Thursday, Apr. 27th, 2017

Behind The Scenes: Listen To Your Mother, La Crosse’s Finale Season

Listen To Your Mother 2017 Cast. Photo: Diane Knothe of Apropos Photography
Listen To Your Mother 2017 Cast. Photo: Diane Knothe of Apropos Photography

Listen To Your Mother is a national series that features local stories about mothers and motherhood. In our second year hosting a show in La Crosse, my production team of Beth Erickson (Jobe Communications and Trust Point Inc.), Molly Hilligoss (YWCA La Crosse), and I wish that everyone could be a fly on the wall during auditions. We hear incredible stories of love, loss, laughter, and life journeys. It is a privilege to listen to each story, and we want to thank everyone who has trusted us with their truths over the past two years. There is something so touching about listening to a person’s truth it can only be described as magical.

The 2017 show promises to take our audience on a well-crafted exploration of “the good, the bad, and the barely-rested” that is motherhood. Though, we should say, you don’t have to be a mother to enjoy our show. We are excited to introduce our cast of 13 women and men to you. Our cast is diverse, and so are our stories, with tales coming from all over the globe this year.  

We’ve got stories about mothers, of course, but we also have stories about mother figures, the often unrecognized individuals who play just as important a role in our support system – grandmothers, aunts, sisters, even stay-at-home dads. We’ve got stories to make you laugh, and definitely some that will make you cry. All of our stories are full of heart.

Behind the scenes, our cast and production team are getting to know one another. We’re sharing more stories. We’re talking about our families, our jobs, our hobbies, our passions. We’re workshopping the show order and fine tuning our pieces, so when show night comes you can sit back and enjoy this production of live readings that is truly unlike any other.

We’re thrilled to welcome back our emcee for the evening, WKBT News 8’s Lisa Klein. So many of our local sponsors, such as Women Writers Ink and News 8, returned to support us this year, and we are ever grateful for their partnership. The many local sponsors we have help provide us with rehearsal space, they feed our cast, they promote the show, and they all support women and families.

All of the Listen To Your Mother productions across the country – there are 30 cities this year – take place within a few weeks of Mother’s Day, and each performance supports a nonprofit partner as well. Locally, ten percent of every ticket sold will benefit YWCA La Crosse whose mission is to end racism and empower women and girls. Our local YWCA has been established for over 100 years and offers many programs for teens and adults that support mentoring, counseling, rehabilitation, social justice, and diversity.

We can’t wait to see you in the crowd on show night! It is an honor to share these stories with each of you. In the meantime, don’t forget to LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!

2017 Cast  

  • Joanne Adragna Shird
  • Beth Erickson
  • Maureen Freedland
  • Nancy Heerens-Knudson
  • Sylvia Jimison
  • Livia Johnson
  • Jonathan Lamb
  • Amy Sanwick
  • Susan C. Schuyler
  • Michael Scott
  • Sheida Teimouri
  • Clare Wight
  • Christy Wopat
2016 Cast. Photos: Bruce Defries
2016 Cast. Photos: Bruce Defries
YWCA Development Director, Rose Reinert. Photo: Bruce Defries
YWCA Development Director, Rose Reinert. Photo: Bruce Defries
Photo: Bruce Defries
Photo: Bruce Defries
Photo: Bruce Defries
Photo: Bruce Defries

Friday, Mar. 3rd, 2017

Stanton West, formerly Eddie Danger, to Release Folk Album

Eddie Danger is about to release a debut folk album under his grandfather's name, Stanton West, to be produced by David Grisman and Jerry Garcia's percussionist, Joe Craven at Foxtail Studios in California.

Eddie Danger has been part of the Wisconsin music scene for almost 20 years.  He was the creator behind the Feel Good Music & Arts Festival, Renewsical: A Musical About Renewable Energy, The Seafaring Musical Marionette Puppet Show, bluegrass band Dangergrass, and the Wisconsin Roots Music Cooperative.  There isn’t a venue or stage in Wisconsin he hasn’t played.  If you haven’t heard of him perhaps you were wandering a music festival and he randomly stopped you to give you a magic acorn (a real acorn top with a glass marble for the nut).  There is even a chance you were at a wedding he officiated, or you sang along with him at a kids’ show or a farmers’ market.  He is a spreader of fun and music.  And now he has a new project.  

After making a name for himself in the folk scene appearing in a film with A Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor, being a regular on WPR’s Simply Folk, and winning multiple songwriters’ contests throughout the state, Danger decided to go folk’in all the way.  Danger is releasing a new folk album under his grandfather’s name, Stanton West, that will be released this summer.  The album is being recorded at Foxtail Studios in California and produced by his musical hero, Joe Craven.  Craven is most known for his work as the percussion player for David Grisman and Jerry Garcia’s five acoustic albums released under Grisman’s record label Acoustic Disc.  

Stanton/Danger has spent the last 10 years balancing his music career with being a home-schooling stay-at-home dad and a part-time organic farmer.  Now that both of his kids are ready to attend school, he is presented with the opportunity to focus on his music career entirely.  He refers to the whole idea as, “Being Who I Am, Going Pro, & Providing for my Family.  I Love being a creative person and I Love my family.  This is an effort to do them both a service.”  It’s a big step, and he is taking it enthusiastically.  

Danger is taking action by exemplifying his sentiments of, "To thrive in this world you must decide what you Love to do and figure out a way to make it happen." He sees this as his time to step it up and record in professional studio with one of his musical heroes producing the project.  His first eleven albums were self-funded and recorded in home-studios.  Stanton has also been working with an artist manager out of Nashville. She has been helping him with the preproduction of the album.  She feels confident that she can get the songs on to national folk radio charts.   

The new songs are groove-driven, folk tunes about feeling good, being who you are, and staying present in the moment.  Like all of his past projects, it promotes family fun, environmental stewardship, building community, healthy local food, live & local music, creative expression, and being a positive (yet practical) force in the world. 

Danger is doing a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for the month of March and is offering some very unique acorn themed rewards to backers including an acorn tattoo!

Learn more about Stanton West on Facebook or his website.

Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, 2017

You're Invited! MOSES Offers Locals Discount Night & Downtown Gets Ready to Party


Photo: Dahli Durley
Photo: Dahli Durley

The MOSES Organic Farming Conference is coming! What does this mean? Not only does it mean the La Crosse Center is completely taken over, right down to each storage room, but it also means Downtown La Crosse becomes “the Oktoberfest of organic farmers”. In lieu of lederhosen, you’ll see plaid flannel and overalls; instead of dirndls, you’ll see… well, plaid flannel and overalls. You may notice the beauty of more folks in town with dreadlocks, hipster glasses, and a few extra beards. German beers may get opted out for an organic cider and polka is replaced with some of the best bluegrass and Americana in the Midwest.

With several music venues poised to open their doors to the overflow of the best attended event at La Crosse Center, locals can kick up their heels with some visiting folks that know how to work hard and play hard. These farmers may even share a thing or two about healthy soil composition.

What’s the MOSES Organic Farming Conference about? It’s the world’s largest gathering of organic farmers and the conference opens Thursday night at the La Crosse Center, and runs through Saturday. Locals can get a special ticket for $20 on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. to see the trade show with over 170 vendors, supplying everything from organic seeds to hand tools and small-scale tractors—many items perfect for gardeners, too. The event also features a bookstore with farming, homesteading, and gardening books hand-selected for great content.

The Thursday evening locals ticket includes admission to the bookstore and the one-woman performance of “Turn Here Sweet Corn,” which starts at 7:40 p.m. In addition, tickets are available to the entire conference as well.

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

What’s going on Downtown? Horseshoes & Hand Grenades play two nights at The Cavalier, Mid West Music Fest kicks off a dance party with PHO at the Root Note, Pigtown Fling strings it up at The Bodega, The Shufflin’ Duprees switch it up with Blues at The Brickhouse, and more!

Check out additional links to articles and events at the end of this article for more info about each event. Throw on your plaid, check out the MOSES Organic Farming Conference, and get downtown this weekend!  

Monday, Feb. 20th, 2017

Call to Artists: The People's Flag

La Crosse Group Seeks New Flag Design

Will Kratt presents The People's Flag project
Will Kratt presents The People's Flag project

 La Crosse Group Seeks New City Flag Design

From the peak of Grandad Bluff to the ripples of the Mississippi River, La Crosse, Wisconsin is a welcoming community with a wealth of culture to offer. A collaboration of local groups have come together on a project to create a symbol to represent the affection that citizens share for this city which they are calling “People’s Flag of La Crosse”.

