Photo exhibit offers escape from winter and a glimpse into a 4th grade world

The exhibit at the Evansville Art Club will be open Fridays and Saturdays through April.

Charlie Ruckheim of rural Parkers Prairie hangs a photo at the annual photo exhibit of the Evansville Photo Club. The exhibit will be open through the end of April at the Evansville Art Center, which is open Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and during special events. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

EVANSVILLE — There are at least two fascinating things about the Evansville Photo Club's exhibit at the Evansville Art Center.

One is that the exhibit includes photos taken by Brandon-Evansville fourth grade students, and it gives viewers the chance to view the world through a 10-year-old's eyes.

The other is that the adult's photos are almost entirely of nature, providing an escape into a non-wintry world where lady slippers bloom and egrets battle.

"I'm really impressed by the fourth grade this year," said Nancy Neterval, the photo club organizer.

The adults are eager to assess the fourth-graders photos, which were taken on $100 cameras purchased by a grant and donated to the school by the photo club. The club had gotten a $3,000 grant from the Evansville Historical Society. It was intended to last three years, but they are proud of having stretched that money to six years, using it not just for the cameras, but also for printing and framing, and they still have a little money left.


There's much to like in the photos and reveal the different perspectives at work. Even though there are a half dozen or so of a basketball hoop, no two are alike.

Van Gooch of Holmes City singles out a photograph of sunlight and shadow on bricks taken by student Brayden Geithman.

Brayden Geithman's photo of shadow and sunlight on bricks caught the attention of photo club members, who enjoyed the simplicity and drama of the image. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

"So simple, but it's so dramatic," he says.

Jackie Henning of Evansville points to a stream photographed by student Annalynn Proell, pointing out the composition and the reflection on the water surface.

People like a drain spout photographed by student Lucy Vanderweyst. It was something other photographers might have walked by, but not only did she notice it, but her photo caught the motion of water dripping from the spout.

Photo club members appreciated that fourth-grader Lucy Vanderweyst stopped to photograph an easily overlooked drain and caught the motion of water droplets. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

To notice things others might not. To capture moments that might slip away, unheralded. Those are among the motivations that drives photo club members to bring cameras with them wherever they go, whether it's their smart phone or their fancy cameras with humongous lenses.

Tammy Zitzmann of Brandon recently joined the photo club after someone noticed that she posted a lot of photos on social media and invited her. She is one of those who notices small things: a flower growing from a bit of soil in a rocky cleft, an icicle in a snowy hole.
"I like the idea of capturing it to look back on it later," she said.

Sadly, her hard drive crashed, taking with it about 10 years of photos. She didn't have many photos left to choose from for the exhibit, but the ones she brought demonstrate her fascination with those small details. A plant that might otherwise go unnoticed presiding over the Duluth harbor. Branches of anonymous trees framing a sunset.


"Everywhere I go I'm stopping to take a picture," she said. "My husband is used to it. He's very accommodating."

Henning, too, has become fascinated with details and has started practicing macro photography, the art of expanding small objects to larger-than-life-size. Three of her pictures offer unique ways to view flowers.

A macrophotographic image of an orchid by Jackie Henning of Evansville. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

"It's like the infinite universe within a flower," said Henning. "It's the mind of God. Wow, there has to be a God, when you look into the sky or into a flower, man could never think of something so beautiful and so intricate."

Claudine and Truman Grove, a married couple from Alexandria, share a passion for photography, although he laughs that he gets his wife's camera hand-me-downs. He accidentally left one of those cameras, a Canon Rebel, on the dock for three days, and yes, they said, it rained. By the time they found it, it appeared to be ruined, with all the lenses and screens foggy.

Figuring they had nothing to lose, they decided to bake it. They put it in their oven on low heat — about 200 degrees, Claudine recalls — for about half an hour. "Just a hair too long," she said. The fog cleared away, but a dial melted. It still takes good pictures, she said, but you have to be patient with that dial.

The photo club is made up of retirees and the self-employed. There's a retired farmer, a retired math teacher, a retired biology professor, as well as the owner of a frame and print shop, a marketing professional, and a stay-at-home wife. They come from Holmes City, Elbow Lake, Parkers Prairie, and other locations as well as Brandon and Evansville.

Claudine has worked at a variety of jobs, including schools, factories, beauty shops, and adult foster homes. Through it all, she pursued her passion for photography. She started taking pictures as a child during family get-togethers. Nowadays, even though she hates the cold, she admires winter landscapes. So she shoots them from the car window.

Cormorants nesting in this photo by Claudine Grove of Alexandria. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

The club welcomes new members. They meet once a month and critique each other's photos, offering suggestions for improvements.


"We just want to learn to be better photographers," Neterval said. "Our quality has improved."

The photo exhibit will be open Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., through the end of April. Photos can also be seen at special events at the Evansville Art Center. The club will hold a reception for the public 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, March 25.

For questions about photo club, contact Nancy Neterval at 218-948-2807 or

Reporter Karen Tolkkinen grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a journalism degree in 1994. Driven by curiosity and a desire to learn about the United States, Karen Tolkkinen has covered local news from Idaho to New Hampshire to Alabama and landing at the Echo Press in Alexandria in 2017.
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