We honor the life of our departed friend, brother, teacher, lover and hero, Loren Kellen, who left us on October 2, 2009. Please help honor Loren by sharing a story about our fabulous friend. You can write a comment or a memory of Loren on the comments page.

Loren the Trickster.

by Yiscah Bracha.

Loren loved to disrupt the composure of others.  One year during the rehearsal for the MayDay ceremony, he surreptitiously placed a black and white skull-and-crossbones flag on the same pole that carried the sun, anticipating (correctly) that Sandy would get quietly apoplectic when she saw it (she did, and looked at me plaintively, as if I could somehow do something about it).    Another year, he costumed himself as a frothing mad dog for the parade, and declared his intention to lunge at the  toughest looking adolescent boys in the crowd, the macho ones strutting and preening for their friends.  One night as I was climbing the stairs he had made, to the loft he had made in his converted potato cellar (the cave), the human-sized crow that always stood next to the stairs suddenly lifted its wings and squawked at me.

His trickster antics started when he was very young.  He attended a Catholic school in Madison, Minnesota, he and one of his sisters living with their grandmother in town during the school week, returning home to the farm on the weekends.  One day, he and another schoolboy were exploring their environment, and they came across a nest of baby garter snakes.  They placed the entire writhing squirming mass of them in a bakery bag, and the next day placed the bag inside the locker of the most high strung girl in the school (remember, this is small town Minnesota in the 1950s, when school lockers didn’t have locks on them).  Of course the snakes escaped from the bag, and of course they ended up all over her books and clothes and the sides and ceiling of the locker.  “I didn’t see the result,” he narrated with some disappointment, “but I heard the screams”.  He would have gotten away with it, but his accomplice confessed.  He never would divulge their punishment.

He would disrupt but never in meanness.  Always gentle, always going just to the edge of what the target could handle, and then laughing and backing away, leaving the target a little shaken, but only because the target was holding too tightly to something in the first place.  Just another way that Loren’s spirit infected the world.

A Poem for Loren

by nathan anderson

Gallant … oaks of deliberate wisdom… all quirky limbed…dropping acorns.
Inspiring… fiery maples blazing… breathtaking… sweet sap running.
Trixter… winds twirling soaring…freedom…wildhair …kite flying.

Celebrating… every moment..people and earth moving.
Lake Superior…sparkles magic… knowing blue eyes…playful otters.
Love… always forward… generous… trusting… embracing… true… UNCONDITIONAL LOVE!
Blessed is our world for Loren Kellen

Big splashy waves

photos by Ewart from the Brule River

Loren Kellen canoeing

Loren Kellen

Loren….a multi-faceted gem

Loren always had the time to talk to a friend or to make a new friend. He was kind to everyone, full of knowledge, helpful, and had many talents and friends. I always liked seeing what his current fashion would be and wished that I had the courage to wear fun things like he did! I wonder what he is wearing now……….thanks for the memories Loren! -David Roy

Loren Kellen Photo Gallery by David Roy:

Man on the Moon

by Peter Henry

Seven hundred moons in Loren’s eyes,
Ten thousand years, one hundred ways wise.

Yellow Medicine County and the Kellen farm bore this bearded child,
A maker of masks, master of dances–archetypical man-wild.

A farmer’s son, who rose to work and learned his lessons in the yard,
Blades were sharp, days too long and truly labor hard.

To his grandma’s place for a Sunday dinner came Loren hat in hand,
Folded linens, the scent of home and always vegetables canned.

