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Rachel Yoder launches student art collaboration

February 12, 2020

By Dave Kline

Feb 12, 2020

Rachel Yoder holds "Faces as Flowers" during a reception for her Pennsylvania Dutch artwork in January 2019 at Clay on Main, Oley. As the art teacher at Brookeside Montessori School, Yoder is partnering with local businesses to exhibit her students' artwork.

You can enter the strange and fascinating world of Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Volksaage (Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore) as Rachel Yoder sees it by going online at, or going to see her works of folkloric art. Yoder, based in Oley, has been painting and bringing her unique characters to life for years now. She’s also just wrapping up a children's picture book about Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Volksaage and is excited to begin showing her latest work soon. Meanwhile, she’s just completed a nice show featuring works by her art students which was exhibited at Firefly Cafe in Boyertown from Jan. 10-Feb. 10. This exhibit highlights the type of personal and creative bond Yoder achieves with her students.

Yoder is in her first year as the art teacher at Brookeside Montessori School. In a recent press release, she writes about her plans for the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts grant the school has received: "With our grant, I was able to really expand the program and develop a community arts-based, ongoing project called 'Traveling Art Show.' Firefly Cafe was our first stop ... It's absolutely incredible that my students are getting the experience of exhibiting in public spaces, businesses, cafes, libraries, etc. There’s a beautiful exchange between the businesses and the artists. We are incredibly grateful to our hosts."

Yoder partnered with three other businesses (ArtFusion, Boyertown Community Library and My Piano Place), which will exhibit the students' artwork now through April. The final stop is a show at Brookeside in May.

Yoder calls herself as a contemporary Pennsylvania Dutch folk artist. She has written and illustrated two children's books about PA Dutch folk life and culture: "Penny Olive" and "Davey Applebutter." As a certified art teacher, she frequently runs children's workshops throughout the community.

"Traveling Art Show" is constantly evolving. “For example,” says Yoder, “For Firefly we chose love and compassion, which we thought was very fitting. We created an installation for customers and passersby to interact with and we called it 'Heart in Hand Scherenschnitte Love Notes.' These are pieces that are meant to hang in windows. The imagery is said to represent friendship, love and truth. The process is known as Scherenschnitte, which means paper cut in German. The art form was developed in Germany and Switzerland in the 16th century and brought to America in the 18th century, primarily by settlers in Pennsylvania.”

Yoder's overall theme for her students this year is folk art.

"he other really amazing part of our story is that my students are exhibiting with me," she says. "I think it's a powerful and empowering message to my young artists, and other young people, that their artwork is worthy of being exhibited alongside other working artists who are further along in their careers. I see the pride that this creates in my students."

Yoder’s art students at Brookeside Montessori School attend kindergarten through sixth grade. The intention of the ongoing, traveling exhibition is to expose students to the beautiful and rewarding art discipline of community arts and presentation. Partnering with local businesses, students become mindful of the aesthetic responses art can evoke. Students are being introduced to art making for a purpose and practicing mindfulness during the art-making process.

Dave Kline is an award-winning writer, photographer, show host and producer, singer-songwriter, travel guide and community advocate. Reach him at:

Readers immersed in PA Dutch culture, language at ‘Davey Applebutter’ author visit

July 23, 2018

Readers immersed in PA Dutch culture, language at ‘Davey Applebutter’ author visit

By Gabriela Laracca For Digital First Media


Author and illustrator Rachel Yoder, Boyertown, presented her newly released book titled “Davey Applebutter” at the Firefly Bookstore in Kutztown on July 21.


Yoder collaborated with author Dogulas Madenford to create “Davey Applebutter” which tells the story of a young Pennsylvania Dutch boy visiting his Grandpop’s farm. The book contains both English and Deitsch translations when it is flipped over. Yoder is also known for creating another dosey-doe style book titled “Penny Olive,” which she also read at the event.


Yoder is certified in K-12 art education by the Tyler School of Art and has a master’s in fine art from Kutztown University in communication design. She was raised in Bucks County but now lives in Boyertown with her three children and husband, Hunter, who is a hex sign painter from Virginville.


Madenford is an instructor of German and history for the Keystone Central School District and also has his own Youtube channel, with 3,000 subscribers, dedicated to PA Dutch dialect.


Starting the event, Yoder read “Davey Applebutter” in English while highly encouraging audience participation. Then, to present the Deitsch translation, she played a recording of Madenford reading the book. Following this, she read “Penny Olive,” in which the main character is based on Yoder’s grandmother, Olive Fisher-Davies of Oley.

