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Leach helped get Marshall Area Fine Arts Council started

MARSHALL — Marilyn Leach of Marshall thinks her children played a role in getting her involved with the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council in the first place.

Her daughter is involved with dance, and her son is involved with theater, and Leach herself has done art with her medieval brass rubbings. She’s even taught classes on the art form.

According to MAFAC co-presidents Carol Purrington and Becky Wyffels, MAFAC is a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to presenting art exhibitions and performances, promoting local artistic talents and providing educational experiences.

Back in 1988, Leach said she was involved with the first “incarnation” of MAFAC. Charlotte Wendel had noticed the house on the corner of Seventh Street and Marshall Street had come up for sale. She got a group of people together saying it would be great for Marshall to have an arts center, and a meeting took place at St. James Episcopalian Church.

“People decided we would form an arts center,” Leach said.

The organization got started and funds began to be raised, Leach said. Leach said she was also involved with the Prairie Dance Alliance.

“That original group focused on concerts,” Leach said.

MAFAC has been active since 1996, and some time later, the arts center was established on Marshall’s Main Street. The arts center is now located at 109 N. Third St. in downtown Marshall.

“I came back on board,” Leach said.

The focus of MAFAC was local artists and displaying their work and bringing concerts into town, Leach said.

Leach was on the MAFAC board from 1997-1999, and after she retired, she returned to the board in 2012. She serves as the board’s treasurer.

“I just like the idea,” Leach said about MAFAC’s purpose. “There seemed to be so much art in the area.”

Besides the exhibit area, MAFAC has a variety of art for sale in the gift shop, where area artists sell jewelry, paintings, pottery, photography, and more. Judy Skogen displays the works in the gift shop. The Read Local program is included in the gift shop, and Dana Miller, the Read Local chair, organizes book talks at MAFAC, the co-presidents said.

The exhibits at MAFAC are “wonderful,” Leach said, and feature individual artists to high school students in Lyon County. MAFAC displays the works of individual artists every six weeks, the co-presidents said, which show a variety of mediums, from painting to photography to mixed media. Exhibit chair Alma Hale organizes and displays the art.

MAFAC also has a concert series, the co-presidents said, which consists of four performances throughout the season. Some of the past performances include the Vienna Boys Choir, Vocal Essence and John Davidson.

“For a reasonable cost,” community members are able to experience high quality entertainment unique to our area,” the co-presidents said. Kim Christianson and Sandy Wyffels chair the performance committee.

Education is also a vital part of MAFAC, the co-presidents said. MAFAC has offered residencies with area public schools and has had painting classes at the arts center.

“We will also be teaming up with Marshall Community Services this spring to offer several arts classes for the community,” they said.

MAFAC has also worked with the city of Marshall in spearheading the completion of three murals in the downtown area, done by professional artists, as well as the Mrs. Whitney sculpture and the sculpture at the Red Baron Arena.

During the summer, MAFAC provides four free concerts at Liberty Park, the co-presidents said, which includes performances by such local groups as the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra and the Route 68 Big Band.

Networking with other arts organizations is something MAFAC does as well, Leach said. That includes the ability to attend concerts in other communities with the annual concert series.

“It keeps us very much focused,” Leach said.

The MAFAC board meets once a month. There are also a few MAFAC committees, including the exhibit committee, Read Local and the performance committee. As treasurer, Leach said she does the monthly executive board update.

“We track income and expenses for each of the committees,” she said. Leach will be the board’s treasurer until the end of the year. She said JoAnne Fraunfelder has been shadowing her in the position. But Leach plans to be part of MAFAC in some form. “I like volunteering here,” Leach said.

Leach said her favorite part of being with MAFAC is the people.

“Getting to know people with all different kinds of interests,” she said. She said MAFAC and PDA has brought her into contact with the community a lot more. “I’ve enjoyed that.”

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