Well, my goodness. I’ve been flipped! And, I’m not alone.
After a few years of being “Number One” in the annual Meander Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl, I’m now “Number Thirty-nine!” Good news, though … I’m still the same old “me.” “It was time for flip the tour,” said Kristi Link Fernholz, who oversees Meander “business” for the Upper Minnesota Regional Development Commission. “It’s all in fairness.”
Here’s the hard part: This was the first time ever that I can recall being Number One! Although this had nothing to do with talent, age nor artistic offerings. The designation was based solely on my Listening Stones Farm on-farm gallery being at the very top of the Meander tour. And, now the “bottom,” if you will. This September 29-30 and October 1, my studio/gallery is listed at the very bottom of the brochure. Old friend and carver supreme, Curt Soine, and his darling and hilarious wife, Paula, heads the numerical listing this year down at the other end of the Meander in Granite Falls.
And there is the real flip. Ortonville/Clinton to Appleton area has been listed at the top of the annual brochure for the past few years while Granite Falls and Montevideo, at the other end of the upper Minnesota River valley, was listed at the bottom.
It’s all fun and fair, yet there is a certain fear. Will meanderers see us up here as being “too far out?”
Interestingly, the Meander is often seen in three parts: The upper, the middle and the lower. Those many artists between Danvers and Dawson are seen by many as being the middle. Or, as one mid-tour artist told me recently while giving me a tease, “We’re always stuck in the middle. That doesn’t make us mediocre.”
That “middle” has some incredible artists. People such as Gene and Lucy Tokheim, Jean Menden, Woody Peet, Tom and Delite Ludvigson, with Martha Alvarado, J Berndt and K. Lohse at the vineyard, all near Dawson. Milan is also a who’s who with Malena Handeen, Kristi Link Fernholz, Katia Andreeva, Diane Trew, Patrice Geyen, Pamela Gubrud and John George Larson. Deb Connelly shores up the eastern end in Danvers.
The “south” — or the top of the 2017 brochure — starts in Granite Falls and includes the Soines, Melanie Gabbert-Gatchell, Gene Stukel, Bradley Hall, Claire Swanson, Dale and Jo Pederson, and returning artist, Dale Streblow. Monte has A to Z Letterpress, Flying Goose Quilters, Doug and Brock Pederson, and Moonstone Farm with Richard Handeen and Audrey Arner. That, too, is a load of talent exhibiting some beautiful and creative art.
Not to be outdone, my place and the Red Barn are just a bend in a country intersection apart, or a distance of only three miles. Seven artists will hole up in Stattelman’s iconic red barn — Liz Rackl, Kris Ninneman, Anne Dietz, Pam Stueve, Beverly Schultz, Carol Knutson and Neva Foster. Edie Barrett and Kathleen Marihart will be almost next door in downtown Ortonville. Odessa, just down the highway, will feature hosts Valerie Berg and Rob Rakow. Appleton, considered the “window” of the upper Meander, lists three more artists — Kerry Kolke-Bonk, Deborah Moorse and Nancy Bergmann. In all, 13 artists! Meander brochures contain a map of the various studios and artist locations, along with highway routes meandering through the prairie.
Regardless of our numerical listing, those who meander through the annual Western Minnesota arts crawl will have an excellent selection of medium to view and hopefully purchase. Just don’t forget that far out, old Number Thirty-nine! Ol’ 39 is just pleased to be among those juried as being worthy of being included as a Meander artist! Being Number One doesn’t mean I’m Number One no more than being Number Thirty-nine means I’m Number Thirty-nine.
Or as someone my age often hears, “It’s only a number.”