of all ages and abilities. THANK YOU!

The Art of We: Are Family began with a reception where guests could enjoy delicious hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar; a “Thank You” exhibition of artwork created by Upstream Arts participants for the Teaching Artists; pop-up performances by our Teaching Artists; and a preview of the evening’s live auction items.


Hors d'oeuvres at The Art of We

Hors d’oeuvres provided by Slate&Stone through the American Swedish Institute (photo: Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Guests mingling during the Art of We reception

Guests mingling during the opening hour of The Art of We: Are Family (photo: Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Guests at the Art of We

Guests posing for a group photo at The Art of We (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Members of the Upstream Arts community pose for a photo

Upstream Arts Board Member Janice Downing, far right, with her family (photo by Min Enterprises Photography)


Thank You exhibition

“Thank You” exhibition of artwork by Upstream Arts participants (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Teaching Artists dancing

Pop-up performance by Teaching Artists (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


At 7pm, the evening’s program kicked off with opening remarks from Upstream Arts co-founders Julie and Matt Guidry. Soon thereafter, the audience was transported into an Upstream Arts program through the live collaborative writing of a poem, led by Teaching Artists Jess Finney and Anton Jones, on the theme of “family.”


Julie and Matt Guidry

Julie and Matt Guidry giving opening remarks (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Jess Finney

Teaching Artist Jess Finney leading guests in collaborative poetry creation (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Anton Jones

Teaching Artist Anton Jones after sharing the final poem with the audience (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Here is the poem that emerged from this process:

Sisters at peace
Laughing freely through food
Tears of joy
Surprised monkey moods
Bowling, canoeing, dancing…
Listening, loving, eating
dip & crackers

The poem was then collaboratively turned into a dance, led by Teaching Artists Lindsey Samples, Abby Magalee, and Pedro Pablo Lander – and performed by the entire audience!


Abby leading the dance creation

A past Upstream Arts participant and Teaching Artist Abby Magalee creating dance moves from a poem (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Abby and Pedro dancing

Teaching Artists Abby Magalee and Pedro Pablo Lander showing dance moves (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)




Next, a brand new “Thank You” video for Upstream Arts’ Teaching Artists was shared. This beautiful tribute was created by Kara Hakanson, Danielle Keuler, Blythe Pennock, and Uka Ung, students in the HECUA (Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs) program “Making Media, Making Change” in partnership with Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, in collaboration with Upstream Arts staff and participants from Green Central Park Elementary School, Edison High School, and Opportunity Partners.



We then moved into the fundraising portion of the evening, hilariously and skillfully led by Stacey McCurnin of Fladeboe Auctions, with three exciting live auction items: a Performing and Culinary Arts package, featuring tickets to 10 Twin Cities theaters, curated by our Teaching Artists, plus gift cards to 11 nearby restaurants; an Epicurean Arts package, for bidders inclined toward fine dining and drinks; and a Literary and Visual Arts package, combining donations for schools from Wild Rumpus Books for Young Readers (including book baskets, book consultations, and an interactive visit from local author/illustrator duo Trisha Speed Shaskan and Stephen Shaskan) with visual art and literature donated by our Teaching Artists for the bidder. Following the auction, Barton Open School Social Worker Rebecca Stewart shared a heartfelt testimonial about her work with Upstream Arts. Finally, Ms. McCurnin led a “Fund-A-Need” giving moment, during which our community gave generously to bring high-quality arts programming to individuals of all ages and abilities in the coming year.



Stacey McCurnin

Auctioneer Stacey McCurnin in action (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Guests during the Fund-A-Need

Guests during the live auction (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Shelley Miner and the Shaskans

Special Education Teacher Shelley Miner, center, with author Trisha Speed Shaskan, left, and illustrator Stephen Shaskan, right (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Rebecca Stewart

Social Worker Rebecca Stewart (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Guests bidding during the live auction

Teaching Artist Tena May Gallivan pointing out a bidder (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


