Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

God’s beauty blooms in Richard’s art September 18, 2011

I HAVE NOT MET Richard Vilendrer, only spoken with him briefly on the phone.

Yet, I feel a connection to this 72-year-old Faribault man, this artist who creates art for the pure joy of doing so. I understand that. It is the same reason I write and take photos for this blog.

You can see that joy in Richard’s art, which I discovered Saturday morning at the Faribault Farmer’s Market. I had passed only a few vendors’ booths—laden with the typical fresh produce, flowers and baked goods you would expect to find in this venue—when I noticed the pen-and-ink and colored pencil drawings vended by Carol Vilendrer, Richard’s wife of 35 years.

I stopped and just stood there. And it flashed through my mind that this Christian-themed art would be a good fit for Christian greeting cards. And when I looked further, I saw that Richard had already made cards. But I write greeting card verses for an Indiana-based publisher and I asked Carol then and there if I could direct my editor to Richard’s work. So I am. I don’t know if this will go anywhere; I have to try, though.

There’s a certain passion in Richard’s art and you can sense that when you speak with the man. He doesn’t do this for the money—although he’s sold some pieces—but for the pure enjoyment of creating art.

Since grade school this former Faribault Regional Center employee, who worked with handicapped children until the center closed, has put pencil to paper. As a youth, when he should have been listening in English class, he was instead inspired by textbook images—of Indians and of soldiers in helmets and of airplanes—to duplicate those drawings.

Scripture and Christian songs inspire Richard.

Today words from a song heard on Twin Cities-based Christian radio station KTIS, or words from Scripture or a found feather on a nature walk inspire him to first draw in pencil, then go over the pencil with ink and finally fill in with colored pencil.

He prefers to draw small, detailed subjects like his hand or a feather or a maple leaf. Yet, he’s also drawn John Deere tractors and buildings and classic cars.

Richard uses a technique called cross hatching—to perfect shading—by using a ball point pen to draw lines close together in one direction and then crosses in an opposite direction. He learned that in high school. Mostly, though, he’s self-taught, without formal training. He calls his artistic skills a “God-given talent.”

This man of faith has used that gift from God to create artwork for fundraisers at his church, Divine Mercy in Faribault.

A year ago, he suffered a stroke. But even in that he sees the blessing—the stroke affected his entire right side, not his left. Richard, the artist, is left-handed.

Nature and faith inspire his detailed art.

A pen-and-ink drawing of a building at the former Faribault Regional Center where Richard worked.

St. Lawrence Church in Faribault where Richard and Carol Vilendrer were married 35 years ago this coming October 1.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in purchasing Richard’s art or learning more about him, submit your contact information (which I will not publish) in a comment and I will pass that along to Richard.

PLEASE NOTE THAT the photos in this post are not 100 percent accurate to the true colors of Richard’s work. His drawings were wrapped in plastic, which filtered the colors and which created some glare. I edited each image somewhat to overcome those challenges.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


25 Responses to “God’s beauty blooms in Richard’s art”

  1. ceciliag Says:

    what stunning work,.. cc

  2. Jim Smith Says:

    Richard is such a humble man, yet a man of deep faith. He is an inspiration to me not for his talents but for his trust in God.
    But I am drawn to his artwork. I have a copy of the St.Lawrence drawing, This is the church my family attended. In fact my great Great Grandfather was the first person to be married in that church.
    Thank you Richard.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I picked up on that same trait in Richard–that humbleness of spirit. And, as you said, he clearly possesses a deep faith. That he can share that faith through his art is such a blessing.

      That drawing of St. Lawrence must mean a lot to you given your family connection. My photo does not do Richard’s artwork justice. I love the rustic colors that reflect the beauty of autumn in that particular piece.

  3. Rachelle Pilcher Says:

    That’s my Dad! 🙂 I am so very proud of him. I remember sitting/standing next to him, for what may have been hours, as a child just to watch him draw. I still enjoy doing that. The Good Lord has blessed our family abundantly!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Rachelle, thank you for stopping by to share your thoughts about your father. His talent is incredible as is how he has chosen to use it as a witness of his faith.

      • Oh, and just so everyone knows…all of it is free-hand and by “eye”…he can draw perfectly straight lines, perfect circles and arcs and keep everything in balance. And even when he gets “talked into” doing a piece that he isn’t sure about or doesn’t think that he can do….well, let me just say that he has never disappointed anyone (except maybe himself-he is his worst critic.) And I do believe that you seeing his art and having a connection to a publisher is all in God’s plans. Dad didn’t pursue this direction on his own when it was suggested to him previously, so God decided to bring someone to him. It was meant to be.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        His art is, indeed, most impressive. I don’t doubt that your dad is his worst critic. Artists often are. But he has nothing to criticize; his art is beautiful in every way.

