Paul Creager, Filmmaker, Photographer, Film and Music Festival Organizer, Teacher
Greg Seitz, Writer, Photographer, River Reporter
A river runs through the friendship between Paul Creager and Greg Seitz. No matter what they’re doing, the Wild and Scenic St. Croix River is never far from their minds.
What activities bring you two together?
“Music, film, a good brew, and a sense of adventure.
“I’m a teacher and Greg is a writer, so we each bring a similar but different perspective to whatever we’re doing.
“Going to a working artist studio, like Guillermo Cuellar’s studio near Shafer, is like a spark to a pile of campfire kindling. We see what Guillermo’s been working on, talk with him about the creative process, and then our conversation just flows from there.
“For me, the working artist studios are the artistic centers of the St. Croix Valley. When I see an artist working in their element, taking in their own inspiration from the Valley, it renews my love and commitment to the arts community here.”
What’s something Paul does that inspires you?
“Paul started the Square Lake Film & Music Festival just north of Stillwater and now runs the August event with his wife, Angela. I’ve attended it several times and it is the most laid back, enjoyable festival around. Paul’s passion for artistry and film is evident in how hard he and his family work to curate the best short, independent films and diverse music talent.
“He also co-directs the Marine on St. Croix Film Society’s Documentary Film Series. It takes place at the Village Hall, and is a great community builder, not to mention excellent way to get out and experience some culture on a weeknight.
“I’m continually amazed at the number of projects Paul is involved in, and how he still has time for a beer with me once in a while!”
What is something Greg does that inspires you?
“Greg can find inspiration for his writing anywhere. One time, he spent an afternoon writing haiku at the Belwin Conservancy Bison Observation Tower in Afton. Out of that personal exercise, he brought haiku writing to ArtReach St. Croix and Belwin events, and the Square Lake Film & Music Festival.
“He also founded StCroix360.com, a website devoted to providing news coverage of the St. Croix River. Greg takes his passion for the St. Croix and makes it relevant and accessible to anyone.”
Where is your favorite place to go on the St. Croix River?
“There’s a place on the river that my family and I call ‘The Peaceful Place.’ It's where we go to hear the whispering white pines, the rush of water over rocks, the hardworking pileated woodpeckers, and the loons. But really, there are so many places on the Croix where you can find that kind of solitude.”
“I love paddling a canoe on the St. Croix. North of William O’Brien State Park is the Cedar Bend Railroad Bridge. There’s some cool graffiti on one pillar and an osprey nest high above the trestles. There are also a lot of sandbars around here for easy swimming with the kids.
“It’s my goal to someday paddle all 200 miles of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The St. Croix and its tributary, the Namekagon, were one of the first eight rivers to gain the Wild & Scenic designation 50 years ago. Thanks to the protections of that designation and groups like the St. Croix River Association fighting to keep the river wild, there is something beautiful and unique to be found around every bend.”
What’s one of your favorite art destinations? Favorite art mediums?
“The Stillwater Art Guild Gallery in Stillwater is open year-round. This is one place to see dozens of artists’ work in a historic setting: the Isaac Staples Sawmill, on the north end of downtown.
“I’m really drawn to pottery and seeing how artists bring their creations to life. The St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour in the spring is world-class. It blows me away to see what our local potters are creating, especially when their works are seen side-by-side with national and international potters.
“Guillermo Cuellar has a fall sale with a handful of other artists that I always enjoy, too. I like to take the short drive from Marine on St. Croix to his studio in Shafer and chat with him before he hunkers down for a winter of potting in his studio.”
What’s one of your favorite art destinations?
“For six years, I served on the board of ArtReach St. Croix. Their free gallery in Stillwater puts on a new show every six weeks or so. It’s been the best place for me to expand my arts repertoire and introduce others to Valley artists doing amazing things.
“A few years ago, ArtReach started opening a holiday season Pop-Up Shop in downtown Stillwater. It’s one of only a few places where I now go to do my holiday shopping for my family. I think (I hope!) my wife likes the beautiful jewelry I get her there every year.”
Name a must-see activity for an out-of-town visitor to the Valley.
“In the winter, warm up with a beer and burger at Meister’s Bar & Grill in Stillwater. The décor is hideously comforting, tiny paper plates hold the juiciest burgers, and the locals are over-the-top friendly.
“In the summer, you can’t miss Summer Tuesdays in downtown Stillwater. I bring my whole family.”
“In the spring, watch for Belwin Conservancy’s Bison Release and EcoArt Fest. The free festival attracts hundreds of people cheering on a herd of bison being released onto their summer prairie. There’s also live music and nature-related arts activities for all ages. We’ve been attending this for years and the feeling I get, when I see and feel the bison thundering across the prairie, is humbling.
MORE IDEAS FROM PAUL & GREG
- Phil’s Tara Hideaway in Stillwater for a craft cocktail
- Lift Bridge Brewing in Stillwater for trivia night
- Brookside Bar & Grill in Marine on St. Croix for Sunday Bingo