Both books had similar layered illustrations featuring collages of PA Dutch style designs including hex signs and quilt patterns. Multiple times throughout the presentation, Yoder engaged child attendees by having them answer questions, make animal noises and pronounce Deitsch words like Melassich Riwwelboi, which means Shoofly Pie.


Child attendees also participated by coloring and playing PA Dutch themed sheets and games. Some of the coloring sheets allowed children the opportunity to draw themselves as farmers while others featured Deitsch word searches. Both children and adults alike were immersed in PA Dutch culture while also learning the language.


Yoder said she wants children to learn about where they live, through her books, because “it gives them an anchor to hold onto.”


Attendee Ed Clancey, originally from Buffalo, N.Y., moved to Pennsylvania 45 years ago and now lives in Krumsville. Due to a developed interest in PA Dutch culture, Clancey wishes that more educational opportunities regarding the culture were available.


“It’s just great to have people that can speak it. I know folks whose parents spoke it and they can understand it but they never took the time to learn it and they regret it very much [because] the parents are gone now and they have no way of learning it,” said Clancey. “It’s a shame, it should be taught, at least some of it, in high school I think.”

Cookies and apple butter as well as other light refreshments were provided for attendees.


“Davey Applebutter” and “Penny Olive” are both sold at Firefly. The audio translations of the books are also available on


The store also features a selection of other PA Dutch children’s books including “On the Farm Henny and Spunky” authored by Mary Laub and illustrated by Lester Zimmerman as well as a Deitsch rendition of Michael Rosen’s “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” translated by Michael Werner.


“One of the keystones of culture is language. Without language, culture dissipates or dies,” said Matthew Williams, co-owner of the Firefly Bookstore. “It is important that every generation gets the opportunity to learn the language and contribute in their own way to their own culture.”


During the day of the presentation, Firefly, along with several other Kutztown shops, participated in the RAICES Family Reunification Fund fundraiser dedicated to raising money to provide legal services and pay bonds for detained families. The shop dedicated 10 percent of the day’s sales, as well as any donations made in-store, to the fund.



Hiwwe wie Driwwe

June 01, 2018

Summer issue of Hiwwe wie Driwwe features a lovely write up about nix nux designs and a Wunnerbaar review of Davey Applebutter! Gross Danke @hiwwe_wie_driwwe and Patrick Donmoyer!!! For an issue or more information contact The Pennsylvania Cultural Heritage Center below. 

Davey Applebutter is available now!

June 06, 2018

This episode discusses a brand new PA Dutch children's book: Davey Applebutter. The book can be purchased at:

Interview with Patrik H. Feltes for Der Zeiten bunter Lauf - Ein Jahresbegleiter für 2017

January 01, 2017

Interview with Patrik H. Feltes

for Der Zeiten bunter Lauf - Ein Jahresbegleiter für 2017

Patrik: Hallo Rachel since when are you focussing your interest on the art and culture of the old Pennsylvanian inhabitants, mostly with German backgrounds?

I have been an artist my whole life (35 years), but it wasn't until 2011 that I created work with ancestral significance.  I was introduced to PA Deitsch art by learning to paint hex signs. The process was transformative!!  I was entranced from the first sweep of the compass of my first hex sign. To me, creating art that was deeply rooted in my ancestral heritage took my art work to a new level of authenticity, voice and style.  I am a gestural drawer/painter, I love to portray people. Fraktur style drawing hooked me as soon as I started researching it because it is so free from structure and full of life and motion in each stroke. Around the same time I travelled to the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University to attend Christmas on the Farm. There I met der Belsnickel for the first time. I was enamored! I felt so drawn to his dark and tattered appearance, I envisioned a grungy folk art painting on old barn wood for my new friend. When I got home I painted him and the rest is history! 

Patrik: How is your personal family rooted in this?

My family was more craftspeople. My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all sewed and embroidered primarily. They also crocheted and Mom did Scherenschnitte. All of their talents influenced me and my own craft as a child and young person. Geographically, our family has been in the Oley Valley since the early 1700's, so our Pennsylvania Deitsch roots are deep and strong. My husband is the person that introduced me to the art of hex signs and fraktur paintings. 

Patrik: Whats makes you fun in this kind of art?

I'm sexy! Ha ha ha! No really, I am a modern woman doing a very traditional style of artwork but through my contemporary perspective. I love to incorporate the figure as much as I can. You will see Wassernix, or mermaids in my work bare-chested and unapologetic. I worship the gods and goddesses in us all. My figures are like PA Deitsch deities to me.  

Patrik: How do you believe, that your art is a prolongation of passed on tradition?

My artwork has hopefully excited and encouraged people to look at the fantastic fraktur work of our ancestors. They made these incredibly and wildly strange illustrations for their Taufschein and other certificates. These illustrations are often viewed as secondary to the gorgeous penmanship, but I felt my spirit ignited by them! They sang to me and begged me to recreate them larger and bolder! I am not a traditional folk artist in that I don't simply reproduce the artwork, I reimagine it and reframe it within my context and experience.

Patrik: Do you believe, that in our modern times, the preservation of traditions is important?

As I have gotten older and grown my own family I have felt more and more strongly that tradition and pride is extremely important, most especially for young people. This is why I wrote Penny Olive. It is invaluable for young people to know who they are and where they came from, but most importantly that they belong. This is my mission for my children and other PA Deitsch children. 

I am also a trained art teacher and I just love to see both boys and girls, learning ALL of the crafts and arts of our people. Not just the crafts that have been traditionally just for either men or women.  My goal is to promote Pennsylvania Deitsch folk art in this way, equally, and that is what is most reflective of the 21st century in my art.  I have written and illustrated a children's book to do just that. Penny Olive takes young people on adventures throughout Berks County and Pennsylvania Deitsch folk traditions, but she is a very modern girl.  It's exciting to be finally braiding together all of my passions: art, cultural preservation and education!

Patrik: Do you intend as well the possibility of cultural exchange with your art?

I'm not sure I know exactly to what you are referring, but perhaps to the exchange between PA Deitsch in Pennsylvania and Germans in the Palatines, yes absolutely! I have become very close with Dr. Micheal Werner in Germany and he is the publisher of Hiwwe wie Driwwe (over here as over there). We are made of the same fabric just on different quilts. 

Patrik: Should one focus more the knowledge of the German dialects brought into the US by the German immigrants from the 17th century till today?

What a fantastic question! I always say to people that that is the most urgent cause amount us is to preserve the PA Deitsch language that is unfortunately dying off with the last generation of people for whom it was their first language. My grandmother being one of them. She was forced to stop speaking the dialect in grad school during WWI anti-German hysteria. Many people I meet have similar narratives. She was also badly mocked in college for her dumb Dutchmen accent and put in a speech clinic. It is so sad. These negative experiences caused many PA Deitsch speakers to not want to pass the language on to their children and in turn make them targets for this type of ridicule. So many of our families have a generational gap that didn’t learn the language. 

There are however many contemporary efforts to teach the language and help preserve it. Douglas Madenford, a friends and wunnerbaar guy has a series of YouTube tutorial and a work book Schwetz mol Deitsch. Also Keith Brintzenhof teaches a class at Kutztown University and many community centers in the area. I took Keith’s class and I loved it! But it’s tough. Learning a language as an adult is not too easy. But it’s worth the effort and preservation. In the past year I have been slowly getting better and better. 


Gross Danke Patrik for your interest in my work and I look forward to more collaboration in the future!

Mach’s gut!

Another great write up in The Reading Eagle!

December 14, 2016

Mountain Folklore: Reading Philharmonic Orchestra free holiday concert creates a feeling of warmth

Wednesday December 14, 2016 12:01 AM

Dave Kline

The Reading Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of conductor/arranger Michael Slechta, will perform its annual free concert Friday at 7 p.m. in St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 117 Arch St., Fleetwood.

I have performed at this concert for the past three years, and it's always been a rewarding experience due to the sincere playing of the orchestra members, the orchestra's zest for artistic and musical collaboration and the reaction of the audience. We always perform this concert to a packed house. It's as if all who come have warmed up at home first, because when we call on them to clap or sing along to the music, they eagerly do so. The entire scene reminds me of a Christmas movie from a bygone era.


On this special evening, what matters the most are the people who have gathered together and the music that has brought them together.

It's been three years since I began writing the symphonic work "Der Belsnickel Suite." From very humble beginnings, as I started working on the first notes while visiting one of our children in Portland, Ore., in the shadow of magnificent Mount Hood, the entire suite has grown and finally come to fruition.


