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Festival of Trees
Shafer Gallery hosts Holiday Open House; John Two-Hawks to perform
Ellinwood fifth-grader Ethan Bauer hangs his paper mache mask ornament on a tree in the Shafer Art Gallery. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

The Shafer Gallery is quite breathtaking during the holidays.  Decked out with large trees decorated by area youth and many other aesthetic Christmas classics, the gallery emits a palpable aura of majestic yuletide glory and all are invited to experience this ambiance as well as an awe-inspiring live performance of Native American flute Christmas music by Grammy and Emmy Nominated musician John Two-Hawks during the “Holiday Open House,” from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9.
 Children from the surrounding schools did their part to help spruce up the gallery by visiting in November to decorate the numerous trees throughout the gallery, and Gallery Director Dave Barnes said watching the process is one of his favorite parts of the exhibit.
“It’s really great,” he said.  “The kids come in and they’re all excited and full of energy, and their faces when they reach up to put their ornament on the tree as high as they can is just priceless.  For me, it’s just fun to see that wonderful positive energy that only kids of that age can have.”
The open house will also feature selections from the National Cookie Cutter Historical Museum, holiday music, model trains, a model Christmas village, and the St. Justa Ceramics Guild will have items for sale.  The Gallery’s award winning quilts exhibit, “New Quilts From an Old Favorite: Baskets,” from the National Quilt Museum, will be on display.  Santa Claus will also be on hand with treats and treasures for the kids.
“The entire affair is designed to engage every member of the family on some level,” he said.  “It’s a wonderful place to bring family and friends who will be visiting during the holidays and just a great way to get the season started.  It’s really our opportunity to interact with the community, and I love the way so many different parts of our community come together to celebrate Christmas at the Shafer.”
Barnes said the John Two-Hawks performance will add another dimension to the event.
“He’ll be playing selections from his new Christmas album, and his programs are very spiritual and there is a real sense of reverence and awe that he communicates through his music,” Barnes said.  “It’s really different from most musical performances in that it’s not just entertainment.  In some way or another, it really does seem to speak to the hearts of his audience.  The season is about spirit and core values, and his music is very  much intended to celebrate and invoke the spiritual aspect of who we are.”
Two-Hawks is of Oglala Lakota Sioux lineage and is widely known as a headline concert performer.  His concert is being funded by the Keenan Memorial Music Series.
The Shafer Gallery’s regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1-4 p.m. on Sundays.  The exhibit will run through Dec. 18 and the gallery will close for the holidays; however, group tours are available by request.  Contact Barnes at or (620) 792-9342.  Admission is free.