Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The B’s have it with bargain books, bluebirds, Big Bang Boom & beer April 21, 2017

I LOVE BOOKS. And I love a bargain.

Combine the two and you have a used book sale. This week and next, book lovers in my area have opportunities to shop two used book sales.

The first, the annual Faribault American Association of University Women’s Book Sale opened Thursday at the Faribo West Mall and continues through April 25. Hours are from 10 a.m. to mall closing on April 21 – 23 and then from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. April 24 – 25. There’s an added activity—a Kids’ Karnival from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

 

Books I selected from the “Minnesota table,” albeit Prairie Perpendicular (one of my all-time favorite fiction books) is set in small North Dakota farming community and written by a North Dakotan. I bought these at a past AAUW Book Sale. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

I try to shop this sale every year, looking primarily for vintage and Minnesota-themed/authored books. But now that I have a one-year-old granddaughter I likely will also spend more time in the children’s books section.

 

Books my son purchased at a past AAUW sale. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

When my son was still home—he’s 23 now and living in Boston—he would haul home bags of fantasy and science fiction titles. He’s a voracious reader.

Just up the road about 15 miles, the Northfield Hospital Auxiliary is hosting its 56th annual book sale from April 25 – 29 at the Northfield Ice Arena. This is a mega sale where you can easily spend hours perusing books, puzzles, DVDs, CDs and vinyl. Hours are from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. April 25, from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. April 26 – 28 and from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. April 29. Books are free from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. on the final day.

 

I found this vintage (perhaps 1960s) booklet at last year’s AAUW Book Sale. I love the graphics. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

I appreciate the efforts of the many volunteers who collect, haul, organize and sell these used books and more as a service to the community and as a way to raise monies for scholarships, community projects and more.

TELL ME: Do you shop an annual used book sale? Where? What draws you there?

 

Promo courtesy of the Bluebird Recovery Program.

 

NOW ABOUT THOSE BIRDS…the Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota holds its annual expo from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday at the Northfield Middle School. If bluebirds interest you as much as books interest me, then consider attending this event. Click here to learn more about “bringing back bluebirds for future generations.” Expo registration cost is $15 or $25 for registration and lunch.

 

Big Bang Boom. Photo courtesy of the Paradise Center for the Arts.

 

IT WON’T COST YOU anything to attend a concert at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue North, Faribault. The free concert by the pop/rock music trio Big Bang Boom is geared toward families.

 

Faribault artist Rhody Yule (now deceased) created this oil painting of the Fleckenstein Brewery in 1976. The building, and the brewery, no longer exist. The 20-foot Fleck’s beer bottle on the right side of the painting sat near the brewery entrance. Children often had their pictures taken here when their parents took a brewery tour. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

ADULTS WITH AN INTEREST in Minnesota brewing history will want to attend the Fleckenstein Brewery Walking Tour in Faribault on Saturday. Sponsored by the Rice County Historical Society and led by local Fleckenstein historian Brian Schmidt, the popular tours will be offered at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Good walking/hiking shoes are a must. Click here for more info and/or call 507-332-2121 to reserve a tour spot. The tours are filling quickly; don’t expect to get in if you just show up.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In Faribault: Fabulous art finds at fantastic prices June 13, 2014

EVERY YEAR I LOOK forward to shopping this art sale.

Originals and prints fill the gallery walls.

Originals and prints fill the gallery walls.

What others no longer want, and then donate to this fundraiser, may find a place on my walls, in my home.

Thursday, opening day of the sale, the gallery was stuffed with art.

Thursday, opening day of the sale, the gallery was stuffed with art.

Today marks day two of the three-day Faribault Mural Society’s yearly Recycled Art Sale at the Paradise Center for the Arts in downtown Faribault. And the Carlander Family Gallery is overflowing with second-hand art from prints to originals.

Even pottery is available for purchase.

Even pottery is available for purchase.

Plus, you’ll find pottery and glassware, garden art, frames, mirrors, art books and more.

Portraits are among the offerings.

Portraits are among the offerings. This is one of a pair.

I shopped for a half hour Thursday evening, but, much to my dismay, did not find a piece of art I simply had to have. Perhaps a second run-through is necessary.