Two years ago the orchestra played one piece from what would eventually become the full suite, thanks to the incredibly talented husband and wife team of Michael and Dina Slechta. The Slechtas took my basic melody and countermelody lines, rhythms and meter and scored the six movements for the full orchestra. They also added fanciful parts for things such as tubular bells, triangles, whistles, bird calls, wood blocks, fire engine sounds, bicycle bells, slide whistles, wind chimes and glockenspiel (xylophone). They satisfied my desire to have the music portray a sense of childhood whimsy and fantasy. We played through the entire suite for the audience; it was our first run-through of the suite.


A year has passed, and we've added a few refinements to the work. I'm very pleased to let you know that we will again perform "Der Belsnickel Suite." The refinements and more rehearsal time should make for the best outing yet for the musicians and the audience.


The suite calls for a couple of soloists during the dance or hoedown number, so I've asked champion fiddler Melissa Martin from Newmanstown and champion banjoist Conlan Kerschner of Adamstown to perform with the orchestra and me. You'll love the way these young musicians play for you.


Also new this year is an actual folio for the suite. By collaborating with regional folkloric artist Rachel Yoder, who has been heavily influenced by the earlier folk art of Gladys M. Lutz, I was able to convey the scene and mood I was trying to depict through the music and the cover art for the folio. She nailed it.


It's all about a simpler, less cash- and consumer-driven period of time in a rustic farmhouse back in the 1800s. As opposed to things and how much was spent, it was people and social interaction through music, food and dance, along with an earnest respect for traditions and God that mattered most in that era.


"Der Belsnickel Suite" is meant to reflect that period by depicting what life in a humble farm home might have been like on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when Der Belsnickel made his annual visit.


At the concert, we'll also have a visit from a real Belsnickel, and once again he'll have his little sidekick, Der Snickelfritz, by his side.


You'll also be able to see some great, new, original art that Yoder created to set the mood while it's being projected during the performance of the suite.


If all goes as planned, CWTAP television will be on hand to film the concert for replay throughout the holiday season to viewers on their network via Service Electric Cable and other outlets.


In addition to "Der Belsnickel Suite" and by popular request, the orchestra and I will perform "Dominic the Donkey" so you can all hee-haw along to it. The orchestra also will be performing an extensive selection of other holiday music. The concert will have two parts divided by an intermission.


The Reading Philharmonic Orchestra is a nonprofit, musical organization based in Reading. It is supported by the Reading Musical Foundation, M&T Charitable Trust and patron donations.


It consists of musicians of all ages and experience. Anyone who has an instrument may become part of the orchestra. The mission of the orchestra is to provide an outlet for musicians to share their love of music in performance, to provide a training ground for young musicians aspiring to play professionally and to keep their concerts free and open to the public.


Dave Kline is president of WEEU Radio, producer and host of the "Mountain Folk" show (9-10 a.m. Sundays), and Reading Eagle Company's executive director of circulation, promotions and Pretzel City Productions. Contact him at

Lovely write up in The Reading Eagle

March 02, 2016

Mountain Folklore: How a simple Facebook post connected to a local artist

Wednesday March 2, 2016 12:01 AM

Dave Kline

A month or so ago I posted a request on my Facebook page stating that I was looking for an illustrator interested in collaborating with me to create the folio cover for the sheet music for Der Belsnickel Suite, an orchestral piece I wrote and performed with the Reading Philharmonic Orchestra during the holiday season.

I received several responses, but the one from Berks County folk artist Rachel Yoder spoke to me the most.


So, I reached out to her, and the collaboration has been going very well ever since. I truly enjoy her art. It has a very happy feel to it, and I find that looking at it is uplifting in a pleasant and whimsical way. We're looking forward to releasing the music folio this year ahead of its next performance with the orchestra this Christmas season.


I am pleased to announce that Rachel just published her first book, "Penny Olive." Fans of traditional Pennsylvania German folk art and tales should love it. I asked Rachel how she became involved with creating folk art in general and this book specifically.


"I have been an artist my whole life, but until I met my husband, Hunter Yoder, in 2011, I had never created art with ancestral significance to me," she said. "He taught me how to paint hex signs but emphasized that the process can be transformative. To me, creating art that was deeply rooted in my ancestral heritage took my work to a new level of authenticity, voice and style.


"I was a natural gestural drawer, painter," she said. "I love to portray people. Fraktur-style drawing hooked me as soon as I started researching it because it is so free from structure and full of life. I felt 'Penny Olive' needed to be a good combination of both the traditional fraktur style and contemporary illustration since she is living now."


Rachel said she decided to use a style that uses layers of scanned images to create her backgrounds and characters.


"When I create Pennsylvania Dutch folk art, it is like a wild dance with my ancestors who guide me intuitively with each stroke," she said.


