Friends Newsletter

Greeting from our new President Barbara Proeschel, February 2024

Happy February to all!

This month is extra special because 2024 is a Leap Year and we have an extra day – Feb 29th. This extra day is inserted every 4 years to synchronize our dating system with the seasons or physical properties of our solar system. Being ‘in sync’ is so important for things and people to work well together, don’t you agree?

First, some bittersweet news: Boyd Ratchye has resigned as president of the Friends in order to prioritize his health. Though Boyd’s resignation came as a bit of a surprise, we all recognize that it is the right decision for him. We thank Boyd for his time serving as Friends President. We will miss him, but as his health allows, he may step into some Friends project work. (Please see his letter to you below.) Per standard Friends guidelines and bylaws, I, as Vice President, am stepping into the role of President.

And, more news: We also have a new face in the Friends office. I am pleased to welcome our new Friends office coordinator, Laura Galarneau, who started on Jan 10th. Before coming to Mia, Laura was the Permit Coordinator and Recreation Specialist for the Minneapolis Park Board and also spent time as a Client Services Associate with Laurel Wealth Planning. Laura comes to us with experience in public engagement, project management and volunteer coordination. Laura is also an artist and has her own illustration business. Laura’s great experience and cheerful attitude will be a strong asset for the Friends. Laura can be reached at 612-870-3245 and email Please stop by the Friends Office to meet and welcome her!

Our thanks, once again, to Claire Goulson who continued to handle our administrative needs while we searched for a new office coordinator and who is helping train Laura through this transition.

I also want to bring to your attention that you can get an escort to your car from Mia security for evening events. Just stop by the front desk and ask.

Finally, let me assure you that, though the situation was unexpected, I am ready to step into the role of President. I look forward to working with all of you and helping to lead the Friends onward. Our organization and membership makes possible so many stimulating and fun events. Art in Bloom, April 25-28, is in full planning mode, and the other Friends events listed here are sure to add art and wonder to your February palette.

Happy Valentine’s Day, as well!

Barbara Proeschel


Greetings from out-going President Boyd Ratchye:

Dear Friends: 

For better than six months,  July 1, 2023 through January 31, 2024 I was the President of the Friends of the Institute, one of the most rewarding and enjoyable times in my life.  In fact, I’m taking the liberty to edit our friend Charles Dickens, in saying about those seven months:

‘It was the best of times, . . it was the age of wisdom, . . it was the epoch of belief. . it was the season light, . . it was the spring of hope, ..  we had everything before us, . .’

I shall add for myself, and for chickadees everywhere, that February is a time for winter foraging and a time to thank all of you for the opportunity to serve you and the Friends and Mia.  Allow me to “winter forage” a bit in the paragraphs below to highlight what the Executive Board and the Friends Board accomplished in the past seven months.

Last year Julie Holland, the outgoing president, introduced me to Katie Luber, Mia’s Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President.  In our discussion, Katie asked us to think about how to expand the Friends membership, and to consider how the Friends can best help Mia to serve its diverse audiences. That has been a major theme throughout Julie’s time and mine, and I expect Barb Proeschel will continue it through her presidency.

Two key committees were initially involved in this: Outreach and Transportation.  Outreach Chair Tammy Meyer successfully brought many students, parents and community members from diverse backgrounds to Mia for tours and the enjoyment of just being here.  This was new and exciting. 

Transportation, chaired by Therese Blaine and Steve Hoster, received a strong response to the offer of Friends bus grants for students around the Twin Cities.  We were fearful that interest would die after the pandemic.  Yet, because we had extra money—with tours shut down during the pandemic—the committee had more money to expend on our bus grants. I am grateful to Therese and Steve for their perseverance.  

Another element in response to the directive was an effort to modernize and expand the initial language of the scope of the Transportation Endowment Fund to include the Outreach Committee’s charge to work with community centers and transporting its students, parents and members to Mia.  The work has begun and will continue. 