But not for farming was Loren’s life, just fields and pigs and grain,
It was to city folk he awoke his genius for living again. (more…)

Loren Vanishes

Loren Kellen vanishes at his Summer’s Last Sunday gathering, September 20, 2009

Video by Casey Miller

Yes, that’s how it was…

Thinking of Loren by Anita White

Thinking of Loren by Anita White

-poem by Anita White

Yes, that’s how it was….
…………for Loren…….

in the days
that followed
Loren Kellen’s death

the sky
just couldn’t stop crying
and either could we (more…)

Sail On, Loren

-by Mark Safford

Loren was Prometheus as inventor, Sisyphus as performer, Apollo as the bringer of the sun, Lover in the truest sense of the word and a vital energy that this world needs to stay in balance. Loren shared and his swing was a testament to his confidence and ability in life’s pleasures. He was a ready hand at whatever he put his energies to, and those energies were significant. An active force of reuse and reanimation Loren was a collector collaborator and creator of quality moments in life. Dancing with Otis Ouray on fiery blacktop. Brilliant rough hewn flamingos speak to both his artistry and his capacity for love of life. Always an adventurer, navigating rivers, or Lake street on the equinox. He was and is a beautiful incarnation and my head burns with a welling sadness for Lisa and all of those who will miss him. There are few who live life so well.

Loren!! Honor and Love to You

Loren Kellenby Sandy Spieler

Loren!! Honor and Love to you as you journey into a great mystery!!

Thank you for leaving your vibrant influence and indelible mark on so much of the life here at the theatre—exuberant, passionate vision and energy, inventive construction techniques, sweet friendship, generous hard work, instigation of infectious dance and celebration.

You are carried in our hearts and hands now. May we illuminated your soul of such vision and energy, somehow, someway. Ah Loren! Can you hear , can you feel our loving now? And our enormous thank you for the years you’ve shared with us!

Interview with Loren Kellen

by Mike Klein

My only personal interaction with Loren was a memorable two-hour interview in his garden on May 1, 2008. He was very hospitable, gracious, funny, and inspiring. I’m sending along the transcription of that interview so that you can pass it along to whomever might benefit from reading his words and remembering his voice. May the grieving find consolation in stories of his life. Be Peace.


Paddling with Loren

Loren-Canoe-Groupby Yiscah Bracha

Loren had a date to paddle on Lake Hiawatha, Sunday at sunset. His companions decided to keep the date, and word spread through the community. The ingathering of people and boats was like the early morning gathering at the park building on Powderhorn Lake to set up the Sun Flotilla at the culmination of MayDay. It was like the gathering of people and boats on the last Thursday of March each year, to paddle the Cannon and Mississippi Rivers, from Cannon Falls to Red Wing. And numerous other canoe gatherings.

We greeted with sobs and hugs. Lisa had brought boxes of hats from his enormous collection, and Loren headgear spread into the world. Some had brought canoe mounts he had made. Most everyone wore red, so that every time you saw movement in the corner of your eye, you thought that Loren was there. We laughed, we cried, we launched the boats. A long spread out stream circled the lake, with plaintive tunes from the trombones and trumpets rippling over the water. The boats got closer together the second time we rounded the lake. A blast from a conch shell rang out and the drums responded – the built drums, so like the ones he built, with the skins he got from the tanner in Cosmos, MN. But also using the rims and the sides of the canoes as drums, the way he would use anything that he could beat.

Clusters of boats gathered as the occupants held hands and talked. Then the clusters dispersed and reformed. It had been cloudy and drizzly all day, but just like the miracles that so often happened on MayDay, the sun broke through just as we were about to launch the boats. It was low in the sky by then, streaming through the slim gap between the marbled clouds above and the horizon of newly tinted trees below. By the time the clusters of boats on the lake gathered and dispersed, and gathered and dispersed, a full rainbowed sunset was underway.

Finally, a cluster of all the boats formed in the middle of the lake. Silence. Someone started to sing, others joined in. That song ended, another began. Silence again. Someone tapped a low rumble of a drumbeat, others joined in. Silence again. Many colors of gray and slate, on the water and in the sky. Someone passed a burning cigar of sage, and the pungent aroma enveloped us. Tears. Finally, someone shouted: “Hallelujah Loren!”, and we all shouted, and banged the canoes and drums, and yelled to the sky.

It is exactly the way he wanted it. We will miss him dearly, but he has left so much behind, that elements of his spirit will always remain in the world.

-Yiscah Bracha

See photos from the event here
See a video of this event

When Death Comes

A video slideshow tribute to Loren Kellen, featuring various photos of one of Loren’s favorite creations, the Flamingo Bicycle.