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Musician Joel Porter and Makewell founder and photographer Ashton Hauff are participating in a community art and music public event, A Prairie Hiraeth, on Aug. 4 in Bismarck. The two are organizing the gallery pop-up and album release at the third-floor space of Co-Studio in the historical Anderson building at 200 W. Main Ave. 

A celebration of the Midwest’s culture and heritage, complete with artwork, music and food from the region, is set to take place this weekend at Co-Studio, Bismarck.

Attendees of A Prairie Hiraeth will have the opportunity to browse and purchase one-of-a-kind artwork from 20 regional artists while listening to new music from ambient-folk musician Joel Porter, a Bismarck native.

Keeping with the Midwest theme, local businesses will be serving knoephla soup, lefse, kuchen and brewed beverages.

“In releasing my new album, which is heritage based, I thought what better way than to go back home and to do a gathering … to celebrate my heritage and the Midwest,” said Porter, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., with his wife, Megan. “A gathering to celebrate the art that’s here in the Midwest ... the quality is here, the talent is here.”

Porter enlisted the help of Ashton Hauff, founder of the Bismarck-based creative community Makewell, which strives to “connect, educate and inspire creatives across the Midwest through unique opportunities.” After listening to a snippet of Porter’s new sophomore album, “Hiraeth EP,” Hauff said she was game for the gathering.

“I was instantly blown away,” she said. “The album feels like home, which I think was intentional and very well thought out.”

Intentional it was, according to Porter, who grew up in Bismarck and graduated from the University of Mary before heading to Nashville in 2015.

“I tried to make ‘Hiraeth EP’ feel like home,” he said. “When people close their eyes and listen, it should sound like the prairie with wide open spaces, hills and buttes.”

Tying into the heritage theme, Porter’s grandfathers, Tony and Ken, are featured on the album’s intro and outro, respectively, reciting poetry. The cover art for “Hiraeth EP” is a painting created by Andrew Cadima, which depicts the grandfathers at a younger age, standing in the fall plains of the prairie.

“This entire album is about the loved ones who shape us as we grow, our memories and the bittersweet they carry,” Porter said.

“Hiraeth EP,” which carries themes of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness and an earnest desire for a life or place from the past, is set to be released Friday, during the event’s VIP night.

In addition to hearing Porter’s new music first, VIPs will be treated to a sneak peek of the pop-up art gallery, with opportunities to mingle with all 20 artists. The private event, taking place from 7 to 9 p.m., is limited to 30 guests, at a cost of $60 per ticket.

On Saturday, from 6 to 10 p.m., 120 guests will have the opportunity to browse and purchase the 50 pieces of displayed artwork — everything from 3D to abstract and photography to woodworks — while listening to Porter’s music. Tickets are $30 each.

“All of the artwork’s for sale,” said Hauff. “People can buy the pieces they connect with, take them home and hang them in their living room.”

Food, beer and coffee will be served both nights, at no extra charge.

During the event, Porter also will be releasing an album-length film that explores the lessons and themes expressed within his music. The video was shot in North Dakota during the months of December, February, March and July by Bryan Hempstead, a local photographer and videographer.

Makewell, which launched in 2017, puts on and helps coordinate numerous events throughout the year.

“Makewell is free and open to anyone in the region who makes, creates, builds and contributes to the community,” Hauff said.

For more information about the event, or to purchase tickets, visit

To learn more about Porter and his music, visit

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(Reach Cheryl McCormack at 701-250-8264 or​


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