Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Celebrating an evening of poetry & art in small town Minnesota May 11, 2014

Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota.

Guests arrive at Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota on Saturday evening.

POETS AND ARTISTS, family and friends arrived from nearby Rochester, as far away as Fargo, and from within a few blocks of Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota Saturday evening.

The published collection of poems and art with cover art, "Li Bai at the South Fork," a pastel by Mike Schad, created for last year's collab. Also featured is a line from the poem (with the same name) by Justin Watkins.

The published collection of poems and art with cover art, “Li Bai at the South Fork,” a pastel by Mike Schad, created for last year’s collab. Also featured is a line from the poem (with the same name) by Justin Watkins.

They came to celebrate the pairing of art and poetry in the Poet-Artist Collaboration XIII.

My poem, "Lilacs," which was selected as a "Work of Merit" at the 2013 Northwoods Art and Book Festival in Hackensack.

My poem, “Lilacs,” which was selected as a “Work of Merit” at the 2013 Northwoods Art and Book Festival in Hackensack, and now displayed at Crossings at Carnegie as part of the Poet-Artist Collaboration XIII.

Jeanne Licari's absolutely stunning interpretation of my poem. Her "Lilacs on the Table" is oil on mounted linen.

Jeanne Licari’s absolutely stunning interpretation of my poem. Her “Lilacs on the Table” is oil on mounted linen.

Me on the left with "my" artist, Jeanne Licari.

Me on the left with “my” artist, Jeanne Licari.

I was there to read “Lilacs,” and to meet my artist, Jeanne Licari of Rochester, who created “Lilacs on the Table,” a still life oil on linen inspired by my poetry.

It was shoulder to shoulder people at the poet and artist reception.

It was shoulder to shoulder people at the poet and artist reception. Poems and paired art are featured in the alcoves along the wall. Twenty-six poems and paired art are included in the exhibit.

What a delightful evening, mingling in this privately-owned small town arts center crammed with art and art appreciators.

Inside the historic State Theatre, artists and poet presented to a nearly full house.

Inside the historic State Theatre, artists and poets presented to a sizable crowd.

After we’d wined and nibbled, chatted and admired, we gathered in the next door historic State Theatre for 90 minutes of poetry readings and artist and poet talk.

From an abstract oil and acrylic on canvas to a watercolor of a Honeysuckle, to pastels, mixed media and even an oil on canvas of a 57 Chevy framed by barbed wire and fence posts, a plethora of art flashed onto the big screen in the darkened theatre.

As I listened to my fellow poets and these artists, I sensed, more than anything, a deep passion among all of us for the art of creating. That passion flowed in carefully crafted poems—lines of words that spoke of love and of memories, of cranes and of spiders, of storms and more. That passion flowed, too, in paint stroked upon canvas, in stitching and ink and the softness of watercolors.

To be a part of this event, in the company of such talent, truly inspires.

Leaving Crossings at Carnegie, I snapped this image of the former Carnegie library.

Leaving Crossings at Carnegie, I snapped this image of the former Carnegie library.

FYI: The Poet-Artist Collaboration XIII exhibit continues through this Thursday, May 15, at Crossings at Carnegie, 320 East Avenue, Zumbrota. The artwork is available for purchase.

Click here to read how my poem inspired artist Jeanne Licari.

And click here to read how my poem, “Her Treasure,” inspired artist Connie Ludwig of Goodhue in the Poet-Artist Collaboration XI.

Check back for a follow-up post on another reason Saturday evening’s celebration was a memorable one for me.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

How my poetry inspired a still life painting of lilacs April 10, 2014

POETRY INSPIRING ART. It’s a fabulous concept and even better when you are part of such a pairing.

A poem I penned has inspired art for Poet-Artist Collaboration XIII, which opened March 31 and runs through May 15 at Crossings at Carnegie, 320 East Avenue, Zumbrota.

"Lilacs on the Table" by Jeanne Licari

“Lilacs on the Table” by Jeanne Licari. Photo courtesy of Crossings at Carnegie.

