Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Believe April 20, 2014

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"The Risen Lord," painted in by my artist friend, Rhody Yule of Faribault, who dies in June 2011 at the age of 92.

“The Risen Lord,” painted in 1951 by my artist friend, Rhody Yule of Faribault, who died in June 2011 at the age of 92.

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene… She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.—  Mark 16: 9-11

 

Faithful support of Christian education September 19, 2013

The crowd of bidders at the annual CVLHS auction.

The crowd of bidders at the annual Cannon Valley Lutheran High School auction. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT AN AUCTION. Sure, the cause may be to empty the house, settle an estate, raise monies for a charity or cause.

But the beauty of an auction lies in the bringing together of folks in a sense of community to achieve a defined goal.

Never have I felt a deeper bonding of souls than at the annual Cannon Valley Lutheran High School Auction Fundraiser, which I’ve attended for many of its past six years. I feel like I’m among family at this auction in the Morristown Community Center. We’re all there to support young people desiring a Christian education.

This Saturday, September 21, CVLHS holds its seventh annual auction event beginning at 4:30 p.m. with a silent auction (that closes at 6 p.m.) followed by the live auction at 7 p.m.

Auctioning of beautiful pieced quilt at the CVLHS live auction.

Auctioning of a beautiful pieced quilt at the CVLHS live auction. Volunteer Development Director Mike Young is pictured on the right. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Organizers—including my friend, volunteer Development Director Mike Young—work tirelessly to put this event together. Mike’s not going to like me singling him out. But sometimes that’s OK, to be publicly thanked for selfless dedication and hard work.

Embroidered dish towels were among silent auction offerings.

Embroidered dish towels were among silent auction offerings at a past auction. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Jars of pickled beets on display.

Jars of pickled beets and other fresh and canned produce and baked goods are available for purchase. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

You can't beat the food served during the CVLHS auction, like this pork sandwich, potato salad and homemade apple pie.

You can’t beat the food served during the CVLHS auction, like this pork sandwich, potato salad and homemade apple pie. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

So many individuals and businesses contribute to the success of this event with donations of handcrafted and new items, garden produce and baked goods, gift certificates and more, including their time.

They do it all for the students attending Cannon Valley, a grade 9 – 12 Christian high school located in Morristown.

Except this school year, classes have been temporarily suspended in order for CVLHS to repay debts, regroup and recruit more students. It’s not easy funding a private school—relying mostly on donations, gifts, congregational support, tuition and fundraisers to pay the bills. The plan is to reopen the school next fall.

"Breaking Bread," an original painting by well-known Faribault artist Rhody Yule, will be sold during the live auction.

“Breaking Bread,” an original painting by well-known Faribault artist Rhody Yule, will be sold during the live auction.

Now the fine folks at Cannon Valley and their supporters could have easily tossed in the proverbial towel and said, “That’s it. We’re done.” But they didn’t. They are choosing to move forward despite the financial challenges. That’s faith, dear readers. Faith.

FYI: To learn more about Cannon Valley Lutheran High School, click here.

To learn more about artist Rhody Yule, click here.

CVLHS supporter Kevin Becker repurposed this early 1900s headboard and bed frame in to a storage bench. The headboard was built by the grandfather of the Rev. Robert Snyder, a retired pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault.

CVLHS supporter Kevin Becker repurposed this early 1900s headboard and bed frame in to a storage bench. The headboard/footboard was built by the grandfather of the Rev. Robert Snyder, a retired pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault. Trinity congregation is a CVLHS association member/supporter. Photo courtesy of CVLHS.

Here are some of the items to be sold at the live auction beginning at 7 p.m.: farm fresh hamburger; a get-away for four to Branson, Missouri; tickets to the Minnesota Zoo and Chanhassen Dinner Theatre; a week’s stay at Lake Okoboji, Iowa; two half hogs; a Cedar Garden Arbor Electric organ; handcrafted Intarsia art; a Minnesota Twins print autographed by Tony Oliva; garden art; and more.

© Copyright 2013 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

 

The art of healing at a Minnesota hospital January 28, 2013

TWO YEARS AGO this month, my then 92-year-old artist friend, Rhody Yule, opened his first-ever gallery exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault.

Six months later, he died.

But Rhody, and his art, live on, this time in a Paradise Center Healing Arts Program Exhibit at District One Hospital in Faribault. The arts center and hospital are partnering on the program.

Thursday evening I attended a reception for that show which features 70 pieces of art created by eight outstanding artists, each of them definitively different: Faribault artists Jody Hanscom, Jorge Ponticas, Pearl Tait and Rhody Yule; Marcus Moller of Morristown; Faribault native Tom Fakler, now living in Basel, Switzerland; Jane Strauss of Minneapolis; and Cynthia Ali of St. Paul.

