TO HAVE ACCESS TO THE ARTS, whether visual, literary or performing, here in southern Minnesota is such a gift. The arts enrich our lives, open our minds to new ideas and experiences, feed our souls, entertain us and, for me, also inspire.
As someone who grew up in rural southwestern Minnesota with minimal exposure to the arts, I especially value galleries, theaters, libraries, and any place that gives me access to creativity. Creating with images and words is my passion and my life’s work. I embrace the work of fellow creatives, who, like me, must create.
Recently, I stopped by the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault. The PCA centers the arts in my community with four galleries, theater, music, art classes and more. Here in this space, creatives converge. And we as a community are the better for that. I hope those in neighboring Northfield, Owatonna, Waseca and even small town Montgomery, feel the same gratitude for their arts centers.
The arts broaden our perspectives, make us think, laugh, cry, ponder… When I write and photograph, I feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment if my work resonates, prompts emotions, stirs interest and more. I expect the artists currently exhibiting at the Paradise feel the same. There is joy in getting art out there into the community, joy in connecting.
As I meandered through the Paradise’s current exhibits, I observed incredible talent and variety in the art displayed. Inside the largest gallery, I meandered among woodcarvings by three Faribault artists, two carving for more than 40 years. Ivan Whillock and Marv Kaisersatt, are award-winning long-time carvers, nationally and internationally-recognized. Their work is decidedly different, but their creative skills decidedly the same—excellent. Both are quiet, humble men.
Chris Whillock, Ivan’s son, is a talented carver in his own right. The pair create at Whillock Studio in Faribault and operate the Whittling Shack, source for woodcarving supplies, their art and more.
In one of the most unusual installments I’ve ever seen is the art of Shelley Caldwell who lives in rural Faribault County near the Iowa border. Her artistic use of plants to shape art left me standing temporarily immobile, wowed by her imaginative creativity. Peace comes in connecting with nature and I felt that in the scene before me—all that green interspersed with light, air and a sense of movement. Her exhibit also includes mixed media drawings.
The images of Minneapolis-based travel photographer and writer Autumn Carolynn are displayed in another gallery. Studying the work of other photographers, especially one as talented as Autumn, helps me grow my skills, even if I’m not a world traveler. Her images take me to places I have never seen and never will. She expands my world through her photos and that, too, is an artful purpose.
In the final gallery, the art of selected students from Bethlehem Academy in Faribault is highlighted. I never fail to be impressed by the talent of these young people. I feel gratitude to their teachers, the PCA and others who support them in their creative pursuits. Now, more than ever, students need the arts as an outlet, a way to express themselves, a way to connect.
And now, more than ever in these unsettled times, we as a community, a state, a country, a world, need the arts.
FYI: The exhibit by artists featured here continues until November 12.
TELL ME: What do you appreciate about the arts?
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
That plant installation is wonderful. What a gift.
Yes, I’ve never seen anything like it. Beautiful and inspiring, just like all of the art exhibited at the Paradise.
I appreciate the creativity 🙂 Art is all around us if we take the time to soak it in and savor it. It makes me smile and my heart happy. It sparks the creative being in me. It makes me want to be silly and play and laugh. Happy Day – Enjoy!
I especially like your insight of “art is all around us.” Yes, it is, if only we pause to see it.
I think of bird nests and spider webs as well as how fauna and flora grow and bloom. Then you have the written to the visual. Just think about the time people take to create that curb appeal or front appeal to their homes. ALL ART!
Nests and webs are perfect examples of nature’s art. I like how you think.
I always enjoy when you highlight the different arts in our area. We do have several opportunities for such a “rural” area. Thanks for highlighting many of them for us.
You are welcome, Valerie.