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Cherokee County History

"Art Window of the Year 1967"

In 1967, Helen Schleef and Mildred Smith of Cherokee, took the initiative to create and compile a book about the arts in Cherokee County. The book, which was dedicated to Cherokee's former Senator Guy M. Gillette, showcased biograhies of area residents who had distinguished themselves in the arts.
A copy of the booklet was donated to IAGenWeb by the former Cherokee County Historical Society and has been transcribed here for your enjoyment.

  • "To Our Readers"
  • "An Open Letter to the Public"
  • Biographies for Helen Schleef, Mildred Smith & Dwight R. Clark
The County Arts
Biographies of Area Artists Biographies & Photos of Area Artists

Cherokee Writers

Cherokee Writers, organized in 1961, is an outgrowth of an Adult Education Creative Writing course. Formed for the aid and encouragement of would-be writers who often find the path to being accepted for publication filled with obstacles.
Now after six years of trial and error, studious perusal of suitable markets, a sharing of knowledge and encouragement when the pen, sputters we can proudly announce that all members have had works published in their favorite media.
Present members include:
Elizabeth Luge, whose gentle poems and lyrical prose delight all ages. Her faith in each member is in itself an inspiration, our moral support in times of discouragement. As an ex-English teacher, her help has been invaluable.
Mrs. J. S. (Zelma) Bomar, has had 30 poems accepted by Ideals Publications, had poems published for three consecutive years in Lyrical Iowa, contributes a poem a month to Stethoscope magazine to bring a bit of cheer to patients at Oakdale State Sanitarium and is often called upon to write poems for special occasions for family and friends. Also writes children's stories.
Mrs. Gale (Jeri) Evans, poems published in North America Mentor Anthology of poems thus becoming one of the original Mentor poets. Writes short stories, presently is taking the Westmar College course "Writing for Publication."
Mrs. Jerry (Pat) Phipps, English teacher at Washington High, taught the 1966 Adult Education course in Creative Writing, had several poems published in "The Aurora" a Buena Vista College publication. She also served as editor of this magazine.
Mrs. Carl (Helen) Schleef, writes poetry, one of the original Mentor poets, a magazine of wide circulation in U.S. and several foreign countries, writes feature articles for area artists and others.
Mrs. Deane (Colleen) Onnen, articles published in the Iowan Magazine, Des Moines Sunday Picture supplement among others. Also writes short stories, hopes to hit in fiction market, a perceptive writer with keen commentary on the contemporary scene.
Mrs. Walter (Laurel) Fuhrman, director of Women's programs at KCHE radio station, writes and coordinates own material for this program, writes the news, conducts interviews, etc. Has had articles and feature stories published in various farm and family magazines, has a real feel for relating everyday occurrences in a new light, often called upon as speaker for women's organizations.
Mrs. Walter (Pat) Brenner, writes in the "family vein" has had articles published in Camping magazine, among others.
Joyce Houser, now attending Minnesota Bible College, versatile writer equally adept in poetry, short stories, feature articles. Had had poetry and feature articles published in area newspapers. The Iowan magazine and others. Joyce's niece Cheri Sears, a senior at Washington High has also had poems published in church magazine.
Blanche Bailey Reed, one time newspaper editor, specializes in short stories. Has had several articles and children's stories published in church and Sunday School magazines. Has spoken often to Business and Professional Women clubs in northwest Iowa always with a good message spiced with delightful stories.
Mrs. Clarence (Myrtle) Benedict, articles and feature stories published in area newspapers.
Mrs. Phil (Terry) Salsbery, poet, short story writer, has had poems accepted by Ideals publication, and Iowa Poetry Association. Often writes touching essays on everyday incidents, told with insight and tenderness.
Mrs. Harold (Mildred) Smith, editor of Cherokee Courier, in addition to reporting and photography regular news stories for the weekly newspaper, free lances in several areas, has had articles published in The Iowan, Sioux City and Des Moines newspapers and Picture magazine among others. Writes a weekly column.
The Writers have had several authors of note as guest speakers, the latest the visit of Col. Mark Brown, Alta, whose newest book "Flight of the Nez Perce" is being heralded as "An American Classic".
New members recently added to our membership includes those who attended the 1966 Adult Education Creative Writing course: Maxine Dixon, Mrs. Ruth Rasmussen, Mrs. E. O. Bierbaum and Mrs. Marie Ring. We predict they will be making their mark in the writing field very soon. We hope others will join us as we continue to try to improve our writing talents or abilities
In conclusion, we pay tribute to Dr. Estelle Wise, a revered member of our group who wrote finis to her manuscript of life on March 11, 1967. She will be sorely missed by the Cherokee Writers. God calls us all home. One by one. To rest beyond the setting sun. Life is not over, just begun...for Dr. Estelle.

