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'Creative Expressions of Grief" presentation planned
in Gays Mills
chela the eternal feminine
'The Eternal Feminine' by Chela Mertz is one of the many works on display at the art gallery relating to the processes of life, death, and integration of the two experiences.

Death and grief are common aspects of our human experience. Four area women have involved artistic activities at times of grief in their lives and will talk about how that helped them on Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Gays Mills Arts Collective Gallery. The gallery is located in the new Gays Mills Mercantile Center, 120 Sunset Ridge, Suite 107, off Highway 131 north of the old Gays Mills. The event, ‘Creative Expressions of Grief,’ is the culminating event in the Threshold Care Circle’s second annual fundraising week.

Artist Sarah ‘Chela’ Mertz, who lives in rural Gays Mills, will talk about the series of drawings and prints that she developed after the death of her mother. Her ‘Death Histories’ are part of the ‘Journeys: Life-Death Continuum’ exhibit on display at the Gays Mills art gallery and may be seen at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2 prior to the group presentation at 5 p.m. An artist all her adult life, Chela has explored and developed various mediums, including new techniques in oils, etching and drawing. She also works in watercolor, acrylics, lithography, and soft sculpture and has taught classes at a number of area colleges.

Viroqua resident Sarah Caldwell will share how drawing and journaling helped her at the time of her father’s death. She has participated in several community-wide vigils in Fair Oaks, California, and held a vigil during her father’s passing. She is a massage therapist and a graduate of Nurturing Arts training. Currently, she works as a resident assistant at Maplewood Terrace in Viroqua.

Charlene Elderkin, who lives in rural Soldiers Grove, will tell how she has found solace in music and the written word. She is the author of the newly published anthology ‘Where the Tree Falls, the Forest Rises: Stories of Death and Rebirth.’ Charlene volunteers for Vernon Memorial Hospice Care and is a co-founder of the Threshold Care Circle. She is also a student with the Chalice of Repose Project in the Contemplative Musicianship Program.

Viroqua resident Arwyn Wildingway  will talk about the importance of dance and gardening in healing. She works at the Viroqua Food Co-op with the fruits, veggies, plants, and seeds and ran a market garden on her farm in Pennsylvania before moving to Wisconsin. She considers herself a dancer, but when her teenage son was killed in a car accident, she discovered the dark depths of mourning.  Community support and the love of her husband helped her survive to keep singing an authentic song each day.

A discussion will follow the women’s presentation. There will also be a wine and cheese reception.

This event is a fundraiser for Threshold Care Circle, which educates and empowers people about home or family-directed funerals and green burial. For more information, visit or call 608-606-8060.