Knowing that the principal character is a real person, I asked Rachel how the story came to be.


"Penny Olive, in name and spirit, represents my grandmother Olive (Fisher) Davies," she said. "However, her family represents my family, my husband, myself and our children, so it's a mish-mash of our extended family.


"I wanted to have 'Penny Olive' have one foot in the history and heritage, but the other foot in contemporary PA Dutch culture and life," she said. "But, yes, artistry and craftswomanship runs strongly throughout my family. As the story states, my grandmother taught me to sew, and my mother's grandmother taught her to sew, and so on."


The Pennsylvania Dutch weave common threads from generation to generation, and teaching these traditional crafts has played a major role in preserving the culture, she said.


"I wish that we had been taught the language in a similar way," Rachel said. "My plan is to change this, teaching my children the language, and hopefully they will do the same with their children."


I asked Rachel what she hoped readers of the book would take away from it: simple entertainment, folkloric art preservation, family heirloom hand-me-down book, etc.?


"My goals for the book are multilayered," she said. "My first goal is simply to engage young people to learn more about the Pennsylvania German culture and language. Secondly, I want them to become excited about our very special history, heritage and culture and help to promote it and preserve it. I have found that many older Deitsch-speaking folks are concerned that they are going to pass away and the language will die out. They are particularly interested in the book as a fun vehicle to get young people interested in learning and sustaining the language. 'Penny Olive' makes learning the language fun."


You can help Rachel and her contemporaries preserve the important folkloric traditions of art, music, spoken and printed word and dialect by buying this fun book.


As for me, I am looking forward to seeing Rachel's folio art for Der Belsnickel Suite and creating images to go with the music.


Go, Rachel!



Dave Kline is president of WEEU Radio, producer and host of the "Mountain Folk" show (9-10 a.m. Sundays), and Reading Eagle Company's executive director of circulation, promotions and Pretzel City Productions. Contact him at


Hiwwe wie Driwwe - Artist of the Year 2016

December 01, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  On-sale January 21, 2016  

January 21, 2016

Masthof Press & Bookstore 


219 Mill Road 

Morgantown, PA 19543



Contact: Rachel Yoder, Author and Illustrator



Penny Olive

Written and Illustrated by Rachel Yoder


Penny Olive is an introduction to a sweet Pennsylvania Dutch girl from Berks County, Pennsylvania. The book was written and illustrated by Rachel Yoder, a contemporary Pennsylvania Dutch folk artist.  


Penny Olive introduces us to her family and shares her favorite things about Pennsylvania Dutch culture. Translated by Douglas J. Madenford into Pennsylvania Dutch, one side is in English and when you flip the book over—the other side is in Deitsch! A great introduction to the Pennsylvania Dutch language for children and adults alike.


This is the first of many adventures we will go on with Penny Olive!


"Here she is: Penny Olive, the cute and curious American girl with a Pennsylvania German background. Go along with her and watch her finding out more and more about her "deitsch" heritage. Rachel Yoder has created a wonderful character, a real mascot. Let's hope, Penny will show many young children the richness of the Pennsylvania German culture and encourage them to learn more about their family roots and the language of their forefathers.” -Dr. Michael Werner, Hiwwe wie Driwwe (The PA German Newspaper)


“Penny Olive is an original, bilingual (Deitsch-English) book that is as enjoyable for those learning Deitsch as it is for native speakers. The artwork matches the story impeccably. As is the case with all of the Deitsch folk art of Rachel Yoder that I have seen, the illustrations contain traditional elements that set it clearly within the context of the Deitsch culture while also containing new and creative expressions that are consistent with Deitsch themes. Doug Madenford did a great job with the translation from English to Deitsch. We need more of this kind of book!”  -Robert Lusch Schreiwer (former Instructor of Pennsylvania German at Kutztown University)


This is Rachel Yoder’s first bilingual children's book written to engage young people and help preserve Pennsylvania Dutch language and culture. Yoder taught art in the inner city and is an active folk artist. She saw a need for a Pennsylvania Dutch character that would encourage young people to learn the language. She is learning right alongside her own three children. Yoder is currently an MFA candidate in Communication Design at Kutztown University.  


$10.00, ISBN:978-1601264817, Penny Olive is available at Masthof Bookstore, 219 Mill Road, Morgantown, PA 19543, or online at,, and Bookstores, universities, libraries and other small or large volume purchasers can order at Masthof Press 610-286-0258.

