Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Melding music & art at Faribault’s Central Park July 28, 2015

The Lakelanders Barbershop Chorus performs in the Central Park bandshell on July 23.

The Lakelanders Barbershop Chorus performs in the Central Park bandshell on July 23.

WHILE BARBERSHOPPERS CROON, artists create. Music and art. Art and music. It seems the perfect mix for the annual summertime Concerts in the Park series held each Thursday in Faribault’s Central Park.

Pat Johnson has been at the concerts every week with her easel and paints.

Pat Johnson has been at the concerts every week with her easel and paints.

Last week I attended a concert for the first time this season and delighted in the en plein air artists scattered around the park with their easels and art supplies. They are new to the concert evenings, an idea of Jeff Jarvis, Faribault Park & Rec Enrichment & Communications Coordinator.

Pat Johnson paints en plein air.

Pat Johnson paints en plein air.

Jeff tells me the addition this year of artists injects even more spirit into the evening, provides an educational experience for concert goers and assists artists in developing en plein air painting skills in an openly musical and public setting. To keep the selected artists focused in the moment, they’re required to create music-themed artwork.

A vintage enamelware tray holds Pat Johnson's oil paints.

A vintage enamelware tray holds Pat Johnson’s oil paints.

Pat Johnson of Morristown was dipping brushes into oil on a vintage enamelware tray when I paused to watch her create a portrait of a young woman she’d previously seen at a concert. An artist for sixty years, she says painting is her passion. She’s happy to sit at the park, listening to the music and visiting. “I have been blessed with the people I’ve met,” she smiled.

Artist Tami Ochs

Artist Tami Resler

Tami's tools lie at her feet. Years ago, Tami designed the greyhound tatoo inked onto her leg in Vegas.

Tami’s tools lie at her feet. Years ago, Tami designed and got the greyhound tattoo in Kanub, Utah, after attending the Greyhound Gathering there. The Gathering raises monies for greyhound rescue.

Barbershopper details in Tami's art.

Barbershopper details in Tami’s art.

To the side of the bandshell, Faribault artist Tami Resler was surrounded by her “fan club,” a cluster of family and friends there to support her and enjoy an evening together. She was drawing with Sharpies and pencils—snippet details of a park sign, a trash barrel. Later I returned to see the faces of the Lakelanders Barbershop Chorus flared into the corner of her art piece.

Irina Mikhaylova works on a portrait of the couple in the background.

Irina Mikhaylova works on a portrait of the couple in the background.

Irina at work with her pastels.

Irina at work with her pastels.

Irina's pastels.

Irina’s pastels.

Nearby, Irina Mikhaylova used pastels to color the sketch she’d done of two elderly concert goers settled into lawn chairs. It was sweet, a lovely capture of older folks who primarily comprise this audience. There is something sweet, too, about Irina, about the thick accent that traces to her native St. Petersburg, Russia. She now lives in Morristown. Because she cannot work in the U.S. as a mechanical engineer—her former profession—she has thrown herself into her art.

Shadows and light play on Barb Bruns as she works.

Shadows and light play on Barb Bruns as she works.

Some of Barb's corralled pastels.

Some of Barb’s corralled pastels.

Barb's in-progress interpretation of the Central Park bandshell.

Barb’s in-progress interpretation of the Central Park Bandshell, in the background to the right.

On the other side of the park, Barb Bruns talked to me about blogging as she worked pastels across paper to recreate the bandshell, and the pet parade mural thereon. She is more than an artist. In Morristown, Barb operates Barb’s Custom Framing & Gift Shop with a local gallery at the front of her shop. It features the work of 27 local artists.

Artist Dana Hanson

Artist Dana Hanson

The sun shadows Dana's hand across her art as she paints.

The sun shadows Dana’s hand across her art as she paints.

Dana's dancer.

Dana’s dancer

A stone’s throw from Barb, the sinking sun spotlighted the mesmerizing art of Dana Hanson who, by freelance trade, creates art for her Lord Warmington Studio. Her grandmother, Frieda Lord, helped found Faribault’s art center. By day Dana works as a baker/cake decorator at Fareway Foods, just across the street from Central Park. On this evening, her art danced as she brushed oils into the shape of a hooded dancer in halal, the Hebrew word for praise.