In past years I’ve scored some really great finds, including an oil on burlap by noted Mexican artist Jose Maria de Servin; LathArt by Dutch artist Theodore de Groot; and two original floral paintings.

Kitschy bargain art plaques are among the art choices.

Kitschy bargain art plaques are among the art choices.

All were purchased at bargain prices ranging from $7 – $15. Other than a thrift store or an estate/garage/yard sale, I’ve not found fine original art this reasonably priced locally.

I’ve also bought art here for my daughter and son.

I expect this original watercolor of the Faribault High School marching band may interest a Faribault native.

I expect this original watercolor of the Faribault High School marching band by James Zotalis may interest a Faribault native.

So if you’re looking for a one-stop shopping place to possibly acquire recycled art, you’ve got time yet to browse this gallery from noon to 5 p.m. today (Friday) and Saturday at the Paradise, 321 Central Avenue North.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Shop at this gym full of treasures July 25, 2013

GOOD MORNING. It’s 6 a.m. And, if you’re an avid garage saler and have the morning free, you likely already are preparing your route of must-hit sales.

A shot taken Tuesday evening with more items to be set out on Wednesday.

An overview shot taken Tuesday evening in the Trinity gym with more items to be set out on Wednesday.

In Faribault, add the Cannon Valley Lutheran High School sale to your list. Doors to the sale site, the gym at Trinity Lutheran Church, 530 Fourth Street Northwest (Minnesota Highway 60 across from McDonalds) open at 8 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 25, and Friday, July 26. Saturday, July 27, hours are 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Tuesday I got a sneak peek at this gym full of treasures. Yes, I adhere to the “One man’s (or woman’s) junk is another man’s (or woman’s) treasure.”

Frames and mirrors and merchandise reflected.

Frames and mirrors and merchandise reflected.

Except for clothing, of which there is none at this sale, you will find the usual assortment of merchandise ranging from household décor to kitchenware, books, furniture, toys, sporting equipment, some collectibles and more.

Sweet vintage thermoses.

Sweet vintage thermoses.

A bit overwhelmed by the volume of offerings, I methodically worked my way through the gym, photographing items I found of particular interest. Note that I am drawn to vintage more than anything.

A kitschy vintage clock for the cat lover.

A kitschy vintage clock for the cat lover.

I collect vintage drinking glasses and tablecloths, but did not uncover any during my one-hour walk-through. That’s just as well. I already have more than I need.

A beautiful Pyrex casserole for the collector.

A beautiful Pyrex casserole for the collector.

A large bowl for the Pyrex collector.

A large bowl for the Pyrex collector.

And two more beautiful Pyrex bowls.

And two more beautiful Pyrex bowls.

I suggested to one of the organizers that the three Pyrex bowls and casserole I spotted ought to be marked at collector prices. “There will be collectors here,” I advised her.

"Puppy Love" and "Winter Solitude" by Rhody Yule, appraised and priced at $395 and $375.

“Puppy Love” and “Winter Solitude” by Rhody Yule, appraised and priced at $395 and $375.

If you’re an art collector, you will want to examine four paintings by my friend, Rhody Yule, a Faribault sign painter and prolific artist whose work was featured in a 2011 gallery exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts six months before his death at age 92. He was a remarkable man of deep faith and I was blessed to be gifted with one of his religious themed paintings. Now you, too, can own a piece of Rhody’s art.

Some wonderful wooden puzzles, newer and older.

Some wonderful wooden puzzles, newer and older.

If I had young kids or grandkids, I would have scooped up lots of books and toys, most in excellent condition. I did nab a homespun poetry book, The Old Hometown, by Faribault resident Marlene Hyatt Meehl, now deceased. I also found two blackboards to use at my daughter’s wedding reception.

Another view of that gym full of merchandise.

Another view of that gym full of merchandise, to which more has been added since I took this photo.

I expect you will find something you “need.” How could you not in a gymnasium packed with treasures?

MORE FINDS:

There are plenty of hard-sided suitcases for sale and a few soft-sided also.

There are plenty of hard-sided suitcases for sale and a few soft-sided also.

I have not seen curlers like this in 40 years, just like my mom used and occasionally poked into my head. The plastic pins for securing the rollers are included.

I have not seen curlers like this in 40 years, just like my mom used and occasionally poked into my head. The plastic pins for securing the rollers are included.

