shake rag alley news

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Dear Shake Rag Alley Community Members, 

Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts was founded to provide educational experiences in visual, performing, and literary arts for adults and children; cultivate the creativity that thrives in our rural community; and rehabilitate and preserve our historic buildings and rustic campus.

We remain committed to our mission and to contributing to Mineral Point’s creative economy, but with the health and safety of our instructors, students, and staff in mind, we are “hitting pause” on our March and April workshops in addition to our events as state guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic evolve. 

While we work with instructors to reschedule March-April workshops, we are contacting enrolled students regarding our emergency cancellation policy effective this afternoon:

– We are offering registered students whose workshops are being rescheduled a transferable gift certificate for future workshops through 2021.

– Students with lodging reservations will be offered gift certificates in the full amount of their booking.

– We will return to our normal workshop cancellation and lodging cancellation policies following this crisis.

– We ask students registered in workshops starting in May and beyond not to make any changes to their enrollment at this time. 

Our office is closed through April 23 as a result of the state of Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order. We are checking voicemail and email daily and continue to ask everyone to follow best practices for illness prevention.

This is a frightening time for us all, and we are grateful for your support of our nonprofit art school. Please consider making a donation or purchasing a gift certificate — your support will help us get to the other side of this crisis.

Thank you for your consideration and understanding! Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns: (608) 987-3292 or

Sara Lomasz Flesch
Executive Director

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April 2020

The robins are back at Mineral Point’s Shake Rag Alley. So are the blue jays and red-winged black birds. Daffodils are rising up through the earth. There are daily invigorating reminders of nature’s resilience despite these uncertain times.

Like everyone in our community, we at Shake Rag Alley are just as stunned by how radically our outlook has shifted over the past month. 

The first two months of the year were a terrifically strong start to registrations for our 2020 workshops, and we enjoyed several winter literary arts events. Our Winter Writers Reading Series of free readings by award-winning authors and open mic nights provided intimate opportunities to engage with our writers in residence. The Driftless Poets workshopping group held a successful Open Mic Night at Cafe 43, which also exhibited a dozen members’ work for several weeks prior to the Feb. 13 event. 

We had solid momentum as we drew nearer to spring, especially for our inaugural NEA Big Read, but things have slowed dramatically since the state of Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order went into effect March 25. Read on for more updates.

keeping shake rag alley safe during "safer at home"

For the duration of Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order, which is currently scheduled to expire April 24, the Shake Rag Alley office is closed, but our work to protect and sustain our buildings, grounds, and programs continues. Staff are working remotely, meeting via Zoom (as illustrated by Jacki, Sara, and Carole at right), or adhering to social distancing requirements when one or more of us is on grounds performing the “minimum basic operations” of our nonprofit’s business. That has involved notifying workshop instructors and students that we are rescheduling classes originally planned for March through early May, processing gift certificates for workshop registrations and lodging reservations, updating our marketing calendars and messaging to reflect the cancellation of April events including the Driftless Poets Workshop, Women’s Art Party, and Spring Garage Sale fundraiser, applying for federal disaster relief loans and grants, working on buildings and grounds projects, and more.


With heavy hearts, we also had to hit pause on the NEA Big Read-Mineral Point, which was to kick-off April 4 and run through May 31 and feature book discussions, guest speakers, Women’s Art Parties, a film series, youth programming, and more. Together with our partners at the Mineral Point Public Library and School District libraries, we had so looked forward to the Keynote Address by Claudia Rankine, author of the award-winning Citizen: An American Lyric, as well as to visits to our schools and library by children’s book authors Miranda and Baptiste Paul. Although we have had to cancel our April NEA Big Read events, we look forward to rescheduling as much of our programming as possible. Unfortunately, Claudia Rankine’s keynote address will not be rescheduled. During your time safe at home, check out the wealth of material available on our NEA Big Read page.


Also impacted by coronavirus concerns was last month’s United Fund of Iowa County’s Awards Night, where we had looked forward to accepting their $3,000 funding award and thanking their Board in person for their continued support of our Youth Program. Thank you, United Fund of Iowa County! We are grateful to everyone who donated to this year’s UFICfundraising campaign in support of #community organizations serving Iowa County. 

Last week we received a check for more than $400 from Point Foods representing the support of their customers who “rounded up” for Shake Rag Alley last month. We’re grateful to our community for their support, and to Point Foods for all they do for Mineral Point!

how you can support SHAKE RAG ALLEY

More than ever, Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts needs your financial support. Please consider making a donation to support our general operations and help us deliver on our mission to provide educational experiences in visual, performing, and literary arts to adults and children; cultivate the creativity that thrives in our rural community; and rehabilitate and preserve our historic buildings and rustic campus. Gift certificates are also available online or by calling our office and leaving a voicemail. 

how you can engage with shake rag alley

Until it’s safe to welcome you back to our workshops, events, and fundraisers, we can suggest a variety of ways to stay tapped in to what Shake Rag Alley has to offer:

Watch our website for Art at Home tutorials featuring our talented instructors. Until we can reopen registration for Richard Moninski’s Introduction to Drawing workshop, you can work on your drawing skils with nothing more than a ballpoint pen.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, where we’re virtually celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing poems by members of our Driftless Poets Workshops and past Winter Writers in Residence

If you don’t already have a copy of our 2020 workshop catalog, call our office or click here to request one. Plan now for future workshop registrations and lodging reservationsso you’re ready when we are! 

Watch our website for our virtual Artisan Jewelry Sale, which was originally planned for our Jewelry Boot Camp retreat weekend, and additional arts and crafts retail items. Proceeds from your purchases will support Shake Rag Alley and the artists whose works will be featured.

And if you’re in or near Mineral Point and need a break from the news of current events, come take a stroll through our grounds, which are open dawn to dusk. A few deep breaths alongside the clear water of the Federal Spring are sure to do you good.


We hope you’re making art and crafting, snug and safe and sound in your individual hide-away. If you have photos or stories to share, please send us an email or tag us in photos you post on Facebook or Instagram so that we may share them with the Shake Rag Alley community.

Shake Rag Alley’s youth programs are supported in part by grants from Mineral Point Community Chest and United Fund of Iowa County. Thank you!

Please consider helping Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts to:

  • provide educational experiences in visual, performing, and literary arts to adults and children
  • cultivate the creativity that thrives in our rural community
  • rehabilitate and preserve our historic buildings and rustic campus.

Click Here to discover various ways you might offer tax-deductible support.

Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Youth programming at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts is supported in part by a grant from the Mineral Point Community Chest and United Fund of Iowa County.