        I heard back from my editor immediately after notifying her of your dad’s art. She is passing the info along to the art director. He decides on art for the company’s greeting cards, worship service folders, etc. I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that this publisher will be interested in using your dad’s art. I simply don’t know. Most of their artwork is photos. But I had to try.

  4. […] More….  God’s beauty blooms in Richard’s art « Minnesota Prairie Roots. […]

  5. Justin Stroh Says:

    Richard! Thank you for contributing, always contributing VALUE. You bring value to everything you do! We love you!

  6. maria fatigati Says:

    I have been friends with Carol & Dick since I moved to Faribault in 2002. They are a true gift from God. Carol does the farmers market on Saturdays for our Relay For Life Team. Angels Among Us Walmart*1657. Last year she raised $3900. And is on a roll already for the 2012 walk. I believe his art work has been a blessing from God.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, my goodness, Maria, I forgot to include this most important aspect of Richard’s art sales. Carol told me that Relay for Life gets the monies from the farmer’s market sales. Thank you so much for commenting and pointing out this extremely important bit of information.

      Yes, Richard and Carol are truly angels among us and we could all learn a lesson or two about giving by following their example.

  7. Carol Vilendrer Says:

    I truly enjoyed visiting with you at the Farmer’s Market that day. I love to show off Dick’s talent. I guess you could say I am one of his biggest fans. It has been such a joy to watch him discover how well he could still draw after having the stroke. He found it difficult to work at his drawing table which is tilted at an angle but then realize he could work on a flat surface and was producing on average 1 drawing a week since about the 1st of February. I think in many ways it has also helped him to see that he can still do many other things that he thought he could not do any more. He hopes to be able to return to doing his other volunteer work with Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity soon too.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      What a blessing you are to your husband, to be among this strongest supporters. I asked how the stroke affected his art and he did not share what you just told me. This makes his story, his gift of his art, even more endearing.

  8. Carol Vilendrer Says:

    Dick has been working on a couple of drawings but with the nice weather he has been outside during the day and then was having a hard time with lighting so for him to be able to do the coloring at night I had made room at his writing desk which works out for him to finish a drawing of his Dad who had passed away just before we met 37 years ago. But the writing desk isn’t big enough for him to finish the coloring on a drawing of twin baby girls that he is working on so I remembered that his drawing table, which is sloped, also could be laid flat. So as of last night he is now able to use his drawing table.

    He has also made a couple more of his drawings into cards. After some friends from church read the blog and saw the pictures you have on the blog we had request for a couple of them. One is the crown and the other is the tulip.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      What a gift your husband Dick possesses. So glad I could help spread the word about his talents via Minnesota Prairie Roots.

  9. Maxine Merrigan Says:

    Richard sounds like a wonderful man and a great talent. I stumbled upon this web page when I was looking for fresh horseradish that I had bought in Faribault at the Farmer’s Market.
    Does anyone know who was selling fresh horseradish and how I could contact him? I know Faribault is a small town and a lot of people know everyone!
    I’d appreciate it.
    Thank you

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Maxine, you should be hearing from Dennis G., who sells fresh horseradish, among other foods, at the Faribault Farmers Market. He’s deer hunting right now, so give him some time. I knew exactly who you were looking for when I got your comment.

  10. Carol Vilendrer Says:

    Dick has chosen not to do the commissioned piece. Just did not feel called to do it at this point. He has been very busy with a number of other things. Have received a connection thought a print company that his brother had work for before retiring. They do greeting card and a number of other things. Have not heard back from them at this point. Tonight we will have an assortment of new cards down to Godfather’s Pizza for a fundraising Event they are helping us do from 4-7 p.m. Have had quite a few more of his drawings done into cards. We will see how they sell and maybe make up more.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for the update, Carol. I wondered what happened with the possible commissioned piece. Sounds like Dick has had some other wonderful opportunities come his way. I hope sales tonight go well.

  11. Carol Vilendrer Says:

    Just want to let everyone know we are having a “Meet the Artist” event on June 16th at Fabulous Finds (Previously the Window Box) 4 4th Street N.E. Faribault. From 2-4.Sponsored by Angel’s Among Us Walmart Relay for Life Team. We currently have some of Dick’s art done up as cards along with other merchandise we are selling down there to raise money for the Relay for Life.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Fantastic. Thank you, Carol for letting us all know about this event that will showcase your husband’s art and raise monies for your Relay of Life team.

  12. Carol Vilendrer Says:

    Our daughter that lives in NC has returned to college and in one of her classes she has made a video of her dads art work and it can be see on YouTube. The title of the video is “The Artwork of Richard Vilendrer” if you are interested in viewing it

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