A budding arts festival in the St. Croix Valley named for the white pine trees that dot the area's landscape is branching out this year.

Organizers of the second annual White Pine Festival are adding another art form -- the visual arts -- to the festival showcase, which already focuses on music and poetry.

"We're approaching it gently," said James Hainlen, festival vice president. "We're exploring the visual aspect through stained glass."

The four-day arts summit will take place June 19-22 at various locations around Stillwater and Hudson, Wis.

Scheduled events include a driving tour of stained-glass windows in various Stillwater churches and a painting demonstration by acclaimed local artist Kami Polzin.

She will demonstrate the technique of painting in the open air instead of in a studio by painting the St. Croix River as she instructs, Hainlen said.

"She has spent an enormous amount of time thinking of the elements of painting," he said. "How does one take the elements of painting and look at a live subject -- the St. Croix River -- and paint it?"

Just as it was last year, the festival will feature many prominent artists from around the country.

Award-winning poet Marie Howe and renowned musicians, the Miro Quartet, will perform and teach at the 2008 White Pine Festival.

They will join a cast of returning artists, including Roger Bonair-Agard, a national poetry slam champion, and writer Cynthia Gustavson.

Both Howe and the Miro Quartet bring something novel to the festival, Hainlen said.

Howe is one of the most popular poets in the country and is known for her ability to see the extraordinary in the ordinary and capture it beautifully with words, he said.

At the festival, she will lead an advanced poetry workshop and a poetry lecture for aspiring poets.

She'll also collaborate with the musicians and writers at different events.

The Miro Quartet brings a blend of traditional and new music. They will perform not only the standards that most everyone recognizes but also some music that only they play.

Most likely, the audience will be hearing their music for the first time, Hainlen said.

About 1,600 people participated in the 2007 White Pine Festival. The mix of attendees included St. Croix Valley residents and art appreciators from as far away as Colorado, New York and Sweden.

Hainlen said the success of last year's debut festival helped organizers land high-caliber artists again this year.

Though still in its infancy, the festival and its reputation are growing.

"I get constant calls from managers who want their artists here," Hainlen said. "Is the word out everyplace we want? No. But after this year it will be one step further."

Allie Shah • 651-298-1550