As an experienced community development professional and emerging creative placemaker/public artist, Michelle seeks to curate people inspired spaces. Her work results in collaborative and customized concepts (temporary or fixed) for a public space(s). Michelle holds a B.A. in Local and Urban Affairs and an M.S. in Tourism, Planning, and Development from St. Cloud State University. In 2017, she was selected as one of twenty individuals across the state, to participate in the “Emerging Public Artist” workshop - hosted by Forecast for Public Art. In addition, she is an alumna of the 2018 “Teaching Artist Roster Program,” offered through the Central Minnesota Arts Board (CMAB).
Zoe Zehner, Events Assistant
Zoe Zehner-Back is originally from Chicago, but she has lived in a variety of communities, including Red Wing, MN, Cody, WY, Owatonna, MN, Mason City, IA and most recently St. Cloud, MN, as well as internationally, first in Brussels, Belgium and later in Paris, France. A lifelong painter, Zoe graduated from North Park University in Chicago with her Bachelor's in Art. While painting is her preferred medium, both acrylic and watercolor, she is also a photographer, writer, and musician.
A recent transplant to Little Falls, Zoe and her husband Ben fell in love with the community after visiting in 2018 for an overnight stay at a local B&B to celebrate their anniversary. They have always dreamed of owning their own hobby farm, complete with greenhouse, orchards, and animals, oh my! It was then that they finally began to pursue a path to that dream, and they moved to Little Falls in 2019.
After holding a number of jobs, from Barista to Assistant Manager of Medical Records and Transcription, as they moved around the country following Ben's career, Zoe is very excited to not only be putting down roots, but also to be putting her art degree to official use. She has continued painting and selling her artwork and other handcrafted goods, whether commissioned or through the local farmer's market. In her free time, she also enjoys playing with her three young kids, cooking, baking, knitting, cross-stitching, and traveling. Someday she hopes to have a pygmy goat named Bootleg.
Ashley Maciej, Events & Program Assistant
Ashley Maciej was born in Little Falls, MN and has continued to reside close to the area throughout her life. She is a musician with a short military background, which has helped improve and open many opportunities for her, while being a member of the 34th Infantry Division (ID) Red Bull Band.
She is excited to have the opportunity to engage with local artists that might help inspire some new unique ideas in her own art making. She currently plays music, is beginning in the direction of jewelry making, and is an animal fanatic, highlighting her love of natural beauty anyone can find in the art of nature.
Ashley has previously worked at Camp Ripley with the Visitors Bureau and Public Affairs team, but is very excited to take a step into the heart of Little Falls and become an engaged member of Great River Arts.
Martin Nelson, Marketing specialist
Martin Nelson was born in Minneapolis and grew up in Willmar, MN. He moved to Brainerd, MN in 2010 and has been involved in the arts and community in the area since that time.
Martin primarily works as a mixed media collage artist, but does painting, sculptural, and installation work as well. He creates his artwork with the use of found materials and an abundance of old magazines, books, newspapers, and other interesting printed matter collected in the studio. His work covers many topics including the environment, history, culture, mass media, and human interaction within all things.
Over the years he has held gallery director and curator positions at select galleries in the Brainerd lakes area, including the Franklin Arts Center Gallery, and the Central Lakes College Art Gallery, as well as being Co-Owner of The New Bohemain Gallery. In 2017, Martin received his Graphic Design degree from Central Lakes College, and continues to use his presentation and layout skills through his design and mixed media work.
He has exhibited his work at the Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND, and Minneapolis Institute Of Arts, Minneapolis, MN, along with other select galleries and exhibition spaces both locally and nationally. In 2016 his work was published in Studio Visit Magazine Vol. 33. He lives in Brainerd, MN and works out of his studio located in the Franklin Arts Center.
Mark Slupe, Great River Television Station Manager
After a successful career as a photojournalist, Mark Slupe has been serving as the Station Manager for Great River Television for the last five years. A native Minnesotan, he was born, raised and educated in Windom. Slupe is a graduate of Central Lakes College’s Videography program. True to the Minnesota spirit, Slupe enjoys an outdoors lifestyle which includes camping, fishing, and cross-country skiing. Slupe is a world traveler with a passion for introducing the Little Falls community to new cultures and foods.
Are you interested in joining the team? Check out our Job Opportunity page for current positions.
The Great River Arts Board of Directors volunteer their time and expertise to support creativity in our community.
If you are an arts advocate and would like to be considered as a GRA board member, please complete the Letter Of Interest Form and mail it to GRA (PO Box 157, Little Falls MN 56345) or email it to the Executive Director. The board reviews submissions quarterly.
Mark Gerbi, President
Neree Jackson, Vice President
Ron Bieganek, Treasurer
Michelle Kiley, Secretary (currently on a six month leave of absence)
Sheryl Johnson Yadira Frey Scott Saehr