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One of a kind

By Staff | Jan 26, 2018

Wolford resident Cleo Yoder’s “mud” art designs include a free hand designed medallion in Gil & Sheila Harper’s home in Rugby

Pierce County resident Cleo Yoder has been producing dry wall ‘art’ for almost 20 years. You may not have been aware, because his art sits in many different venues and could be right here in your local bank.

Yoder, a Wolford resident, has been contributing his unique style of ‘mud’ art work to buildings and residences, lake communities and most large cities in North Dakota. His eclectic art style stems from his original vocation of dry wall work. He still owns and operates his business doing dry wall.

In Gil and Sheila Harper’s Rugby home, Yoder has adorned their dining and living room ceilings with free hand designed art- which is a medallion surrounded by a pattern of vines, leaves and roses. The living room area has designs above the entry way. Sheila remembers Yoder completing the design which she said was “a much anticipated completion.” They were both very happy with the outcome although a slight medical emergency delayed the completion while Yoder had minor surgery. “I was so excited about getting all the work done, and then he got sick right here in our dining room.” But it all got done, she said and he was fine.

Merchants Bank in Rugby is home to two of Yoder’s larger pieces. One is a rendition of Rugby’s The Geographical Center of North America monument and the Prairie Village Museum. The other art in Merchants Bank is of Bank President Craig Johnson’s childhood home and farm in Wolford. Other places and towns in North Dakota which have Yoder art are found are in the new Farm Credit Services, Bottineau, Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks, as well as various residences and cabins surrounding Lake Metigoshe.

The art mud process has been around for many years, Yoder said. He originally got started ‘playing’ with the process in South Dakota during a winter storm and he was stuck there. Some of the designs Yoder said, “pieces like tractor replicas and combine replicas, are taken from a picture and I build a model. A tractor is pretty much just a tractor.”

“Others,” he said “are completely free hand, and I do one of a kinds.” He works with homeowners to do their designs. Harper’s design was a special medallion which required two covers of plaster. He had chiseled this design by hand. Many of his regular trade’s tools are used in his art along with brushes and paints.

“A lot of different artists have done this work,” Yoder said. “It’s individual because each guy brings his little tricks he’s learned. I have learned a lot of different tricks over the years and I like it because people enjoy my work, and tell others about it.” One thing that remains quite stable, are common things, like tractors and equipment… so he uses a picture sometimes for a mold.

Yoder said he is still doing drywall, but definitely likes a challenge and would love to take on a special project. There are trade journals he said, and lots of places to get ideas. The one unique thing he said about doing this type of art, is that you cannot take it with you. “Once it’s done, it’s pretty much there unless you take the wall with you.”

The entire process can be painted over just like a wall. Minor repairs can be tricky, and it might not look exactly like the first unique art piece but they are resilient and last for years.

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