Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In Owatonna: The abstracts of art in architecture September 23, 2022

A sampling of Shefland’s photography at the OAC exhibit.

AFTER VIEWING ALAN SHEFLAND’S Architecture AbstrAcTED” photography exhibit at the Owatonna Arts Center, I felt inspired. Inspired to shoot a few architectural images of my own while roaming the West Hills Campus, home to not only the arts center, but also an orphanage museum, city offices and more.

I took this photo of the OAC entry. I converted the image to black-and-white and upped the contrast. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

Shefland’s appreciation of the lines, angles, curves, light of buildings resonates with me. I, too, am fascinated by the seemingly abstract art to be found in architecture. These are not just structures constructed for a purpose, but rather art forms.

Shefland’s artist statement posted with his OAC exhibit. (Minnesota Prairie Roots photo)

This New York City born photographer, who is widely-traveled, focuses on the skyscrapers, the city buildings that rise high in the landscape. His current black-and-white photo exhibit features images from New York, Toronto, Minneapolis and more. Today he calls Minnesota home.

This shows a snippet of a much larger photo by Shefland.

Patterns and lines and curves meld to create remarkable abstract images. Modern art. Devoid of color, their impact is stronger, bolder.

My edited photo of an OAC sign. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

As I paged through the gallery guestbook, I agreed with the comment “Awesome exhibit…worth the drive from Mpls!” I only had to travel 12 miles. I feel fortunate to have access to art exhibits like this locally, without going into the Twin Cities metro.

One more glimpse of images you will see in Shefland’s OAC exhibit.

I am not an urban person. I am not well-traveled. Major cities hold no appeal. Yet, I can appreciate that others value densely-populated areas and all they offer. We are each different and that’s a good thing.

I photographed this exterior stairway on the West Hills campus after viewing Shefland’s exhibit. I love the patterns, the angles, the shadows, the light. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

Yet, as different as we are, we share interests, like photographing architecture. For Shefland, it’s the architecture in cities. For me, it’s the architecture of small towns. Historic buildings or other structures that catch my interest.

To view Shefland’s photos is to grow my knowledge, my appreciation, my respect for creatives like him. He expands my world, personally and professionally. I can say the same for Keith Goldstein, a talented photographer from New York City. I’ve followed Keith’s blog, “For Earth Below,” for many years. His work is currently exhibiting in Milan. The scope of his photography ranges from architectural to streetscapes to street portraits and more. In a recent photo, he featured colorful Fruit Loops cereal scattered across pavers. Simple. Artsy. Creative.

Shefland-inspired, my photo of a stairway and railing on the West Hills campus. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

I find joy in connecting with other photographers, whether online, via gallery exhibits or in-person. To see the world through their lenses enlightens, teaches, encourages me.

FYI: Alan Shefland’s exhibit at the Owatonna Arts Center continues until October 2. Gallery hours are 1 – 5 pm Tuesday through Sunday, closed Mondays and holidays.

Note: I de-saturated all of the images in this post and did minimal photo editing to up the contrast.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Roses & poetry September 29, 2012

Birthday roses from my husband, Randy.

WHAT WOMAN DOESN’T love roses and poetry?

After work on Wednesday, my 56th birthday, my dear husband brought me a dozen wrapped long-stem roses. Then he disappeared, tools and parts in hand, down the basement stairs to the laundry room to repair my clothes dryer which no longer was producing heat. Roses from the repairman. Perfect.

Simultaneously, I was upstairs in my office checking my email while my birthday supper, homemade lasagna, finished baking.

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.

Waiting in my in-box was this message from Crossings at Carnegie, a privately-owned arts center in Zumbrota:

Thank you for submitting poetry/prose to be considered for Crossings’ “It’s All One Water” exhibit. We received about 110 poems, from which jurors chose 28. It was exciting to receive such a fine outpouring of exceptional work from so many talented writers. Jurists told us they were a pleasure to read, and selecting those to be included was a difficult task.

We are pleased to inform you that your entry, “In which Autumn searches for Water,” was chosen to be part of this exhibit. Your poem will be on display, along with other written works and photographs, through the month of October.

How sweet is that? Another dozen roses, figuratively speaking.

I’ll admit that when I submitted “In which Autumn searches for Water,” I was confident my poem would be selected for Crossings’ joint collaboration with the Zumbro Watershed Partnership. I don’t mean that in an arrogant, haughty way. But I think those of us who write realize when we’ve written a piece that sings.

Not that I’m going to sing. You would not want to hear me sing. But I will read my water-themed poem during the Friday, October 19, “It’s All One Water” reception which begins at 7 p.m. A reading of written pieces, with screen projection of water-themed photos, will start at 7:30 p.m. next door to Crossings at the Zumbrota State Theatre.

A chapbook of selected photos and writing (maybe my poem?) also will be published.

There you have it, roses and poetry. Perfect.


ANOTHER FARIBAULT RESIDENT, Larry Gavin, a writer who teaches English at Faribault High School (he’s taught all three of my kids), is also among the “It’s All One Water” selected poets. Larry, however, is eons ahead of me in poetry. He’s already published three poetry collections. Like me, though, he also was published on Roadside Poetry project billboards (now ending after a run of 22 seasonal poems). You can learn more about this gifted Faribault poet in a post I published nearly a year ago by clicking here.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling