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Wonderful Weather for a Boundary Waters Trip

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:58am

Is sunshine and 70 degree temperatures the ideal weather to have for a Boundary Waters canoe trip? I was pondering this question as I slugged across a water swollen portage in a downpour on my last BWCA canoe trip.

It is wonderful to be at a Boundary Waters campsite relaxing on a rock underneath a sun-filled sky. Paddling a wilderness lake as the sunlight reflects off of the water’s surface is also a beautiful thing. But are there disadvantages to having perfectly warm, dry weather on a wilderness canoe trip? I determined there to be some benefits of experiencing not so wonderful weather during a BWCA trip.

  • Portages without mud puddles are boring. It’s much more exciting to not know what your foot will encounter when sloshing into the water.
  • Portages are just portages and not waterfalls if there hasn’t been any rain.
  • When it’s windy and raining there are no bugs to bother you.
  • Watching rain come from across the lake in sheets looks really cool.
  • Hearing thunder in the distance can make for good conversation as to what exactly the noise was.
  • Rain keeps your body cool and clean.
  • It gives you something to talk about during the day.

And of course, “bad” weather on your canoe trip makes you appreciate the wonderful weather even more.

Boundary Waters Canoe Trip

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Shopping for candidates

Unorganized Territory - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 5:29pm

The run up to the August 12, 2014 primary election has been very interesting. The primary is almost a month away, but things are heating up. Partly because of the number of candidates on the primary ballot, partly because of the unique things each candidate brings to the table, but mostly because mail ballots are being sent out soon.

Cook County Auditor Braidy Powers told the News-Herald that per state law, mail ballots could have been sent out to voters as early as June 27. Powers said the county wouldn’t send them out that early. Our auditor knows ballots will get misplaced in our piles of junk mail if they go out too early. No, Braidy said ballots would be hitting the mail starting July 22.

Voters could also change their minds. It certainly will be a tough decision for the two Cook County commissioner districts that will be going to the polls in August. There are six choices in District 1—the Colvill, Hovland and Grand Portage area—and four choices in District 5—the Pike Lake, Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder area.   

I know all of the people running for office—some better than others—but they are all good people. They would all do a good job representing our county.

So it comes down to the candidate’s stance on certain issues. That is where citizens need to pay attention. Voters need to attend local forums sponsored by community groups. There have already been a few opportunities—two in Colvill at the town hall and one on the West End at the Schroeder Town Hall.

Before the primary arrives, I’m sure there will be others.

Thanks to all of the candidates—John Bockovich, Kristin DeArruda Wharton, Harry Drabik, Steve Fleace, Jerry Hiniker and Frank Moe in District 1 and Tim Goettl, Bruce Martinson, Ginny Storlie and Stan Tull in District 5. Thanks for being willing to expend your time and energy on listening to constituents.

Voters also had the chance to listen to the WTIP radio forums held Wednesday, July 16 for District 1 and 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 17 for District 5. Visit the radio station at to hear what answers they gave when WTIP’s Jay Andersen and I talked to them in the studio, asking your questions of the candidates.

And, please take some time to read the News-Herald—we had interviews with the District 1 candidates in the July 5 issue and the District 5 candidates in the July 12 paper.

We may not have touched on your issue with our questions. It is really difficult to come up with just a few questions that cover everything. One question is just asking for the basic candidate biographical information, which is interesting but cuts into the harder hitting questions.

Or the silly questions. I would have loved to ask a Barbara Walters-style question: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

Unfortunately, the maximum number of questions with four or six candidates was four questions. Approximately 100 words per question, four questions, six candidates equals 2,400 words. That’s a huge chunk of the newspaper. With a small introduction and the questions themselves, the article on our District 1candidates totaled 2,760 words.

It seems like a lot to read, but it’s worth it. It’s an easy read as the candidates all gave thoughtful answers.

My favorite question is one that actually came from a local business owner during a previous election. LeAnn Zunker of 1010 Design sent a letter to the editor as Election Day neared in 2010. LeeAnn asked, “What have you done personally to support the economy of Cook County?”

I think all of the candidates said, “Good question!” before answering. It’s not the typical question about the levy and budget, about road maintenance, about ordinances or economic development.

The question gave them all a pause, as it did me when I first heard it back in 2010. What have I done to personally support the economy of Cook County?

It’s a good question to ask ourselves, whether we are running for office or not. Sure, we all take a long shopping list with us when we make the trip to Duluth or the Twin Cities for an appointment or to visit family. It just makes sense to stock up on things that are hard to find in Cook County when you are there. Although all of our retail stores do a really good job carrying just about everything imaginable, there are times that they don’t have our favorite toothpaste or tennis shoe or power tool.

