Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Showcasing the art of Faribault area students in (the) Paradise March 21, 2018


ON THE SECOND FLOOR of the Paradise Center for the Arts, along a horseshoe of hallways and inside a classroom space, the artwork of Faribault area students is showcased during a month-long Student Exhibition.


Art by Faribault Middle School students.


By Zabdy Espinal, Faribault Middle School seventh grader.



I toured the exhibit recently with camera in hand, admiring the talents of kindergartners through 12th graders.


By Faribault Middle School sixth grader Avery Dressen.


By Ava Nelson, seventh grader at Faribault Middle School.


A potter works down the hallway from art that splashes vivid hues onto a wall.


From bold to subdued,


By Anzal Abdi of Roosevelt Elementary School.


By Ruby H. from Nerstrand Elementary School.


By Gracie Molden, Faribault Lutheran School seventh grader.


from symbolic to wildly creative, the variety of art in this annual show always impresses me.


Each piece of art is tagged with the artist’s name and school.


I consider not only the creative minds that drew and painted and shaped these pieces, but the honor of having that work on public view. What an incredible way to encourage young people in pursuing, or simply enjoying, art.


Portraits by Lincoln Elementary School third graders Tyrese Monahan, left, and Michael Chappuis, right.



Art by Cannon River STEM School students, Megan, left to right, Abby and Carrie.


Can you imagine the pride Avery or Ava or Tyrese or Anzal or any one of the many students feels when seeing their work, their art, displayed in a community art center?


Prince portrait by Jada Fairbanks, senior at Faribault Area Learning Center.


These young people are our future. We want them to value art. They are our future graphic designers, our potters, our photographers, our painters, our book illustrators, our patrons of the arts.


By Dania Soto, Roosevelt Elementary School.


Classroom turned art gallery for the Student Exhibition.


Showcased on a window is the art of Faribault Lutheran School first grader Frankie Spicer with other student art in the background.


For today, they are our student artists, developing their skills through the guidance and encouragement of teachers and parents. And a community art center that understands and values the creativity of young people.


FYI: The Student Exhibition features the works of students from Lincoln, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Nerstrand Elementary Schools, Faribault Lutheran School, Faribault Middle School, Cannon River STEM School, Faribault Area Learning Center and the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind. The show closes on April 14.

Check back for a post on clay artist Layl McDill whose work is showing in the main gallery at the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue North, Faribault.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Student art was photographed with permission of the PCA. Artwork is copyrighted by the individual artists.


Remembering Pearl Harbor from Minnesota December 7, 2010

MY MOM WAS ONLY nine years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor 69 years ago today.

I asked her about this shortly after 9/11.

She shared how frightened she was because, in her small world and for all she knew, Hawaii was as close as a few towns away from her Minnesota home.

Imagine how terrifying the attack must have been for children, and adults, in a world where communication was not instantaneous.

Rhody Yule wearing his USS Arizona cap.

EVERY DAY THE NUMBER of WW II veterans dwindles. And with the deaths of these former soldiers, a bit of our living history dies too. Some of their stories will never be told for many cannot speak of the horrors of war. Others share their stories only with family members and/or their brothers in arms.

I am fortunate to have met one particular WW II veteran about a year ago. He is 92-year-old Rhody Yule, a truly remarkable man. Rhody, while small in stature, is big in heart. He possesses humbleness, strength of spirit, a sharp mind and gentleness of character that we should all emulate. I cannot say enough good things about my friend.


Rhody’s military experience included serving in Nagasaki, Japan, cleaning up after the atomic bomb. He won’t say much about his time there, calling the situation “a mess.” Clearly, he saw more than anyone should ever witness.

I asked Rhody once about the possibility of radiation exposure. He had to do what he had to do, he told me.

I’ve seen photos my soldier-friend brought home from Japan. The utter obliteration of the landscape can only be compared to the most powerful and devastating storm times 100 or maybe 1,000.

Rhody, who is a former sign painter and an artist, created a trio of sketches from his time in Japan. The public will have an opportunity to see those during an upcoming exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault.

One of Rhody's sketches from Japan during WW II. In the bottom right, you will see an opening into a cave, where Rhody said the Japanese worked on military machining projects.

Another one of the three sketches Rhody did while stationed in Japan during WW II.

I, along with many others, have been working for the past several months to make this show, “A Lifetime of Art, The Rhody Yule Collection,” a reality. The exhibit opens with a reception from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. on Friday, January 14, and closes on February 26.

In addition to the Nagasaki sketches and many other pieces of art, Rhody is showing a painting he did on a piece of old tent canvas while stationed in Nome, Alaska. He had no other material on which to paint the 1944 circa image of snowplows clearing snow from the military runway. Imagine the history on that piece of canvas, the stories held within the threads of that fabric.

WE ALL HAVE STORIES to tell. Today, the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, let us hear the stories of those who remember this day that shall forever live in infamy. And more importantly, let us listen.

Text and photos © Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Artwork © Copyright 2010 Rhody Yule


Faribault art gallery seeks “Shoe Stories” May 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:11 PM
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HEY, ALL YOU MINNESOTA artists. Here’s your opportunity to get your foot in the door, or at least your shoe in the door, of a southeastern Minnesota art gallery.

The Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault is seeking entries for a juried show featuring artwork related to shoes.

That’s right.


Maybe these shoes, belonging to me, my teenage son and my husband, will inspire you.

Entries must include an image or parts/whole of a shoe or shoes. And, get this—your shoe art must fit inside, and be delivered in, a shoebox.

Deadline to get your “Shoe Stories” in to The Paradise is Tuesday, June 8, 2010. Click here for the rules: http://www.paradisecenterforthearts.org/gallery/

Now, if you’re not from Faribault, you’re likely wondering, what’s with the shoes? This isn’t Grand Rapids, hometown of ruby red slipper tapping Judy Garland.

But the Shaft-Pierce Shoe Factory operated here from 1903 – 1934 and our historic downtown is home to a third-generation family-owned shoe store. That would be Burkhartzmeyer Shoes, which, along with JA Johnson Advisors, is sponsoring the shoe art show. Try saying that three times.

I love Burkhartzmeyer Shoes, an old-fashioned shoe store that caters to customers. Here employees measure your feet, find shoes in your size and slip them onto your feet, check the fit and then when they ring up your purchase, they’ll tie the shoebox with string and add a sucker. Yes, exactly as I remember from my youth.

Burkharztmeyer also repairs shoes and addresses special foot needs.

Burkhartzmeyer Shoes is located on Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault.

As you can tell, I am a bit smitten with this business that speaks to the niceties of yesteryear in today’s fast-paced, self-serve world.

These are my Clarks Shoes, purchased at Burkhartzmeyer Shoes. I wear them all the time, as evidenced by their obvious need for a coat of polish.

My 16-year-old, whose feet sweat profusely, was fitted with these breathable shoes at Burkhartzmeyers. He loves them as they keep his feet mostly dry.

Anyway, back to that shoe art show. Entries may be in any artistic medium, but must be prepared for gallery display. Submission by digital images is required. Four prizes will be awarded, including a $100 first place honor. The show runs August 6 – September 25 in the Paradise gallery.

So hop to it, you creative Minnesota types. Box up your magical shoe art and bring, or ship, it to paradise.

Here I am in my kicking-around, well-worn Clarks shoes inherited from my sister Monica, who collects shoes. Maybe these will inspire you.

And last, but certainly not least, my husband's hard-working work shoes. Or, should I say the hard-working husband's work shoes?

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Burkhartzmeyer Shoes building photo courtesy of Kaylyn Wirz