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Man tells stories through sculptures

RED LAKE FALLS, Minn. -- Ted Schindler's philosophy on art is simple: It has to tell a story. "The emotions of the artist should come through," the 69-year-old sculptor said. "What I feel, other people should feel when looking at it.

RED LAKE FALLS, Minn. -- Ted Schindler's philosophy on art is simple: It has to tell a story.

"The emotions of the artist should come through," the 69-year-old sculptor said. "What I feel, other people should feel when looking at it. It should say something."

That's especially important for Schindler who not only sculpts but hopes to use pictures of his pieces as illustrations for a children's book he's writing about life for early settlers.

In his five years working with clay, Schindler has become a master at having his art tell a story.

"It is a way of bringing our history alive," said Marjorie Schafer, a master potter from Red Lake Falls. "His sculptures are unique. You're seeing history through the eyes of an artist."

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Each piece is a snapshot of pioneer life. From the tiny tools hanging on the back wall of the blacksmith's shop to a bundled-up child and teacher collecting firewood on a blustery winter morning, Schindler's work captures life's minute details.

Schindler, who is a self-taught artist, has been interested in art all his life.

He thought about being an art teacher and even took some education classes in the early 1960s but figured he would be able to provide a better living for his family as a farmer.

"I guess I'm trying to recapture some of my youth memories," he said

A trip to Alaska in 1993 relit Schindler's fire for making art.

"We saw the work some of these young artists were doing," he said. "It was just beautiful."

When Schindler returned from vacation, his children chipped in and bought him 100 pounds of clay.

It sat in storage for years before his wife gave him an ultimatum -- move it or lose it.

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Schindler started by crafting vases and busts, but his passion was for recreating the pioneer days.

"My inspiration was how I was entertained as a kid," he said.

Schindler, who has since joined a local artist group called Clayworks, sculpted what he remembered about life growing up on the farm.

That evolved into Schindler creating a collection of pieces called the Homestead Series and eventually into him writing the book.

"The book and sculptures are following the history of my ancestors from Bavaria to Dubuque, Iowa," he said.

Schindler has sent the book out to publishers and is waiting for a response.

If the idea takes off, he would like to create another sculpture/book series that follows his family travels north to Red Lake Falls.

Schindler does sell some of his pieces but not those made for a series.

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Schindler makes about 20 pieces a year, mostly working during the winter. It takes him about 25 to 30 hours to make a sculpture.

"We knew he had talent," said Gary Schindler, Ted's son. "I never knew he had hat kind of talent.

"Farming and raising a family took a precedence over art. Now he has time to develop his hobbies. I'm very proud of him."

Schindler's studio is located at his home at 13339 220th St. SW. To contact Schindler call (218) 253-2880.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Jeff Baird at (701) 241-5535

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