Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Incredible quilt art in Owatonna April 9, 2014

The entry to the Owatonna Art Center

The entry to the Owatonna Arts Center, inside the former Minnesota State Public School for Dependent  and Neglected Children, later renamed the Owatonna State School. The City of Owatonna now owns the site, today called West Hills with the OAC located at 435 Garden View Lane.

HE EXPRESSED IT so well, the quilter’s husband waiting outside the Owatonna Arts Center Sunday afternoon for invited guests to arrive from Rochester.

A quilted work of art bursts with color.

A quilted work of art bursts with color.

Quilting, he surmised, has evolved from a homemaker’s craft to a recognized form of art.

The quilter's husband and the quilter view the extensive collection of quilts.

The quilter’s husband and the quilter view the extensive collection of quilts.

He’s so right.

If you appreciate art and quilts, you will want to see "Quilts in Bloom"

If you appreciate art and quilts, you will want to see “Quilts in Bloom”

“Quilts in Bloom,” featuring around 80 quilts stitched by members of the local Piecemakers Quilt Guild, blossoms in the nooks and crannies of gallery space in an exhibit that runs from now until April 27.

Baskets of blossoms and more.

Baskets of blossoms and more.

This show simply blooms with creativity:

A close-up of the traditional Dresden Plate pattern in the foreground with a second quilt in the background.

A close-up of the traditional Dresden Plate pattern in the foreground with a second quilt in the background.

A contrast of modern geometrical to the traditional Sunbonnet Girls.

A contrast of modern geometrical to the traditional Sunbonnet Girls.

This block from the 1930s Sunbonnet Sue pattern features quilting and embroidery.

This block from the 1930s Sunbonnet Sue pattern features quilting and embroidery.

I really liked this pairing of wood sculpture with quilt art. The wood tone compliments the earthy colors of the quilt.

I really like this pairing of wood sculpture with quilt art. The earthy tones in each complement one another.

For $1, you can buy a chance to win "Stars in My Garden."

For $1, you can buy a chance to win “Stars in My Garden.”

A block in a teapot themed quilt.

A block in a teapot themed quilt.

During the open reception, musicians performed in the venue space, where several quilts are displayed.

During the opening reception, musicians performed in the venue space, where several quilts are displayed.

Whimsical art.

Whimsical art.

Touring the exhibit on opening day.

A Faribault quilter and his wife tour the exhibit on opening day.

Floral design at its quilting best.

Floral design at its quilting best.

Quilt art lines a hallway.

Quilt art lines a hallway.

From the playful to geometric, abstract, traditional, whimsical and more, you’ll discover an array of eye-pleasing colors and patterns here.

Artist Lois Doyle created "Mountain Laurel," a quilt she started 25 years ago. She has several quilts in the show. Laurie Spindler machine quilted this quilt.

Artist Lois Doyle created “Mountain Laurel,” a quilt she started 25 years ago. She has several quilts in the show. Laurie Spindler machine quilted this quilt. Even with arthritic hands, Lois still quilts. Remarkable.

The talent of these quilters impresses me. Truly, they deserve the title of artists.

This sign posted at the quilt show says it all.

This sign posted at the quilt show says it all.

FYI: This marks the 10th annual Piecemakers Quilt Guild show, which is held every three years. You can tour “Quilts in Bloom” during gallery hours, from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday. A $3 donation is suggested. Click here for more information.

BONUS PHOTO: 

While at the show, be sure to stop and appreciate this beautiful space connecting the Owatonna Arts Center to the

While at the show, stop to appreciate this beautiful space connecting the Owatonna Arts Center to the Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum. I’d suggest allowing time to tour the museum and nearby cottage. Check hours before coming as they may differ from gallery hours.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A photo essay: St. John’s Germanfest in rural Minnesota September 29, 2013

I AM 100 PERCENT German.

My plate, filled with German foods at St. John's annual Germanfest.

My plate, filled with German foods like sauerbraten, sauerkraut, German potato salad, sweet and sour beets and more at St. John’s annual Germanfest.

I like German food.

Today was a gorgeous autumn day here in southeastern Minnesota, as glorious as they get.

The steeple of the historic stone church with the roofline of a German themed beverage booth in the foreground.

The steeple of the historic stone church with the roofline of a German themed beverage booth in the foreground.

St. John’s United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township, rural Faribault, was hosting its annual Germanfest at its historic stone church out in the country.

Just a snippet of the buffet line.

Just a snippet of the buffet line.

I had to eat.