But how many of us run to Duluth just to go shopping? I used to when I had teenage boys and the herds of kids that hung out at our house went through a case of Hot Pockets per week.

But then a friend pointed out that you don’t really save with a trip to Duluth. She said you have to factor time off work, the cost of gasoline, and usually a lunch or dinner on the road. It adds up and those bargain socks or spaghetti sauce don’t seem to be such a bargain after all. Not to mention the wear and tear on your vehicle and your peace of mind. No, it’s better to shop local, to support your friends and neighbors.

Plus, you may just run into a candidate for a local government office. You can ask them your own questions while you stand in line at the grocery store or pump gas next to them.

Something hard hitting like: What can the county board and the city of Grand Marais do to make the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) more successful?

Or something silly like: If you were a yogurt flavor what would you be?

It’s up to you—what do you want to ask your candidate?


Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.
Abraham Lincoln


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Best Time to Paddle the Boundary Waters

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 6:11am

I’ve always said, “Any time you can paddle the Boundary Waters is the best time to paddle the Boundary Waters.” Taking that into consideration the next thing to consider is what you want to experience while you are in the Boundary Waters or what you don’t want to experience while there. Knowing what you want out of a canoe camping trip in the BWCA will help you determine the best time to visit.

Many people come to the Boundary Waters to experience the solitude of the wilderness.  While route choice plays a big part in getting away from people the time of the paddling season makes a big difference too.  I was out paddling last week and I began to wonder if there had been an atomic bomb that went off somewhere because there were so few people out there.

If the main goal of your canoe trip is to not see many people then paddling the Boundary Waters around the 4th of July is a great time. We were towed out past American Point and we didn’t see anyone camping anywhere. We portaged into Ottertrack and didn’t meet anyone on Monument Portage which rarely happens. We saw a couple of canoes on Ester Lake and one group camped there but no groups camped on Hansen Lake or Ottertrack.  For 4 days we had so few encounters with other people we felt like it was the middle of October.

Every year we see a dip in visitors around the 4th of July.  People have picnics, parades, family reunions and fireworks to attend on the 4th of July and they don’t want to miss out on the annual festivities.  That leaves the Boundary Waters empty for people who are willing to give up their sparklers for twinkling stars in the night sky. Of course May, September and October are also great times to paddle if you’re looking to get away from people, but in July you have water warm enough for swimming too.

I love camping in the BWCA when I don’t see other groups so I was super happy to be paddling a week after the 4th of July and see so few people.  While it may not be great for business it’s super for folks who are able to paddle during that time.

Quiet time in the BWCA


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Loon Chicks are Hatching in the BWCA

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 6:59am

We usually start seeing baby loons around the 4th of July in the BWCA. This year it was a little bit later but now that we started seeing them guests have reported seeing them everywhere in the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park.

The tiny balls of fluff ride around on the adult loon’s back after they are first born. It’s a real treat to see one tucked beneath the wing of a loon. The chicks are sometimes so well hidden you would never guess there was one there. Once the chick gets a little bit bigger it will start swimming on its own. It’s fun to be able to watch from a distance as an adult loon attempts to feed the chick. I’ve watched as a loon placed some food directly into the mouth of the chick and then progressed to placing the food directly in front of the chick on the surface of the water and by day’s end the adult was placing it just below the surface so the chick had to get it’s face wet.  The chick learns quickly how to fish for itself.

Loons are beautiful creatures and even more so when there’s a chick on their back.

Loon chicks in the Boundary Waters

Loons hatching in the BWCA



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7/18/14 - Steve Hagen was nice enough to send this picture of himself from Patagonia, Chile today.

Sawbill Newsletter - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 9:14pm

7/18/14 -

Steve Hagen was nice enough to send this picture of himself from Patagonia, Chile today. - Bill

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Blue Bears

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 6:28am

It’s not a new species of bear but the bears are blue because they are sad. The blueberry crop has not ripened yet and the bears are hungry.  One very skinny bear has been checking out the garbages at Voyageur on a regular basis.   Rugby(guard dog extraordinaire) has done a good job at keeping the bear on his toes but I feel badly the blueberries aren’t ripe yet.

Blueberry harvesters in the area also feel badly the berries aren’t quite ready. In most recent years the crop has been ready by this time of the summer but due to the late spring it will be a couple of weeks before they are ripe. Hopefully the blueberry pickers can resist the temptation to enter the picking areas until it’s time to pick otherwise the plants will get damaged and we’ll have fewer blueberries making people and bears bluer.

