Posts Tagged: inspire(d) magazine

Regina Cecelia Broghammer

Regina Cecelia Broghammer (nee Knox) Born at home “on Groundhog’s Day” (February 2), 1908 in Plymouth Rock Parish in Winneshiek County, Iowa. Regina is the eldest of nine children: eight girls and one boy. 1908 was the year of a devastating hailstorm that struck the area in June. “My parents were at the ‘Old Settlers’ Picnic’ in Burr Oak when the sky grew dark as night. We went home to put the chickens in the henhouse, and my folks left me in the baby buggy while they corralled the hens. The weather grew so bad, however, they decided to take me into the storm cellar. When we emerged a while later, my buggy was full of glass: the windows on the North and West sides of the house had shattered. They had to use horse blankets and scoop shovels to clean up the mess.”

What’s the best advice anyone every gave you?
“Don’t be afraid to give a little more than 100%.”  This is the advice Regina told her own children.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
“A teacher.” Regina’s mother was a teacher, and so were several of her Aunts.

What did you do?
“I taught in a one-room schoolhouse for three years, and then I worked at McNeil’s coat and suit store (now J. Tupy’s) for ten.” Her first school was in Burr Oak Township, the second at Lost Nation, now Willowglen Nursery. After their marriage, Regina and her husband, Leo, lived and worked on the Broghammer Century farm and raised two daughters, Barb and Mary. “Both girls graduated from St. Theresa’s College.  Barb earned a degree in Sociology and joined President Kennedy’s Peace Corps, spending two and a half years in Bolivia. Mary received her B.S. in nursing and was an R.N. first at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, and then at the University of Iowa Hospital while her husband was in graduate school there.”

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
“Food, water, and a short-wave radio.”

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“A good-quality beef pot roast cooked in a Dutch oven all day with vegetables.”

Name one thing you could not live without:

Describe your wedding day:
“My husband Leo and I got married on October 19th, 1940, at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Decorah. It was a gorgeous fall day. All the flowers were still in bloom, and we picked chrysanthemums, which are my favorite, for the altar.”  Regina met her husband dancing at Matter’s Ballroom. Their farm was located next to Matter’s, and Leo Broghammer was “the last one in the neighborhood to stop using his horses for planting corn.”

Memory of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic:
“I was about 9 or 10 years old. A local boy trained at Camp Dodge near Des Moines contracted influenza and was sent home. He spread the disease to his family, and two of his brothers died. I remember my mother putting food in a laundry basket and securing it to a sled. I pulled the sled to houses where people were sick, and my dad knocked on their windows to ask them if they needed anything and to let them know there was food outside for them.”

In your opinion, what is the biggest human accomplishment of your lifetime?
“Putting a man on the moon.”

Agnes Forde

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Just be myself.

How about the worst?
When they took my car keys away.  I had already decided to give up driving, but…

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A nurse. I finished the 8th grade. I lived in a log house and went to a log school.

What do/did you do?
I had several jobs. Worked at the Greenhouse for 14 years, worked in the textile building at the fair, cleaned at the firestation and cleaned at Vesterheim for 18 years (I happen to know that Agnes did more than just clean at Vesterheim. Through the museum she met the king of Norway, Maria Von Trapp, and the Princess of Iceland. Plus she raised 3 children.)

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
I would like to have a box of books and of course food and water. I am now retired and have time to read but cannot read very well due to my eyesight.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.
I used to be tall and skinny, does that say what I am now?

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Lemon pie. (I had tried to answer these questions before asking Agnes to see how close I would come to her answers, I knew this would be pie and place of choice for pie: Family Table).

Name one thing you could not live without.
Family and friends (although that’s more than one thing). My family and friends are what have kept me at home. I want to stay at home. Tom Cat, my cat. (Tom and Agnes have a special relationship – when Agnes was quite ill Tom layed next to her and put his paw on her cheek. She did end up in the hospital but recovered to return to Tom).

Multiple choice: tell us about…Your first job.
The Greenhouse. I was asked if I wanted to have a job outside the home by someone at the Greenhouse. I thought about it for about a month then went down to the Greenhouse, they hired me right on the spot. I worked there for 14 years. I made wreathes at Christmas time. I could make over 70 in a day. There was one little boy who would come every day to see how many I had made. He would just walk in past everyone and come straight to me, just checking up on me. I raced the owner one day, he was faster than I was but when I held up his wreath it had so many holes in it. (Agnes has many memories from the Greenhouse including a teacher who died on a fieldtrip and a boy who came in frequently to get a gumball but always asked for a penny as he rarely had his own.)

