Thursday, September 13, 2007

8. Culture Hidden in the Pines

Grand Rapids, MN
(Father's Day)
Jean-Paul lived above a coffee house in downtown Rapids. Within the unassumingly modern walls lay a bathroom in which all the tile and porcelain fixtures were a classy pink. From his second story windows could be seen Burger King, Pluemer's fine furniture, and the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad tracks, which lay about fifty feet away. The trains didn't pass terribly often, nor late at night, luckily. When they did, the trains would blow their whistles with gusto. In preparation, whenever he heard a train approaching, Jean-Paul would don a pair of orange industrial earmuffs, like the guys on airport runways wear. He said the noise was horrible, but it didn't seem that bad to me.

Up north, I saw a lot of freight trains adorned with graffiti pieces in even the smallest towns. In these isolated places, tragically, television may be most people's only window into the broader world. (Television, not isolation, is tragic, especially for children.) But every day a train whistle blows, and an ever-changing gallery of authentic youth culture rolls through town! It amazes me that these archaic lines of communication still operate. The most authentic, raw, and potentially important visual art on earth is seen not just by city-dwellers, but by country folk thousands of miles away! God bless freight bombers!

After a meal and a nap, Jean-Paul and I went out into the dusk and mounted our bikes. He led me a few blocks away to the head of the Mesabi Trail, a beautiful, paved trail through the woods that stretches, mostly completed, forty miles eastward to Hibbing. Then it continues over forty more miles on semi-completed stretches through such notable Iron Range towns as Buhl, Eveleth, and Virginia. Right outside of Rapids we saw a giant butte of crushed red rock from the iron mines. It was surrounded by water, and sprouting all over with trees.

We only rode about nine miles out, to a town called Bovey, which Jean-Paul said was "the home of the Picture Grace." I had no idea what he was talking about, until he led me off the trail and into the old mining town, past a building on the main street with a mural on it depicting that picture my grandparents had, of the old man praying with a Bible, bowl, and bread. The mural read, "Home of the Picture Grace." That picture was made in Bovey, Minnesota!



Another question this brought up: Now that I know the picture was made in Minnesota, do people in other states, or mostly just Minnesotans have it hanging in their homes?

Jean-Paul also led me past an old church with sadly boarded-up windows. Its field stone foundation and fa├žade were playfully irregular, its upper half was wooden, and folkishly-designed. A historical marker stood in front, yet the church was condemned, and had been privately owned for decades. Why? Its stained-glass windows deserve to be seen!

14 comments:

jessi said...

Does anyone know where or what website i can order this portrait and the one exactly like this except the old woman????? please let me know!!!!!!!!!!
jessi

brulugn said...

I have had the picture of the old man praying over the bowl and bread ever since I can remember. I think the one I have, on wood is from my grandfather. He was originally from Sweden, but when he came to his country in about 1907 he moved to South Dakota. He lived in Minneapolis from about 1917 to about 1930 or so. He was a minister. The one I have is old and scraped in places.

I was pleased to find this picture on line. Many thanks, Bruce

Anonymous said...

How cool, I just wrote a devotional using this photo as an example. It stayed in my mothers kitchen, and I used to look at it every time I would sit down for a meal. Never knew the name of it until I read this blog!

Thomas said...

My wife's (Janet Vogel) grandmother Esther Hedlund was born in 1880. She came to the United States as a child and settled in Northern Minnesota. As a young adult she worked for the photographer in Colerain Minnesota who took this famous picture. The Bible belonged to Esther's father Rev Lars Gustaf Hedlund who was born in Eskilstuna, Sodermanland, Sweden. Rev Larsen had dark hair and the photographer wanted a gray haired man, so Rev Hedlund was not in the photo. A man was found walking through town and he was asked to pose for the photo. Esther's job involved using water colors to color the black and white photos. Esther said that the photographers daughter actually colored this particular photo. It was later made into a painting by an artist unklnown to her. The actual Bible is said to be in the possession of one of the grandaughters of Esther Helund. This information was told to my wife by her grandmother Esther Edlund. Esther died in St. Paul, Minnesota at age 91 in the year 1971. Our daughter, Esther, born in 1973, is named for her great grandmother Esther.

Anonymous said...

Not just for Minnesotans...I grew up in Ohio, and we had this picture hanging in our kitchen. I always loved it. It's a great picture! I have no idea what ever happened to it. It was cool to see it again and learn some history about it too.

bonnie said...

remember it well....in my grandparents dining room. It had the "Serenity Prayer" written on it.......this photo has real magnetism.........you have to look at it.

Anonymous said...

I am currently researching this portrait, as myself and a friend of mine are conversing about a "companion" portrait of a woman saying grace over bread, facing in the opposite direction.

If anyone knows where I can find the picture online, and it's name, that would be greatly appreciated!

jeeeminasia@gmail.com

Thanks in advance....
Jeeem

Anonymous said...

I just got one given to me from the passing of my grandmother. She was 105,on the back it is from Decorative Arts. Number 7360M. Does anyone know information about this?

Sharon said...

My grandparents also have this photo, along with the companion picture of a woman praying. It hangs over their kitchen table. I always see it as an image of my heritage of godly grandparents. I would LOVE to find copies of this picture. If you can help, please email me, as well.

sharonrleslie@live.com

Anonymous said...

Garrison Keillor said that this painting speaks volumes by what is implied, which is Thanksgiging dinner with extended family, and that the real message is that the old man is praying, "Oh Lord, please just get me out of here..."

Anonymous said...

This helps make both equally yoga and Pilates much more "functional" (translating to everyday functions greater) since we generally use many muscle groups at a time.
Also visit my page :: used dumbbells

Anonymous said...

Repairing Small Cracks in concrete Floors: Determine the
Damage. Despite the fact that it uses concrete, an unfriendly environmental material, it has a few advantages over tires and shares
most of the earthship advantages. It is advantageous for the customer to
compare the prices for an additional dumpster rental from the normal waste removal company against an offer made
by a collector that will place a dumpster for a one-time
pickup.

Anonymous said...

http://paleodietrecipesbook.net/
http://howtoloseweightfastindays.com
http://purelivinghcg.com/
http://getlaid2night.us/male-enhancement
http://getlaid2night.us/penis-pump

Anonymous said...

http://paleodietrecipesbook.net/
http://howtoloseweightfastindays.com
http://purelivinghcg.com/
http://getlaid2night.us/male-enhancement
http://getlaid2night.us/penis-pump