This vintage timer was made in one of my favorite Wisconsin towns, Two Rivers, along Lake Michigan.

This vintage timer was made in one of my favorite Wisconsin towns, Two Rivers, along Lake Michigan. The box and the literature inside are as vintage cool as the timer.

 A peek at some of the furniture.

A peek at some of the furniture.

Among the abundance of Christmas decor, I spotted these precious pieces.

Among the abundance of Christmas decor, I spotted these precious Nativity pieces.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Recycling art in Faribault June 14, 2013

Just a snippet of the art at the Recycled Art Sale, Paradise Center for the Arts, downtown Faribault.

Just a snippet of the art at the Recycled Art Sale, Paradise Center for the Arts, downtown Faribault.

ORIGINAL ART at a fraction of the cost. Check.

One of many pieces of original art for sale.

One of many pieces of original art for sale.

Priced to sell. Check.

A section of the floral painting I purchased.

A section of the floral painting I purchased.

Original painting purchased for $15. Check.

Art of all types is available for purchase.

Art of all types is available for purchase.

If you live anywhere near Faribault and have not checked out the annual Recycled Art Sale at the Paradise Center for the Arts, race down to 321 Central Avenue between noon and 5 p.m. today or Saturday.

I look forward to this sale every year and have found some great pieces, including an original oil on burlap by Mexican artist Jose Maria de Servin and Theodore de Groot LathArt by Austin Productions.

This year I brought home a floral oil painting by P. Willis, whose identity is unknown to me. Pamela? Patricia? Paul? I have no idea. But of one fact I am certain. I love the painting.

Shopping for art.

Shopping for recycled art.

And that’s the type of reaction Gail Kielmeyer, who serves on the Paradise Gallery Committee and the Mural Society of Faribault—sponsors of the Recycled Art Sale—witnesses among many a shopper. “All of a sudden they fall in love with a piece and have to take it home,” she says.

I came very close to purchasing this painting of gladioli. May still buy it.

I came very close to purchasing this painting of gladioli. May still buy it.

I expect that’s exactly what Kielmeyer and co-volunteer Mary Niermann thought as they watched me peruse the Paradise gallery crammed with everything from original pieces to prints to pottery, sculptures, mirrors, ceramics, and even art books. Prices ranged from a quarter for a dish to $400 for four Vietnamese in-laid mother-of-pearl panels which sold on the first day of the sale on Thursday.

Art lovers were waiting in line outside the Paradise for the noon opening of the sixth annual sale. One enthusiast calls the event her “very favorite sale of the year.”

And part of the reason may be the incredibly affordable prices. “A lot of people think original art is expensive and for wealthy people,” Kielmeyer says. Not so at this sale. Prices are kept purposely “priced to sell,” giving art lovers who might not otherwise be able to afford original art (that would be me), the opportunity to own original art.

That de Servin purchased several years ago cost me $7. The de Groot LathArt, $10.

You will find a variety of art from stills to landscapes, abstracts and plenty more priced to sell, many for under $20. Yes. Incredible.

I contemplated buying this barn art.

Lovely rural art.

All of the pieces are donated by people who are downsizing, for example, or remodeling or have had a piece forever. Or the favorite explanation this year heard by Kielmeyer: “We’re pretending we’re moving.”

Some artists come to the sale and buy the art just for the frames.

Some artists come to the sale and buy the art just for the frames. Note the interesting original duo art from Africa, above the frame. Loved it.

So the art some no longer want, need or have space for is now recycled into the hands of happy art lovers like me.

And, as a bonus, the Paradise and the Mural Society make some money. This year organizers hope to bring in $4,000 from the sale, about $1,000 more than last year. The first sale six years ago brought in $800.

Art and more art.

Art and more art.

Interest grows as do the number of donations and the variety of art offered. This year an estimated 1,000 items are for sale. Many had already been sold when I shopped on Thursday evening.  But you could have fooled me. The gallery is still packed with incredible art priced to sell.

BONUS PHOTOS:

For the wildlife lover...

For the wildlife lover…

If you appreciate a still life.

If you appreciate a still life.

For the traveler or the dreamer...

For the traveler or the dreamer…

For those who want to learn more about creating art...books and magazines.