Interview with Artist Kelly Ludeking

By Aryn Henning Nichols

Sculpture artist Kelly Ludeking loves metal. Pretty much all kinds of it. And while he originally started with bronze and aluminum, it was an iron pour that really pulled him in. For Kelly, pouring iron is about community. It’s about learning and teaching, and it was this aspect that really sealed his path and passion.

Born in Decorah, Iowa, Kelly attended the local high school, and like many small town teens, was involved in essentially every extracurricular activity that he had any interest in. Mostly art-related things: band, drama, painting, sculpture, etc.

“It kind of amazed me to look back and see how much art I dabbled in to find my niche,” he says.

That niche was eventually found at the Minnesota College of Art and Design where he was studying metal work. Kelly and some friends were invited to an iron pour – their first – and they watched as nearly a dozen people worked together as a team to feed a fire, melt iron, and pour it into molds to make each person’s individual art works.

“It was more of a production,” Kelly says. “It was such an incredible event.”

After, Kelly and friends went back to their college, inspired. They wanted to build their own furnace. And with help from the school, they did. Amazingly, they hosted their very own iron pour later that year. That furnace lived on at the Minnesota College of Art and Design for several years until it was donated to a sculpture park. It’s still used today, and in fact, was recently done so by Kelly.

You see, this is what Kelly does. He is an artist. He’s only just relocated with his wife to Madison, Wisconsin, from the Twin Cities, and he’s already got a gallery showing lined up. He is doing it. He travels around the Midwest and nation to be a guest artist, speaker, or participant in iron pours and events. He was invited to three pours this spring alone, and even spoke at the National Conference on Cast Iron Art in Birmingham, Alabama. The goal was to help students realize there is “casting after college.”

“The conference helps teach the next generation,” says Kelly. “We want them to know that once they leave college, they can continue to cast. Through businesses and institutions, they can make a living at it.”

There are a lot of inventive ways to cast post-graduation, he says. One is to set up your own event, like the sixth annual Down on the Farm Iron Pour Kelly hosted on his family’s farm this past July. The whole thing started on a whim – after organizing more than a decade of pours elsewhere, Kelly was living in Decorah helping his family and decided to bring an event here.

“I figured I could show my family what I do and not have to leave the farm,” he says. “And this way I have control of things. My dad’s very cool about it, we can build a bigger furnace and I know there will be enough room for everyone. And from the sounds of it, it’s going to be quite a bit larger than it’s been in the past. It’s looking like 50 artists are coming.”

People of all experience levels will stay in rural Decorah out at the Ron Ludeking farm and cast and teach and learn from each other. They come here from a variety of locales –Kentucky, Minnesota, Wisconsin – for this “Down on the Farm” pour. Artists are beginning to look forward to the annual event, even recognizing the barn in the promo posters before they even know Kelly.

“I have a t-shirt with the barn on it and people say, ‘You’re that guy,’” Kelly says. “It’s growing. People are coming from all over to play at my farm. For some ‘weekend warrior’ kind of artists, this is their get-away. This is their time to make art.”

The entire four-day event is organized by Kelly’s company, Ironhead Sculptural Services, and is open to the public each day from noon until 7 pm. Visitors can come watch artists in the process of creating patterns and molds. Then on Saturday, June 27, at roughly 5 pm, Kelly and his crew of artists fired up the furnace and poured molten metal into the molds they’d been working on throughout the event.

After, DJ Efraim Santiago from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, fired up the tunes and mixed music for the annual iron pour party.

Kelly also taught classes at the farm June 24 through Decorah’s ArtHaus.

“I especially enjoy teaching kids, because they seem to be getting away from hands-on learning – tactile stuff. There’s so much virtual work,” he says. “Hands-on building is something so different from building on a computer. I think it’s just a good learning experience for them. And for the adults too.”
If things go as Kelly hopes, the entire Down on the Farm Iron Pour will really be one big learning process. Casting iron for fun and for an art didn’t start until the 60s, Kelly says, and a lot of the original “old dogs” are retiring from pouring and moving on.

“I want to learn as much as possible. It’s cool to be a part of something where the founders are actually still around,” Kelly says. “It hasn’t changed, why we do it. It’s the love of the metal. It’s really key to the process. If you can make iron beautiful and change the way people look at it – that it’s not machinery, it’s not something that’s cold and hard any more – if you can change somebody’s perception about it… that’s art. It’s pretty cool.”

Aryn Henning Nichols thinks molten metal is pretty darn neat. She hopes lots of people visit Kelly’s cool pour.

Down on the Farm Iron Pour: Stay tuned at for details on this annual event
According to Kelly: “Completely open to ALL skill levels”
Ron Ludeking Farm, 1421 200th Street, Decorah
To get more information or to be involved, contact Kelly at: