Explore Dunn County’s ‘Weathered Barns’ Through This Exhibit
photographer Mark J. Quilling's exhibit now showing at the Rassbach Heritage Museum
For the past 36 years, the faded colors and intricate textures of old weathered barns in Dunn County were calling to Mark J. Quilling as he drove back and forth from St. Paul, Minnesota, where he made his home and career, to his hometown of Menomonie to visit family.
Now retired in Menomonie, 50 of the more than 200 photographs he took, are now showing at the “Weathered Barns of Dunn County,” exhibit from Saturday, Feb. 11, through Saturday, March 25, at the Dunn County Historical Society, Russell J. Rassbach Heritage Museum (1820 John Russell Road, Menomonie).
Armed with nothing more than a 35-mm point-and-shoot camera, and sometimes risking life and limb for the perfect shot, he quickly stopped by the side of a road to frame the photo and snap the shutter in seconds. All the photos are 5-x-7 inches, and Mark chose the mats and frames himself to coordinate with the barn’s colors or the season of the year.
The exhibit also includes quotes about barns from famous Greek philosophers to modern-day actresses and entertainers, along with a collection of farm antiques, and atop one framed photo, a small plastic Holstein cow adds a touch of whimsy.
“Photographing the barns became a spiritual experience for me,” Quilling shared in an interview on opening day. “My grandfather had a farm, and I have fond childhood memories of playing in his barn. Today, the huge size of the barns reminds me of cathedrals, and while many are empty and abandoned now, I recall the life and the daily rituals that went on in them for years and years, the number of bales of hay stored, the number of calves birthed.”
Quilling wrote in his artist’s statement, “What started as a hobby quickly changed to an obsession as most hobbies do. It then became my passion, and now this exhibit, which I hope you enjoy.”
The exhibit is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11am-5pm and is free to enter with the price of admission to the museum (free admission to members and veterans, $3 for children, students, and seniors, and $5 for adults).
For more info, visit the Dunn County Historical Society’s website.