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Christian sculpture exhibit opens Saturday in Willmar

WILLMAR -- "... And the violent take it by force" is the theme of a special Christian sculpture exhibit set for Saturday through March 14 at Potato Eaters Gallery in downtown Willmar.

The exhibit will be open from noon to 6 p.m. daily. The gallery is located at 330 Litchfield Ave. S.W. in downtown Willmar.

Maria Horvath and John Stout, husband and wife, have been working on this gallery full of art for about four years. Horvath makes "great big oil paintings" which can be sampled at this opening, and Stout is the sculptor.

What is Christian sculpture?

Stout said the pieces are "especially selected to resonate with and perhaps to challenge some of our thoughts and feelings which are deeply rooted in the Christian faith/tradition." In this time of war and recession, Stout said, "we naturally check to see how our values meet the challenges at hand."

Stout suggests taking the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," and seeing how that stacks up with "ideas of violent military aggression in the name of God." Or the paradox of a "pro life" Senator supporting foreign wars which are very much against life, he continued. Or the feeling of compassion evolving into acts of humiliating paternalism.

Even the equity of an economic stimulus package is argued in ethical terms, said Stout. "For instance, should the non-working poor receive allotments of spending cash to quickly bolster retail sales receipts?"

Stout said his pieces are "rather imposing works." Most are life-size figurative pieces made of concrete and steel. They are "hard-hitting in their expressiveness and compelling in their rough textures and earthy colors." He hopes the piece "cause one to stop and think -- or feel -- for a second."

Stout said this set of sculpture focuses on the difficult subjects of violence and work, and on attitudes toward them both. The works offer "just as safe" a look as any art museum, and a safer look than most television dramas or movies, according to Stout.

In some respects, Potato Eaters Gallery is more of a museum than a show room, said Stout. It's a "collection of folk art," or a "glimpse into the passionate mind."