Liberty and justice for all

Two new pieces of art grace the walls of the last VFW in Minneapolis. Credit:

James Ballentine VFW Post 246 • 2916 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis

You might have seen the Paul Bunyan-sized waving stripes of Old Glory that recently appeared in Uptown. Well, an eagle’s landed there too. Two new pieces of art have joined the membership of VFW Post 246. And both were donated by the artists themselves.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars is a national organization with roots that go back to 1899. Today there are more than two million members nationally. There used to be more than 20 Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in the city of Minneapolis but now there’s just one. VFWs are more than a bar and gathering place; they offer programs, activities, insurance, education, community service, meat raffles and bingo! While technically a private club, guests are allowed simply by signing the guestbook. The bar here is small and at the back of building. Look for an upcoming remodel with an entrance on Lyndale.


When the World Trade Center towers fell, Staten Island, N.Y. artist Scott LoBaido traded in his previous subjects to paint American flags. Flags on fences, walls, houses, ballparks, industrial park roofs . . . even canvas. He painted the whole entire roof of a house with a flag. Then multiply that by 50 — a roof on a house in every state in the country. He wanted military personnel returning home to see giant flags when they came in for a landing. Just outside a Houston, Texas airport he slathered so much paint on an industrial building’s flat roof that he created the world’s largest flag at 3.5 acres! This is a man with a mission. Scott was in town this summer with Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band for a benefit for New Hope, Minn. veteran U.S. Marine Cpl. Mark Litynski. While here, Scott painted this flag on the VFW.


Born in France in the 1920s, Marguerite Collister still remembers the days when she was a young woman working in her family’s store. As World War II escalated and German soldiers took command of the city they’d come into the store looking to buy clothing for their girlfriends back home. Marguerite sold them the lesser-quality merchandise saving the fine luxurious goods for the locals. At a 1944 Red Cross liberation dance at the Hôtel de Paris, Marguerite met U.S. officer, Richard Collister. They fell in love, eventually married, and moved to Wabasha, Minn where Richard worked in the milling industry. Marguerite created the large eagle needlepoint as a memorial to her husband and the U.S. troops who saved France. Now in her 90s, she recently donated the piece to the VFW to express her continued gratitude.

DINNER BREAK: Enjoy the view, and a BBQ butternut squash pizza, across the street at Muddy Waters Bar & Eatery

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In “Music to My Ears,” my column about classical music alternatives in the Twin Cities, I mentioned there were many professional and community orchestras, and I couldn’t possibly list them all, but this one in particular was called to my attention as a great omission so I’m including it here. MINNESOTA SINFONIA ( welcomes all at their entirely free concerts, but concentrates on building audiences of families with young children, inner-city youth, seniors, and those with limited financial means. A Minnesota Sinfonia commissioned world premier by Julie Stenberg along with pieces by Mozart and Mendelssohn will be performed at their January concert.

• Friday, Jan. 10, 7 p.m. (Johnson High School, 1349 Arcade St., St. Paul)

• Sunday, Jan. 12, 4 p.m. (Temple Israel, 2324 Emerson Ave. S., Mpls.)