Other committees have made efforts at increasing diversity and inclusiveness for Friends programs, especially the Lecture Committee, led by Julie Owens and Sheila Marie Untiedt. They have begun experimenting with new times for lectures, such as Saturdays or Sundays at 2:00 p.m. or Thursdays at 6:00 p.m.. The idea is to open the lectures to working people who cannot participate in the middle of the day, and to figure out what times work best. I’m happy we are experimenting and I believe the changes are worth doing. 

The Lecture season began with a fascinating lecture on Notre Dame de Paris and a lunch adopting a French theme. Our Hospitality Committee chairs, Sue Stillman and Anne Laurent, were able to pull off a “magnifique” luncheon despite rising food and labor costs. This first lecture was an example of creativity and initiative for all of us. Kris Erickson, Administrator of the Fiterman Fund, had a burst of insight after she watched a PBS documentary  on the fiery catastrophe at Notre Dame. She suggested the Friends find someone to discuss the cathedral, its art and its place in French History.  And with the same creativity and a burst of energy Barbara Proeschel was able to organize our first lecture with Michelle Picaud, the president of the Friends of Notre Dame de Paris. The result was delightful.

I mention this example to  illustrate how two people were able, with insight and innovation, to bring to life a wonderful idea for a lecture that engaged so many people. Every member of Friends is encouraged to do likewise! You may be inspired by some event and then mention the idea for a lecture to the Friends Executive Committee. Or perhaps you have an idea for a book you can suggest for the Friends Book Club, or an art tour for the Friends Only Tours. Don’t hesitate to share your ideas!

Another person I want to mention is Pat Gale, the chair of the Volunteer Committee.  Pat organizes the volunteers for all Friends events. Please don’t forget to contact her if you are interested in volunteering with fellow members at any of our events.               

In closing, I want to share that my resignation was my own decision, one I made in mid-December.  I had increasing friction between my duties as President of the Friends and my duty to myself and to my own health. Throughout October and November I had been juggling appointments and other obligations for the Friends with medical appointments to treat newly discovered bladder cancers and a breakthrough of atrial fibrillation. As your President I just did not feel I was doing the job I wanted to do and the one you could fairly expect from me. Thus in sync with the beginning of our 2024-25 lecture season, Au revoir, mes chers amis.


Boyd H. Ratchye


February Friends Only Book Club

Friday, February 16, 10 AM
Friends Office


Lovers of autobiography and photography have a special treat in store for Friday, February 16! The Friends Book Club will discuss A Choice of Weapons, the first autobiography of Gordon Parks, the groundbreaking photographer, writer, composer, activist and filmmaker. The book begins when, at the age of 16, following the death of his mother, Mr. Parks moved from Kansas to live in St. Paul. To further the Minnesota connection with this book, the forward was written by Twin Cities photographer and author, Wing Young Huie, who was the speaker for the Friends’ December lecture.

The Book Club will meet in the Friends office at 10:00 am on Friday, February 16. Following our discussion, we’ll enjoy a guided tour of the exhibit, “American Gothic: Gordon Parks and Ella Watson,” which will be on display through June 2024. The Book Club morning will wrap up at noon.

Space is limited and advance registration is required. To sign up, call the Friends office at 612-870-3045, or email

If you are planning ahead on Friday, March 15th we’ll discuss The Sentence by Louise Erdrich.

February Friends Lecture: Bisa Butler on “Women Who Lead”

Thursday, February 8
6:00 pm
Pillsbury Auditorium

*This event is now sold out, but a recording of the lecture will be available to view the following week.

Our lecture this month will feature fiber artist Bisa Butler, pictured here. She is an internationally acclaimed artist known for her quilted portraits celebrating Black life – from everyday African American people to notable historical figures. Although her finished works are made entirely of textiles, Butler’s painterly approach has transformed the quilting medium. She layers multiple fabrics, using appliqué and stitching to create compositions with psychological depth, detailed texture, and saturated color. She incorporates African wax-resist dyed cotton fabrics with wool, silk, velvet and lace to create a kaleidoscope of pattern and color.

Bisa Butler was born in Orange, New Jersey and grew up surrounded by creativity. Her mother and grandmother both sewed and she learned from them. She earned a BFA in painting from Howard University in Washington, D.C, and there began to experiment with fabric as a medium. Butler went on to earn an MA from Montclair State University, where she took a Fiber Arts class that gave her an epiphany about how best to express her art.

