- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2015

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Mothers, you are like the apple tree. You give of yourself, as the apple tree gives its crown to better spread its branches and bear fruit.

Oaks are good supporting trees. Maples are friendly and inviting. Red buds are energetic and engaging.

Trees tell the story of people, Wayne Trinklein says, and some of Whiteside Middle School’s students saw it right away in the wire and rock sculptures that the Art in the Square artist brought to the class as part of the artist in residence program.

Three other artists in residence also descended on schools in the area to introduce hundreds of students to their art and to the fair, which is being held this weekend in downtown Belleville.

Theda Aschinger made doll sculptures at St. Mary-St. Augustine Catholic School in Belleville; Lynn Krause showed O’Fallon Township High School students pastel drawings; and Kenyatta Ray did silk painting and matting with students at Gibault High School in Waterloo.

Trinklein of St. Peters, Missouri, explained that he sculpted trees, because “trees are like people; they have to deal with the world around them.”

Seventh-grader Jaren Morris said he saw his older brother in one of the sculptures on a table, an oak with a swing. “He’s big and strong, but playful and helpful,” Jaren said of his brother.

Trinklein said models of that tree sit on the desks of three U.S. governors and pointed out a crevice within the trunk, saying “in our leaders, we want someone strong, with sanctuary.”

In an earlier art class, Tanisha Holt, 11, said she liked to be around oak trees. “They give me peace,” the fifth-grader explained.

“She’s a ‘heart on fire,’ or a red bud,” Trinklein said, explaining that Tanisha’s joy was evident to those around her.

Although his Heart on Fire is modeled after the burning bush story in the Bible and is not a tree, he likes it regardless. “Hearts on Fire are about joy and happiness and gratitude that never burns out,” he said.

He asks for a picture of his customers who buy the Hearts on Fire, because there is such joy in their faces.

Trinklein has twisted wire into branches for decades, making his brothers (a maple and an aspen) and moving on to apple trees when he was in a physician residency program. As a family doctor, he would retreat to the doctor’s lounge as about-to-be mothers labored, he said. While they worked, he twisted apple trees and tried to be patient. “I’m not a patient man,” he repeatedly said. “But some things can’t be rushed.”

“I never charged much for delivery, but they always bought the trees,” he said.

It was his wife who ultimately urged him to slow down. Once his 15-hour days reduced to 10 hours and he was able to reflect, his income doubled and awards starting piling up. Being an artist is a great job because his work involves fire, hiking and collecting rocks.

Trinklein said he will bring 50 trees to the Art on the Square show, “more than typical” but he sold out one year. This is his fifth year at the show.

Students in four art classes were able to try their hands at making their own trees, using thin copper wires and rocks that Trinklein brought from his own studio.

Tatyana Brown, in Sue Schleipman-Burke’s art class, quickly set to making her favorite tree, a weeping willow in Forest Park.

“I go to the one that its leaves dangle into the water,” she said, describing the peaceful protection she and her friends found near the tree.

Trinklein urged the students to stand back and look at their work. “See if you can see a story … the tree will have more meaning to it,” he said.

Kyla Harris, 11, said her twisted wires were representative of herself.

“It’s swaying a little; it’s kind of calm, but at the same time it has anger,” she said. “The branches are really tight and represent the tenseness in me; the loose branches are the parts that want to be free.”

Of all the trees, there are two that artist Trinklein won’t make: a hanging tree and a strangler fig. The strangler fig grows around palm trees, he said, and ultimately kills the palm.

“There are strangler figs (at art shows), but they don’t come in,” he said.

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Source: Belleville News-Democrat, http://bit.ly/1PJcHX9

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Information from: Belleville News-Democrat, http://www.bnd.com

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