For those who want to learn more about creating art…books and magazines are among the estimated 1,000 items at the sale.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

My thrifty ways: flea market finds May 31, 2013

I GREW UP SHOPPING for clothes from the sales racks at JC Penney. Rarely, if ever, was I allowed to buy anything from the full price rack. So why bother to look.

Because I was the oldest girl in the family, I got the new clothes, which were then passed down to my ungrateful sister. I use that adjective because Lanae didn’t especially appreciate my fashion taste. She was right. My indecisiveness often led to bad choices.

By my middle school years, I learned to sew. And from then on, I stitched most of my apparel. I didn’t mind. I loved selecting patterns and fabrics and creating one-of-a-kind clothing.

Still, mostly, it was all about saving money. And money was tight in our poor farm family of six kids.

I found this vintage Minnesota beverage tray for $2 at the recent Rice County Gas and Steam Engines Flea Market. All other items featured in this post were found at the same venue.

I found this vintage Minnesota beverage tray at the recent Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Flea Market. All other items featured in this post were found at the same venue.

With that background, you can understand my delight in seeking out and scoring bargains. Thrift stores, yard and garage sales, and flea markets are my favorite shopping venues. Not only can I find merchandise at affordable prices, but I typically discover something few others own.

At the same vendor where I purchased the tray, I bought this floral etched and painted box. If I remember correctly, this is termed "hobo art."

At the same vendor where I purchased the tray, I found this floral etched and painted box. If I remember correctly, this is  “hobo art.” I got the box and the tray for $12. These may be given as gifts; I haven’t decided.

I’ve passed this love of bargain shopping onto my three offspring. My 19-year-old college intern son, attempting to furnish his first apartment on a budget, recently negotiated the purchase of a leather couch for $25 at a Goodwill store in Rochester.

From another vendor I bought this Fire King bowl and handstitched tablecloth trimmed with rick-rack. Total cost: $5.

From another vendor I bought this Fire King bowl and handstitched tablecloth trimmed with rick-rack. Total cost: $5.

Last week his sister, a Spanish medical interpreter in northeastern Wisconsin, shopped a half-price sale at an Appleton thrift store and purchased an easy chair for $24. A mint condition coffee table found next to a dumpster at her apartment complex cost her nothing.

The oldest daughter, who lives in Minneapolis, also sometimes shops at second-hand stores and even bought her bridal gown for her upcoming wedding at a vintage bridal shop.

Yes, I’m proud of my kids and their thrifty buying habits. Not only do they save money, but they recycle what others have cast off or can no longer use.

This kitschy art is so ugly it's cute, if that makes sense. For 75 cents, it was mine. My husband just shook his head, but then hung it on our backyard fence anyway, per my request.

This kitschy art is so ugly it’s cute, if that makes sense. For 75 cents, it was mine. My husband just shook his head, but then hung it on our backyard fence anyway, per my request.

My own house is furnished with lots of second-hand furniture, lamps, art, kitchenware, etc. I don’t need new. Old works for me, my tastes and my budget. How about you?

I had the perfect spot in mind when I bought that frog art.

I had the perfect spot in mind when I bought that frog art.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The price is right May 20, 2013

I LOVE A GOOD DEAL. Who doesn’t? Even more, I’m especially pleased when I can recycle an item which benefits charity.

Driven by the need to find the 19-year-old son an inexpensive piece of furniture for the living room in his first-ever apartment, we hit the thrift stores in Rochester Saturday afternoon, move-in day.

On the final stop, Caleb found a leather sofa tucked under a merchandise display shelf at the Goodwill store, 239 28th Street Southeast.

Total purchase price for these three items was just over $30, including tax.

Total purchase price for these three items was just over $30, including tax. Additionally, I bought the coasters (about 10 of them) on the table for 25 cents at a garage sale.

His dad and I discouraged shelling out $110 for a sofa he needs for only the three-month duration of his summer internship at IBM. So I suggested he approach a floor clerk and barter. Better a poor college student seek a discount than parents. We temporarily disappeared so he could negotiate.

He and the clerk talked for awhile and then she cut the price to $75. I don’t know what transpired, but in between the time Caleb grabbed the tag and walked up front to pay, she slashed the price even more—to $25.

