June 2013: A red rose sticks out from a traffic light near Sibley and 5th St., across from the park where Jean Matzke, a 70-year-old Lowertown resident was headed with her dog when she was struck and killed at this intersection by a garbage truck.

David Joles, Star Tribune

St. Paul-based artist Jean Matzke.

Christopher Felver,

White Bear Lake woman's writes book about friend's fiber art legacy

  • Article by: AMY BOWEN
  • Associated Press
  • December 9, 2013 - 4:03 AM

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Carol Olig remembers when she learned that her friend Jean Matzke died suddenly in 2009.

Olig was dumbfounded when she discovered that a garbage truck had hit her friend as she walked her dog near her loft in St. Paul. Matzke was 70.

Olig, of White Bear Lake, and Matzke, a fiber artist, had dined together the night before her death.

The friends first met years before when Olig lived in St. Cloud and Matzke lived outside of Richmond.

"It was so abrupt and so awful," Olig said of her friend's death. "It made me so angry. I thought people need to see her stuff."

Olig self-published the book "Fiber Matzke" in May. It shows about 100 pieces of her friend's artwork. She was given access to the work by Matzke's two children. She also used photographs of an exhibit that was displayed the year Matzke died.

"People say it was my way of mourning," Olig told the St. Cloud Times.

Olig says she's convinced of her friend's talent.

"I know her type of art isn't for everyone, but it is so unique," she said. "People deserve to see it."

Olig remembers Matzke as "effervescent." They belonged to the same book club. They watched films together. Above all else, Matzke always worked on her art, Olig said.

In her work, Matzke explored everything from Alzheimer's disease to her horrible sense of direction.

Several works by Matzke are part of the city of St. Cloud's municipal art collection. They were donated by the Mary Sue and Durand Potter family, according to Jennifer Penzkover, coordinator of the St. Cloud Arts Commission.

Many are on display at St. Cloud Public Library, as is a copy of Olig's book.

Carol Weiler, a Sartell resident, was a good friend of Matzke's. She owns a few of her friend's pieces.

"She knew her craft," Weiler said. "The craftmanship is impeccable. Each piece is like its own little world. Some are funny. Some are sad. Some are profound. She was always looking for ideas, and when she found one, she pushed it to the limit."

Matzke's daughter, Jen, lives in Minnetonka. She says she loves the compilation of the artwork in Olig's book. She especially likes that there are few words. The pictures tell the story of her mother.

"I didn't see her as the artist she was," Jen Matzke said. "But that was a big part of her, and the book reflected that."

An AP Member Exchange Feature shared by St. Cloud Times

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