Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Appreciating the creativity of Minnesota artists at the Paradise March 11, 2022

“Flying Snow Owl” woodcarving by Lakeville artist Mike Stoecklein. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2022)

THE RANGE OF CREATIVITY in southern Minnesota continues to impress me. Take the art of Kate Langlais of Faribault and of Mike Stoecklein from Lakeville. They create decidedly different art. But they share the commonality of incredible creative talent.

“Pope Francis,” an acrylic portrait by Faribault artist Kate Langlais. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2022)

Recently I viewed exhibits by both in separate galleries at Faribault’s Paradise Center for the Arts. I continue to feel deep gratitude for this arts center in my community. We need art—whether literary, visual or performing—to feed our spirits and souls, just as much as we need food to feed our bodies.

“Grey Tree Frog” woodcarving by Mike Stoecklein. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2022)

A walk-about viewing the work of Kate and Mike reaffirms the importance of art in my life. Mike’s nature-focused pieces, especially his woodcarvings, take me into the woods. To observe an array of owls. To spot a tree frog, the elusive frog I’ve always wanted to see but haven’t. His landscape paintings also connect me to place. (He paints the occasional portrait, too.)

A portrait of Abraham Lincoln by Kate Langlais. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2022)

Kate’s Paradise exhibit is portrait-strong, her specialty, although she also paints landscapes. When I study the faces she’s recreated, I feel a connection, too. Kate has an ability to convey emotions and personality. Generosity. Kindness. Strength. Love. Compassion.

Mike Stoecklein’s “Eagle Owl” woodcarving. In his artist statement, he writes: “I create for myself, and if others enjoy it, then that’s even better…” Owls are a favorite subject of this artist. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2022)

I encourage you to stop by the Paradise galleries—Mary Welke (a Minneapolis artist) and Summer Heselton (a junior at Bethlehem Academy) also have art displayed—this weekend or next. All four shows close on March 19. Also head upstairs to the annual All Area Student Show, which runs until April 9. I’ll feature a post on that soon.

Paradise hours are from noon-5 pm Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and noon-2 pm Saturday. The Paradise, located at 321 Central Avenue North in historic downtown Faribault, also opens for evening concerts, theatrical productions and other events.

TELL ME: Do you have a go-to arts center in your community? Why do you value the arts? Let’s hear.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


13 Responses to “Appreciating the creativity of Minnesota artists at the Paradise”

  1. beth Says:

    yes, there is a modern art museum here in Ann Arbor, along with the Ann Arbor art center, where local artists teach classes, display, and sell their work. I feel lucky to be close to both. I also teach at a private school that is part of an art community, with a beautiful museum, and master artists in residence. truly magic,

  2. Valerie Says:

    We have the Northfield Arts Guild in NF. It has the student artwork on display right now. It, too, has a gift shop offering local artists work, like the Paradise.

  3. I am so blessed to live next two some world class museums. The Rijks Museum in Amsterdam and the Mauritshuis in Den Haag. I remember seeing the Lady with the Pearl Earring for the first time in person and crying tears of pure joy at how beautiful it was painted. Vermeer reached through time with each of his brush strokes with such breath taking skill. Rembrandt’s paintings in person are also a one of a kind experience that photos of the same artwork cannot capture.

    • Oh, Paula, how I would love to see that art to which you have easy access. When I saw Andy Warhol’s “Marilyn Monroe” at a museum in Madison, Wisconsin, several years ago, I was thrilled. That was my first exposure to such a famous artist. Thank you for sharing about the world class museums near you.

  4. Wow, all of the art is beautiful but that Lincoln portrait is breathtaking!

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