Plymouth Magazine October/November 2021

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Former Owners of 45 years Lowell and Phyllis Schaper and current Owners Esther & Frank Weigel

Fall Season 2021 September 4 - October 31 Weekend Attractions:

• U-Pick Apples • Famous Apple Donuts & Cider • Caramel Hut • Food Stands • Retail Barn • Unlimited Hayrides • Face Painting

• • • • • •

Animal Barn Apple Launcher Face Painting Kids Scavenger Hunt Apple Express Train October Halloween Activities • Pumpkin Patch (in Oct.)

6530 County Road 26, Minnetrista, MN 55364


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O C TO B E R / N OV E M B E R 2 02 1 “I’ve been interested in drawing and doing creative things ever since I was a little girl. It’s just who I am. We are all given certain talents or interests, and that one has been with me since I was young.” —Plymouth’s Dureen Ruff


PAG E 3 0

10 — Brick by Brick Paint expert provides tips for homeowners.

12 — A Right Turn Rheumatologist discovers her creative side after head injury.

14 — Refresh and Reset Lymph drainage massage helps clear toxins out of your body.

FEATURES 16 — Magnum Opus Miniaturist creates the homes of her imaginative dreams.

22 — Creative Collaboration Artists use common threads to weave together art and friendship.

TASTEMAKERS 30 — A Ghoulish Good Time Party planning ideas sure to make your monster mash a succcess.

IN EVERY ISSUE 4 — Editor’s Letter 6 — Noteworthy 28 — On the Town 32 — Last Glance



Curated vintage & estate collection.

Family owned & operated in the Twin Cities since 1951. 50th & France



FROM THE EDITOR Renée Stewart-Hester,

To complete the tableau, a cotton plume of “smoke” curled its way out of the faux brick chimney. It was a labor of her love. I loved it then, but I treasure the memory of it now. As a parent, who orchestrates Christmas in our house, I can’t image how my Mom found the bandwidth to add the dollhouse renovation to her holiday to-do list. This brings me to Plymouth’s Dureen Ruff, Grewal’s mother. Ruff holds an interesting place in the world of miniatures. She created an unbelievable series of birdcages turned into miniature homes. They are magical and wonderful and the work of a woman who introduced her imagination to her lifelong artistic talent to come up with The Cage Series, which her children wrote about in a book as a tribute to their mother. Read about Ruff on page 16, and be prepared to be amazed and, hopefully, inspired to create your magnum opus. Until next time,

See what we’re doing behind the scenes and around town! PLYMOUTHMAG.COM @PLYMOUTHMAG


On the Cover Skip Sturtz, photo by Chris Emeott





esop is said to have stated, “Good things come is small packages.” As for great things—I think they sometimes arrive in bespoke miniature proportions. When Anne Marie Ruff Grewal reached out to me about an article idea, her suggestion resonated with me on a personal level. Let me explain. As the youngest of five girls, most of my toys lived a few lives before arriving in my toy chest. Understanding the downfalls of being “the last,” my mom, also the youngest of five siblings, took special care to make some of my toys “new” or unique to me. In the weeks leading up to one Christmas, her sewing machine, crochet needles and acrylic paints came to life once I was in bed for the night. My gift that year was a refurbished dollhouse, complete with handmade curtains, handcrocheted rugs, hand-painted wall art and wallpapered rooms. Tootsie Toy furniture replaced plastic dollhouse furniture, and a new family moved into the dollhouse. It was even decorated for Christmas with a lit tree festooned with tiny berries and properly-wrapped gifts around its skirt.

VOL. 18 NO. 4

publisher SUSAN ISAY


managing editor ANGELA JOHNSON

associate editor HAILEY ALMSTED



editorial advisory board Elizabeth Cohen, Studio M Ann Marie Grocholsk, AMG Photography Deb Sakry Lande, Interfaith Outreach Emilie Kastner, City of Plymouth Amy Parnell, Wayzata Public Schools Luann Svendsen, Plymouth Reads member and community volunteer

senior managing art director SARAH DOVOLOS

art director ALLISON NOLDEN

lead staff photographer CHRIS EMEOTT

print production director BRITTNI DYE

digital production director DEIDRA ANDERSON

project coordinators ADRIANNA BLACK BULL, LISA STONE


circulation and marketing KATIE RINGHAND

credit manager APRIL MCCAULEY

chief operating officer SUSAN ISAY

chief financial officer BILL NELSON

Plymouth Magazine 9877 AIRPORT ROAD NE BLAINE, MN 55449 612.548.3180 SUBSCRIPTIONS: Plymouth Magazine is published 6 times a year. Rates $12 for 6 issues. Back issues $5.95. For subscription and customer service inquiries, please contact or call 1.800.637.0334. ©Tiger Oak Media Inc. 2021. All rights reserved.





