Mother-daughter pair named featured artists at Utopia fair
Special to the Courier
Arlene Ryan and her daughter, Jolene Berendt, both of Knippa, are this year's featured artists at the Utopia Arts & Crafts Guild Fall Fair, set for Saturday, Nov. 2. These two talented ladies give the credit for their accomplishments to God and Arlene's father, who encouraged all of his children by eliminating one very harmful word from their vocabulary.
"I was raised to believe that there is no such word as can't; that I can do anything that I want to do. Any time I or anyone else tried to tell my dad, 'I can't do it' his answer was 'Did you try?' Over the years I have tried to pass this attitude on to my children," Ryan said.
Ryan said she painted her first landscape because "I wanted to do something special for my dad's birthday. He had fond memories of his birthplace, a Montana homestead. Without any type of art lessons and God guiding my hand; I was able to put his homestead on canvas.
"When his older sister saw it she had to have one, too. I painted her one just like dad's. I told the other siblings they had to share that one; they all lived in the same city. I don't like to repeat."
Ryan got into photography, dark room photo restoration, and oil painting photographs when she started doing her family history. She took some photography classes, fell in love with working with black and white photos and built a permanent dark room in her California home.
Sewing has been a part of her life since childhood; she still has her first sewing machine, which is 55 years old. She also has a few newer machines which she keeps busy piecing quilts. Memory quilts from T-shirts are her favorite to make.
Berendt also loves to sew, and has been encouraged not only by her mother but her grandmother as well. She made her daughter's prom dress and it made such an impression on the school staff that a photo of her daughter with her date was featured on the front page on the local paper.
"Jolene started piecing quilts before I did. She had her first taste of hand quilting at her grandmother Bales' side. She doesn't recognize the word can't either; her favorite artistic endeavor is fabric painting. When she is unable to find fabric the color she wants or needs, she paints her own," said Ryan.
Together it seems that this mother and daughter team can do anything they set out to do. With the help of friends they made and donated more than 250 pillow cases to children's homes in Leaky and Del Rio.
The varied handiwork of these two talented women can be seen at the 48th annual Utopia Art and Craft Fall Fair, Saturday, Nov. 2 on the Town Square in Utopia.
Pictured: Arlene Ryan and her daughter, Jolene Berendt