As Healing Arts Coordinator Elizabeth Jacobs led my husband and me through the maze of hallways and centers that comprise the hospital complex, I thought how Rhody would have felt honored to be part of an exhibit designed to comfort patients and make their hospital experiences more pleasant.

The art selected by a committee of hospital staff fits the program’s criteria as “healing art,” meaning it must be calming, happy and a positive piece of work, Jacobs says.

Three of Jody Hanscom's horse portraits.

Three of Jody Hanscom’s horse portraits.

And you’ll see that, almost experience that positivity, from the minute you walk in the front doors of the hospital to view Jody Hanscom’s sizable horse portraits in the lobby waiting areas. Jody’s oil paintings capture both the gentleness and free spirit of horses, a combination that simultaneously calms and uplifts.

Tucked into a corner by the elevators, the fourth of Hanscom's horse oil paintings.

Tucked into a corner by the elevators, the fourth of Hanscom’s horses.

Just down the hallway, five oil paintings by Jorge Ponticas brighten the walls with vivid scenes from his native Chile and elsewhere. His art evokes happy thoughts. What can I say? I can’t resist the sweet face of a llama.

Pearl Tait's "Aubergine Drift I."

Pearl Tait’s “Aubergine Drift I.”

Moving along to the emergency room lobby, I find Pearl Tait’s moody mixed medium art the ideal choice for a setting often filled with emotion and uncertainty. Her work, which features textures like sand and tape incorporated into a painting, reflects, in my opinion, the intense layers of feelings that come with any visit to the ER.

A photo in a cozy private waiting room fronts Tom Fakler's Swiss Alps photos.

A sofa in a cozy private waiting room fronts Tom Fakler’s trio of Swiss Alps photos.

Around the corner inside a cozy ER room where families are taken to hear bad news (so says Jacobs), the mood totally changes with the soothing photography of Tom Fakler. His black-and-white canvas prints of the Swiss Alps offer a natural world escape during a particularly difficult time for patients’ families.

Likewise, the photography of Jane Strauss in the surgery center reflects that same sort of escapism, especially in panoramic landscape scenes. Jacobs notes that Strauss is autistic, meaning her approach to photography focuses on qualities like texture and detail, aspects others might not consider in photographing a scene.

Faribault native Cynthia Ali's floral pastels are not for sale. Ali, of St. Paul, is primarily a jewelry artist.

Faribault native Cynthia Ali’s floral pastels are not for sale. Ali, of St. Paul, is primarily a jewelry artist.

Also in the surgery center, Cynthia Ali infuses a soft natural beauty with her floral pastels. You can almost smell the heady perfume of her beautiful roses.

Marcus Moller's "Madison Lake Bait Shop" in watercolor.

Marcus Moller’s “Madison Lake Bait Shop” in watercolor. Moller’s art (mostly pastels) hangs in the surgery center waiting area, a place frequented by children. Thus his art is hung quite high, which made photographing it difficult.

Marcus Moller works in pastels, too, and watercolors, covering a variety of subjects from autumn landscapes to a bold rooster to my favorite, “Madison Lake Bait Shop.” Those of you who’ve traveled Minnesota Highway 60 will recognize the kitschy red building backed by the Madison Lake water tower. I cannot even begin to count how many times I’ve considered photographing that building. Moller’s bait shop painting is nudging me to actually stop and take that photo.

Twenty-five of Rhody Yule's oils grace the hall and patient rooms in the cancer center.

Twenty-five of Rhody Yule’s oils grace the hall and patient rooms in the cancer center.

Finally, my open house tour ended in a hallway outside the District One Cancer Center with the oil paintings of my friend, Rhody Yule. I’d seen nearly every one of Rhody’s hundreds of paintings when I worked with his family and friends on the 2011 Paradise exhibit. But, still, it was as if I was viewing his pieces for the first time, appreciating the landscapes, many of them winter scenes in this show, and the other art he created through decades of painting. Rhody was a kind, gentle man with a heart full of goodness, and I remembered that, too.

Examples of Rhody Yules art close-up.

Examples of Rhody Yule’s art close-up.

Most of the artwork in the Healing Arts Exhibit, but not all, is available for sale. (Artwork not featured in photos here is because I did not have permission to photograph it.)  A portion of any proceeds from the sale of Yule’s work will go to the local hospice, per the family’s request.

If you wish to tour the winter installment of the Healing Arts Exhibit, check in at the main desk, 200 State Avenue, during hospital business hours. All areas of the exhibit may not be accessible for viewing at all times. The current show runs through February 28.

If you are an artist interested in being featured in a Healing Arts Exhibit, contact Jacobs at the Paradise Center for the Arts. You will find details and contact information by clicking here.