There are some delicious tasting wild strawberries around for people who are ready to pick. There are even a few ripe raspberries and what looks like a good Thimble Berry crop in the making. Let’s hope the recent sunshine will speed up the ripening process so our bears will no longer be blue.

Interesting bear facts from Hiking in Bear Country-

Sides explains that a bear’s teeth can be very sharp, indicating that the bear eats meat. The back teeth are flat, telling of diet of plant material.

Seventy-five percent of a black bear’s diet consists of plant material. The rest is made up of berries, fish, or maybe a fawn in the spring. Each chomp is important for researchers. Teeth marks can reveal a bear’s age, sex, and even how many times it has given birth.

Bears venture out around 100 miles for food. Some even travel 40 miles just for an acorn. For them, it’s worth it. Storing food for the winter is a number-one goal. A hibernating bear can burn 3,000 – 4,000 calories a day in the winter.

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What’s Kids’ Day? . . . And Other July FAQs

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center Blog - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 2:41pm

If you’ve been up at the museum on Monday in the last month, you might have run into a bunch of kids seeing if they can jump as far as a frog, playing at the water’s edge, or making their own personalized nature journal. That’s because every Monday at Chik-Wauk through August 25th is Kids’ Day, where kids age 18 and under enjoy free admission and when there’s a whole bunch of kid focused crafts, nature activities, and hikes happening.

We know families on vacation don’t necessarily want to have to show up at a set time for activities, so on Kids’ Day the activities run all day. When you show up, the activities begin, or you can jump in on some activities already in progress. A favorite activity to date has been doing a pond dip at the lake shore and discovering all the amazing life in the lake, including a bunch of big leopard frog tadpoles. If you’re in the area with kids or grandkids, please consider checking us out for Kids’ Day.

Another question we’re hearing a lot lately is, “what are the blueberries like?” The blueberries are starting to ripen on the property. Last week we had a family pick just enough blueberries for a pie, but with the late spring, the blueberries have been slow to ripen and we predict prime picking won’t start until sometime next week. It might be a little spottier harvest this year than in years’ past, but if you have to work a little harder for your berries, they’ll taste even sweeter. Right now, if you’re looking for a handful to toss in pancakes or muffins, you should be able to find that fairly easily as you walk along our hiking trails. The raspberries are starting to ripen too.

Tickets are now on sale for this year’s “Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings Chamber Music Concert Fundraiser.” The concert will be held Saturday, August 16 at 4 p.m. at Gunflint Trail Fire Hall #1 (Mid-Trail, Poplar Lake). Tickets are $20.00 for adults, $5 for children up to 18. You can buy your tickets in person at the museum or by calling 218-388-9915. Starting next week, you’ll also be able to buy the tickets online at our website Tickets are limited, so purchase your tickets soon to avoid disappointment; last year’s concert sold out.

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Grand Marais is Lake Wobegon for a day

Visit Cook County - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 1:04pm


Happy Independence Day weekend! We hope you have a safe and wonderful weekend up here in Cook County, MN. Make sure to check out our online calendar of events to see all that our area has to offer for entertainment for the weekend. There will be 4th of July festivities in Tofte, Grand Marais and Grand Portage with fireworks at 10pm in all three locations. 

As part of a larger partnership with the state of Minnesota, Visit Cook County has opted in to be a part of the 40th anniversary of A Prairie Home Companion by declaring Grand Marais and all Visit Cook County communities “Lake Wobegon” for the day.



In honor of the 40th anniversary of A Prairie Home Companion – a show that changed the media landscape and shined a spotlight on our state – we are becoming Lake Wobegon for one weekend. #APHC40 #WeAreLakeWobegon #Visitcc

Grand Marais and Cook County are joining communities across Minnesota, July 4- 6, in becoming Lake Wobegon for one weekend in honor of the 40th anniversary of the show that brought the town to life. As A Prairie Home Companion celebrates 40 years with weekend festivities in St. Paul at Macalester College, cities and towns across the state are becoming honorary “Lake Wobegons” for the weekend.

“As Minnesotans, we all feel like we know Lake Wobegon; it’s where we grew up, where we vacation or where we now live. We can see ourselves in the stories Garrison has told over the years,” said Linda Kratt, executive director of Visit Cook County MN. “This is a fun way for us to recognize the impact that A Prairie Home Companion has had not only on our state, but nationally and internationally.”

As an honorary Lake Wobgeon, Visit Cook County will be featured on A Prairie Home Companion’s website along with other participating cities and communities. Additionally, Gov. Mark Dayton declared July 6 as “A Prairie Home Companion Day” in the state of Minnesota.

