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Taking a Meander

October 13, 2012
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

As I said last week, there was enough to do in the area. And it was about time that I checked out what this Art Meander thing was all about.

Ross told me on Friday that his barbershop chorus was going to sing at a former member's funeral Saturday morning in Willmar, and for a while, I almost reconsidered going to the art crawl. But I then figured I could just head up to Montevideo and meet him there (it's about 40 miles from Willmar to Montevideo), albeit a little bit later than I anticipated. Saturday morning was gray and chilly.

The drive from Marshall to Monte was uneventful. (It seems like the longest route ever!) I reach the downtown area and park in front of the post office. I thought, well, I'll be centrally located in a way, sort of. I trekked down to the train depot for my first stop - Michelle Thelen of Rosemount. Her work involved paintings and jewelry.

A lot of her work is still life and landscapes. She also has a couple of train paintings among her artworks. That made it appropriate for her to exhibit at the train depot. Even on my first stop, I knew I was glad I made the choice to come. One of the women working at the depot or the exhibit came back from walking up the street to downtown. She said there wasn't too much. So I had to see for myself. Sure there were a couple of folks who were just at tables at Valentino's, but at Java River, I got to see more of Granite Falls artist Tamara Isfeld's work.

Plus, I've never been inside Java River. I grazed through the fairy houses and gnome homes and photos at Valentino's and an interesting shop downtown before settling in for a hot chocolate at Java River. Saw a couple of women I knew from Marshall who were also checking the Meander out - they started in Granite Falls. I finally met up with Ross and we went inside A-Z Letterpress Printing. It was a small shop, but it was a popular stop. Visitors were given a souvenir card.

The owner, Andy Kahmann, was happy to show off his equipment and answer questions.

I decided to leave my Jeep in the depot parking lot (I had asked about that earlier and the women at the depot said it was OK and that a vehicle had been parked there overnight anyway) and got in the car with Ross for the rest of our art journey. Next stop was Tokheim Stoneware. I have known Lucy for years, but I have never seen their shop. People were combing through the different pieces, sampling breadsticks and having coffee.

Then it was onto Milan, with stops at the community center and the folk arts school. The community center was set up more for an arts show. But when we entered the door, we were immediately bombarded by a little girl desperate to sell us pumpkins and gourds. Turns out it was the daughter of one of the Meander artists.

Ross made a detour of sorts into this kitschy museum in downtown Milan - the Arv Haus. It has rosemaling, a radio collection, many photos and other interesting artifacts about the town's history.

Twenty miles later found us in Madison. I had mentioned there was blacksmithing there and I think that piqued Ross' interest. He had a good time chatting with Gene Sandau, a longtime blacksmith, and Robin Moore, who also relishes in the craft.

With just roughly 45 left of Saturday's allotted Meander time, we headed to Odessa to see a man who made wooden and bronze sculptures. The man's wife made baskets. I just loved their front porch showroom.

And believe it or not, we made it to Ortonville. Of course by then it was 6 p.m. and the Meander was done for the day. But as we were heading back toward Montevideo, Ross wanted to go on an auto tour of the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge. I was looking to get back to the Wood Lake area before dark, but I eventually warmed up to the jaunt. It's probably a place we'll return to, just when it's not about to turn dark in the next 45 minutes.



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