Michelle KoppienTwo years ago, Michelle Koppien was commissioned to paint a 12’ x 20’ mural on the side of the Roadhouse Bar & Grill in downtown Wabasso by owners Diane and Cay Arends. The Arends’ 15-year-old granddaughter was a former art student of Koppien and recommended her to paint the mural. The black and white painting above was done by Koppien of an old-time body shop in Sleepy Eye in the 1940s.

‘Painted Garden Posts’ class led by Koppien

Want to spruce up your garden, mailbox or even your front yard while having some fun at the same time? The Minneota American Legion Auxiliary Unit 199 will be hosting a "Painted Garden Posts" class featuring Minneota native and longtime artist and art teacher Michelle Koppien on July 10 upstairs in the American Legion Hall.

There will be two three-hour sessions; the first one from 1-4 p.m. and an evening session from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Sandy Josephson, the president of the Auxiliary, came up with the idea of having a class to paint garden posts after receiving a gift.

"I was given a commercially-made plant pole as a gift from my brother and sister-in-law a couple of years ago," Josephson explained.

"Then I saw one that was hand-painted on a commercial Facebook link called Re-Scape.com, which has such great ideas using items that can be recycled into something else; often related to things for a garden."

Josephson then contacted Koppien, a former classmate at Minneota, to gauge her interest in coming to her hometown to teach the class. Already, 19 people have shown interest in signing up for the class.

The cost is $50 and includes a four-foot 4" x 4" treated post, paint, brushes, and Koppien's class instructions. All proceeds go directly to veteran causes, both locally and nationally.

"I will bring the posts and will have them all primed," said Koppien. "Those attending won't need to bring anything, but they need to wear appropriate painting attire." Those interested in attending the class can also bring their own vintage fence post or an old porch post if they wish to paint those instead of one provided.

Those attending the classes can paint any design on their post that they desire. "I would suggest doing a little research and Google 'Painted Garden Posts' to see some examples online," said Koppien.

"That would give them a better idea of what we will be doing." Koppien said scenes can range from flowers and butterflies, bikers, automobiles, farm scenes, sports scenes, your house number and name, and even a totem post with faces on it.

"Once you use a little brain power, your choices are endless," she said. "You might want to put it in your garden, or use it for your mailbox post, put it somewhere in your yard, or even in a corner in your house."

Koppien will also give some ideas for those interested in dressing up their post with a topper, such as a simple wooden or metal cap, some type of sculpture, birdhouse, or something unique.

After graduating from Minneota in 1975, Koppien attended the University of Minnesota, Mankato for Art Painting and Photgraphy. After moving around the country, she returned to Minnesota. In all, she has taught art for over 30 years, including the past four years as a high school art instructor in Wabasso.

Koppien recently purchased a former bank building in Sanborn where she lives and renovated it into a frame shop and art studio. She teaches painting classes in bars. Two years ago, Koppien was commissioned to paint a 12' x 20' mural on the side of the Roadhouse Bar & Grill in downtown Wabasso by owners Diane and Cay Arends.

The Arends' 15-year-old granddaughter was a former art student of Koppien and recommended her to paint the mural. The mural depicts motorcycles and other vehicles in a Roadhouse Roll-In event that has been popular there since they began in 2006.

"A fair amount of all of my art ends up with motorcycles in it because that's what I love," Koppien explained.

After 118 hours of painting and detailing, Koppien's mural entitled "Summer's Dream" was completed. At the time, Koppien explained that those viewing the mural should almost be able to "feel the sun on your face, hear the deep rumble of motorcycles and cars, and smell the burgers out back."

To register for a spot in one of the classes, contact Sandy Josephson at 320-815-7829 or by email at sanjose56278@yahoo.com, or contact Amanda Engels at 507-872-6234 or by email at Amanda@johnengelslaw.com.

An example of the posts that will be painted during the Minneota classes.

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