The collaboration of Artspire, Pump House Regional Arts Center, School District of La Crosse, FUN Group, and Downtown Mainstreet, Inc. has initiated a “Call to Artists” to design a flag which the group hopes will be displayed around the city. “It’s something that’s meant to represent the community,” stated Brian Fukuda, group member. Citizens of all ages and professions are encouraged to design a flag that expresses the values that the city holds.

Current City of La Crosse Flag
Current City of La Crosse Flag

Though this is not meant to replace the current City of La Crosse flag, it will be an additional symbol that members of the community will be able to rally around and take pride in its symbolism.

Mayor Tim Kabat of La Crosse is on board as well stating, “I’m looking forward to the project. I’m hoping there’s a lot of community engagement.” And so far, there has been.

The group has connected with the School District of La Crosse on this project as a follow up to last year’s successful Compassion Project (in partnership with Artspire). Some students in art classes will have the opportunity to learn about the symbolism that goes into creating flags and may design 6” x 10” flags of their own to represent their family, school, neighborhood, or city. “We felt this was a great connection with the schools… we’ve received a request for 500 mini flags for the schools already,” added Eva Marie Restel, Chairperson of Artspire. This summer during the Artspire event, these designs will line the sidewalk and river view near the Weber Center for the Performing Arts to illustrate the different ways people envision their city.

Members of the community will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite design through online polling to be considered during the ultimate vote by members of the committee.

Entries may be submitted in a digital file format or may be a photo of a flag they created as long as the entry meets the submission requirements. The winning flag designer will be awarded a sponsored cash prize as well as recognition at the Artspire event on June 10. Visit the program website by clicking here to learn more about the project and how to submit a design of your own.

Online voting begins April 10. Visit Artspire this summer when the final design will be revealed and the citizens of La Crosse will be able to admire this collective symbol of a place that they all call home.

Not feeling confident in your artistic abilities? Watch the Ted Talk the group is directing people to watch, focusing on the simplicity of flag design. Maybe you could be the one to leave a lasting mark on the city of La Crosse. 

Thursday, Feb. 9th, 2017

Composer and Pianist Luke Thering Releases Ballads for Buddha Album

La Crosse, Wis.-based UW-La Crosse alum, composer, teacher, and pianist Luke Thering recently released the album, Ballads for Buddha. SEVEN covered the Wonderstruck Theatre Co. production, “Mop Dog”, a children’s puppet show April, 2016 of which Thering composed and recorded the full soundtrack.  

Ballads for Buddha delivers serene piano compositions through contemplative pieces such as “Things as they are, here and now”, “Truth One: Dukka (suffering)”, “Brahma-vihara (loving, kindness, compassion, joy equanimity)”, and others.  

According to Thering’s website, he shares, “this album is comprised of entirely improvised pieces, recorded on one day. At the piano, I let Buddhist ideas inform my musical decisions – namely the Four Noble Truths, and concepts like impermanence, acceptance, attention, and intention. Periods of silence were intentionally added at the end of some tracks to allow for time to take a breath, both literally and aurally-speaking.”  

Purchase Ballads for Buddha: Here

Learn more about the work of Luke Thering: Here

See Thering play at an upcoming show with 3rd Relation Jazz Quartet: Info Here



Emerging Artist Exhibition showcases oil paintings by Luther College students Ryan Koning and Joseph Cowan

“Make Yourself Comfortable: Marah,” oil on canvas by Ryan Koning, 19”x 22”
“Make Yourself Comfortable: Marah,” oil on canvas by Ryan Koning, 19”x 22”

Lanesboro Arts will present an Emerging Artist Exhibition featuring portraits by Ryan Koning and still-lifes by Joseph Cowan. The show opens with an artist reception on Sat., Feb. 25, 2017, from 6-8 p.m., and runs through March 19. Free and open to the public, winter gallery hours are Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. These two talented artists were selected in a jury process for the 3rd annual Emerging Art Show at Lanesboro Arts.

A sophomore at Luther College studying art and education, Ryan Koning has created a collection of distinctive oil painting portraits inspired by concepts of relationships and comfortability. “I sought to capture not only the likeness of the sitters I painted, but also their personalities and what may have been going through their heads at the time,” she said. Genuine and relatable, Koning states her portraits are largely influenced by the attention to realism displayed by John Singer Sargent and the personality of the work of Lucian Freud.

