Home is where the art is

A Fulton couple’s abode abounds in creativity

Bob and Sally Kruta talk quietly, thoughtfully, about their art. The two Fulton residents have a house full – and lives full – of art to discuss, but they’re in no hurry to tell their stories. They’re more inclined to let their paintings and sculptures do the talking.

As Sally walks around the home they’ve lived in for 20 years, she points to her landscape paintings from recent years and smiles when she’s asked why she doesn’t name them. There are too many of them to assign monikers, she says.

“I’d be up to what? Thirty? You know, ‘Minnesota Landscape Number 30.’”

Selections from her various series of paintings – the series she did of chairs (and scenes containing chairs), the series of abandoned places and the series of landscapes – adorn the walls.

She said she’s been painting for most of her life, but she didn’t decide to formalize her quest for painting knowledge until her eldest daughter entered college. That’s when Sally began to attend Whittier’s Minneapolis College of Art and Design, 2501 Stevens Ave., where she got a bachelor of fine arts degree.

She typically paints from a photograph, using the preserved image rather than sitting on-site to paint a land- or seascape, for instance.

“I don’t like bugs and grass and stuff,” she said. “I don’t do that often.”

She also doesn’t care for horses, she said. “I’m afraid of them,” she said.

Making a horse

Though the retired couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary earlier this year, they agree that “art is our passion,” as Bob says. But they don’t exactly agree on everything. Horses, for instance.

Bob is creating one in their garage.

Or rather he’s been sculpting a carousel horse out of basswood for the past couple of months. In about a year, he’ll have a full-sized carousel horse fit for mounting on a merry-go-round. The question everyone wants answered first is, “Why? Why carve a carousel horse?”

“I’ve always wanted to,” Bob said with typical understatement. “It’s for my own pleasure.”

He said no one will sit on it, with perhaps, occasional exceptions made for small children. Kids often stop by with their parents as he’s carving in the garage. They like to ask questions and look at the glued-together blocks of basswood taking shape.

“It’s fun,” he said of the questions. “That’s the way it should be.”

It’s an attitude Bob says he learned from his father, Miles. His father encouraged him to carve from his early childhood. It’s entirely fitting that Bob has memorialized his father in a bust carving kept in the family’s sunroom.

There, a beaming Miles smiles for the ages, dressed up for Sunday church in a suit and top hat.

“He was a good father,” Bob said quietly. It’s obvious to even a stranger that the years since Miles’ passing haven’t dimmed this son’s love for his father.

Next summer

If all goes as planned, Bob’s carousel horse will be completed next summer, to be placed in the sun room near the bust of Miles.

For now, he’s going to continue sculpting out in the garage until the weather turns cold. Because the roughed-out horse is currently mounted on a small, wheeled platform, it will be pushed inside to his workshop. There, he can focus on the chisels and hammer he holds in his hands for hour after hour, removing all the parts of the wood that are not a horse.

“That’s the old story. If you’re carving an elephant, you just carve away the wood that doesn’t look like an elephant. Of course that doesn’t answer much.”

The former commercial artist knows that the answers in life, as in art, are found in living and creating.

“There’s no need to rush” to finish the project, he said. “It’s enjoyable.”

“He loves horses so much, he can sound like one,” Sally said. In response, her husband whinnies at her playfully.