I recently connected with “my” artist, Jeanne Licari, to learn how my poem, “Lilacs,” inspired her to paint “Lilacs on the Table,” an 11 x 14-inch still life oil on linen.

Twenty-six poems were chosen from nearly 210 submissions with 26 artists then selected via a juried process. This is Jeanne’s ninth time participating in the collaboration and my second.

Artist Jeanne Licari

Artist Jeanne Licari in her studio. Photo courtesy of Jeanne Licari.

A mostly self-taught artist who drew and painted as a child, this Rochester resident also furthered her talent through painting classes and workshops. She terms herself a representational oil painter who prefers to paint from life, whether a landscape or a still life.

Jeanne is both plein air—painting outdoors on location—and studio painter.

“My art reflects the beauty I see in mankind and nature,” she says. “My paintings are a direct response to what I see.”

Or, in the case of “Lilacs,” to what she read.

Lilacs

Breathing in the heady scent of lilacs each May,
I remember my bachelor uncle and the gnarled bushes,
heavy with purple blooms, that embraced his front porch
and held the promises of sweet love never experienced.

He invited his sister-in-law, my mother, to clip lilacs,
to enfold great sweeps of flowers into her arms,
to set a still life painting upon the Formica kitchen table,
romance perfuming our cow-scented farmhouse.

Such memories linger as my own love, decades later,
pulls a jackknife from the pocket of his stained jeans,
balances on the tips of his soiled Red Wing work shoes,
clips and gathers great sweeps of lilacs into his arms.

Plenty of lilacs to gather in the spring.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo of lilacs.

Jeanne explains how she created “Lilacs on the Table”:

“…I wanted to tell the viewer how I felt about lilacs. The poem triggered memories of many bouquets of lilacs in my lifetime. I love the dense bouquet of purple flowers, the beauty of the different pinks and purples against the green leaves, and the abundant fragrance of lilacs. Since there were no lilacs blooming in March, I painted them using memories of lilacs and how they grew, an oil study of lilacs painted from life, and photos.

I painted the lilacs on a table in response to the line, ‘to set a still life painting upon the Formica kitchen table.’ That line, plus the words about farming, made me remember many bouquets of lilacs on our Formica table in my childhood home on the farm.”

How fabulous to know that Jeanne comes, like me, from a rural background. Her words and oil painting show me that she understands and connects to my words in a deeply personal way.

And that is my hope as a poet—that those who read my poetry will connect to it.

A promotional for the collaboration features "Li Bai at the South Fork," art by Mike Schad inspired by a poem of the same name written by Justin Watkins for the 2013 Poet-Artist XII collaboration.

A promotional for the collaboration features “Li Bai at the South Fork,” art by Mike Schad inspired by a poem of the same name written by Justin Watkins for the 2013 Poet-Artist Collaboration XII.

FYI: A reception, poetry reading and slide show honoring the featured poets and artists is set for Saturday, May 10. Mingle and meet for an hour beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Crossings gallery. Then, at 7:30 p.m., move next door to the historic State Theatre where poets will read their works and artists will also briefly discuss their art, shown on a screen.

Another poet from my community of Faribault, Larry Gavin, who has published several poetry collections and teaches English at Faribault High School, will read two of his selected poems, “Ashes” and “Two Cranes.”

Collaboration participants come from Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

The featured artwork is available for sale, including “Lilacs on the Table,” priced at $395. Jeanne Licari’s art is also sold at the SEMVA (South Eastern Minnesota Visual Arts) Gallery in downtown Rochester.

Crossings at Carnegie, housed in a former Carnegie library, is a privately-owned cultural visual and performing arts center in Zumbrota. I love the rural atmosphere with the hardware story and grain elevator just down the street.

Crossings at Carnegie, housed in a former Carnegie library, is a privately-owned cultural visual and performing arts center in Zumbrota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.

If you can’t attend the May 10 reception, you can view the exhibit during gallery hours from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday; or from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday.

Click here for more details about Poet-Artist Collaboration XIII.

Click here to see how my poem, “Her Treasure,” inspired Connie Ludwig to paint “Pantry Jewels” for the Poet-Artist Collaboration XI in 2012.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling