CSPS Sokol Hall Receives Preservation Grant | 12.11
Cossetta's Expansion Begins | 12.11
Antique Hunting on West Seventh | 12.11

C.S.P.S. Sokol Hall Receives Preservation Grant[IMAGE]

After coming in third among twenty-five finalists in the voting process, Sokol Hall has been awarded an $ 80,000 grant by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the Twin Cities Partners in Preservation Program.

The grant will be used to install an air conditioning system in the second floor auditorium, which will allow the space to be used for public events year-round.

“Bringing attention and funding to one-of-a-kind historic places is what the Partners in Preservation program is all about,” said Stephanie Meeks, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The Twin Cities community came together through this program to show their pride for the many historic gems found throughout the area. We couldn’t be happier with the end result and are excited to provide our support in preserving the Twin Cities’ unique past.”

Joe Landsberger, Chair of Sokol’s Project Planning Task Force, explained the breadth of planning for the 125th Anniversary year in 2012: “We have engaged in fund raising for capital projects that include autoCAD as built schematic designs, predesign and schematic design study, upgrade of the heating and plumbing systems, installation of air conditioning and a fire protection sprinkling system, asbestos removal, hall floor repair and refinishing, basement moisture remediation, and more. Do come celebrate with us as our anniversary events unfold.”

For more information, visit and

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Cossetta’s Expansion Begins [IMAGE]

Dave Cossetta, Ward Two Council Member Dave Thune and Tim McGough, Executive Vice President of project contractor, McGough Company, dig in with enthusiasm as Cossetta’s expansion begins.

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Antique Hunting on West Seventh

An afternoon of antique-hunting on lower West Seventh can reward you with unique holiday gifts for anyone on your list. Grandma’s Attic is ready at 267 West Seventh, 651-848-0051, as are Seventh Heaven, 325 West Seventh, 651-222-0122; John’s Antiques & Anderson Lampshades, 261 West Seventh, 651-222-6131; Wescott Station Antiques, 226 West Seventh, 651-227-2469; and further up the street, SophieJoe’s Emporium, 453 West Seventh, 651-224-1357.

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Murals Commemorate Bonfe’s 60th Anniversary [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

After six decades of business on West Seventh, the Bonfes stepped back and looked at the large blank wall facing eastward from the back of the body repair shop on West Seventh and Smith. They decided that the wall needed something, and that maybe what they put there could represent their sixtieth anniversary on the street. They took a good look at other murals that businesses on West Seventh had painted, and got some good ideas.

They saw that a lot of upgrading and visual improvement had taken place in recent years. While neon was attractive to them, they finally decided that a mural of their own would have more flexibility to capture some of the images they are connected with. They also thought that a second mural could go on the wall behind the mechanical shop, facing westward.

They were fortunate to find Donna Post, an artist who works in oils, watercolors, and acrylics on paintings, wall treatments and murals. She also enjoys ceramics, mosaics and sculpture in many media. She is currently splitting her life between Wisconsin and Southern California, with plans also to spend time in Maine, New Mexico and Mexico, among other places.

Donna Post was still enthusiastic about this work months after she had completed it. She started by talking about the preliminary discussions and decisions: “In designing the larger Bonfe mural, the first step, as always, was discussing several design options with the client. They were most interested in an idea that would show several phases of body work, with a selection of cars. I created a concept with a car crashing into each end of the wall and cars being mended and painted in the middle. I created cars of no particular make or period, to keep the mural timeless. The smaller mural on the Bonfe repair shop provided the challenge of a rough-textured wall and required the use of scaffolding, as it was two stories high. One exciting challenge there was when a truck roared around the corner and the driver yelled up at me to ‘Hang on!’ ”

[IMAGE]The painting process was a real challenge, Donna said. “The only way to get to the wall was to climb out through a window. I had only recently moved to Hayward, Wisconsin, from a hot and dry part of Southern California, and was not at all acclimated to humidity. The heat and humidity on the roof pretty much laid me flat, but I kept hydrated and kept painting, starting at 6 a.m. each day. Then one day, when I was delighting in the fact that it was finally a little cooler and breezy, I heard over the loudspeaker ‘Donna Post, come in off the roof immediately!’ The office staff had heard that a storm was coming and was afraid I’d be hit by lightning. When I was done, the client was amazed that I’d been able to do the entire 90-foot long, 12-foot high mural in only 8 days.”

When you have a close look at the murals you’ll see how Donna’s plan was fulfilled. She says, “The pleasure for me in painting murals is to tell a story and always to have a few light touches, just for the fun of it. I prefer not to work from a detailed design, but would rather start with an idea of what I want to paint, then let the other elements come to me as part of the painting experience. I try to include elements that might not be noticed on the first viewing but will add still more pleasure as one lives with the mural.”

The Bonfes are now looking ahead to expending the mural on the body shop. Tony said, “There’s still lots of room, and Donna wants to do it. Also, she decided that our big planter tub next to the mechanical shop needed a beauty treatment, so she painted an elaborate pattern of plants and trellises on it.”

Donna Post is looking forward to creating more murals in St. Paul, and would be happy to help others in the West End get a mural project going. She can advise on type of paint to use and equipment needed. One can make contact with her through her website: The Community Reporter would like to hear from any local businesses that have a good “mural” wall. Call the editor at 651-587-8859.

Bonfe’s Auto Service and Body Repair: Collision Service: 380 West Seventh, 651-222-4458; Mechanical Service: 337 West Seventh, 651-224-7571.

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Sophie Joe’s Emporium Cheers Up West Seventh [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

Celebrating ten years on West Seventh; collaborating with Second Harvest heartland to bring in food donations; commissioning artist Erin Sayer to create two rich paintings on the storefront—SophieJoe’s Emporium is making a great contribution to West End enhancement.

Owner Shirley Payne recalled starting the business by having to shovel out years of detritus — two dumpster loads — in order to open on December 10, 2001. She had once owned a business and wanted to do so again. The rent was reasonable and family and friends helped with the prep work.

Although initially “flying by the seat of our pants,” the basic idea of having individual vendors share the space worked from the beginning. Each vendor pays rent and takes part in staffing the store by donating a day or more each month. Shirley tries for enough variety so that there are interesting things for men, women and children, and people from all walks of life. There’s also a seasonal factor—for example, in October and November vendors will bring in more hats, coats, sweaters and scarves to greet the approach of winter.

Customers have been “wonderful,” Shirley comments. Many have been with her from the start as have some of the 40 to 50 vendors on site at any given time.

[IMAGE]Recently, graphic designer Rae Neisen has helped to shape a new approach. “Antiques” are out, “Emporium” is in, to emphasize the many funky, fabulous items one can find in the shops many nooks and crannies. Rae was also the person who introduced Shirley to Erin Sayer, whose creations now dominate SophieJoe’s façade.

Erin Sayer has been exploring art since she was a kid. In high school she was voted best artist after having created theater sets and backdrops, large paintings and murals. She studied art at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana, worked for a while in Chicago, and then went back to school in art and art therapy at the University of Wisconsin, Superior. During this grad school period, she opened a gallery in Duluth and later opened galleries in St. Louis Park. In 2010 her present center, the Cult Status Gallery in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, opened as a “super cutting edge” venue for young urban artists, many of whom were working with graffiti-like techniques. More recently, the gallery is offering more fine art and more “serious” work.

For her SophieJoe’s paintings, Erin responded to their desire to capture a “40s” feeling that encompassed the design, celebrities and [IMAGE]glamour of the post-World War II world that moved on to the era of the civil and women’s rights movements.

She chose Jane Russell, a Minnesota native born in Bemidji, to anchor the façade, and made her other model an African-American woman as a sign of the emerging diversity we have experience in the recent past. The paintings are exciting and in a real sense welcoming for SophieJoe’s many different customers and vendors. Shirley says, “The art has helped us appeal to a broader range of people.” Between Jane Russell on the garage door, and Rae’s poem about a real St. Paul girl on the other side, Erin has managed to focus form, color and energy that draws you right into the store.

Shirley is particularly proud that SophieJoe’s has always contributed to the neighborhood and given back to the community. Some of their beneficiaries have been Open World Learning Community, St. Mark’s fashion shop and Little Sisters of the Poor. Now, Second Harvest Heartland joins the list, and Shirley says that she will continue to do more and to be open to the many possibilities for service that the West End offers.

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Whole Wide World - West 7th Public Library

How to Get Ready for the Holidays

Chapter 1. Run — don’t walk — to your nearest library.
Pick up ideas for warm, easy meals from our crock pot cookbooks, cook-ahead cookbooks, yummy soups and stews cookbooks, and lots of gorgeous holiday cookbooks — the pictures are practically edible.

Chapter 2. Find your favorite craft book or magazine and limber up your fingers by making lovely and loving gifts for all.

Chapter 3. Help your children find the spirit of the days with holiday picture books and craft books for their gift-making.

Chapter 4. Have special family times. Libraries have free programs and events. Use the Museum Adventure Passes to explore Russian treasures, Swedish ceremonies, trains and polar bears! For example, we have Spanish story time on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and English preschool story time on Friday at 10:30 a.m.

Chapter 5. Remember those who need a helping hand. Volunteer.

Our Best Wishes to You, W7th Volunteers and Kyle and Lisa

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Kent’s Little Free Library

Terrace Horticultural Books installed its Little Free Library after hearing about the idea, which has become quite a buzz around the country. Local entrepreneur Todd Bol, 715-338-2223 and a friend in Madison, WI, founded their nonprofit to promote literacy with small private free libraries. Ours, which is like an overgrown bird house, has been well received and is #278 of all those currently installed across the country. You can purchase one of their standard designs or build your own and have it registered at

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