Originally from the Des Moines area, Koning has been drawn to oil paint as a medium since first using it in a high school class. “The rich tones and variety of thickness that can be achieved through oil is magical to me,” she shares. “So far, oil paint is the only medium I have found that makes the level of both expression and realism I strive for possible.”

“Still Life with Orange” oil on canvas by Joseph Cowan, 12”x16”
“Still Life with Orange” oil on canvas by Joseph Cowan, 12”x16”

Also a sophomore at Luther College studying art, one of the reasons Joseph Cowan feels the need to create art is in order to make sense of the world. “Still life painting is possibly the most distilled expression of this goal because it allows the artist to focus on abstract relationships, and form,” he says. “Without unnecessary emotional interference one can begin to answer one of the most basic questions about reality: how does it look?”

Originally from La Crosse, Cowan’s goal is to create images that are effective in replicating feelings, aesthetics and situations that are hard to explain with words, and to be able to render the real world as he sees it. “These oil paintings were all painted from life using controlled lighting,” explains Cowan. “My preferred procedure is to execute the paintings in two layers: one underpainting layer which may be colored or monochromatic, and the next layer a direct painting of the subject.”

Providing year-round arts programming for more than thirty years, the mission of Lanesboro Arts is to serve as a regional catalyst for artistic excellence and educational development in providing diverse art experiences for people of all ages. Handicapped accessible and free to the public, the exhibition gallery is located at 103 Parkway Ave N. in Lanesboro, Minnesota. The exhibit is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

The Band of Heathens Live Feb 10: Mid West Music Fest Show at Cavalier

Austin, TX based, The Band of Heathens, are an old-school southern Americana and boogie woogie band that have gathered a huge base of fans in their 10 years as a band. Mid West Music Fest (April 14-15 La Crosse and April 28-29) is helping to bring them to La Crosse through a partnership with Weber Family Foundation. In a rare Midwest performance, the 5-piece band will be joined by Denver-based Great American Taxi and local country-grass pioneers The Smokin’ Bandits.

The non-Midwest acts are not as out of the ordinary as it sounds for the organization that has made a name for itself branding Midwest music and its artists. “In the music business, these days, like in a lot of fields, it comes down the relationships we are building with certain artists, booking agents, and local community members, says MWMF Festival Director Parker Forsell.

“There actually is a strong chain of connections here that all circles back to relationships made in the community of La Crosse,” Forsell adds.

The Band of Heathens are managed by Chad Staehly, who is the brother of Christian "Chubba" Staehly of The Smoking Bandits, a group of La Crosse guys who all met while attending college here. The Staehly brothers grew up in the Fox Valley, but have gravitated like many others toward the burgeoning arts and cultural scene in the Mississippi Valley. Chad Staehly is in the process of moving his family to town, which should be a boon for the music community in general in our area. Chad works for Nashville-based Gold Mountain Entertainment and is not only the manager of The Band Of Heathens, but other well-known acts Todd Snider and The Chicago Farmer. He also plays keys, sings and manages his own two bands, Great American Taxi and Hard Working Americans (which includes Todd Snider, and Dave Schools and Duane Trucks of Widespread Panic).

Both The Band of Heathens and Great American Taxi are celebrating the release of new albums and are on tour throughout the country.

More event info by Clicking Here.

Band of Heathens: Website

Great American Taxi: Website

The Smokin Bandits: Facebook

Thursday, Aug. 18th, 2016

New Art Bar to Open in Downtown La Crosse

Creative Canvas & Board is about to move up the street to the former Salem Markos and Sons store at 313 Pearl Street in Downtown La Crosse and will become a new art studio and bar.

Creative Canvas & Board Owner, Karen Bressi, and Manager, Daisy Garibaldi
Creative Canvas & Board Owner, Karen Bressi, and Manager, Daisy Garibaldi

Currently, Creative Canvas is Karen Bressi’s fourth business venture (others include Generous Earth Pottery, All Glazed Up, and Art Rageous Art Centers) and home to our local version of the sip and paint craze. Participants of all ages join together to paint canvases according to a suggested template with some professional guidance but without creative restrictions. Painters in adult classes have had the opportunity to purchase beer, wine, soda or water at the current location, but the new location will also feature a custom-built bar with an additional seating area. Visitors can drop in outside of scheduled classes to paint fun-sized mini canvases while they drink wine and chat with friends.

