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Artist uses nature as theme in exhibit

WORTHINGTON -- Looking to nature for her subject matter is instinctive for artist Bonnie Hale.

"I have a real passion for gardening," she said. "I've gotten into collecting dwarf conifers. I try to put some of that into my artwork, because you spend so much time in the winter when you can't garden."

Hale, a high school art teacher from Sioux Falls, S.D., is currently exhibiting her work in the Fine Arts Building at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington campus. The show will open with a reception from 7 to 8:30 p.m. today at the college.

"All of it is pretty new," said Hale. "There are a couple of pieces that I might have shown in another show, but most of it is new. It's probably about 75 percent paintings, all sizes. I guess the main theme that I'm always trying to work with is nature, although I've got one portrait of my nephew that's kind of interesting."

The show also includes some drawings, but acrylic paint is Hale's favored medium.

"Acrylics on canvas, on board, on scraps of paper -- just about anything I can work on," she said. "A lot of it is stuff we try at school. It's fun for the kids to try new things. The directions that the kids go in sometimes make me think. They trade with me -- my ideas for theirs, their ideas for mine."

A graduate of the University of Sioux Falls, Hale taught at a Sioux Falls middle school for seven years, then moved to the Twin Cities, where she completed graduate studies at the University of Minnesota. She's now taught painting and drawing at Washington High School for eight years.

Hale tries to show her work at least once a year, although she admitted it's difficult, as a full-time teacher, to find the time for her own painting.

"I'm a realistic painter, but I do like to leave a little bit of mystery here and there and not have everything incredibly defined," she described about her work. "I like to leave some to the imagination of the viewer. ... Sometimes they have landscapes in them, some have flowers, a lot of times dried flower pods, a piece of driftwood. I just seem to collect a lot of junk and stuff. I love old things, and I love to put them together, arrange things."

In addition to the paintings and drawings, Hale is also including some altered books in the exhibit.

"I just love doing those," she said, "but they're so time-consuming. There are so many pages in a book, and I want to fill every one of them. In that little stuff, you could just get lost."

Refreshments will be served at tonight's opening. Hale's exhibit will continue to hang in the Fine Arts gallery through Feb. 28.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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