 Her work has been exhibited widely, both domestically and internationally. In 2021, Butler had her first institutional solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to that owned by Mia, her work can be found in the permanent collections of many institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum and the Pérez Art Museum, Miami. The World Is Yours, Butler’s first solo gallery exhibition, went on view at the Jeffrey Deitch gallery in New York City earlier this year and was enthusiastically received by thousands of visitors. In 2022 she was awarded a Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship in Art, and exhibited two works at Art Basel in Switzerland.

Following the lecture, the Friends will host a reception. There will be a wine and beer cash bar accompanied by delicious appetizers for an hour following the lecture. Ms. Butler will be on hand and available to answer questions you may have following her lecture. 

*Please note, an escort to your car from Mia security is available for evening events.

Save the Date:

Friends March lecture: LaToya Ruby Frazier
Thursday March 14th at 6pm
Pillsbury Auditorium

Tickets on Sale Monday, February 12th for Friends Members and Wednesday, February 14th for the general public. Call (612)870-3000 to reserve your tickets.

Time Change for May Lecture:

The Friends May lecture with Patricia Michaels will now begin at 1pm, Sunday May 19th.


Volunteers Needed for Family Day: February 11

Would you or you and a friend like to try something new and fun this winter? We’re looking for volunteers who can spend a few hours volunteering at Mia’s Family Day, Sunday February 11th

We’re looking for people who can (1) direct and describe the events to families, and (2) people who would like to help with the art-making.

Required abilities for directing people:
– Can stand and/or sit (optional) for the duration (2 hours) of the event
– Knowledgeable and/or willing to learn the general layout of the museum/Family Day locations
– Friendly to all ages
– Can describe the activity, or  knowledgeable about the artist or activity (Information will be provided)
– Welcoming to all

Required abilities for helping with art-making:
– Can stand/move around for the duration (2 hours) of the event.*
– Friendly to all ages, interested in engaging in conversation/encouragement with kids and adults alike
– Welcoming to all
– Positive, uplifting, encouraging
– Willing to learn the activity, and assist or encourage youth/families in their creation of the project
– Can take direction from the lead teaching artist/organization (eg. they may ask you to check in with a certain kid, cut some more string for incoming folks, etc.).

To get an idea of what’s involved, check out some past Family Day activities.  

If one of these activities sounds interesting to you and you’re able to commit to volunteering on February 11th please contact Pat Gale at or 612-868-1079, and indicate your preferred shift and type of activity.

Shift 1:   9:45 – 12:00 PM
Shift 2: 11:45 – 2:00 PM
Shift 3:   1:45 – 4:00 PM


February Friends Member Event: The Museum of Russian Art

Friday, February 16 at 1 pm

Join fellow Friends for a tour of The Museum of Russian Art, which is located at 5500 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis, MN  55419 Admission: $14 or $12 Seniors. Free parking directly across the street (Diamond Lake Road) in the Mayflower Church Parking. 

In the two decades since its establishment, The Museum of Russian Art has built a remarkably diverse permanent collection of works, ranging from paintings and sculpture to objects of folk art and cultural artifacts. Beginning with the 2002 donation of seven paintings from the Museum’s founders, the collection has grown at a fast pace, reaching thirteen thousand items in 2022.

We will have the opportunity to learn about the art of 3 artists, and meet one first-hand! First, there’s Leon Hushcha, who explores the themes of displacement and disruption, revealing his connection to his ancestral land, Ukraine. He will actually be on hand to discuss his art in person with the Friends! Then there’s Olga Volchkova, trained to paint and conserve religious icons, who created her own genre of icons to whimsically deify plant species; and Zoran Mojsilov, who uses found pieces of wood, stone and metal in his work to emphasize sustainable environmental goals. It’s going to be a fabulous afternoon!

Please email the Friends office ( to reserve your place on any or all tours or contact Lisa Mayotte ( with any questions you may have.

