Fun with fiber: Cloth art takes the spotlight at Arts Alliance this month

"A Day at the Fair" by Bette Gubbe Slag
“A Day at the Fair” by Bette Gubbe Slag

by Bruce Strand, Arts Editor

Bette Gubbe Slag, a fiber artist with a knack for seeing the goofy side of things, has been people-watching at state fairs from age 13 to now as a grandmother.

From these observances, Slag, of Elk River, concocted a portrait of a corn-dog devouring lady with such adornments as fish earrings, an “Oink” hat, low-cut Vikings purple top and a “MN Fairly Nice” shoulder tattoo, with a dark background of the midway at night and fireworks adding to the fun.

“A Day at the Fair” is one of the more eye-catching exhibits, certainly the most comical, in the Elk River Area Arts Alliances annual Fiber Show that began Wednesday and will continue through Oct. 5.

"Stained Glass" by Carol Hendrickson
“Stained Glass” by Carol Hendrickson

Nineteen members of the Alliance are showing art work, embroidered or knitted or sewn or a combination of the three.

Slag, who used an acrylic paint base along with embellished quilting attachments, said, “I’m always trying to do something new, and push the envelope.” She signed her work “B. Goody.”

Slag took her out-of-state grandchildren to the state fair this year. She earned a second-place ribbon there in the “embellished hanging wall quilt” category for a coffee-themed creation she calls “Morning Routine: Lift, Sip, Down.” She retrieved it from St. Paul on Wednesday to add to the show at the Arts Alliance.

Slag and two other exhibitors shared some background on their works of art.

"Doc Bear," a memory bear by Rhea Beaudry
“Doc Bear,” a memory bear by Rhea Beaudry

Rhea Beaudry, of Elk River, creates “memory bears” made from clothes and blankets for “remembrance of loves ones.” A close-to-her-heart sample is on display at this show: a little brown bear in a brown polyester suit and a red tie.

“That one’s for my dad,” Beaudry said. “His nickname was ‘Doc,’ so I call it ‘Doc Bear.’ That’s from an actual suit coat and tie that he wore.”

She got the idea from a Charles Kuralt “One the Road” piece years ago about a lady who made memory bears.

Carol Hendrickson, of Elk River, is showing a machine-embroidered depiction of a church window, “Stained Glass,” with 25 pieces stitched together, forming a cross with flowers overlapping, “like a puzzle coming together,” she said. Last year, this piece won a seniors division blue ribbon at the state fair and grand champion award at the county fair. It also hung in her church, Riverside, in Monticello for four months.

Also exhibiting are Paula Benfer Decker, Joy Crill, Amy Cunningham, Yvonne Curran, Kathryn Grafsgaard, Winnie Johnson, Marilyn Moore, Angie Mueller, Jean Orr, Kim Pietrzak, Joy Reichel, Loretta Stacy, Jerry Swenson, Chris Wilson and Judy Wood.

The public can view the show from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays at the gallery on 609 Main St. Reception for the artists will be held 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14.