local tips, tidbits & insights

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Halloween and Day of the Dead. This hearty cocktail pairs with colder weather, and it’s also great for entertaining. Shaken or stirred, here we go: Blood and Sand Cocktail »» ¾ oz. Scotch (Use a blended Scotch for lower proofs and smoother cocktails. There’s no need to break out the single malts.) »» ¾ oz. sweet vermouth »» ¾ oz. cherry Heering liqueur »» ¾ oz. freshly-squeezed orange juice »» orange peel for garnish

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Pour liquids into a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour. Or add ingredients to a pitcher, stir and pour. Add orange peel for garnish.

Kevin Castellano is an area wine and liquor expert.

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Tackle the top three “problem” areas to organize.

Fall calls for suspense and thriller novels.

I am often contacted for help with three “problem” areas. These areas are easily filled due to over-owning, forgetfulness or procrastination. Let’s get organized.

Closets: Try the KonMari method, popularized by organizing expert Marie Kondo. Take all items out of your closet (dressers, too), and put everything on top of your bed. I guarantee seeing the amount of items piled up will motivate you. Review each piece, and set aside items that do not fit or “spark joy” or are older than 10 years. Bag up the unwanted items, and deliver them to a local charity. Consider cutting up worn items to use as rags. Put the remaining items back in your closet, grouping by color. Pantries: Toss out expired items. Identify products that you have in abundance or do not plan to use and drop them off at a food bank. Group remaining items by category (i.e. soups with soup, pasta with pasta). Place grouped items in storage bins, labeling for easy identification. I recommend putting flour, sugar, rice and beans in airtight containers. Garage: Back out your cars and mark off three sections using painter’s tape. Label the sections “donate,” “keep” and “junk haulers.” Start on one end of the garage and work your way around. Don’t forget items stored in the rafters or attic. After you take your donations and have the junk hauled away, you can then assess what type of storage system and bins you will need. Take 15 minutes a day to accomplish your goal. You will be amazed by how much you can get done. Put on a timer, and get started!

Kira Vanderlan operates a decluttering, organizing, staging and design company.



Curl up with a good thriller! Killing Kate by Alex Lake: Kate just broke up with her boyfriend, and now there is a serial killer murdering women resembling her. Is this her boyfriend seeking revenge or a stalker? This fastpaced book is a puzzle to the very end. Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian: This historical thriller (Boston in the 1600s) finds Mary, a victim of domestic violence. When she tries to lawfully separate from her husband, the men in power are not interested in hearing her side of the story, so she takes matters into her own hands.

into when she enters Verity Crawford’s house. The book is full of suspense with steamy scenes and creepy undertones. When the Stars Go Dark by Paul McLain: This circa 1993 thriller follows Anna, a female detective, who specializes in missing children. She gets pulled into a case in her hometown, and the book focuses on healing past wounds. Hunting Wives by May Cobb: Think of the juiciest Us Weekly article, mixed with the Bravo’s The Real Housewives franchise, and add a murder. Readers can fall in love with and hate these women all while getting sucked into their drama.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen: If you were a fan of The Last Mrs. Parrish or Gone Girl, this is your next read. The book’s premise is that life is not always as it appears. The multiple perspectives throughout the book build the suspense to make for a twisty read.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides: This book stars Alicia, who is a famous painter married to a fashion photographer. She shoots her husband then refuses to speak. The story follows the psychotherapist, who is trying to unravel the mystery of her actions.

Verity by Colleen Hoover: Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer, who gets a job offer that will solve her financial woes. Little does she know what she is getting

Plymouth residents Amy Sundet and Katie Timcho can be found on Instagram at @overbookedmoms.



Spotlight On Results Plymouth’s #1 Homeseller

Residents open the first Fitness Machine Technicians location in the Twin Cities.

Plymouth’s Brian and Bethany Dillon are serving the area’s gym equipment needs by teaming up with Fitness Machine Technicians, a national franchise that services corporate and residential gym equipment, to open the Twin Cities location. “Fitness has always been a passion of ours,” says Brian. The Dillons saw an opportunity for the business when they realized how many Twin Cities residents rely on fitness equipment in local or home gyms. Brian enjoys the strategic side of running a business; Bethany handles customer service. “He’s the numbers guy. I’m the people person, so both of us bringing those different skill sets into owning this business together has really created this nicely balanced partnership,” Bethany says. In the first year of operation, the Dillons fielded a greater number of residential calls, likely because more people bought home gym equipment during the pandemic. Since the spring, they’ve noticed an uptick in calls from professional gyms that are expecting new and returning customers. “It is great to see our fellow Minnesota residents having greater access to fitness options as facilities reopen. We are happy that we can play a role in helping local health clubs, hotels, and apartment and condo communities to safely resume activities at their facilities,” Bethany says. Fitness Machine Technicians of Minneapolis & Saint Paul takes calls from customers as far away as Rochester and western Wisconsin. The business’s social distancing protocols are in place, and technicians wear masks in customers’ homes and businesses. —KIRA SCHUKAR

Fitness Machine Technicians of Minneapolis & Saint Paul; 612.605.7558 @FMTMSP @fmt_msp

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Brick by Brick A fair amount of homeowners have given

the interiors of their homes a glow-up, a redo, a transformation—call it what you will. But all that effort begs the question—now what? Head outside, take a few steps back, and give a long, hard look at your home’s exterior. Even brick facades and fireplace chimneys can get in line for a makeover. Before you pop the paint can or hire a painting crew, Jon Nelson, store manager of Hirshfield’s in Wayzata, provides some

valuable insight into painting brick. To start, the brick should be properly cleaned. “A scrub brush, hot soapy water or possibly a ‘no-rinse’ cleaner will help you thoroughly clean the surface,” Nelson says. “It is important to let the brick fully dry after this before continuing with the project.” Now, it’s time paint. “The first coat when painting brick should always be a primer,” Nelson says. “This will help your topcoat seal and bond properly.” BY RENÉE STEWART-HESTER



He recommends using a 100 percent acrylic masonry primer and allowing it to completely dry before applying two coats of a latex topcoat. Nelson recommends Housecoat, which comes in flat and low luster sheens and can be tinted any desired color. The Brick Industry Association (BIA) weighs in, noting that paint used on brick masonry walls should be “durable, easy to apply and have good adhesive characteristics. It should be porous if applied on exte-


Paint expert provides tips for homeowners.

Y O U R N E I G H B O R H O O D R E A LT O R Plymouth Paul’s Promise Honesty, Open Communication and Results PAUL GILLIAM 612-322-2257 PAULGILLIAM@EDINAREALTY.COM

rior masonry, thereby permitting the wall to breathe and preventing the trapping of free moisture behind the paint film.” Nelson says paint is best applied on brick with a heavier nap roller if spraying the brick is not an option. “If the brick has already been painted, I would still recommend following the above procedure even if it seems to be in good repair,” he says. “If done correctly, painted brick will last just as long as other painted surfaces.” And these recommendations can be used for chimneys, as well. The BIA also has recommendations when it comes to new masonry. “As a general rule, new clay masonry is seldom painted. It is difficult to justify the extra expenditure for initial and future painting,” it notes. “However, if for any reason painting new masonry is desired, there are a few precautions necessary for reasonable success. Do not wash new clay masonry walls with acid cleaning solutions. Acid reactions can result in paint failures. Use alkali-resistant paints.” (This might be the time to connect with a painting professional or contractor.) If homeowners decide to go the painted brick route, the paint color should fall within the color scheme of the rest of the home’s exterior. Consider the colors of the window and door trims, flashing, gutters and even the roof. There are, however, a few popular colors that Nelson highlights, including a dark gray like Benjamin Moore’s Iron Mountain (213430) or a bright white called Chantilly Lace (OC-65). What’s the upshot of painting exterior brick? “Painting your brick can be a great way to modernize the look of your home,” Nelson says. “That being said, exposed brick is still an extremely appealing look.”

Hirshfield’s, 1975 Annapolis Lane N.; 763.577.9864; Hirshfield’s @hirshfields

@hirshfieldspaint hirshfields

“Paul is a realtor who makes it a point to meet your desired outcome.” -Sam F. Minneapolis

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Jeff Wessels

Owner, Brit’s Pub

President/COO, Crown Bank

“What is great about Crown is that I truly consider them a partner in my business.” —kam talebi

Owner, Brit’s pub, kaskaid hospitality

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A Right Turn Rheumatologist discovers her creative side after head injury.

