From one Artiste to another

Artist, James Zotalis

Caption: The Cathedral of Our Merciful Savior, 1862 – 1869 Faribault, Minnesota. The first church in America to become a Cathedral

Trading card collection of snow sculptures 1987-2017, by Harry Welty

There is apparently a religious conference in Duluth at the moment. One of its attendees is a Mankato classmate of mine, James Zotalis, an Episcopal Priest currently serving near Rochester, Minnesota. He gave me a call last night to see if I was at home. A friend from Duluth was having a heck of a time finding his way in the dark to my home with the intersection at 21st Ave blocked and darkened.

Jim had been regaling his friend with his story about a trip to Washington D.C. in the slummer of 1971 and the tour his old classmate, Harry Welty, then a Congressional summer intern, gave him of every nook and cranny on Capitol Hill. The host mentioned that Harry only lived a few blocks away. Jim called me while en route and, after a comedy of errors with phones acting up during instructions on how to get past roadblocks, we had a brief, cordial reunion in my driveway. I’d last seen Jim when I spent a weekend in his old stomping grounds, Faribault, which I visited to research a former Duluth School Superintendent.

Jim was serving an historic Minnesota Church at the time and introduced me to some Faribault folks in the same way as I introduced him to Capitol Hill. Before I left Faribault Jim gave me one of the prints of his depiction of Bishop Whipple’s church. Whipple was the priest who advised clemency to President Abraham Lincoln for the 300 Sioux warriors condemned to be hung in the aftermath of Minnesota’s Sioux War. When I mentioned that he had given me a copy he asked me if I’d read a book by a New York Historian about the incident. I hadn’t but I was well aware of the history. Its infamy lives on in our old hometown, Mankato.

When the subject of his artwork came up I paused and told him that it was time for me to reciprocate his generosity and ran into the house to find a deck of my snow sculpture trading cards to give him. His friend had already mentioned my prolific snow shoveling to him. Then he drove off into the night to resume his conferencing with a little trip to follow up the North Shore.