The Healing Arts program is sponsored by the District One Hospital Auxiliary, which initially proposed the concept.

To view information on the artists with an online presence, click on their highlighted names.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS on art as a “healing” tool? Have you seen similar exhibits? Please share.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A painting from my dear friend Rhody September 28, 2012

IN LIFE, RHODY YULE, impressed me with his humble spirit, deep faith and artistic talent. He thought the best of everyone. He appreciated life so much that, even up until days before his June 2011 death when he was but a shell of his former physical self, he desired to live beyond his 92 years.

Celebrity portraits Rhody Yule painted and hung on his garage, where I first discovered his work in the fall of 2009 while driving past his rural Rice County residence.

Losing my friend of only a few years—the man I met because I photographed the portraits he had painted and hung on the side of his garage in rural Rice County—was difficult for me. Yet, I knew Rhody’s legacy would live on in the hundreds of paintings he created through the decades.

Rhody, minutes before his gallery show opened in January 2011 at the Paradise Center for the Arts, Faribault.

It was my absolute honor, after discovering Rhody’s work, to bring his paintings to the public via a mini art show at Christdala Evangelical Swedish Lutheran Church, rural Millersburg, and then during a much larger gallery exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault.

And now Rhody, in death, has blessed me with the gift of one of his paintings, the painting he knew I most favored.

A sampling of the religious paintings Rhody exhibited at a mini show at Christdala on September 26, 2010. The painting on the right is the one Rhody gifted to me.

On Tuesday evening, the day before my 56th birthday and just a day shy of the two-year anniversary of that mini exhibit at Christdala—yes, I spent my 54th birthday setting up that art show for Rhody—I picked up the painting Rhody wanted me to have.

I’d known for a few weeks that I was to receive the painting I’ve come to call “Woman in Reverent Prayer.” Tuesday I phoned Rhody’s stepson, Bob, asking if my husband, Randy, and I could come over and pick up the piece of art in a half hour. That would work, Bob said.

“Woman in Reverent Prayer” by Rhody Yule

Over at Bob and his wife Kathy’s condo, Rhody’s prayerful woman painting leaned against the living room wall as we reminisced about the man we had each loved.

And as I remembered Rhody, I felt myself slipping into sadness. I missed him and wished I had known him longer.

Then, when Bob told me how Rhody wanted me to have that particular painting and how Rhody’s gallery show at the Paradise was the highlight of the last year of his life, the tears seeped from my eyes. To be able to give someone like Rhody such a gift, to realize how much this meant to him, prompts the most humbling and joyful of emotions.

Shortly thereafter as I caressed the painting, Bob suggested that I might want to replace the dinged frame. No, I would keep the frame Rhody crafted, I said, running my fingers along the wood.

Bob lifted the four-foot by 2 1/2-foot painting onto the dining room table then so we could examine the date under Rhody’s signature. We could barely decipher the faint curve of double sixes, meaning Rhody painted “Woman in Reverent Prayer” in 1966 when I was just 10 years old.

I know nothing, really, about the oil painting except Rhody once sharing that it was based on another painting or photo, minus the rosary beads clasped in the kneeling woman’s prayerful hands.

Now, each time I view Rhody’s painting, which will soon grace a wall in my living room, I am reminded of my friend’s deep faith. And I am reminded of how very much his friendship meant to me and likewise my friendship to him.

To realize that Rhody wanted me to have this painting simply touches my heart with gratitude and love.

Rhody and me at his opening night gallery reception in January 2011 at the Paradise Center for the Arts, Faribault.

FYI: To read about Rhody’s mini art show at Christdala Evangelical Swedish Lutheran Church, click here.

To read about Rhody’s January 2011 gallery exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts, Faribault, click here.

To read my tribute to Rhody upon his death, click here.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In loving memory of Rhody C. Yule June 16, 2011

Rhody's self-portrait, 1989

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON we eulogized and buried my 92-year-old artist friend, Rhody Yule.

I have known Rhody for less than two years, having met him quite by happenstance in the fall of 2009. While driving by his rural Faribault home, I spotted celebrity portraits hanging on his garage, stopped to photograph them and then went to his front door.

There I met this sprite of a man and his yapping dog, Jo-Jo.

With his dog shut in the kitchen because I feared being bitten, Rhody shared the story of his life with me and my husband, Randy, strangers until then. I did not hesitate to ask about the paintings hung in his cozy living room and on his garage. He did not hesitate to share that he had been painting since age 16.

Even on that first visit, I learned so much about a man who would come to mean so much to me. His wife, Shirley, had fallen and was living in Hastings. Oh, how he missed her. His only child, Paul, died in a car accident in 1977 at age 23. Oh, how he missed him.

