Mimi Parker, Alan Sparhawk among Depot Foundation award recipients

Founders of the band Low will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, Parker posthumously, at a May 9 gala. Five other artists and community leaders will also receive Arts and Culture Awards.

Three light-skinned people — a woman and two men — pose in a van. Man in center holds neck of a guitar, and looks out of frame to the right.
The band Low, photographed in 1996 with its then lineup of Mimi Parker, from left, Alan Sparhawk and Zak Sally.
Bob King / File / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Alan Sparhawk and the late Mimi Parker, core members of the Duluth band Low, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Depot Foundation on May 9 at the foundation's annual Circle of Friends Arts and Culture Awards Celebration.

Other recipients include Bart Sutter, Duluth's first poet laureate, who will receive a Lifetime Artist Award. Photographer and videographer Dennis O'Hara, known for creating the Duluth Harbor Cam website, will be honored with a Historic Preservation Award.

This year's Artist Award will go to Moira Villiard, a multidisciplinary artist and community organizer. Phillip Gilpin Jr., leader of Catalyst, will receive the Community Initiative Award. The foundation's Community Enrichment Award will be presented to Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Brandon VanWaeyenberghe.

Artist Moria Villiard paints her signature sturgeon on the sidewalk outside UMD’s Kirby Bus Hub in 2019.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune

Sparhawk (guitar, vocals) and Parker (percussion, vocals) founded Low in 1993. Over the years, the band had several different bassists, most recently Liz Draper. Over three decades, Low became the most well-known and widely acclaimed band to remain based in Duluth throughout its career. Parker died from ovarian cancer in November.

In a statement, Depot Foundation Development Director Jason Young said: "We have an absolutely amazing class of award recipients this year. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to recognize each and every one of them for their contributions to our region and beyond."


The Depot Foundation has been presenting Arts and Culture Awards since 2000. The 5:30 p.m. ceremony at the Depot on May 9 is free and open to the public, with advance RSVP requested. For information, see

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; he's also a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Minnesota Film Critics Alliance. You can reach him at or 218-279-5536.
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