Interview with Dr. Werner from Deitsch E-Magazine

January 01, 2016

What does the Pennsylvania German folk art mean to you, and what does it mean to you to produce that kind of art? 

Pennsylvania German folk art means the world to me!  It fills my heart with warmth and pride when I see it and ignites my entire mind, body and spirit when I create it.  In other words, it is like worship, a spiritual experience, when I draw and paint.  Particularly when I focus on Pennsylvania German folk art, it is a wild dance with my ancestors who guide me intuitively with each stroke.  


I have been an artist my whole life, but until I met my husband, Hunter Yoder, I had never created anything with ancestral significance to me.  He taught me how to paint hex signs, but emphasized that the process can be transformative.  I was entranced from the first sweep of the compass for my first hex sign.  To me, creating art that was deeply rooted in my ancestral heritage took my art work to a new level of authenticity, voice and style.  I was a natural gestural drawer/painter, I love to portray people.  Fraktur style drawing hooked me as soon as I started researching it because it is so free from structure and full of life and motion in each stroke.


The motifs are 200/300 years old. In which way do you reflect the 21st century in your art? 

I feel that many of the motifs of Fraktur are timeless: love, marriage, birth, family, death, ancestral pride, etc.  I am a mother, wife, daughter, and sister, I deeply value family and honoring our ancestors and heritage.  I feel what sets my work apart from the originalFraktur drawings/paintings is that, while originally the art was supporting the text, in my work, the art is front and center and the main focal point. I feel this shift in visual hierarchy is influenced by my contemporary art framework. 


But the most significant difference that I observe is that I am a woman.  Though I'm sure there must have been women that created Fraktur in the 1700-1800's, you don't come across their work.  I don't know that in all my exploration of Fraktur exhibits that I have seen even one piece by a woman.  This conflict is certainly a 21st century issue, because still in our Pennsylvania German culture, female artists and craftswoman are grossly underrepresented and under-appreciated, not by our peers (fellow artists) but more by the very traditional and specific gender roles in our culture, I'd like to change that!  


I am an art teacher and I just love to see both boys and girls, learning ALL of the crafts and arts of our people.  Not just the crafts that have been traditionally just for either men or women.  My goal is to promote Pennsylvania German folk art in this way, equally, and that is what is most reflective of the 21st century in my art.  I have written and illustrated a children's book to do just that.  Penny Olive takes young people on adventures throughout Berks County and Pennsylvania German folk traditions, but she is a very modern girl.  It's exciting to be finally braiding together all of my passions: art, cultural preservation and education!


What is your favorite motif, and why?

I have two favorite motifs.  In traditional Fraktur, it is definitely the Wassernix, or mermaid.  In my own work, it is my original derBelsnickel!  I drawn to both for similar reason though, they are both mysterious and a precarious.  I have had a difficult time finding information on what influenced the Pennsylvania German's mermaid motif, but that is part of what drew me to this motif, it's mystery! Likewise with der Belsnickel!  I did not grow up with knowledge of der Belsnickel, I was raised with Santa (Bleh!), a capitalist driven figure that never really appealed to me as a child.  I first met der Belsnickel at The Pennsylvania German Heritage Center in Kutztownat Christmas on the farm in 2012 and I fell in love!  He was a gnarly and wild looking server of Christmastime justice.  PatrickDonmoyer's version of der Belsnickel had me in a childlike trance that day.  It became a family tradition for my children to go visit derBelsnickel every year, we even bring him small gifts.  I always longed to paint a portrait of der Belsnickel. The timing was right this past summer when my husband gave me some incredibly gnarly, knotted wood and I immediately envisioned der Belsnickel painted.  I have done four der Belsnickel paintings since, all a little different.  I am very proud that one is with you, Dr. Werner in the homeland, one is with a dear woman in Fleetwood who adores der Belsnickel. as I, one is with Ivan Hoyt, legendary hex sign painter and friend, and the last one was a gift for Patrick Donmoyer for inspiring me and for sharing the der Belsnickel tradition with the children.  


I have had a very successful and blessed year.  I have finally found my style and I am very excited to continue exploring new ways to translate such a beautiful art form (Fraktur) into larger scale paintings.  I am also working on a second Penny Olive book where she explores the Oley Valley, the land of my family!


I want to thank you Dr. Werner for seeing my vision and always promoting my work and mission with the kindest and most accurate descriptions.  We are far apart, yet we have the same goal friend.  


Der Belsnickel Artwork used in Deitsch E-Magazine

September 14, 2015


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