Stillwater: ‘House of Broken Angels’ by Luis Alberto Urrea is this year’s ‘Valley Reads’ pick

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Mexican-American novelist, essayist and poet Luis Alberto Urrea’s book “The House of Broken Angels” is this year’s Valley Reads in the St. Croix Valley.

The purpose of the program, run by ArtReach St. Croix in Stillwater, is to “connect communities in the St. Croix Valley to the joy of reading a great book,” said ArtReach executive director Heather Rutledge.

A month of events centered around themes in the book is planned, including art exhibits, readings and an author talk.

Art exhibit: In 2022, Minnesota artist Dougie Padilla’s friend Jim Denomie died suddenly. Shortly thereafter, Padilla visited ArtReach’s show of Denomie’s last work, “Sweet Dreams.” To face his grief, Padilla “dove into an intense aesthetic and spiritual conversation with Denomie, an Ojibwe artist,” Rutledge said.

“Conversations with Jim,” an art exhibit featuring Padilla’s art work inspired by Denomie, will be on display April 4 through May 11 at ArtReach St. Croix. Padilla will give a gallery artist talk at 2 p.m. April 14 at ArtReach; admission is free. Padilla will read his poetry at 2 p.m. April 28 at the Washington County Heritage Center in Stillwater.

Author talk: The author talk with Urrea will take place at 6:30 p.m. April 25 at Ascension Church in Stillwater. The event is free, but registration is required at ValleyReads.eventbrite.com or call 651-439-1465.

ArtReach St. Croix did not receive an NEA “Big Read” grant this year after nine years of federal funding. “Thankfully, the Hugh J. Andersen Foundation stepped in to keep the common book program active in 2024,” Rutledge said.

Part of the grant will be used to buy more than 200 copies of “The House of Broken Angels” for libraries, Little Free Libraries and other public places, she said.

For more information, go to ArtReachStCroix.org/valleyreads.

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