On the farm or ranch, when you're told to pick up a paint brush it usually means there's a chore to do: Give the barn or shed a new coat of whitewash. But for the late Henry Lorentzen who farmed near Washburn-- the brush strokes were a labor of love and beauty. Lorentzen's family is in Bismarck to meet a woman who has her own collection of Henry's paintings--a collection never seen by the family. Jared Piepenburg has the story.
"Nice to meet you!, nice to meet you!"
"We call them the 'Henry's.'"
"That's what I've heard."
'The Henry's' are the work of the late Henry Lorentzen.. Vanessa Lorentzen's grandfather.
"We have them spread around the house," said Deb Forward.
Vanessa, her aunt, and her father, are seeing them for the first time in Deb Forward's Bismarck home.
"We have the small one right here in the entryway," said Deb.
"Oh, they are gorgeous," said Vanessa.
Henry Lorentzen was a pioneer farmer and rancher near Washburn. He was also an artist. Vanessa says her family believes he painted hundreds--possibly thousands--of originals depicting the North Dakota landscape and rural life. Deb Forward started collecting "the Henrys" after college.
"They just spoke to me because every picture, every painting is a story, it is not just flat. It is three-dimensional and it just tells you something," Deb said.
The Lorentzen's have many of Henry's paintings, but are happy to find a good home for something that means so much to them.
"I am happy for her, I am very happy for her and that there are people out there that enjoy the art," said Ross Lorentzen, son of Henry.
"I did feel very choked up. Some of these paintings were prior to me. Then I get that rush of emotion that he was working steadily to capture North Dakota, and he has given us a gift," Vanessa said.
In a house they have never been to, getting to see some of their father or grandfather's art pieces for the first time.
"We have some little Indian teepees."
"I've never seen one quite like it! That is really outstanding. - it is very beautiful!"
Each one may be unique--and hold a different meaning.... but today Deb learned all of Henry Lorentzen's art has something in common.
"When you see the 91, he was 91," explained Vanessa. "Well, he was born 1900, and so when you see the number 91, he was 91 when he did this work of art. And it is outstanding"
Henry died when he was 96... and was painting until his last days. His family is on a mission to see that his art... and his legacy... last.
Henry Lorentzen's daughter, Yvonne--who you saw in Jared's story--has written a book about her father. "Daddy Was an Artist" has just been released and Yvonne will be in Medora on Friday with autographed copies of the book. It includes many family photos, personal notes and letters....and sketches by Henry.
Book signing is 10:00 am to close on Friday, June 22nd at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora.