Backus to mark anniversary all weekend

For anyone who hasn’t made the trek across the border to take in an event at the Citizens for Backus/ AB facility in International Falls, this weekend is your perfect chance.
It was a year ago this week that the group took over ownership of two old schools in an attempt to save the historical buildings, including the 1,000-seat auditorium complete with theatre seating, fabulous tiling, and Art Deco design.
There is natural light in every room, and much of the basement, because of its innovative design— especially for 1936.
Today, the facility houses the theatre (ready and waiting to host its next performance or a basketball game), an art gallery, and coffee shop. It also plays host to an art group, The Northland Art Society, and a quilting guild, The Northern Lights Quilters Guild.
The building also is home to a local dance studio, The Janet Wagner Dance Studio, in part of what was the school’s cafeteria, as well as art classes by the Borderland Arts Alliance for youth (in the old art room no less).
The Rainy Lake Community Orchestra also is a tenant, as are an author and sculptor/woodworker.
And there’s still room to spare.
The first anniversary celebrations began Wednesday with a meetand- greet of the organization’s new director and an open house at the art gallery featuring works from the Northland Art Society and Northern Lights Quilters Guild.
“It was great,” said Kay Arnold, president of the Backus board of directors and part-time tour guide of the buildings. “We probably had about 60 people. I toured the buildings with them. They enjoyed the art show.”^That’s understandable. There are works from a number of local artists, including Canadians, in many different styles and medium.
There even is a piece of art depicting the beauty of the waterfront here as seen from the American side.
Another painting shows the diversity of thinking within the art community.
“Autumn Fantasy,” by Adele McDonnell, uses young oak and poplar leaves stuck to the canvas as the basis for a scene depicting a cabin in a forested setting in spring.
Some of the leaves on the trees are the real deal. “It’s very experimental,” Arnold said of McDonnell’s work.
Anyone who would like to see the gallery can make their way over on Sunday (Sept. 7) to view the art and hear the Rainy Lake Community Orchestra string quartet perform from 3-5 p.m.
The cost to attend is a $5 donation.
Other events still to happen there this weekend include magic for families tonight, including a picnic in the parking lot from 5:30-6:45 p.m., complete with hotdogs and a variety of emergency and “big” vehicles for the kids to see.
Then at 7 p.m., Crag Carlson, a magician and juggler from Minneapolis, will perform. The cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children, and $25 for a family.
Saturday night will feature the rock-and-roll sound of Small Town Decision in the Backus Auditorium starting at 8 p.m. The cost is $10.
And a special return engagement of the a cappella group, Marcoux Corner, will wrap up the anniversary celebrations on Monday (Sept. 8) at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for that cost $12 for adults and $5 for children.