Community Center

In March of 1966, the community center opened the auditorium to Area art shows, not only for individuals but for groups showings. The following people showed during 1966:
March of 1966, Zellma Bomar, artist, published poet, sculptor, self trained.
April, Al Jolliffe, artist, sculptor, student of Karl Mattern and Jimmy Ernst, instructor, Cherokee.
May, the Leonard trio. Mary the mother, water colorist; Iverson, son, oil and scratch board artist; also a fine singer, Fraser, a son, art instructor, Florient, Missouri, won numerous awards with his paintings.
June, Florence Chesnutt, artist, sculptor, received her B.A. at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Studied overseas. Adult Education instructor.
June, Mary Lowenberg, poet, did "Haiku" interpretations for Chesnutt show.
July, Evonne Kludas English, versatile in all mediums of art.
August, Grand Meadow artists, a really outstanding group, twelve member group organized in 1965.
September, Rose Plagman, artist, musician, former teacher, watercolorist.
October, Larry Rosenow, water colorist of western scene, art training at Westmar, Billings, Montana and Laramie, Wyoming, art instructor in Marcus, Ia.
November, Dorothy Skewis, Storm Lake, art instructor, for forty years, still active in Buena Vista College.
December, Helen Schleef, artist, poet, police matron Cherokee, self trained.
Showing in 1967:
January, Helen Schleef, continued through January.
February, O'Brien Art group, twenty-six members, versatile in all mediums.
March, Emma Henderson, a realist in the finest sense, uses familiar subjects.
April, Byron Burford, guest artist for fine arts week.
May, elementary schools, the first of this type for this Community.
June, two man show. Dick Petit, Sheldon, agent for Bureau of Criminal Investigation, self taught artist.
Harold Tuttle, Sheldon, received his B. A. and Masters, in art at Drake, art instructor at Sheldon high.
July, Margaret Midland, versatile in all mediums of art, exhibited in Life of Christ, traveling exhibit. Motorola exhibit, one man shows.
August, Marla Miller Manske, Minneapolis, art training at Wayne, exhibit there.
September, Edith Pylman, Primghar, a member of the O'Brien group, very accomplished artist.
October, Phyllis Craig, artist and sculpture, took one year of art at Buena Vista College.
November, Jean Foley, Artist, self taught. One of the charter members of the area artists.
December, Tentative Area artist Christmas sale of paintings.
Velda Lohff (Mrs. Raymond), artist, a prolific painter, self taught, mother of a small son, home Holstein. Stand-in artist for '67 community center show cancellation.
Community Theatre

In September of 1958, Mrs. Janet Koser and the late Edith Meloy attended the initial meeting in Des Moines of the Community Theater Association for guidance in starting a community theater in Cherokee. Professor Ronald Gee of Iowa U. promised to help them organize. In January of 1959, from that meeting the theater was formed. With record breaking speed committees were appointed. James McDonald a member drew up a constitution and the non-profit organization became the Cherokee Community Theater Inc., with Janet Koser, president, Dick Brown, vice president, Kenneth Wilson, treasurer and Norma Vetter, secretary. Income is from ticket sales and memberships. Within three months they produced their first play, "You Can't Take It With You."
The fall of 59 they produced "Night of January 16th"; Curious Savage"; "The Man Who Came to Dinner"; "The Little Foxes"; "Goodbye My Fancy"; In 1962: "Uncle Toms Cabin"; "Endgame"; "My Three Angels". 1963 and 1964: "Send Me No Flowers"; "Antigone"; "Green Grow the Lilacs". 1964 and 1965: "Take Her She's Mine"; "The Typist and the Tiger"; "Death of a Salesman". 1966: "See How They Run"; "Glass Menagerie"; "Everybody Loves Opal". 1967: "Chalk Garden"; and during fine arts week will produce "Barefoot In the Park."
In 1965, the State meeting of the Iowa Community Theater Association met in Cherokee. Cherokeans also sponsored the Cedar Rapids Community Theater road show production "John Browns Body."
In 1965 in honor of their first president, they started giving JANNEY AWARDS (named for Janet Koser) to the best actor and actress of the year.
Cherokee Symphony

In 1956, Mrs. R. C. Thomson of Cleghorn and MRs. Wm. A. Robinson, organized the Cherokee Symphony Orchestra, under the sponsorship of the Adult Education Program. That first year they gave their first public performance as the final session of Adult Education, later the same year they assisted the Cherokee Women's County Chorus in a Christmas program. Mrs. Thomson served as conductor until 1962.
In 1957m now a twenty-five member Orchestra, took part in the annual "Messiah". By 1962 their membership had grown to such an extent they formed the  Symphony Association. In 1965 the Women's Symphony Guild was organized.
Their first all Symphony Concert was sponsored by the Museum Association in 1962, and was attended by some three hundred people. In May of that year the Orchestra included the junior and high school vocalists and musicians, later they included college students. Their young members have appeared on T.V. and won scholarships.
In 1962, Donald Jackson, then instrumental instructor at Aurelia high school, becameem the new conductor. The 63-64 season saw them perform not only in Cherokee but in two out of town concerts, besides the "Messiah" and the Tone Circle Vespers Service.
In March of 1965 they received nation-wide publicity, for the concert given in honor of Sir Tyrone Guthrie, and the dedication of the Community Center, led by their new conductor Dr. Fred R. Glassburner. Glassburner later accepted a position in Wisconsin; Lauren Jakey, conducts now.

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