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Arts Minded column: Iris Apfel — inspiration to anyone of any age

As I contemplated my wardrobe choices for a fancy, black tie New Year's party last week, I was reminded of a documentary film about a woman whose life is a serious work of art. If you are unaware of the nonagenarian, Iris Apfel, you are missing out on someone whose free flowing vision of style is unparalleled in the world of fashion.

Apfel was born in New York, the only child of immigrant parents (Wikipedia). Her father prospered in the glass and mirror business and her mother owned a fashion boutique. Apfel studied art history at New York University and attended art school at the University of Wisconsin. Early on, she worked for Women's Daily Wear and interior designer Elinor Johnson and was an assistant to illustrator Robert Goodman.

With her husband, Carl Apfel, they developed Old World Weavers that lasted decades until their retirement. They traveled worldwide and bought many non-Western, artisanal clothes which Apfel wore sometimes to clients' high-society parties. In addition, she was involved with design restoration projects for nine presidents at the White House.

With fearless determination to this day, she dresses according to her own imagination. At 95, she continues to bring joy, whimsy, amazement and amusement to others. Moreover, she is an inspiration to people of any age who have the curiosity and courage to live life to its passionate heights.

A documentary film simply titled "Iris" was broadcast by PBS in 2016, to enthusiastic reviews. I recommend it highly. It may even help you dress to the 9s. Happy New Year!

Events and opportunities

• Continuing through Jan. 20, RF Public Library, 140 Union St. Exhibit highlighting UW-RF's Year of South Korea. Pottery by Lee Byoung.

• Continuing through Feb. 10, "Winter Whites," ArtReach Gallery, 224 N. Fourth St., Stillwater. 651-439-1465.

• 5-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12: Opening reception and sale of pieces from artist Tom Blanck's collection and his work, Orange Dragon Gallery, 122 Orange St., Prescott. Also 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13. 715-262-4122, 651-308-5554.

• At 7 a.m. Monday, Jan. 15, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Holiday breakfast, St. Bridget Fellowship Hall, 211 E. Division St., RF, includes a simulcast from Minneapolis, featuring keynote speaker, actor David Oyelowo, star of the 2014 film "Selma." Also local presentations of music and poetry. Donation $5.

• At 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, 7 p.m., CAB Barn Dance with Rush River Ramblers,, 421 W. Maple St. RF. Adults $5, children 12 and under $2.50.

• WRAP (Wisconsin Regional Art Program), River Falls Public Library, 140 Union St. Exhibition Dates: Sunday, Jan. 28 to Sunday, Feb. 25. Artist Workshop: Saturday, Feb. 3, 11a.m. to noon. FFI 715-425-0905. Public Reception: Saturday, Feb. 3, noon to 2p.m.

• Save the date: 4-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, opening reception at Gallery 120, 120 N. Main St., RF (Global M.A.D.E.), featuring photographers Wanda Brown, Deanna Grigus, Jens Gunelson and Charles Rader.

• Dates soon to be posted for UW-RF Music Department events

• Interested in Artist-led Community Transformation? ArtSpace offers information at

• Call for artists to submit work for a juried exhibition, "Heart of the River: Celebrating the First 50 Years of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway" at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Sept. 14 to Oct. 21. Contact Nicole Pederson at

Some other sources for classes and/or events:

• River Falls Community Theatre,

• Gallery 120, 120 N. Main St,, RF (at Global M.A.D.E.)

• Kinnickinnic Clayworks, 103 N. Main Street, RF. 715-821-3982,

• Fox Den Books, 120 S. Main St., RF, 715-425-6180,

• The Phipps Center For The Arts, 109 Locust St. Hudson., Hastings, 651-437-3779, Hammond Arts Alliance

• River Falls Community Arts Base at Art's House, 108 E. Maple, invites artists to show at the gallery from March through December. Even if you haven't shown before, please consider exhibiting at Arts House. Artist openings monthly on second Fridays.

• Call for volunteers for CAB: contact Steve Preisler 715-425-7530.

• Join or renew your CAB membership. You'll receive newsletters, information on local arts events and an Arts Partner card with discounts and offers from local businesses and restaurants. 715-426-5219,,

• Co-authors Holly Trechter of River Falls and her sister, Jane Donovan of Zumbro Falls, Minn., recently published their award-winning book for middle-grade children, "Esme Dooley & The Kirkkomaki Circus."