Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A quick tour of Rochester shows me its artsy side June 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,
The southbound exit off U.S. Highway 52 which took us to the Rochester Civic Center Theater.

The southbound exit off U.S. Highway 52 which took us to the Rochester Civic Center Theater.

FIFTEEN MINUTES. That’s all the time I had to view downtown Rochester before I needed to be at the Civic Center Theater for a weekday evening Poetry Bash.

Almost to the theater, left.

Almost to the theater, left.

So my husband parked the car across the street from the theater. I grabbed my camera and we headed the opposite direction toward the heart of downtown.

A great idea for turning an otherwise mundane utility box into a work of art.

A great idea: Turning an otherwise mundane utility box into a work of art.

We’d made it only half a block, almost to the railroad tracks, when I noticed art painted on a utility box. First photo snapped.

My first glimpse of the music themed mural.

My first glimpse of the music themed mural.

Across the tracks, more art—this time a music themed mural on a building next to a vacant, fenced lot—distracted me. Focus, snap, focus, snap, focus, snap, focus, snap. Until I’d lost count, so intrigued was I by the mural fronting a dramatic high rise backdrop.


Rochester, mural 2


Rochester, mural 5


Rochester, mural 4


Rochester, mural 3


“Are you photographing the tall building?” a passerby inquired. I was and I wasn’t. It was the art that interested me more than the structure. I chatted a bit with the man from Chicago who was in town for treatment of his skin cancer at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic which centers this southeast Minnesota city’s downtown.

Kahler Hotel

The historic Kahler Grant Hotel in the heart of downtown has been around for 80 years and offers 660 rooms and suites.

Next I photographed the Kahler Grand Hotel’s iconic sign, a work of art, too.

A skyline snapshot shows a mix of old and new.

A skyline snapshot shows a mix of old and new.

A glance at my watch told me there was no time to wander any farther. The muses were calling.

But I am determined to return to Rochester and explore this city which we always bypass on our hurried way to somewhere. Its artsy vibe appeals to me. And I’d really like a closer look at the Mayo Clinic, only glimpsed as we swung through downtown after the Poetry Bash. By then darkness had descended. I couldn’t help but think of all the people from all over the world who would sleep this night in Rochester, perhaps restlessly, and rise in the morning to meet with medical professionals and undergo tests and receive diagnosis. Does the art distract them as it distracted me?


Waiting at a stoplight along Civic Center Drive, I spotted this artwork.

Waiting at a stoplight along Civic Center Drive, I spotted this artwork.

Downtown: the Rosa Parks Pavilion. I have no idea what is housed here.

Downtown: the Rosa Parks Pavilion, a Mayo Clinic administration building and a former Dayton’s Department Store. The building was named in 2008 after Parks, well-known in the Civil Rights movement for refusing to give up her seat on a bus.

Another scene in downtown Rochester.

Another scene in downtown Rochester.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


28 Responses to “A quick tour of Rochester shows me its artsy side”

  1. Dan Traun Says:

    I haven’t been to Rochester in a while. Love the murals.

  2. Marilyn Says:

    OH wow! Did anyone else get vertigo when scrolling past the three photos of the tall building? I love to take note of what our visitors photograph. When you live in an exotic landscape you get rather indifferent to the “strange beauty.”

  3. Marneymae Says:

    I really enjoy reading your view & what you see on the many excursions around from where you live.
    If you ever happen to make your way through Ithaca, you’d see the electrical boxes painted by various artists
    For the past few years, there was a call for artists to submit proposals to paint the utility & electrical boxes around town
    “21 Boxes” it was called. & money was allocated for the juried project
    It’s fun to see the many varieties of painting styles & ideas around town

  4. Beautiful artsy photos. What is the population of Rochester? I have heard plenty about the city but I have never been.

  5. treadlemusic Says:

    Love Rochester and its “artsy side”!!!! But…….it seems that all of S.E. MN/N.E. IA is dotted with tucked-away artist’s studios and cottages (and wineries!) that are bursting at the seams(!) with creativity!!!!!! Luv bein’ with mah peeeeple!!!!!!! ROFL!!!!!!!!!! & a giggle………

  6. Beth Ann Says:

    I am going to Rochester on Friday to pick up Mr. Diamond—I may just go early so I can have some fun wandering around discovering new places as well. The mural with the building in the background is fabulous.

  7. Jackie Says:

    Welcome to my home town…I’m only a phone call away, and would love to be your personal guide. Weekdays are the best when the clinic buildings are open… you must explore the Plummer building, and the glass art in the Gonda building, and oh so much more. 🙂

  8. hotlyspiced Says:

    I’ve heard of the Mayo Clinic – it certainly is famous. Utility boxes are being painted here too and the artwork on them is outstanding xx

  9. dalmatianangel Says:

    Audrey, a really great place to Take photos of downtown Rochester is from the Gonda building on the 17th or any of the upper floors. You get an excellent view from up there.

  10. dalmatianangel Says:

    The Gonda building is the main entrance to the Mayo Clinic. You have to go in there one day.
    We moved out of Rochester in November as it has become too busy. We opted for the more peaceful, smaller city of Waseca. We love it here! They have many beautiful older homes and buildings here.

  11. dalmatianangel Says:

    We love being closer to Mankato! I graduated from Henderson and lived in LeSueur for awhile, so I am back in familiar territory. Steven is from Waseca.

  12. Sue Ready Says:

    Interesting slant to the artsy vibe of Rochester 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.