Best kept secret: Schleitheim is an artist’s haven!

Happy New Year everyone! At the start of a new year, I’ll pass on what my now deceased friend Joanne asked me once: What do you want the next chapter of your life to look like? You might not be able to control all your circumstances, but you can control your reactions, which to a large part write the chapter.

Hans Russenberger's latest public sculpture, 'de Laaterwägelibueb' spans the village creek. Russenberger was one of 30 artists to display at Scheitheim's art show.

Hans Russenberger’s latest public sculpture, ‘de Laaterwägelibueb’ spans the village creek. Russenberger was one of 30 artists to display at Scheitheim’s art show.

Schleitheim http://www.schleitheim.ch ended the last year on an artistic note. From December 28-30, 2012 it was home to a regional art fair, showcasing over 30 mostly local artists. Some of the names on the flyer were familiar to me and I was curious to see what would all be there. I left very excited about the quality and quantity of art produced in our corner of Switzerland.

A huge sculpture dominated the entrance to the show. Now there was something a farmer could relate to – old two bottom plows and shares welded together into an intricate figure. It’s the type of art to place at the farm gate.

Fitting for a rural community, 'plow art' dominates the entrance to the art show.

Fitting for a rural community, ‘plow art’ dominates the entrance to the art show.

Near the plow sculpture was the bust of a fibreglass woman who seemingly had sat in the woods for a long time already.  But brush and paint still lay nearby. It was an invitation by artist Margrit Gut, who grew up in Schleitheim, to come closer, to ponder – how should this piece be finished? Margrit is my sister-in-law’s mother. One of her sculptures, a huge Holstein cow, announces the entrance to the farm I grew up on in Canada. Margrit also paints and writes.

I love this piece by Margrit Gut (the picture) using a mix of mediums - weaving and paint.

I love this piece by Margrit Gut (the picture) using a mix of mediums – weaving and paint.

All of us in Schleitheim are familiar with Hans Russenberger’s sculptures in stone, iron and metal, placed in strategic places around the village. Last year he added ‘de Laaterwaegelibueb’ to the village collection – a metal sculpture of a young boy taking the milk to the dairy now spans the creek winding through the center of the village.

Then there’s Hans George Tenger, whose paintings hang in many homes and public buildings around the province and overseas – in our farmhouse in Canada for instance. He was just one of many artists displaying their paintings, in all styles.

Christoph Gasser, who lives in the same house we do, creates practical works of art from wood, tree trunks and stumps, making unique CD/DVD holders and wine racks.

What is it about this obscure valley at the far end of Switzerland that fosters such a burst of creativity, that drives people to paint, explore, express themselves? Whatever it is, I hope it rubs off on me as I continue on my own work of art, the book of stories from Zambia.

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