Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Red carpet treatment for Faribault artists January 15, 2011

A replica marquee on the historic Paradise Center for the Arts in downtown Faribault welcomes guests to the opening night gallery reception for Rhody Yule and Adam Kuehnel.

Rhody Yule & Adam Kuehnel

FARIBAULT FIGURATIVELY rolled out the red carpet last night for two local artists.

I’m thrilled with the receptions given to watercolor artist Adam Kuehnel and my friend, oil painter Rhody Yule, at the Paradise Center for the Arts on opening night of their exhibits. I’m not good at numbers, but I’m certain more than 100 guests, maybe closer to 150, attended Friday evening’s event. That’s an exceptional turn-out.

Adam opened his “Founded Upon the Waters: A Collection of Works.”

Rhody opened his “A Lifetime of Art: The Rhody Yule Collection.”

I met Adam for the first time last night and was impressed by this friendly young man who teaches English in nearby Kenyon, has an architecture degree and paints for enjoyment.

I’ve known Rhody for about 1 ½ years, after discovering him via art hung on the side of his rural Faribault garage. Rhody, like Adam, possesses a passion for painting.

To see the two artists together last night warmed my heart. Rhody is 92 and has been painting for 76 years. Adam is exactly 60 years his junior and just beginning his artistic pursuit.

This first-ever gallery show is a long overdue honor for Rhody. It was clear to me from the way guests embraced him and his art last night that they loved what they saw. Every time I glanced over at Rhody, seated just inside the gallery in a comfy chair, someone was bending down to talk to him, to shake his hand, to praise his art.

Rhody, minutes before his gallery show opened.

This photo shows only a portion of the 50-plus paintings in Rhody's exhibit.

I heard the artwork praises, too—from the woman who was surprised at the excellent quality of the art created by this self-taught artist, for Rhody’s ability to paint a variety of subjects from portraits to landscapes to religious works and even a few abstracts, for the way in which he painted well-known religious scenes with a unique perspective, for the…

Among my favorites paintings are Rhody's 1989 self-portrait and the portrait of his wife, Shirley, who died in the spring of 2010.

Rhody and me

I heard praises, too, from those who thanked me for “finding” Rhody. Really, anyone could have “found” him. I just took the time to stop and meet the man who had hung celebrity portraits on his garage.

Because I’m snoopy/nosy/curious—I used all three words last night in explaining how I “found” Rhody—I learned that Rhody’s art had never been publicly exhibited. I decided to change that.

But this show did not happen solely because of me. I made that abundantly clear to all who approached me at last night’s opening reception. This became a team effort. “Team Rhody,” as we begin to call ourselves, worked together to bring “A Lifetime of Art: The Rhody Yule Collection” to The Carlander Family Gallery.

So, thank you, first of all, to my husband, Randy, for his enthusiastic support and help. Thank you, also, to these Team Rhody members: Bob and Kathi, Dennis and Kathy, Jean, Marian, Mary Ellen, Amy, and the Paradise Center for the Arts Gallery Committee, especially Julie and Deb.

Finally, thank you to all who attended the opening night reception and gave Rhody the red carpet treatment. I can’t think of anyone more deserving.

FYI: Rhody and Adam’s shows continue through February 26 at the PCA, 321 Central Avenue North in downtown Faribault. You can view the exhibits Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. or on Saturday from noon until 5 p.m.

Food artists Kathy and Mary Ellen led efforts to pull together a beautiful buffet table for the reception.

Rhody painted this military runway in Nome, Alaska, when he was stationed there during WW II. The scene is painted on an old piece of military tent canvas. To the left is one of two abstracts in the exhibit.

Visitors peruse Rhody's religious paintings.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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