The social hall and rooms off the dining area were filled with diners.

The social hall and rooms off the dining area were filled with diners.

And I couldn’t think of a better place to dine on this Sunday afternoon than at St. John’s. Great food in the company of wonderful folks. Out in the country. Perfect weather. Perfect day.

Some of the St. John's kitchen crew, including long-time member Elsie Keller who is making German potato salad.

Some of the St. John’s kitchen crew, including long-time member Elsie Keller who is making German potato salad.

One of the major components of Germanfest is the fabulous quilt show inside the sanctuary.

One of the major components of Germanfest is the fabulous quilt show inside the sanctuary.

Among the incredible quilts were these three hung from the balcony.

Among the incredible quilts were these three hung from the balcony.

Each quilt comes with a story, this one among my favorites.

Each quilt comes with a story, this one among my favorites.

That glorious quilt show.

That glorious quilt show. Here you are seeing only a snippet of the quilts draped over pews.

My husband and I each bought a quilt raffle ticket.

My husband and I each bought a quilt raffle ticket.

The beautifully-appointed altar, complete with German and American flags.

The beautifully-appointed altar, complete with German and American flags.

Outside the church, I fell in love with the adorable goats at the petting zoo.

Outside the church, I fell in love with the adorable goats at the petting zoo.

And this little guy loved the miniature donkeys.

And this little guy loved the miniature donkeys.

Along with fresh produce and bakes goods and greeting cards (some published by Warner Press with my verses)

Along with fresh produce and baked goods and greeting cards (some published by Warner Press with verses I wrote) and apple jelly was this art (including these cute pooches).

Bingo drew the young and the older.

Bingo drew the young and the older.

Old-time music drew dancers and listeners to the tent next to the church.

Old-time music drew dancers and listeners to the tent next to the church.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Appreciating quilt art at the cathedral October 4, 2010

A banner in front of the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour along Second Avenue N.W. in Faribault draws visitors to the Rice County Piecemakers Quilt Show.

AS MUCH AS I ENJOYED the Rice County Piecemakers Fall Splendor Quilt Show at the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour in Faribault this past weekend, I was nagged by guilt.

First, my paternal grandma was a quilter. Therefore, it seems I should be genetically predisposed to quilting. But I am not.

Second, I won a door prize—a stash of fabric pieces—that I was delighted to win because I like to win. The patches were even in my favorite color, green. But, because I don’t quilt, I almost felt like I should return the prize to be awarded to some deserving quilter. I didn’t. Instead, I gave the pieces to my friend Marilynn and her daughter Kellie, who are beginning quilters.

Third, several of the quilters asked if I was a quilter. I replied that I made several baby quilts more than 20 years ago and that I sewed nearly all of my clothes when I was a teenager. I don’t think they were impressed. But it was the best I could offer.

Really, these quilters were very nice and they do some mighty fine work. Their quilts are works of art, masterpieces, examples of detailed stitchery and creativity that leaves me wishing I possessed even an ounce of their talent.

Pam Schuenke received the Viewer's First Choice Award in the Challenge Division for her 28-inch square pineapple block pattern creation. She pieced together 150 fabric swatches into nine blocks and added some autumn pizazz by blanket-stitching the seams with gold metallic thread. Entrants in the Challenge Division had to visibly incorporate five specific fabrics into their quilt pieces. Pam also won the top award in the miscellaneous category with an oriental table runner. She's been a Piecemakers member since the late 1980s.


Rows of quilts hung in the cathedral's Guild House.

Quilts and stained glass complemented each other.

Brenda Langworthy created this whimsical "Dog Show" quilt.

Some of the challenge quilts, which included five selected fabrics.

Twyla Sporre quilted "Pop Goes the Weasel" in the challenge competition of the Piecemakers exhibit.

The Piecemakers laid quilts across the 50 some pews in the sanctuary. A total of 200 quilts were shown through-out the church complex. Visitors were asked to vote for their favorites in the following categories: bed quilts, throws/lap quilts, baby items, wall hangings, miscellaneous and challenge quilts.

These adorable quilted bear potholders were on sale in the dining room.

Mary Peterson created "My Fine Sweet Girls," and here's one of those sweet girls.

THE RICE COUNTY PIECEMAKERS meet from 7 – 9 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church, 219 N.W. Fourth Avenue, Faribault. Meetings feature speakers, demonstrations, and “show and tell.” There are no dues and the club’s motto is “Sewing friendships one stitch at a time.”

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling