Homestead Studio and Gallery, located just north of Bellevue at Naked Mountain Acres, recently announced its inaugural art show called "The Birds and the Bees."
The exhibition opening will be held Friday, May 31 from 5 to 9 pm, followed by Saturday and Sunday receptions from noon to 5 p.m.
Featured art will include the work of Laura Schuster and the owner of the gallery, artist Theresa Ganzer-Blitgen. Refreshments will be served.
Homestead Studio and Gallery, located at 33183 Highway 52, Bellevue, has become the new working space for rural and first gallery endeavor in recent years. How it all came about is a longer story.
"I had graduated with a Fine Arts degree in 1992. I had worked in art galleries and had my work featured in galleries and other venues over the years,” explained Ganzer-Blitgen. During these years, and up until recently, I also worked full time as a respiratory nurse but I always desired to someday have my own studio and gallery.”
"When the chemical duster sprayed our house yard as well as the old homestead's, we rented out the field next door to us. This little slice of paradise we call Naked Mountain Acres grew into its name,” added Ganzer-Blitgen.
In the mid-1980s, Theresa’s husband Jim had built a home on a little corner of a small farm his grandparents had aquired back in 1958. The crop ground on the farm had been in a set-aside program for a number of years, but the field by the house was put back into production the year the couple was married.
“Not really wanting modern chemical agriculture 50 feet from our home, Jim talked to his father and he has been leasing the ground since then, growing mainly hay but occasionally small two acre plots of wheat, hulless oats and open pollinated corn,” said Ganzer-Blitgen. “ We also cultivate a pretty extensive garden which keeps us well stocked on vegetables with the surplus then being sold, donated, or gifted. There are fruit trees on the homestead and also seven acres of native tall grass prairie.”
Several years ago Jim started keeping bees and maintains some hives in the prairie and some close to the homestead yard and garden.
“We keep bees not so much for the honey as it is for just keeping the bees,” she said. “It is like Jim says, ‘We really do not own anything but are just caretakers while we are here.’ And since we are now the caretakers of this homestead, we wish to maintain a healthy environment for those creatures we share it with...the Birds and the Bees.”
Since then, the family has grown a variety of crops on that little plot since (oats, corn, squash, melons - but mainly grass hay ) all with no chemicals – ‘naked,’ so to speak.
“We have fruit trees on the homestead, too - all naked - no chemicals,” she said. "Sounds like the perfect environment for bees, right?"
They keep their horses in the old hay barn there, which they are restoring. The farmstead’s 140 year-old farmhouse is where Theresa just moved her rural art studio.
“A year ago I began leasing the farm house after long-time renter, Laura Schuster moved out following the untimely passing of her husband, Fred. I spent last summer moving my artwork and supplies into the structure and in November,” said Ganzer-Blitgen. “Homestead Studio and Gallery was up and running with an open house to allow its guests a peek at, not only the century old farmhouse before it underwent the transformation into a gallery space, but also some new artwork I created after almost a decade of not making any. I was too busy, I guess, with gardening and working full-time as a respiratory therapist in Rockford, Illinois."
Ganzer-Blitgen works at the hospital part time now and has recently been exploring the use of chalk pastels in a series of small bees drawings.
The first show to christen the gallery space at Homestead will include these and bird photos, many of which were taken right on the Homestead property by former rentor Laura Schuster.
"In addition to this show, titled "The Birds and the Bees", I will have my older graphite drawings on display, as well as neat little wren houses, hand crafted by Ken Weuste. I hope anyone who is interested in art, the bees (real or drawn), birds or old homesteads joins us. “