Fredericksburg mourns loss of renowned artist
The Iowa Arts Community in general and the community of Fredericksburg in particular felt a giant loss on Sunday, when Constance "Connie" Mohr passed away at the age of 91 at New Hampton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
Mohr had played an active role in the community of Fredericksburg for the last 70 years.
“She was one of those people you just connect with, you know, you meet people and immediately there’s a connection there,” said Plum Creek Arts Council chairwoman Cheryl Mulder, who knew Mohr for the past 20 years. “Her art is incredible, and she has given so much to the community.”
Mulder said that Mohr, whose two adult sons live on the east and west coasts, had become a part of her “local family,” and she spent many hours with her, up until the very end.
“The very last words she spoke to me were, ‘you take care of my cat,’” Mulder said, referring to Mohr’s Siamese cat, named “Snow.”
Mulder said that for many years Mohr painted every week with a small group of five women in Fredericksburg. The gallery housed by the Plum Creek Art Center in Fredericksburg will bear Mohr’s name in perpetuity, known as the “Connie Mohr Gallery.”
According to her obituary, one of Connie’s proudest moments in her later years was the creation of the gallery. “Her love of art ran deep,” the obit reads. “This legacy for future generations was a significant honor for her.”
Mulder said that Mohr was a part of a small group of main street boosters in Fredericksburg, who would get together and promote the community, and over the years the group had often discussed building some sort of art facility.
The group put together the community’s first art festival in the summer of 2012, and a couple years later the city of Fredericksburg was given a downtown building that was earmarked to be donated to a non-profit group. The group scrambled to get non-profit status, and eventually the Plum Creek Art Center was opened, complete with a cramped 11 x 16 classroom.
Plum Creek then started a fundraising campaign to build an addition, and after a lot of hard work, that was completed last summer. A painting of the historic Jackson Street Bridge by Mohr was used as the logo for the organization. Sometime during the fundraising and building process, someone in the group suggested that the gallery be named for Connie.
“It seemed clear to everyone that it was the right thing to do,” said Mulder.
At the grand opening of the Connie Moore Gallery of the Plum Creek Art Center in May of 2014, a collection of the works of Mohr were on display, most of them on loan to the gallery from many local residents who purchased Mohr’s art in the past.
A post on the Plum Creek Art Center’s Facebook Page said, “It is with great sadness that we share the news of Connie Mohr's passing. The Art Gallery is named after her as she was one of our 5 Painter Ladies that gave us the inspiration to start an art gallery in Fredericksburg. We will miss Connie but we will do our best to honor her and carry on her name in our activities at the Plum Creek Art Center / Connie Mohr Gallery.”
There were several comments from people in the community.
“We will always be reminded of Connie's talent and friendship when we see her works of art hanging on our walls. She was special!” said one.
“Connie was a very accomplished artist; go to the Chickasaw County Courthouse and look at the murals! I have many fond memories of Connie. She will be missed!” said another.
Mohr was active in the Iowa Watercolor Association and in Iowa Artists, a non-profit educational group.
“She had a very dry sense of humor,” said Mulder. “She was always interested and curious about things, and always willing to try something new. She was inspirational that way.”
Mohr was born in 1927 in New Jersey and met her husband Arlen in Florida during World War II — the two were engaged in San Diego and married in Preston, Iowa. They moved to Fredericksburg in the spring of 1948. Sons Lawrence and Dale were born to the couple in 1948 and 1952. Arlen passed away in 2005.
Mohr was actively involved with ceramics, oil paintings and other different arts and crafts. She later moved to water colors for a longer career in art.
According to her obituary announcement, she always enjoyed her good friends, playing cards, bowling, her Bible study and traveling to different art workshops around the Midwest, “where her beautiful paintings won her many blue ribbons.”
Funeral services for Mohr will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Peace United Church of Christ in Fredericksburg. There will be a private family burial at a later date. Friends may greet the family from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday at Hugeback-Johnson Funeral Home in Fredericksburg, where there will be an Eastern Star Service at 4:45 p.m. Visitation continues an hour prior to the service on Monday at the church.
“She is going to be missed by so many. She gave a lot to so many people without even realizing she was doing it,” said Mulder. “She was always so inspiring, encouraging and interesting.”