A Virgin a Day
December 8, 2011
Today is December 8th. The Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is December 12th. From the first to the twelfth we are posting in a series entitled A Virgin a Day. Visit the link to Rebecca’s recuerda mi corazon blog to see more submissions. This exercise is not especially religious, but it is certainly very fascinating with the wide variety of thoughts, ideas and creations that have been shown so far.
It wasn’t that long ago it was Summer, and as I sit here listening to the furnace do its work and cycle through its paces on a cold December morning, I’m recalling an escapade through the Mississippi River valley as it winds through the bluffs that separate Wisconsin from Minnesota.
From the Northern reaches, where the mighty river flows out of Wisconsin at the foot of Lake St. Croix and becomes the border of states from there to the Gulf of Mexico, a paradise begins. A paradise for sightseers, hikers, bikers and tourists. Art galleries, quaint diners, coffee shops, the rocky and forested bluffs and the River, complete with Lake Pepin, a large expanse of water teeming with waterfowl and barges carrying commerce North to South.
It was through this part of the world a motorcycle ride with friends ensued that rendezvoused at Viroqua, WI. Just South of LaCrosse, not too awfully far from the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine. In Viroqua, the predetermined place to meet was an eating establishment named The Driftless Cafe. The entire area is known as Driftless Wisconsin.
The name comes from the fact that the region from the Eastern Dakotas all the way to the Great Lakes and as far South as Central Illinois was covered with glaciers millions of years ago. When the glaciers receded and melted away to create the 10,000 lakes Minnesota is known for as its license plate moniker, it left rocks and debris and dotted the landscape with water. Lakes teeming with fish, streams still flowing to the Mississippi. This debris field was called glacial drift by the scientists.
The area around Viroqua was unscathed from the huge behemoth ice packs and therefore, the topography is “driftless”. Some resourceful people turned the natural event phenomena into a regional name. The Driftless Cafe is one such place.
The food is great. Organic offerings, for the vegan and the carnivore and all in between. Eclectic in its music and wine selection and striking as far as the featured artists of the area that showcase their works on the walls.
This is where I first saw and discovered the art of Mary Solberg. She is from Winona, MN, not far North on the Mississippi River. I can’t help but stare at her artwork. Many of her pieces have sort of a sacred theme, or at least seem so with the round golden aura behind their heads. Some purists may think of it as blasphemous as the idea of the Virgin Mother is holding a martini. I like to wonder if it is shaken and not stirred and find it no more or less mysterious as Our Lady surfing or depicted as a Los Dias skeleton.
This is where I found this artist and her work and I present it today as another variation of the image of Mary with the photos from her website.
This short two minute YouTube video shows her at work and gives more insight into her thoughts and ideas. The artist explains the religious nature of some of her work.
Out of the ordinary? For sure. I even wonder if this kind of treatment stands up to Folk Art Guadalupes. It can’t be as preposterous as the bathtub aura that surrounds Mary in the barn yards of the Midwest, or maybe it does. Personally, I find Mary Solberg’s art, for the sake of art, fantastic, stunning and strikingly beautiful. I enjoyed dining amidst her creations at the Driftless Cafe. So much so, that in the Fall, Mrs. Spadoman and I traveled back there to try the vittles for a second time and see her work again.