A Prairie Home Companion is heard on more than 600 public radio stations across the U.S., with a weekly audience that tops 4 million listeners. The program can also be heard on the Armed Forces Network Europe, the Far East Network, and in dozens of European cities via the Astra satellite network.

Garrison Keillor has been the host and writer of A Prairie Home Companion since the program started production in 1974. He is also the author of more than two dozen books, including Lake Wobegon Days; Love Me; O, What a Luxury, and his recently released, The Keillor Reader.

A Prairie Home Companion is produced by Prairie Home Productions and distributed by American Public Media. The show is sponsored nationally by Holiday Vacations and by Ford. The July 4-6 weekend is sponsored by Macalester College. Audio clips, scripts and more information on A Prairie Home Companion and all the weekend’s events can be found online at

The post Grand Marais is Lake Wobegon for a day appeared first on Cook County Minnesota.

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Quick spring into summer

Gunflint Pines Northwoods News - Thu, 06/05/2014 - 3:09pm

Guest who were here for the Memorial weekend got a real treat!!  Who would believe that the ice went out on May 19th and the temps were in the 80′s by Memorial weekend.  Memorial weekend was great with hi temps, sunny days and virtually no bugs!

Fishing is well on it’s way with people catching Lake Trout  anywhere from the surface to 30ft.  The Walleye are still in the shallows finishing up their spawning season.  Lake temps are changing quickly.  The past  80 degree temps changed the shallow lake temps from the upper 30′s to the mid 50′s over night.

Trolling floating stickbait is still the preferred methods for the evening Walleye bite.  Lindy rigging live baits seem to be the best bet for daytime Walleye fishing.  Lake Trout seem to be responding to stickbaits, spinners and spoons.  The bass are still a bit slow, but we’re finally hearing of some movement, and the Northern are crusing the shorelines.

More to come!


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Dennis Todd Memorial – June 7th

Gunflint Pines Northwoods News - Wed, 05/28/2014 - 10:35am

A memorial service has been planned for Dennis Todd June 7th 10am at the Gunflint Conference Center at 143 S. Gunflint Lake Rd, Grand Marais MN. Dennis was a fishing guide on the Gunflint Trail for 20+ years.

Dennis Ray Todd of Appleton City MO. & The Gunflint Trail MN. died as a result of a boating accident on Nothern Light Lake in Canada on September 12, 2013. Dennis and a friend were enjoying a day of fishing when the accident happened. It is not completely clear of what happened but they were both ejected from the boat. The passenger was wearing a life jacket and was able to make it to shore. Unfortunately Dennis was not and in an apparent attempt to retrieve the boat he succumb to the cold waters and drowned in Traflagar Bay.

Dennis was a graduate of Appleton City High School. After serving his country in the United States Army he worked various jobs in Kansas City before finding his true calling. Dennis has been employed with Gunflint Lodge for the past 25 years as a fishing guide. It was apparent to many repeat customers that Dennis had a true passion, he loved to fish. “Bobber down” was soon echoed throughout the Midwest from those who were fortunate enough to go north fishing with the “Walleye Jedi”.

Friends and family alike enjoyed fish fries at Dennis’ and he was always able to provide someone with fresh fish. Dennis was quick with a joke or story and always had a helping hand for anyone that was in need of one.

Dennis was born to Raymond and Betty (Harris) Todd on February 12, 1954 in Appleton City, Mo. He was proceeded in death by his father Raymond and an infant sister Janet.

Dennis is survived by his son Cameron and step-daughter Laura (Scott) Campbell, his mother Betty Todd of Appleton City, sister Judy (Steve) Adams Bloomfield IA, brother Dave (Lisa) Todd Butler, nephews Matt Brownsberger, Brian and Kyle Todd, and four grandchildren. Many cousins and friends as well.

Memorial gifts may be sent to the Cameron Todd Educational Trust Fund at the Community First Banks in Butler and Appleton City Mo.

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Trail Grooming Tomorrow

Banadad Bulletin - Thu, 01/23/2014 - 10:01am

Tomorrow, Friday, trail groomers will be out on the west end of the Banadad. The east end will be groomed the next day.

Tomorrow it is also going to warm up to above zero for the first time in days. Last night/this morning the temperature hit negative 36.

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Day 12 – The Last Day of Gifting!

Sivertson Gallery - Fri, 12/20/2013 - 9:14am

Day 12 – The Last Day of Gifting….

