LaDes Glanzer remained closer to her loved ones than most people do: dangling from their ears, encircling their wrists or resting against their sternums, inches from the heart.
After the Minneapolis silversmith died from cancer on July 1, at 74, her jewelry — intricate geometric structures that resemble abstract architectural models — took on new meaning for its wearers.
“We will all have a piece of LaDes to carry with us,” said her close friend Judy Gordhamer.
Glanzer and her husband, Duke Klassen, made their careers as jewelers, traveling to juried art fairs around the country, winning awards and forming a national network of artist friends in the process. The Minnesota Museum of American Art owns one of Glanzer’s pieces.
Glanzer participated in nearly all of Minneapolis’ annual Uptown Art Fairs, including the first one, in 1964, where artists simply laid their work down on a blanket or leaned it against storefront walls. Glanzer, who had studied art and biology, briefly taught science at the old West High School before opening a craft shop in Linden Hills, sleeping in the back of the shop to save money.
A few weeks after the shop launched, in walked Klassen, who lived right around the corner. After talking with Glanzer, he decided to put an item on layaway so he’d have an excuse to return (“Smooth operator that I was,” Klassen joked). One of the first things Glanzer liked about her future husband, she told him recently, was that when she was tying her bicycle on top of her car quite capably, he didn’t try to intervene.
Within a few months of meeting, the two sold their possessions, shuttered the shop and headed to Paris. They spent a little more than a year living and traveling in Europe and the Middle East before coming back to Minneapolis and becoming partners in life and business, teaching themselves to make jewelry. They spent hours together at their side-by-side workbenches, cutting, bending and soldering thin metal sheets. “We were in almost the same room for most of 47 years,” Klassen said.
The couple raised three daughters, who accompanied their parents on the art fair circuit; their youngest, Ivy, joined her parents at a Minnesota Renaissance Festival booth when she was just 10 days old.
The couple’s middle daughter, Brenna, who is also a silversmith, was born into the business: Glanzer went into labor while she and Klassen were at an art fair at Southdale Center and hustled across the parking lot to Fairview hospital. “We were being chased by the mall cops because they wanted her to take an ambulance and she said, ‘No way,’ ” Klassen recalled.
Gordhamer called Glanzer “an extraordinary person” who loved trying new things. Glanzer roller-bladed marathons, white-water rafted, visited some 40 countries with Klassen — petting a cheetah and riding an ostrich along the way — and may or may not have once sneaked a little wine into the Lake Harriet rose garden with her book group. “She was a wonderful human being, a beautiful spirit, very kind to everybody, very thoughtful — full of wonderful, funny quotes all the time, but no-nonsense,” Gordhamer said. “You would have liked her.”
Klassen has taken over Glanzer’s hobby of raising cecropia moths and is currently fattening up a small army of caterpillars, preparing them for their winter diapause. Next spring, when the winged creatures emerge from their papery cocoons and Klassen releases them to the wild, he’ll receive another reminder of the beauty, joy and sense of adventure that his wife brought to so many lives.
In addition to Klassen, Glanzer is survived by daughters Ariana, Brenna and Ivy Klassen-Glanzer and four grandchildren. A celebration of her life has been held.
Rachel Hutton 612-673-4569