Combining art and gardens: Art Center prepares for annual fundraiser

Published 6:25 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Albert Lea Art Center’s Art & Garden Tour is July 21 and 22, and Beth Tostenson, artistic director and chairperson for the tour, is excited.

“Friday night people will come to one of the gardens and then the … person who has the garden, they will be there to show people around,” Tostenson said. “And if there’s any questions anybody has on plants or displays they’re there to answer any questions.”

And while gardening may not seem like an art form to some, others would disagree.

Email newsletter signup

“People have to know what plants survive in shade and in sun, and those that are big plants and those that are smaller plants, where to put them strategically in the garden so that they show off best.”

Each garden will also feature an artist showcasing and selling their work.

“After visiting the gardens and seeing the grounds, we looked to see what would work for [the artists],” she said, adding that people may not realize what the Art Center considered a unique garden until on the tour.

There’s also a range of different types of gardens, everything from backyard, historical and vegetable. One will even have prairie grasses and wildflowers.

Planning started last year with the search for gardeners.

“It’s not an easy task, it’s getting harder and harder … to get people to commit to showing their gardens,” she said. “And it’s getting harder and harder to get volunteers to help out.”

She was also appreciative of all the volunteers.

“Without them we would not be able to make this event possible,” she said.

Tostenson wasn’t able to pinpoint exactly when the Art & Garden Tour started, but said the tour had been happening for at least 15 years.

The gardens featured are the following:

  • Tarrah and Cam Sather’s, whose Victorian home was built in 1897 and features a wrap-around porch that looks out to native flowers and grasses. The artist featured is William Olson, whose work is focused on chronicling history.

“[Olson] will do his technical drawing,” Tostenson said. “He does a lot of pen and ink.”

The house is at 410 First Ave. S. in Glenville.

  • Katherine and Joe Pacovsky with the Calico Hutch Quilt Group. The Pacovskys have lived at the Czech Inn Bed and Breakfast since 2012, and the farm has been in Joe’s family. The garden features original cedar trees with hostas and lily of the valley as well as jack-in-the-pulpit plants. The Calico Hutch Quilt Group will have 12 quilts to view. The inn is at 19158 800th Ave. in Hayward.
  • Jan and Dewey Birkhofer with artist Laura Cunningham. The Birkhofers, who built their home three years ago, have two hydrangea trees in the front, while the side and back have a patio with wildlife and a stream below. Cunningham grew up in Albert Lea and makes her own jewelry. The Birkhofer home is at 1812 Hale Drive in Albert Lea.
  • Linda Hacker and the Park Avenue Writers group. Hacker has a degree in horticulture and a flag in her yard that says, “crazy plant lady.” Her yard is full of texture and layering.

“She’s been doing this for many, many years,” Tostenson said.

Park Avenue Writers group is a group of novelists and nonfiction writers who come together monthly to offer one another critique, encouragement and to share insight into the art of the writing and publishing world. Hacker’s home is at 2024 Greenwood Drive.

  • Three Oak Vineyards and Winery/Three Oak Wines with Sue Enderson-Geiken. The vineyard, started in 2011, has a walkway to the building lined with grape vines, which are used to make jelly. Friday night Tim Stoneking will perform from 5 to 8 p.m., and Nel’s Diner will be there. Enderson-Geiken, a born-and-raised Albert Lean, is a self-taught artist who specializes in nature, historical locations, pets, courtroom sketches and portraits. The winery is at 73505 225th St.

According to Tostenson, the tour is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the nonprofit, and she was thankful for everyone who volunteered, whether volunteers were in the gardens, taking tickets or sponsors.

The tour is from 4 to 8 p.m. July 21, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 21. Tickets are available at the Albert Lea Art Center as well as Addie’s Floral & Gifts. They can also be purchased at any of the gardens on tour. Cost is $15 per person.

Proceeds from the tour will go towards maintaining the Art Center.