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

 

From Faribault: Appreciating local art, especially now March 30, 2021

Created from clay, this piece by Faribault artist Tami Resler is currently displayed at the Paradise Center for the Arts.

AS A CREATIVE, I’m biased when it comes to the importance of art in education and in our lives.

“Nebraska Sky,” acrylic on canvas by Kate Langlais.

Art takes us beyond the functional and necessary basics to a place that feeds our spirits and our souls. That frees our minds.

Faribault artist Julie Fakler, who works and teaches at the Paradise, specializes in animal portraits. This cat portrait is titled “Monet.”

With canceled concerts, celebrations and theatrical productions, closed arts centers and more during the past pandemic year, we’ve realized just how much we miss, and need, the arts. Or at least I did. I felt especially grateful that Faribault’s weekly outdoor summer concert series continued in 2020. I looked forward to the Thursday evening performances in Central Park where I felt comfortable among socially-distanced attendees. For more than an hour, I could immerse myself in music and relax in the outdoors. And now, with restrictions loosening, access to the arts, in all forms, is slowly returning.

Kate Langlais paints during a June 2020 concert at Faribault’s Central Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2020.

At one of those concerts last summer, I met Faribault artist Kate Langlais, who was painting on-site. She’s a gifted artist and shares her talents via teaching classes through the Paradise Center for the Arts. Langlais’ art, and that of other instructors and gallery committee members, is currently exhibited through April 3 at the Paradise in historic downtown Faribault.

Linda Van Lear’s “Bachrach Building” (an historic building across the street from the PCA,), second from right, and Dee Teller’s “Precious To Me” watercolor and ink on paper on the far right. Van Lear died in January and was active in the PCA.

And what a talented group of local artists. Their showcased art features acrylic on canvas/hardboard, watercolor & ink on paper, clay, wax dye resist on fabric and more.

“Bunny,” a truly creative clay birdhouse by Diane Lockerby.

I photographed a sampling of the gallery pieces. I celebrate this creativity. This art inspires me. Uplifts me. Causes me to think. Makes me happy.

“My Soul Sings” by Deb Johnson

I expect these featured artists feel like they have to create. Just like I have to create via my writing and photography. To do so gives me joy, feeds my spirit and my soul.

Outside the Paradise Center for the Arts (a former movie theater), with its stunning marquee.

FYI: The Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Ave. N., Faribault, is open from noon – 5pm Thursday and Friday and from 10 am – 2 pm Saturdays.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling