The Carnegie Restoration committee is very fired up about the newly restored room in the lower level of the Carnegie. Many Crookstonites who grew up with the Carnegie as their go-to place along with the open swimming pool next door, remember that room as the Children’s Library. It has now been transformed into a place where people will be able to have meetings, reunions, displays, and other public functions.

    The Carnegie Restoration committee is very fired up about the newly restored room in the lower level of the Carnegie.  Many Crookstonites who grew up with the Carnegie as their go-to place along with the open swimming pool next door, remember that room as the Children’s Library.  It has now been transformed into a place where people will be able to have meetings, reunions, displays, and other public functions.  

    We plan to initiate it during Ox Cart Days with painting displays by LaVonne Forsberg. During the busy week in August, you will have to come and meet LaVonne yourself the three days we are open during Aug. 17, 18 and 19th. Hours will be from 10:00 to 5:00 each day except on Saturday we will close at 3:00 p.m. in anticipation of the annual parade.

    LaVonne began her creative experience at the age of ten at a sewing machine. Once she got married, she began sewing for others after they had children.  This allowed her to work and be at home with her children.  Sewing helped her to visually see measurements that became very helpful later in her life when she started painting and doing stained glass art.  

    When the County Extension office offered a rosemaling class, she jumped at the chance.  She commented, “I couldn't believe how little the paint brushes were and that paint came in such little tubes.  My husband and his family were painters who used 5 gallon buckets and 6" brushes!”

    Over the next several years, LaVonne took many classes from various artists from across the United States and Norway.  This helped her to paint and create her own style and not just copy others.   When their children were old enough to take care of themselves, she opened the Country Class Arts.  That is when she taught a variety of art classes, which allowed her to share with others what she, had learned about painting.

    When a glass artist was moving from the area, she approached LaVonne and asked if they wanted to buy her glass supplies.  What started out with an order for many mini sun catchers, moved beyond to designing and building church windows.  LaVonne has completed stained glass windows for twelve churches.   Currently, she is working on the windows for Redeemer Church in Thief River Falls.  This church has 42 panels that each tells a story from the Bible.  LaVonne originally designs all these and they have only four panels left to complete this large undertaking. All the windows were custom made to fit what is needed for that church.  

    When the Carnegie Library in Thief River Falls did their restoration, she designed and built the stained glass light fixtures. This fall she will have her artwork on display at the Thief River Falls Carnegie.  First, her paintings will be on sale at the Crookston Carnegie during Ox Cart Days starting at $45 and up. She can provide photos of her other work as well.

    LaVonne was commissioned to paint the State Park Entrance Permit of the White Bottled Gentian & Northern Lights at Old Mill.    

    Those who work at University of Minnesota Crookston are perhaps familiar with the lower level passageway below Kiehle auditorium. In that narrow hallway are three large, framed water color paintings that LaVonne was commissioned to paint.  The painting titled “Winter Gazebo” is shown with this article.  

    LaVonne has received much recognition for her work as well as numerous other awards throughout the years.  The most recent include 2017 Merit Awards at the Hawley Art Show, Members Choice at the Artist of MN in Transparent and Opaque, and 3rd place at the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council Regional Show in Halstad.   

    I asked LaVonne what her favorite medium is to work with as an artist. Out of the possible types, such as stained glass, oil, acrylic, watercolor, she said that watercolor is her favorite.  I asked why her stories are so important to go along with each of her paintings. She responded, “I love telling the stories of why I created them because it gives extra meaning to the viewer.”

    You will have to come the three days we are open during Ox Cart Days to see the Carnegie new flooring in the lower level but also to visit with LaVonne, as you look at her many paintings.