Recently, wooden board painting has been added, which will also be featured at the new location will feature classes in which the entire process will be handled by participants. They will sand their own wooden panels, use hammer and nails to create a distressed look, and stain the wood to their liking. Once the wood is ready, it will be assembled into a single piece to lay a pre-cut stencil of their choice on top for painting. To be able to customize a work of art at this level can be so rewarding; to have the entire process available at a classy downtown bar…genius!

Spin art, a form of painting, is now available, and graffiti art involving large-scale stenciling and spray paint will become available in the near future. Bressi saw a unique graffiti art concept while in Berlin, Germany and hopes to bring the fun to her studio.

Bressi explained that the remodeling phase has been exciting, as new restrooms, a new air conditioning unit and lighting are updated. She said that the basement may be used later on, and that “every space we’ve had, we’ve outgrown.”

Bressi attributes the success of each of her businesses to customers’ love of the arts and to her talented staff, including Creative Canvas & Board Manager Daisy Garibaldi. Bressi says, “We have so many artistic people in our crew that give us so many ideas.”

According to Bressi, they hope to open Creative Canvas & Board in September, 2016, and will be open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and will be available for private parties.  


Creative Canvas & Board
313 Pearl Street 
La Crosse, WI

Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. daily


Website available in September –
Current schedule -  
Other businesses currently available to enjoy:

All Glazed Up
205 Pearl Street
La Crosse, WI


Art Rageous Art Centers
500 N Holmen Drive
Holmen, WI


Generous Earth Pottery
321 Main Street
La Crosse, WI



Tuesday, Aug. 16th, 2016

The Hand of the River: Now Featured at Minnesota Marine Art Museum

On a placard next to one work of art at Winona’s Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM), Moira Bateman describes her work as ritualistic. For her, making art is a quiet process between her, her material and the earth, as she packs up all the gear she needs and travels to remote locations along the Mississippi River. Her methods are simple. Once Bateman reaches her destination, she uses a solar reflector to heat up water and silk, collects fallen plant matter local to the site, and bundles it into the fabric, eventually submerging it underwater and allowing the current and chemistry of the river do the rest of the work.

Unfurling her eco-dyed work weeks later is another ritual in and of itself. Based on season and location, plants dye the fabric unpredictably within an earthy spectrum of hues, and opening up the newly-pigmented works is always a surprise to Bateman. “I’m not very scientific about it,” she says. “I’m more interested in what will happen kind of intuitively. I’m not going to think it too far in advance, and I just go with that and see what happens.” Finding unique colors, she says, is “lucking out.” To preserve the moment of discovery that accompanies opening a new piece, Bateman layers the cloth with beeswax medium and flattens it with an iron.

This summer, we are fortunate for the opportunity to view Bateman’s flowing textiles dyed by the river itself in “The Hand of the River,” a dual-artist exhibition at the MMAM paying homage to the region’s ancient symbiosis with water.

Breaking from her usual method, she made no marks at all on pieces hailing from Prairie Island, instead giving artistic license to the crushed leaves and mud inside the fabric, resulting in a new and lovely hue.

Another of her works on display at the MMAM, called “Women’s Work, Mile 854.4,” stands out to Bateman for its rich colors. She says, “Some of those pieces, like the Women’s Work from Nicollet Island, got a lot of interesting colors. Some of them turned a really bruised, purple looking color, and that was really interesting.” After creating the piece, Bateman discovered that Nicollet Island, according to oral legend, had once been a birthing place for native women and named her artwork accordingly.

Women and women’s work are central to Bateman’s art, but equally so is the notion of humans’ working relationship with the earth. A visually striking dress in the MMAM exhibition hangs as a testament to all of the above. In Bateman’s eyes, it represents our “humanity and our vulnerabilities and nature’s vulnerability with us.” Likewise, she sees the process of working with cloth as a vulnerable one, intimate to the human body.

Hailing from Minneapolis, Bateman never found that the big city dampened her ability to connect with nature. “The Mississippi in Minneapolis is a gorge, a really steep bluff,” she says. “It’s really wild. It’s sort of so steep that it can’t be built. I spent a lot of time on those slopes as a kid, just scrambling up little pathways or going down by the river. I love that wildness and was really drawn to it. And I love it still, how it goes through the city and remains untamed.”