Guests during the Fund-A-Need

Guests raising their numbers to pledge support during the Fund-A-Need



THANK YOU to our incredible community of supporters who have made donations since our last update, many in person at The Art of We: Sharon Alton, Andie Alton, Mart Barrett, Daniel Brach, Bob Brenner, Sarah Brown, Leah Cooper, Jeff Cords and Amy Scheller, Rosa Costain, Rochelle and Regan Cox, Shirley and Patrick Devine, Michelle Dickerson, Janice and Gerald Downing, Katie Duffy, Jessica Finney, Jennie Finney, Kristen and Jim Geiger, Joe and Janet Green, Beth Grimes, Julie and Matt Guidry, Marcie Guidry, Timaria Hammond Downing, Lyth and Mary Hartz, Heather Holcombe and Caleb Kennedy, Alana Horton, Lauren Hughes and Tamara Smith, Christine Hurney and Timothy Fisher, Anton Jones and Kelly Fallows, John and Joan Kaminski, MaryAnn Lippay and Stephen Kanee Family Fund, Calvin and Anne Keasling, Mary Kiernan, Alyssa Klein, Sue and Jim Kosmoski, Alyce Kuenzli, Sarah and Jonathon Kusa, Justin Lansing, Victoria Lauing, Karen and Will Law, Jack and Laura Lee, Mitch and Marci Levy-Maguire, Katherine Lipe and Gloria Zaiger, Joshua Lemon, Lori Sandoval, Alicia Marchioni, Chris Martin, Brian and Libby Marx, Ann L. Mavis, Shelley and Michael Miner, Karen Moe, Tabitha Montgomery, Marilyn and Kenneth Mounger, Linda and Bill Murphy, Margaret and Douglas Nathan, Benjamin W. and Pamela K. Phelps, John and Nancy Quinlan, Maggie Quinlan and Robert Frawley, James R. and Lucy M. Radatz, Michael Ritchie and Rebecca Loader, Darcie Rummel and Holden Turner, Michelle Schutt and Scott Engstrom, Mary and Tom Seitz, Reid and Ann Shaw, Drew Sieplinga and Alec Shaw, Bree Sieplinga and David Luke, The Graham Smith Team at Keller Williams Realty, Edward Sootsman and Scott Appelwick, Gillian Spence, Donna Stevens, Rebecca Stewart, Rebecca Thaney-Driessen, Becky Timm, Kimberly Torseth and Bill Conroy, Jim and Rita Urbanek, Peter Vitale and Stephen Nelson, Elise Weinberg, Michael and Martha Wilson, plus 6 anonymous donors.


Graham Smith

Premiere sponsor Graham Smith enjoying the event program (photo by Min Enterprises Photography LLC)


THANK YOU to The Graham Smith Team at Keller Williams Realty, Min Enterprises Photography LLC, and the Minnesota Vikings. These amazing premiere sponsors went above and beyond to ensure The Art of We: Are Family was free and accessible for all. Special thanks to Anna Min of Min Enterprises Photography LLC for so beautifully documenting the evening! Click here to see more photos on Facebook.

THANK YOU to the rest of our full circle of sponsors and in-kind donors, each of whom played a unique, valuable role in supporting this event: AbleNet, Nikki AbramsonArticultureBarbetteBlack Sheep Pizza, Bryant Lake BowlCafe LatteChicago Avenue Fire Arts CenterChildren’s Theatre CompanyCircus JuventasCommunity Involvement ProgramsDay Block Brewing CompanyEastlake Craft BreweryFrench Meadow Bakery & Cafe, Matt Guidry, Guthrie TheaterHennepin Theatre Trust, Highland Friendship ClubHistory Theatre, Lynn Hu, HUGE Improv TheaterIgnited FundraisingJakeeno’s Pizza & PastaJungle Theater, Masanari KawaharaKowalski’s Markets, Lifeworks Services, McKinney RoeMidwest Special ServicesMinnesota Landscape Arboretum, Nighthawks, Pillsbury House + TheaterSandbox Theatre, SawatdeeScience Museum of Minnesota, Michele Spaise, Teacher Frontiers (a division of Youth Frontiers)Ten Thousand ThingsThe Commodore Bar & RestaurantThe Smitten KittenTiny Diner, Twin Spirits DistilleryW.A. Frost and CompanyWander North Distillery, Wedge Community Co-OpWild Rumpus, and Yess Yoga.

THANK YOU to administrative assistant Maddie Phelps, intern Erin Conroy, registration master Victoria Pyan, technician Shoshana Freund, and the Upstream Arts Board of Directors, all of whom worked closely with our staff to make this event a success.

And finally, THANK YOU to everyone who joined us at the event. We’re so grateful to have you in our community!!

If you have not yet made a Spring 2017 gift to Upstream Arts and would like to do so, click here to make a secure online gift or call our office at (612) 331-4584