WHILE EN ROUTE to a conference in 2016, Umbreen Hasan, M.D., saw her life take an unexpected turn after a being involved in a serious car accident. “After the accident, I had a concussion and short-term memory loss with it and lots of trauma,” says Hasan, a rheumatologist. Through happenstance, a visit to a local craft store during her recovery transformed into a second career. After taking a wrong turn down the paint aisle, a creative urge sparked to life. Hasan bought some painting supplies and returned home to make her first-ever painting—surprising her family, as well as herself. “When my family saw [the painting] in the evening, they actually didn’t believe initially that I had painted the painting,” the Plymouth resident says of Twilight, the acrylic painting she created using gravity as a tool. She attributes this new-

found creativity to her accident, explaining, “You have the factual side of the brain and then you have the artistic side. When I had the head trauma, the artistic side became activated.” After initially working with acrylic paint, Hasan rapidly moved on to other mediums, discovering that her newlyawakened artistic side allowed her to pick up on techniques and approaches without seeking out instruction or training. “Since I didn’t undergo any training in fine art, I don’t use paintbrushes,” she says. “For me, using the hair dryer, or fire, or my hands or a hammer, these are the things I generally started painting with.” While any of those items might seem like an unorthodox substitute for a paintbrush, Hasan’s medium of choice— alcohol inks—is the reason for her unique repertoire of paint tools. When




she started painting with alcohol ink in 2017, Hasan says the medium was largely unexplored on a large scale or taken seriously in a fine art context. As dye floating in concentrated alcohol, this type of ink dries incredibly fast and is still used primarily for small decorative pieces. Instead, Hasan decided to create largescale, vibrant abstract paintings with the tricky medium. “... anything that’s challenging is what attracts me,” she says. “If you don’t move the color quickly, the alcohol will evaporate, and you won’t have anything left other than splashes of color.” Hasan uses canned air, fire and gravity to coax out ethereal swirls of vibrant color from layers of pigment. “Most people like it a lot because it’s a very unique medium,” Hasan says. “[The colors] really fade out towards the edges, so they’re very beautiful. You can’t get that effect


To our furry friends and their families: THANK YOU for your support during these challenging times. Your patience and flexibility have been greatly appreciated as we navigate through these pandemic times.

And to our amazing staff! THANK YOU for all your hard work and endless dedication to our patients. You truly are the best!

from acrylics or oil.” With COVID restrictions in place, Hasan removed her paintings from the local galleries where they were being shown. Now, she fulfills commissions and uploads behind-the-scenes videos to Instagram. Alcohol ink workshops, which Hasan started teaching at a St. Paul studio in 2020, were put on hold, as materials (concentrated alcohol, masks and gloves) became essential medical supplies. Hopefully, the workshops will return in 2022.

Visit for updates. Umbreen Hasan Fine Art @umbreenhasan




Refresh and Reset A MASSAGE MENU CAN CARRY A HOST OF OPTIONS, and one that

appears to be gaining traction is targeted toward lymph drainage. DeAnn Larson has been a massage therapist for 18 years and operates Plymouth-based wellness center Tree of Life Therapeutic Massage. We turned to Larson to learn more about lymph drainage massage, one of the many types of massages offered at Tree of Life.

What does a session entail?

The process is slow, light, rhythmic

motions moving lymph fluid into areas of the body, so that they can be “dumped” or drained. Our lymph system does not have a pump or a way for it to move out the tissue on its own except for brisk walking, where your legs can work as the pump to move the lymph out of the system. What is lymph?

Lymph, which mainly contains white blood cells, carries digested/absorbed fat from the intestine and drains excess fluid from extracellular space back into blood and removes bacteria from the body. BY MADELINE KOPIECKI



How long is the massage, and how do clients prepare for it?

The lymph drainage massage is one to one and a half hours. Some people want an overall lymph drainage session just for maintaining a healthy lymph system, and that is [a] full body [massage] and recommended for one and a half hours. If someone has had surgery and the lymph system has been compromised in a particular area, the session will be focused on the surgery area, removing excess fluid in the area of surgery.


Lymph drainage massage helps clear toxins out of your body.

What are the benefits?

… You can remove toxins and build up in the tissue to reduce swelling and inflammation. How do we know if we need this type of massage?

Pain relief without addictive drugs!

Sometimes people just feel sluggish and tired. [Consider the option] if you have recently gotten over sickness and can’t kick the tired or drained feeling [or] if you have had surgery and have excess swelling in certain areas that have been confirmed to have no infection ... Unless you are very active, taking brisk walks or runs on a regular basis, lymph drainage is a good idea to have done periodically.

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How often should it be performed?

If you are recovering from surgery and working to reduce fluid build-up, you will need to come in on a regular basis for several weeks—one to two times a week. If you are doing lymph drainage for overall health reasons, you would come every three to six months. Are there risks involved?

Yes, there are contraindications to doing lymph drainage because we are essentially moving waste products and toxins around the body. We are not able to work on people with congestive heart failure, deep vein thrombosis or a history of it, unexplained or untreated pain and swelling or a fever or any other symptom, which indicates you are unwell and possibly contagious. A doctor’s referral is needed for those with cancer, diabetes, kidney disease or lymphedema.

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What about client feedback? They generally have great results. Because it is such a light touch massage, they don’t feel like they would after a deep tissue massage, but they say they feel lighter in general. Sometimes, it takes several sessions to notice a large reduction of swelling. Tree of Life Therapeutic Massage,



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At first blush, one would think their story began with a chance meeting in Oakland, Calif. She— a Parisian designer. He—an aspiring novelist from Normandy. Their histoire d’amour appears to travel to a private French island, a quaint village in Provence, Victorian San Francisco and the fjords of Norway. In reality, Renee and Philippe’s affaire de cœur began in the creative mind of Plymouth’s Dureen Ruff, an artisan of miniatures and creator of The Cage Series, a quintet of bird cages turned into miniature homes at the hands of Ruff’s impeccable research, attention to detail and artistic acumen. Every artist needs a muse, and the fictional lives of Renee and Philippe provided Ruff with the aspirational foundation for her bird cage series, created from 1999–2003. To understand the story of Ruff’s creations, one must start nearly at the beginning. In the 1960s, Ruff, under the artist’s name of d. Anne, created small paintings and sculptures, which were sold at Marion Nellermoe’s Gift Shop in Wayzata and in Minneapolis’ Uptown area. Move a decade ahead, and she had a two-year exclusive deal with The Children’s Shop in Wayzata and White Bear Lake, where her handcrafted upholstered miniature furniture was sold. Dayton’s also sold the line, as did Marshall Field’s in Chicago. Her work was later sold at countrywide trade shows, to which she’d travel to as many as eight to 10 shows a year. A global mail order business also carried Ruff’s products, and some can still be found online through her Etsy site and other collectors. Ruff developed a number of processes for creating miniature elements, and she later offered kits that helped other miniaturists create items themselves. Ruff’s Pretty Pleat Pleater, which aids in pleating fabric for miniature curtains, is still available for purchase. Wayzata offered Ruff another creative avenue in 1999 by way of an upscale furniture shop, where she spotted a $200, two-story wood and metal birdcage nesting alone on a top shelf. “I looked at it, and I thought I could create two rooms in that birdcage,” she says. Six weeks later La Cage de l’Ile was created and sold for thousands of dollars to a buyer from British Columbia during a miniatures trade show in Chicago. The next year, her Chateau La Cage Chambre d’Hote sold at a Philadelphia trade show to a buyer from Wheeling, W. Va.—for double the price of the first cage. Understand—these miniature homes are not your standard dollhouses. They are truly works of art, with Ruff meticulously researching the cages’ locales, including historical references and décor styles (color stories, furniture styles and the like). A third buyer queued up for La Cage Atelier even before Ruff began working on it. Now is where the story becomes a bit more personal. “By the time I had finished it, I felt, this is me …

I simply couldn’t sell it,” Ruff says. Her husband, Rick, encouraged her to call the buyer, who graciously understood Ruff ’s reluctance and offered to purchase the next cage. But, that sale never came to pass. Ruff went on to create three more cages, all of which are now on display in her home. “There was so much of me in them that I just couldn’t part with them,” she says. “As I walk around and look at them, I remember all the decisions I made while decorating them.” While she’s traveled extensively, Ruff does live a bit vicariously through Renee and Philippe and their dreamy dwellings. “I look at the cages and think of my characters and how they relate,” she says. The idea of the couple was borne during the creation of the first cage. “As I was putting it together, I thought, ‘Who would live in this?’ I created that little story about them,” Ruff says. Since they once lived so deeply within her imagination and creative forces, does Ruff “miss” Renee and Philippe? “No,” she says. “They are still sort of sitting in my memory. Their stories are still with me in the cages that I have.” Artists, at times, suffer regret over creative decisions. As Ruff sees the fruits of her labors on a daily basis, does she, too, have some urges to “renovate” the birdcages? “No,” she says. “I can answer that very firmly. I like the way I did them.”



It’s interesting to consider where one’s creative force originates. “I’ve been interested in drawing and doing creative things ever since I was a little girl,” Ruff says. “It’s just who I am. We are all given certain talents or interests, and that one has been with me since I was young.” Given her successful career in the world of miniatures, one is curious to know if Ruff had a dollhouse growing up in Grand Forks, N.D. Surprisingly, she didn’t. “I used boxes [butter boxes and other food containers] and created the little rooms as a child,” she says. “My grandmother [Helen Johnson] taught me how to sew, so fabrics were always part of my life.” Ruff says, “I came into this world with a particular creativity pattern, so I enjoyed … anything I could make with my hands.”



M INI AT URE M AST E RP I E C E S To celebrate Ruff’s 90th birthday last February, her children Sue Wellman, Kris Ruff, Steve Ruff and Anne Marie Ruff Grewal wrote Miniature Masterpieces: The Cage Series (Open Door Press), a tribute to their mother’s artistic magnum opus. “… as we started to look more closely at the cages and the photographs, we realized that we had never looked at them in such detail,” Grewal says. “We were really glad to have the opportunity to see our mother’s work a bit more objectively and really appreciate what remarkable works of art she had made.” “We gained a new respect for her talents,” Kris Ruff says, also noting that, “Her creativity was definitely a big influence on all of us.” “Having this book is just thrilling to me,” Ruff says. “It’s a beautiful book.” While it certainly is a treasured family keepsake, miniature enthusiasts might find it to be a wonderful addition to their collections. ($49.95 on The book not only visually highlights The Cage Series, it also provides a closer look at each structure and shines a brighter light on Renee and Philippe’s life together. While that section reads much like a treatment for a miniseries or feature film, Ruff prefers that Renee and Philippe live not on the silver screen, but tucked away in her imagination. Ruff’s attention to detail creates larger-than-life minature tableaux.

“I’ve been interested in drawing and doing creative things ever since I was a little girl. It’s just who I am. We are all given certain talents or interests, and that one has been with me since I was young.” Dureen Ruff

La Cage de l’Ile— Island retreat On their honeymoon, Renee and Philippe purchase a rundown two-story structure on a private French island. They turn it into a retreat, where Philippe writes, and Renee taps into her creativity. The décor includes Chippendalestyle upholstered furniture to reflect Renee’s French background, and a bamboostyle armoire holds Philippe’s collection of rare first-edition books. Note: The upholstered second-story dome replicates a treatment Ruff used on the walls of her own master bedroom, and the sitting room’s architectural books and magazines are reproductions of actual reference materials she used for the project.



Chateau La Cage Chambre d’Hote–Bed and breakfast Philippe’s Aunt Sophie converted her chateau in Provence into a bed and breakfast, and she asked the couple to create a cage-style structure for her garden. It is used as a bridal cottage for couples renting Sophie’s chateau for weddings. Guests will find ceramic roosters and chickens from Sophie’s collection. Note: The top of the dresser features a painted faux marble finish, which is a tribute to Ruff’s grandfather, who used the technique in public buildings that he was commissioned to paint in North Dakota.

La Cage Atelier– Renee’s design studio Renee had a dream of starting her own design firm. Once the sales of Philippe’s novels took off, they were well able to afford such an endeavor, and she left the employ of the House of Fortuny, the venerable Italian fabric house. The venue had been a pastry shop, and renovation revealed that the original ceilings had been elaborately painted by a local artist in 1763. Note: This piece reflects some of Ruff’s passions, including the second story’s blue and white porcelain objets d’art. She also loves fabrics, bolts of which are placed in a second-story room.

La Cage Victoriana– San Francisco pied-à-terre Renee’s former colleague and her husband commissioned Renee to renovate a gardener’s cottage behind a Victorian home, which is now a growing architectural firm. Renee employs deep red and soft cream colors. The structure’s interior is inspired by American writer Edith Wharton. Note: The crossword puzzle book and dictionary at the small bedroom table are a wink to Ruff’s daily crossword puzzle habit.

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La Cage Norge– Norwegian stabbur Renee and Philippe visit Renee’s mother, Monique, who lives on her new husband’s farm in Norway. The couple stays in a traditional stabbur, which has been converted into a guest cabin. Plot twist: Renee and Philippe announce the impending arrival of their baby. The stabbur features traditional Norwegian color schemes, décor and alcove box beds. Note: The framed photograph on the shelf in one of the alcoves is Ruff’s grandmother Helen Johnson. The Singer sewing machine is much like the one Johnson used to sew Ruff’s clothing.


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The commission Skip and May Ling collaborated on.

While their artistic journeys may look markedly different, Plymouth artists May Ling Kopecky and Skip Sturtz share some common threads that wonderfully weave their ways throughout their work and lives. “I’ve been doing art my whole life,” Kopecky says. “I was painting since before I can remember. I started using acrylic paints when I was 5.” Similarly, Sturtz says he was drawing intricate illustrations from a young age. But where one artist decided to pursue art as her primary career, the other picked the practice back up once he retired from a corporate career. “When I retired, it took me maybe six months to a year to figure out what I wanted to do, but I really wanted to get back to drawing because it’s always been a passion of mine,” Sturtz says. He started by drawing friends’ homes or cabins. “It started

a lot of people, they say this to me and him, ‘Why are you doing this to yourself? It takes so long, and it’s so meticulous.’ But both he and I really enjoy that sort of work.” One place where the pair’s artistic paths diverge ended up drawing the two together for a collaborative piece. In 2019, Sturtz meet with a client to discuss the details of a home portrait (a bit outside his wheelhouse). As Sturtz prepared to leave the meeting, the client hit him with a creative curveball. “I was packing up, and she goes, ‘Make sure you include all my wildflowers in there, too, because it’s just beautiful around here in the spring and summer.’” Sturtz says. “And I kind of froze up and said, ‘I’m a black and white pen and ink artist, but I will definitely do that,’” he says. Sturtz, who works with a technical pen à la 1950s and 1960s architects, had only

C R E AT I V E C O L L A B O R AT I O N Artists use common threads to weave together art and friendship. catching on, and I started developing my skills,” he says. Word-of-mouth spread, and Sturtz started taking on commissions, as well as attending art exhibitions and shows in and around Plymouth. It was at one such show—the Plymouth Primavera Art Exhibition—that he first met Kopecky and her father. “We became good art friends from there,” Sturtz says. “Her artwork is amazing, and I guess what maybe drew each of us to each other’s art is that we’re both very detailed oriented; we want it to be as visually realistic as possible. Obviously, she nails that in everything she does.” Kopecky echoes this sentiment in her recollection of their first meeting. “I noticed that his work was extremely detailed, and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I have found a friend. I’ve found a kindred spirit,’” she says. “I think

attempted working with color once. In 2015, he drew an image of the Earth in color, but the process turned out to be a tedious one. “The viscosity of [the colored ink] won’t flow through the pens as easily, so they would clog up,” Sturtz says, adding that he ended up finishing the image with a quill pen before returning to his preferred black and white style. Because Kopecky paints very minute details, Sturtz thought it might be a good idea to invite her in on the project. “As a student, she was still going through the initial stages of becoming a full-time artist, so I thought maybe this would be a good thing for her resume, to collaborate with someone,” Sturtz says. He mentioned the opportunity to her at a juried members exhibition at the Hopkins Center for Arts, “And she took it from there,” he says.

Story by Madeline Kopiecki PLYMOUTHMAG.COM


Mini-Snickerdoodle, watercolor

of Plymouth

Inspiring Choices for Senior Living


M AY L I N G K O P E C K Y Kopecky is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and is expected to graduate in 2022. While she’s been honing her artistic practice her entire life, she says she only recently started using art as a form of communication. “After I was diagnosed with [multiple sclerosis (MS)] when I was 15, I had a very difficult time talking about it,” she says. Most people aren’t aware that MS can affect juveniles. “I faced a lot of skepticism, which inspired me to start making art about my experiences to try to spread awareness and also advocate for those with invisible illnesses,” she says. Kopecky’s graduate school portfolio centers around three projects. Living with MS contains a series of hyperrealistic paintings, which Kopecky creates based on photographs from

her time spent in medical facilities. Symptom is an emotive collection of drawings and paintings created during periods when Kopecky was experiencing MS symptoms. Lastly, Self-Portrait contains dark and detailed paintings of her MRI scans, which show the physical manifestation of MS. “The most valuable thing that has come out of these series are the connections that I’ve made,” Kopecky says. Kopecky posts her work to Instagram, and she says many young MS patients have reached out to her to say that they identify with her work. “I had heard about how art can bring people together and make communities, but experiencing it firsthand was really great,” she says. @mayling.k

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SKIP STURTZ In retirement, Sturtz revisited his passion for art and took it a step further, creating a second career out of drawing incredibly intricate house portraits. “My style is all self-taught and very old school,” he says. “I don’t use computers or anything like that; it’s all done by hand and measuring, T-squares and triangles.” When he’s not drawing commissioned home portraits, Sturtz explores scenes of a more distant variety, with landscapes from the dizzying height of Mount Everest to the moons orbiting Jupiter. As with his home portraits, Sturtz renders these images in painstakingly detailed dots, a technique known as stippling. “I definitely like the challenge,” Sturtz says. “With pen and ink, it’s all about textures. There is stippling, but then there are line textures. There’s crosshatching textures. There are many different ways you can draw a rock, for instance.” Although he doesn’t plan to revisit working in color any time soon, Sturtz says he’s constantly looking to improve his technique. “I’ve always told people I have this desire to get as good as I possibly can at it,” he says. - Original Home & Cabin Portraits in Pen & Ink by Skip Sturtz @inc2ink_art_skip

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’21 27

ON THE TOWN things to see and d o in and around Plymouth

Lakefront Ghouls and Ghosts Halloween returns to Parkers Lake Playfield.

Dress up in your favorite costume on October 29 for Plymouth’s Halloween at the Lake. For several years, the City of Plymouth has hosted its family-friendly Halloween party in the Plymouth Community Center. For the second year in a row, the event will be held at the Parkers Lake Playfield while the community center is under renovation. Stop by the event from 5–8 p.m. for a full evening of treat stations, pumpkins, emergency vehicles, a photo op and more spooky activities for all ages. Parking is available at the venue, 15500 County Road 6. Visit, or call 763.509.5000 for updates and information. —KIRA SCHUKAR


6 Plymouth Farmers Market Support local vendors and shop for fresh produce at this year’s final Plymouth Farmers Market. Vendors offer a wide variety of goodies, including fruits and vegetables, coffee, cooking oil and vinegar, maple syrup and flowers. All ages. Free. 2:30–6:30 p.m.

Parkers Lake Playfield, 15500 County Road 6; 763.509.5000;

6 Trivia Mafia at Brewery


Test your trivia knowledge every Wednesday at Luce Line Brewing. Quiz whizzes, rookie trivia players and everyone in between is welcome.

10 Doug Ohman: State Parks of Minnesota

All ages. Free. Luce Line Brewing Co., 12901 16th Ave. N.; 763.324.8114;

23, 30 Buckthorn Busts These events keep the invasive species from spreading and protects native plants. The city will provide weed wrenches and other large tools but asks volunteers to bring their own gardening gloves and trowels. Contact to register. This event will also be held on November 6. All ages. Free. 9 a.m.–noon.

Maple Creek Park, 16099 27th Ave. N. and Hardenbergh Park, 18025 12th Ave. N.; 763.509.5230;



Photographer and historian Doug Ohman will share stunning photographs, historical tales and personal adventures from Minnesota’s 67 state parks. Ages 18 and older. $15 for

residents, $20 for nonresidents. 1:30 p.m. Plymouth City Hall, 3400 Plymouth Blvd.; 763.509.5200;

To have your event considered: email by the 10th of the month three months prior to publication. Due to the fluidity being experienced in the current environment, please note that some events/dates and even some business operations may have changed since these pages went to print. Please visit affiliated websites for updates.


Compiled by John Deignan, Hilary Kaufman and Kira Schukar

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A Goulish Good Time We dissect a brain full of party planning ideas sure to make your monster mash a smashing success. CONCEPTS, COCKTAILS AND DECOR COURTESY OF JAMIE CARL



ROCK CANDY CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL (Halloween’s version of a French 75) with a sidecar of a Whisky Ginger Alcoholic Gummy. Instructions: Garnish a Champagne flute with a gummy candy and a stick of rock candy. Pour Champagne or prosecco into the flute, and watch what happens! (Try using Halloween colors for a extra festive touch.) Cheers!


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Embrace arachnophobia this Halloween! Since last year seemed to feature a cauldron of bat-themed decor, we’ve decided to make 2021 The Year of the Spider with a web of ideas for a creepy, crawly celebration your guests are sure to remember.


Contributors: Sugar skull charcuterie board by @grazelocalmn, (page 2); Spider cake pops by local teen baker Maisy James of @_maisybakes,



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THIRD PLACE People & Families

One More Goodbye Summer hobby lands a photo contest nod. BY RENÉE STEWART-HESTER

KATIE MAY’S Butterfly Joy placed third in the People and Families category of our annual Picture Plymouth photo contest. Taken with an iPhone X on the deck of her Plymouth home, the photo features May’s daughter Jennette, who was 4 years old at the time the picture was taken, and a monarch butterfly that had just




been released. “… she landed on my daughter’s head for a quick ‘goodbye’ before flying off,” May says. “My daughter and I have a summer hobby of raising monarch caterpillars, and we released around 40 butterflies last summer and fall. [Jennette] loves to take care of the caterpillars and butterflies and is always very

excited to release them and wave goodbye as they fly off.” “I love the photo because it captures the joy and love my daughter has for the butterflies,” May says. “She lives life with enthusiasm that is often visible in her facial expressions, and seeing how excited she gets about things like butterflies gives me a lot of joy, as well”

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