Praise seems a fitting response for the addition of artists to the concerts. Jeff Jarvis confirms the enthusiastic reception. “Youngsters have emerged from the crowds to sit with ‘real’ artists—they even come back with their own art supplies to join in,” he cites.

Jeff, himself a visual artist, understands the financial and other challenges artists face in getting their work out there. “I wanted to elevate the status of visual artists by paying them to perform alongside the musicians,” he says. He accomplished that by securing a grant through the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

In addition to Jeff and the five artists I interviewed, Nicole Volk, Linda Van Lear and Julie Fakler have also been among the Concerts in the Park artists. Jeff selected local and emerging artists who enjoy working outdoors. The best works of each artist will be featured in a capstone exhibit September 8 – 11 at the Buckham Center Commons area with the opening reception from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Tuesday, September 8.

the sun sets behind the bandshell as the barbershoppers sing tunes ranging from "Sweet Caroline" to "God Bless America."

The sun sets behind the bandshell as the barbershoppers sing tunes ranging from “Sweet Caroline” to “God Bless America.”

FYI: The Concerts in the Park series continues for four more Thursdays with the Copper Street Brass Quintet performing July 30; Bend in the River Big Band on August 6; Jivin’ Ivan & The Kings of Swing on August 13; and The Bandshell Brass on August 20.

Please check back tomorrow for a story about a young entrepreneur who set up shop at the July 23 Concerts in the Park event. Plus, I will show you a few more concert images.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


25 Responses to “Melding music & art at Faribault’s Central Park”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I also love to watch plen air events –does that surprise you? All of the artists you highlighted had such different techniques and styles and it was wonderful to see their view of the events unfolding around them. I am always amazed at the talent of some people and you definitely had a lot of those talented people there that day. Thank you for sharing them with us today.

  2. Nothing Better Than Watching Artists In Action – Singing, Drawing, Painting, etc. 🙂 Thanks for sharing – brighten my day – Happy Day – Enjoy!

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Audrey, you have outdone yourself today. The photos, the bios, the very idea of mixing music and art on an evening in the park – wonderful!

    • Thank you, Greg. My interviewing skills from my years of working as a newspaper reporter and magazine writer kicked in. Sometimes, though, it’s a challenge to handle both the interviewing and photography without missing a sense of the event.

      Anyway, yes, this is a great idea to meld the two and I hope it continues. Now we need to weave in the literary arts, right?

  4. treadlemusic Says:

    Love Irina’ “lawn chair lady” and Tami’s barber-shoppers is awesome!!!! I’m sure the music was totally inspiring! All the parks around here have concerts, too, and probably would fill every evening of the week, if one wanted to seek them out!!!!

    • It was so fun to see what each artist created based on that required music theme. I have no musical talent (can’t even read a note) so I really appreciate those who are talented in this area.

      • treadlemusic Says:

        I find it so interesting that music isn’t included in your talent resume!!!!! But, like I tell those who comment/thank me for my piano music, a large portion of the pleasure I derive from playing comes from the knowledge that there are those who are listening!!!!!!

      • Oh, it’s not that I didn’t want to play a musical instrument. But I never had the opportunity, nor did my parents have the money for me to take lessons on any musical instrument. The nearest I ever came to playing a musical instrument was the toy kid’s accordion I got one year for Christmas.

  5. Jeff Jarvis Says:

    Outstanding article. Thanks much Audrey!

  6. I am so envious of the artists, who have the eye and the skill to create their own personal masterpieces. Light, texture, depth, shadows and angles (among others) all are seen by the artist. Where the rest of us just see the whole, they see the details.

  7. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Wow that would be really entertaining to walk around and see so many different forms of art being produced in the same area.

  8. hotlyspiced Says:

    It’s such a beautiful park and the grass is so green. I would love to hear the barbershop quartet. I wonder how many people come home from Vegas with a tattoo! And I thought it was a kangaroo, not a greyhound! xx

  9. Littlesundog Says:

    Oh to be an artist!! Sketching looks so relaxing. I can’t even draw a decent stick person!

  10. Sue Ready Says:

    I loved all your up close and personal pictures that made me feel like I was right there in the park.

  11. If you’ve never been to Barb Bruns’ shop in a former church along one of the main streets in Morristown you are missing out. The store is full of all kinds of artwork and other finds and, if you need something framed, Barb is the best there is in this area. She will work with you to pick out the best matting and frame for whatever you are having framed, her prices are very reasonable and she does a terrific job.

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