Rhody told us about his military service, including time in Nagasaki, Japan, cleaning up after the atomic bomb. He showed us photos and paintings on that first visit and grass-woven sandals from Japan snugged inside a wooden box he had crafted.

I thought to ask, thank God, if he had ever publicly exhibited his art. He hadn’t. That became my mission, to get a gallery show for this life-long artist. His first mini-show, of his religious paintings, came in September 2010, when he was invited to Christdala Church near Millersburg. He had, many years prior, done a painting of the church. Randy and I coordinated that exhibit, then loaded the paintings into our van and set them up outside this historic country church. Rhody and I spoke briefly at that event and he assured me that, despite our nervousness, we did well.

At Christdala, I distributed mini fliers for his upcoming gallery show at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault. I had applied for the exhibit on his behalf and, in January, with the assistance of family and friends and volunteers, “A Lifetime of Art: The Rhody Yule Collection” opened to a packed gallery.

In typical Rhody fashion, this man of gentle spirit and quiet humility took it all in, never once boasting, but enjoying every second of his evening. This marked a shining moment for him in his 92 years of life and I was honored to have helped him achieve this public recognition of his art.

Rhody, minutes before his gallery show opened in January 2011.

RHODY’S FUNERAL SERVICE on Wednesday, while tinged with grief, also caused us to laugh out loud at his humor. We reminded each other of his forgiving attitude, his unshakable faith, his always positive attitude.

Just days before his death,  my husband Randy and I visited one last time with Rhody. Physically his body had deteriorated to a shell of the man he had been, but his mind and spirit remained strong. We saw him on a good night.

In that last hour with our friend, we reminisced about his gallery exhibit as I, one-by-one, held up photos I had taken that evening. He was too weak to grasp the images. And then we paged through several of his photo albums with pictures of a younger Rhody, a freckle-faced Paul, a beautiful Shirley.

I thought to myself, “You will be with them soon, Rhody. Soon.”

Rhody did not fear death. Yet he wished to live, even thought he might recover. I knew better. When I mentioned Millersburg, Rhody was ready for a night out and a beer at his favorite eating establishment there. Family and friends celebrated with him last fall in Millersburg at a patriotic-themed freedom party. His idea. His celebration after overcoming a recent, temporary loss of his personal freedom.

Rhody had more living to do. I learned at his funeral that this WW II veteran wanted to travel on a Washington D.C. Honor Flight to see the war memorials. It breaks my heart that he did not live long enough for that to happen.

Me and Rhody at his opening night gallery reception.

He prayed every night for the soldiers to come home.

He was smartly dressed for burial in his military uniform, which hung loosely on the gaunt body of a man who once stood strong in service to his country.

Those honoring his memory were directed to donate to the Rice County Veterans Memorial Expansion Project.

A spray of patriotic red and white flowers adorned with a blue ribbon decorated Rhody’s carved wooden casket, a casket so appropriate for a man who crafted wooden boxes and also picture frames (for his art). Had he been physically capable, I expect Rhody may have built and carved his own casket.

But Rhody is gone now and, as the eulogist, the Rev. Ron Mixer, said, Rhody is busy painting sunrises and sunsets in heaven. He suggested we look for a signature “Y” in the clouds.

Rhody has left those of us who knew and loved him with more than his legacy as an artist and the thought that he is still painting. He has gifted each of us with his spirit of forgiveness and kindness, his humor and humility, his desire for fun, a love of life and a faith that endured challenges.

I knew Rhody such a short time. But how blessed that time has been.

We drove through nearly-torrential rain Wednesday afternoon to the rural Cannon City Cemetery to bury Rhody beside Shirley. As we gathered under the tent and next to it, sheltered by umbrellas gripped tight against the whipping wind, members of the Central Veterans Association fired an honorary salute to their brother soldier. Taps mourned. An aging veteran presented a folded American flag to Rhody’s step son in a voice choking with gratitude and emotion.

Soon the rain stopped and the sun wedged through the clouds as if Rhody was there, telling us to wipe away the tears. He would have wanted us to celebrate his life, and we did, but only if we didn’t brag about him.

Rhody's favorite painting, "The Last Supper," which he painted in honor of his beloved son Paul.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The Passion of Christ in scripture and art April 22, 2011

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”  Mark 14:17-18

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”  Mark 14:35-36

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him.  Mark 14:44-46

They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him…With a loud cry Jesus breathed his last.  Mark 15:17 and Mark 15:37

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene…  Mark 16:9

“He has risen! He is not here.”  Mark 16:6

(Scripture from The New International Version of the Holy Bible.)

© Photos copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling of paintings by Faribault, Minnesota, artist Rhody Yule, copyrights reserved