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Area art show gets under way Sunday at Nobles County Art Center

Francis Ladd shows off one of his wood sculptures at the Nobles County Art Center in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Francis Ladd of Luverne is one of dozens of regional artists to display original works during the annual Area Art Show at the Nobles County Art Center. An opening reception is from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, and the public is invited to attend and meet the artists.

This will be Ladd's second year displaying his works in the show. A semi-retired cabinet maker, he has spent the last four or five years crafting works of art out of wood through the process of segmented turning. His three pieces in the art show include "Poppy," a walnut creation fashioned after a 1910 art nouveau pottery piece; "Sequoia," which is an original design crafted of walnut, burled ash and pine; and "Staircase," made of pine, walnut and burled ash.

Segmented turning utilizes triangular pieces of wood that are cut, sanded and glued together, then put on a wood lathe and turned to create the shape the artist wants to accomplish.

Ladd had read about the process years ago and said he was always fascinated by it.

"I never really started working with it until I went into semi-retirement a few years ago," he said, adding that he first worked with a turning lathe when he was in high school in the 1960s.

After his military service, Ladd ended up working as a machinist in Shakopee for a decade before choosing, instead, to work with wood.

"It was just something I decided I'd rather do," he said, adding that his cabinetry business focused on reproduction cabinets to fit in with the style of older homes. He also made furniture, from chairs to curios in the mission style. "I just always enjoyed working with wood."

These days, Ladd is content making his works of art, in addition to repairing and refinishing items for his wife's business, Hillside Antiques, located east of Luverne.

"That's where we have most of my art work on display," he added.

Ladd finds inspiration for his work from a variety of places, whether its photos in a magazine, something on television or a walk through the trees.

"The pieces I really enjoy are the pieces I think of myself," Ladd shared. "I'll find something in nature that interests me, so I try to come up with something that might indicate that."

Ladd utilizes dried, cut timber for each of his pieces, getting inspiration from the wood itself.

"Mostly it's a shape I think might look good," he said. "I like adding different pieces to them -- maybe the bark of a certain tree is added on. It's kind of a spur of the moment thing."

Ladd's favorite piece will be in the art show, and unlike some of the other works, it isn't for sale.

"(Poppy) is the first time I've carved anything," he said. "It's not done on a lathe."

The piece took a considerable amount of time to create, and Ladd said he enjoys looking at it.

"Maybe sometime down the line it will go for sale ... it's possible it might be too expensive to sell, too," he added.

In addition to the local art show, Ladd plans to participate in Art Rocks this summer in Luverne, as well as at the Winterfest Craft Show there in early December. He's participated in the Luverne Studio Tour and has also displayed his work at the Carnegie Cultural Center in Luverne.

Entries submitted for the local art show were judged by Bob Rieger of Aberdeen, S.D. He selected the best in show, Gene Schar award winner, honorable mention and merit awards, and will offer his critiques on Sunday.

The Area Art Show, featuring more than 100 pieces, will be open through April 26. Visitors are welcome during the art center's hours of 2 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Nobles County Art Center is located in the lower level of the War Memorial Building, 407 12th St., Worthington.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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