March Friends Member Event: The Cafesjian Art Trust


Friday, March 15
10 AM
4600 Churchill St, Shoreview, MN 55126

The Cafesjian Art Trust tour will now take place on Friday, March 15 at 10 am.  Everyone who was previously signed up has been contacted and signed up for the new tour.  However, we now have room for a group of 25, and the Cafesjian will fill any empty spaces in our tour, so check your calendars and sign up quickly while space lasts.

Located in Shoreview, the museum is just 13 miles, or 17 minutes from Mia. We will have a one-hour guided tour through the museum. There is no admission fee and there is on-site free parking.

The Cafesjian Art Trust was established by the family of Gerard Cafesjian to share his collection of Contemporary and Modern art with the public. Founder Gerard L. Cafesjian’s passion for Contemporary art—particularly the medium of glass—inspired him to assemble one of the most extensive and finest collections of Contemporary glass sculpture in the world. Masterworks by well-known Modern and Contemporary artists such as Georges Braque, Joan Miro, and many others are also represented in the collection.

Please email the Friends office ( to reserve your place on any or all tours or contact Lisa Mayotte ( with any questions you may have.

Art in Bloom is Coming Soon!

The Friends of the Institute will bring spring to Mia as they present the 40th anniversary of Art in Bloom April 25th through April 28th . Plans are well underway, and we are delighted to share some of the exciting event details below.

This year, we are thrilled to highlight It’s a Delicate Balance as our Signature Piece. This incredible work of art created by Christi Belcourt calls out significant environmental challenges and can be viewed in Gallery 301.Timely and meaningful, this artwork beautifully depicts the interdependence of an abundance of living beings, many who share our very own region, which are currently on the edge of extinction. Using small dots of acrylic paint and following the tradition of intricate Métis beadwork, Christi proudly expresses her deep respect for the traditions and knowledge of her people, the Métis community of Mânitou Sâkhigan (Lac Ste. Anne) in Alberta.

We are also thrilled to announce that Christi Belcourt has graciously agreed to be our Art in Bloom speaker. A multifaceted visual artist, designer, community organizer, environmentalist, social justice advocate and avid land-based arts and language learner, we truly look forward to hearing and learning all she will share with us about her art, passions, and culture.


Thursday April 25: Lecture with Christi Belcourt in the Pillsbury Auditorium. Tickets will be available in April (watch for more information).

Thursday, April 25 (evening) Join other AiB guests for creative fun as the Minnesota Center for Book Arts leads a printmaking workshop. Visitors will pull designs made by local artists in the Mia studios.

Friday, April 26: (evening) Party in Bloom at the museum. Party in Bloom is a joyful celebration of Friends, and friends, from start to finish. Beginning with a grand entrance up the 24th Avenue stairway you’ll arrive to enjoy cocktails and savory bites with friends in our festive spring garden. Next, you’ll take a floral-inspired stroll through Mia galleries up to a taste-inspired dinner. After dinner, delights will continue as you make your way back down to the Artful Afters Party for coffee, desserts, and music.

  • Note: You’ll have an opportunity to host a Party in Bloom table and become an Art in Bloom Patronand individual Party in Bloom tickets will go on sale the week of March 4th at, (More details in our Patron Letter coming in your mail).

Saturday, April 27: Join other AiB guests for creative fun as Lindsey Cherek Waller, known for their use of bright colors and centering of joy, leads a still life workshop in the Mia studios.

Sunday, April 28: This is our traditional family event event designed to engage our younger guests will take place. Details coming soon about theme, time, and location at Mia.


Although admission to Art in Bloom is free and open to everyone, it is our most significant annual fundraiser. Funds raised enable Friends to sponsor events like Art in Bloom and continue the mission we are all committed to – enhancing, and sustaining Mia’s collections,

exhibitions, and programs. As noted above, soon you will receive our Patron Letter in the mail, giving you the opportunity to become an Art in Bloom Patron. Please consider donating generously, whether you choose to join us for the party or not. We are grateful for every

donation in any amount. 

If you are interested in volunteering to help with any, or all, of our Art in Bloom events, register here now and we’ll contact you to offer specifics once roles, times, and days are determined.


The Friends “decked the halls” of the Swedish Institute on December 12, with a delightful private tour. A merry time was had by all! Join us for more fun events in 2024!