Hallelujah. A comfortable couch to fit a college student’s budget.

Goodwill had originally priced the sofa at $150.

Scrubbed later with a leather cleaning product, purchased for under $4 on our way back to the apartment, the sofa really shines. Plans to return the couch to Goodwill in August have been scrapped; the son wants to keep this piece of furniture now that it looks so good. That will be open to negotiation.

Prior to the Rochester move, we also secured several other apartment items at thrift stores, including a free end table from All Seasons Thrift Store, 310 Central Avenue, Faribault. The freebie was a $10 reward for spending $50 in the store. I’ll reveal those $50 purchases in a future post.

All Seasons proceeds benefit food shelves in the nearby Kenyon and Wanamingo areas.

Finally, the $3 lamp which now rests on the freebie end table next to the $25 leather couch comes from a New Ulm thrift store, The Treasure Haus, 1209 South Broadway.  As a bonus, the lamp included a three-way light bulb. Sales from the Treasure shop go toward Christian schools, programs and missions.

There you go, readers. It is possible to partially furnish a living room for around $30.

Now, let’s hear about your thrift store bargains.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

de Servin, de Groot and Dunn art at bargain prices June 8, 2012

I’M NO ART EXPERT. I buy art simply because I like it, not because of its value.

Yet, I’ve managed through the years to purchase several pieces of art, which unbeknown to me, were created by notable artists and therefore possess more than your average value.

I didn’t find these in some upscale, trendy metro art gallery. Rather, I’ve discovered my art treasures at rummage sales and at recycled art sales right here in Faribault.

Yes, I shop on the cheap because, frankly, as much as I wish I could, I cannot afford an original work of art sold at retail price. That is the truth and I apologize to all the starving artists out there who are trying to make a living via their art. Remember, I am a writer. I understand.

That said, let me show you the trio of recycled art pieces which I consider my most valuable art discoveries, although I certainly did not realize this at the time of purchase.

My bargain Jose Maria de Servin painting.

I was shopping at the Paradise Center for the Arts annual Recycled Art Sale several years ago when I came across this interesting painting of a young girl on burlap. The bold colors, the subject and the uniqueness of the art—unlike any I’d ever seen—drew me to her. For $7, this art piece was mine.

Later my second daughter, who at the time was studying Spanish in college, researched the artist, Jose de Maria Servin, and shared that he’s a rather well-known Mexican artist. Seems his original oils fetch anywhere from several hundred to well over $1,000.

To make this even more interesting, I bought Servin’s oil painting on the third day of the recycled art sale and the husband didn’t much like it. He likes it now, or at least its value.

Theodore de Groot LathArt by Austin Productions, patent number 4,061,514

The second notable piece of art also came from that recycled art sale at the Paradise. It’s LathArt, a type of folk art by the Dutch artist Theodore de Groot. LathArt, according to information I found online, was produced by Austin Productions in the 1970s using a patent to die cut the pieces.

Again, I bought the de Groot LathArt owl for $10 because I liked the rustic design and the uniqueness of the art, not because I knew anything about the art or artist.

My print of Harvey Dunn’s “The Prairie is my Garden.”

Ditto for a print of South Dakota artist Harvey Dunn’s painting, “The Prairie is my Garden.” When I spotted the framed print at a yard sale, it reminded me of my native southwestern Minnesota prairie and I just had to have it along with a dozen wine glasses and a “Felix the Cat” video, all for $20.

Months later I grew curious about the artist and learned Dunn was a well-established illustrator for magazines like The Saturday Evening Post among other accomplishments.

So there you go. I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire art of value without even knowing its value. I bought the art solely because I liked it. And isn’t that the best reason for purchasing a work of art?

A sidewalk sign outside the Paradise Center for the Arts advertising the fifth annual Recycled Art Sale.

FYI: The annual Recycled Art Sale at the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue North, Faribault, began at noon Thursday and continues from noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Proceeds benefit the Paradise and the Faribault Mural Society.

Old film reels from the former Paradise Theatre are among items being sold at this years Recycled Art Sale. The smaller reels hold movie trailers such as “Rambo” and “Brewster.” Gallery walls and tables are covered in art donated for the fundraiser.

The musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad,” opens Friday evening at the Paradise.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling