“An Explosion of Flowers”: Memorial Sculpture Honors Bemidji Garden Club Leader Karen Sollom – Bemidji Pioneer – Low Calorie Diets Tips

BEMIDJI – Karen Sollom poured her heart into the Bemidji Garden Club.

A large, flowered sculpture in her memory was unveiled at Bemidji Public Library on Monday, June 20.

“Mom would be very honored,” Sollom’s daughter, Paula Flom, told garden club members. “It’s wonderful that Mom is honored for doing something that was a hobby but became such a passion for her.”

The mostly metal sculpture was created by Al Belleveau, one of the founders of the Bemidji Sculpture Walk. It shows flowers and pollinators made of found objects and metal.

Sollom died in 2019 at the age of 76. After retiring as a nursing instructor at Northwest Technical College, she joined the garden club in full force, serving as president and on the board. She was also a key person in founding the Birds, Bees and Butterflies Bemidji group.

Nancy DeKrey Glenn speaks during a memorial service honoring the late Bemidji Garden Club member Karen Sollom Monday, June 20, 2022 at the Bemidji Public Library.

Annalize Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

“She was a mentor to me and she was passionate about all things gardening,” said Nancy DeKrey Glenn, who hosted Monday’s program.

She said Sollom was instrumental in rebuilding the garden club in 2006. After the club officially took over the care and maintenance of planters outside the library, Sollom secured a $500 grant to build a double-decker planter in the library.

Other garden friends shared memories of Sollom during the program.

062222.N.BP.GARDENCLUB - 7.jpg

Members of the Bemidji Garden Club enjoy refreshments during a Bemidji Garden Club memorial service honoring the late club member Karen Sollom Monday, June 20, 2022 at the Bemidji Public Library.

Annalize Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

“The personal thing about Karen that I loved was that every year she challenged herself to learn something new,” said club member Trish Brewinski. “She brought all the skills she needs to do her professional work and put her heart into this group. I am forever grateful that she found this a worthwhile endeavor.”

Belleveau told those gathered he hopes his sculpture will bring joy to club members who have donated to the project and to all who see it.

062222.N.BP.GARDENCLUB - 5.jpg

Al Belleveau speaks about the memorial sculpture he created in honor of the late Bemidji Garden Club member Karen Sollom on Monday, June 20, 2022 at the Bemidji Public Library.

Annalize Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

“To me, the sculpture looks like an explosion,” he said, “and it’s an explosion of flowers. It explodes off the ground. It’s happy, it’s very happy. That’s what I wanted, and I hope you wanted it too. It’s always an honor when I’m asked to honor someone else with a sculpture.”

Flom said her mother’s memorial sculpture only adds to the city’s thriving art scene.

062222.N.BP.GARDENCLUB - 4.jpg

Paula Flom speaks during a Bemidji Garden Club memorial service honoring her late mother Karen Sollom Monday, June 20, 2022 at the Bemidji Public Library.

Annalize Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

“I think Bemidji must benefit greatly from all of this, and I can still see that today just by talking about your projects and your work,” she told club members. “The garden association has a great influence here.

“I know Mom was grateful and proud to have served with you all as ambassadors for the birds, insects and flowers that benefit from kindness, a love of gardening and all that goes with it.”

062222.N.BP.GARDENCLUB - 2.jpg

Members of the Bemidji Garden Club gather in front of a memorial sculpture created by Al Belleveau in honor of the late Bemidji Garden Club member Karen Sollom outside the Bemidji Public Library on Monday, June 20, 2022.

Annalize Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

062222.N.BP.GARDENCLUB - 6.jpg

A poster highlights the late Bemidji Garden Club member Karen Sollom’s time at the club during a memorial service in her honor Monday, June 20, 2022 at the Bemidji Public Library.

Annalize Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Leave a Comment