Her early childhood introduction to the splendors of nature continues to shape her work. After earning a Master of Landscape Architecture degree with a concentration in landscape ecology from the University of Minnesota, she was then introduced to art, then ceramics, then textiles, and the rest is history. She now travels all along the Mississippi for new inspiration—Winona, Itasca, the Twin Cities, Nicollet Island, Grey Cloud Dunes, Prairie Island, and La Crosse.

Upon the conclusion of “The Hand of the River” at the MMAM, a few of Bateman’s pieces will be moved to the McKnight Foundation in the Twin Cities. However, one would be remiss to pass up the opportunity to view Bateman’s work before it moves. With a view of the Mississippi River right outside the museum windows, it’s breathtaking to see her work in conjunction with its inspiration.


Friday, Aug. 12th, 2016

Through the Looking Glass

The Seven Rivers Region features a plethora of glassmakers and galleries while boasting several stained glass viewing opportunities. Here’s a glimpse:

The small city of Winona, Minnesota, is home to five stained glass companies with a worldwide client base. That’s quite a reputation. If you stop at the visitor center on Huff Street, you can get a city map and a flyer detailing places to check out, or visit Winona’s tourism website for a link to the Glorious Glass Tour for a self-guided scavenger hunt. Some lucky finds: the various renditions of Princess Wenonah (Dakota for “first-born daughter”), the famed maiden who threw herself from a high bluff rather than marry a man she didn’t love. Many of the windows around town are visual stories, painted in glass. Happy hunting.

Tours are self-guided. Most places have regular business hours. The link to the Glorious Glass Tour is

If you want to book a group tour of Cathedral Crafts and Hauser Art Glass Company, you must make advanced reservations with the Winona Convention and Visitors Bureau at 507-452-0735. 

Carly Petrausky has been working with stained glass for the past six years. She started with a five-week class on La Crosse’s north side, in a small shop that has since closed. “Stained glass is not something you can just wing,” she says. There’s a solid investment in tools, and even more of an investment of time. Part of the irony of working with glass—a medium that you can see straight through—is how much of the work itself you simply cannot see. The work is delicate, and Petrausky says the sound of glass hitting the floor can be devastating. But even the creation process requires breaking glass: You score it first then make the break. “Glass wants to break straight; you have to coax it to break differently. You accommodate the glass, not the other way around.”

One of the beautiful things about Petrausky’s work is how she has weighted and balanced the pieces to create three-dimensional wholes. She has a mobile of iridescent clouds, whose hanging balance—meticulously achieved through trial and error—gives them their own movement, and their patterned glass tosses light in slow turns. She has a spinning solar system, each planet cut with uniquely patterned glass, and which has a detachable Pluto, depending on your preference. And her latest endeavor: a set of red-winged blackbird wings that will eventually hang as if raised in flight, with a cord attached so you can gently manipulate the wings to fly.

Carly Petrausky often has her work for sale at the Winona Artisan Market,, which is the first Saturday of every month. You can also view and purchase her work at

Aaron Sandker works under the name Lonesome Hobo Glass, which hints at his style but is also deceptively simplified. Distinctive parts of life come together to form Sandker’s artistic story, which centers on a very unique part: butterfly wings.

In the past, Sandker worked on a number of farms in the Driftless Region, and he would often come across butterflies that had died along the road or in greenhouses. “I would always pick them up and closely admire their perfect symmetry and beauty. I kept everything I found in a large shoebox, thinking I would do something with them someday, and my collection grew and grew.”

The recession in 2009 left Sandker without work for a few months, and he used that time to learn glass cutting and soldering through books, YouTube videos and practice. He started making jewelry out of the wings he had collected, and as his jewelry caught on, his collection of wings grew rather than dwindled. “Friends, family and customers would give me what they had found at gas stations, parking lots and porch lights.” Glasswork itself is a delicate endeavor; working with the fragility of butterfly’s wings takes a real finesse. Aaron’s jewelry subtly showcases the vibrant colors of nature’s vulnerable beauty.

Sandker has recently branched into making geometric terrariums that have the potential to crunch your brain with their funky shapes that meet a perfect mathematical balance. The symmetry he creates is nothing less than visual poetry. You have to admire that in a lonesome hobo.

Sandker's work will be at the Driftless Area Art Festival, September 17-18, You can also view and purchase his work at and

*All photos contributed.