Today is the 12th Day of Gifting! Can you believe it?  Tomorrow is the last Elfin’ Saturday before Christmas! On this final day, we thought long and hard on who we would feature. He or She had to be a slam bang finish to a truly incredible list of artists. I think you will all agree, we could not have chosen a better artist for Day 12. With great pleasure, I introduce … read more

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Day 11 – Glass Totems & Raku

Sivertson Gallery - Thu, 12/19/2013 - 2:42am

Day 11 – Glass Totems & Raku

On Day 11 of our 12 Days of Gifting, we bring you Nancy Seaton‘s Fused Glass Totems and Richard Gruchalla & Carrin Rosetti’s Raku fired pottery!

Most notorious for her watercolors, Nancy Seaton expanded to beautiful fused glass totems in the early spring of 2013. When put near the window, these totems come to life. With the unique designs and gorgeous colors dancing in the light, her totems are a … read more

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Day 10 – Monica Hansmeyer

Sivertson Gallery - Wed, 12/18/2013 - 1:21am

Day 10– Monica Hansmeyer

On Day 10 of the 12 Days of Gifting, we introduce the jeweler responsible for all of our jewelry dreams… Monica Hansmeyer of Seven Sister Design!

Monica Hansmeyer is just plain… COOL! If you have had the pleasure to meet the woman behind Seven Sister Design, you know what I mean. With a friendly smile, farm girl charm and jewelry to die for, it’s easy to see why her jewelry has more devoted fans than we can … read more

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Day 9 – Wood!

Sivertson Gallery - Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:49am


Day 9 – Wood ya Look at THAT?

Day 9 is focused on wood, wood-like products, faux wood painting, birch ceramic mugs…. You get the idea! In this day of Wood, let me mention the three groups of artists to be highlighted; Larch Wood, Grant-Noren, and Lenore Lampi.

Larch Wood, based in Nova Scotia, specializes in “end-grain” cutting boards that are praised as works of functional art. Their small, select group of crafts people work exclusively with the native Eastern Canadian … read more

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Day 8 – Kenspeckle Letterpress

Sivertson Gallery - Mon, 12/16/2013 - 9:58am

Did you really think we would do a “12 days of Gifting” without mentioning Rick Allen and Marian Lansky of Kenspeckle Letterpress??

I didn’t think so….

As you all know, Rick Allen is possibly Siiviis and Sivertson Gallery’s most popular artist. Without a doubt, he is certainly the most hilarious! His work brings happiness, love and laughter to all… Truly a wonderful gift to give this holiday season.

Bear Ass Sauna

Trapper’s Daughter and the Long View

Grand … read more

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Day 7 – Hot Tea & Books

Sivertson Gallery - Sun, 12/15/2013 - 1:53pm

Day 7 – Hot Tea and Books!

Shiver me Elfin’ timbers…. It is close to -20 below in some parts of Cook County on this 7th Day of Gifting!! In this spirit we bring you “Hot Tea and Beautiful Book Day!”

A favorite memory of many Sivertson shoppers is our year-round complementary hot tea. Right when you walk in the door, you can stop by our tea stand and choose from an assortment of delicious Harney and Sons blends. Over 30 years … read more

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Day 6 – Aaron Kloss and His Little Birds, Too!!

Sivertson Gallery - Sat, 12/14/2013 - 2:45am

-Day 6 - Aaron Kloss & His Little Birds, Too

Day 6 – Kloss… and His Little Birds, Too!!

When I think of Aaron Kloss, I can’t help but think about his bird paintings. Whether they be cardinals, bluejays, or the recent release of Chickadees... I just can’t get enough.

Just a couple of weeks ago we received a shipment of fresh, original acrylics by the one and only Aaron Kloss. This is a great thing for all you Christmas shoppers out there because that means, not … read more

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Day 5 – Bozeman Babes!

Sivertson Gallery - Fri, 12/13/2013 - 2:38am

-Day 5 - Bozeman Babes!

Our self proclaimed sister city of Bozeman, Montana is full of talented artists. Here at Sivertson Gallery, we host the work of two of the greatest ladies Bozeman has to offer! Jennifer (J.L. Walsh) the fabulous jeweler, and Sarah Angst the amazing printer.

If there is any town that could even remotely compare to our beloved harbor town of Grand Marais, it would be Bozeman, MT. Whenever I travel out west to that gorgeous town with … read more

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Day 4 – Woodblock Prints!

Sivertson Gallery - Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:23am

-Day 4 - Woodblock Prints!

Wood block prints are in a class all of their own. There is something about the look, the feel, and the process of wood block prints, that is simply striking. At Sivertson Gallery, we have four woodblock artists represented: Nick Wroblewski, Betsy Bowen, Mike Anderson and Rick Allen (with Rick dabbling in both wood and lino block prints, in addition to wood engravings).

All of our printmakers are fantastic, but it seems that Nick Wroblewski is … read more

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