Article and photos by David Borlaug
For most of her life, Lauren Donovan informed and entertained newspaper readers as a journalist and editor. After a stint as editor of The Hazen Star, she spent a long career covering stories outside of Bismarck for The Bismarck Tribune. Now semi-retired, readers miss her lively writing — each turn of a phrase not only enlightening but entertaining with its eloquence.
During her newspaper career, she often thought of writing as an art form.
“I wanted to be that kind of a writer,” she says, which showed in the pages of the daily newspaper.
Before she cut back on her daily routine of newspaper writing, Lauren had a chance encounter with the art of cut glass mosaic and was immediately taken by the art form.
“I started out simply but soon wanted to move from flat, one-dimensional to multidimensional work,” she says.
Rummaging through antique stores and garage sales, Lauren gathered interesting objects from chicken feeders to old light fixtures, transforming them with vivid colored glass, often lit from within, and grouted for drama and emphasis.
“I especially enjoy finding old light fixtures from country schools or courthouses, flipping them upside down, and giving them life.”
Lauren’s newfound artistry quickly caught on with admirers at art shows and displays, with one of her early works selected as a Governor’s Choice award, displayed in the Governor’s Residence. That got her the attention of The Capital Gallery, which has showcased her work since opening two and a half years ago.
“An artist is lonely at times and filled with self-doubt,” Lauren says, “The story of any art only becomes complete through the eyes of others, so the gallery gives me that affirmation and I’m so thankful for it.”
And with that validation, through sales in the gallery, comes an energy and more creativity.
“Being self-taught, I have no boundaries and so I’m not afraid of trying new approaches. If it means tearing it all apart, so be it,” Lauren says.
Her current interest has been using actual cowboy hats, Justin brand, for example, and covering them with a variety of colored cut glass.
“I’ve grown to have a good eye for color,” she says, which shows in the masculine brown and black tones of “Roughstock Rider” and the femininity of the hues of blue, green, pink, and red in “Rodeo Rose,” both currently on exhibit in The Capital Gallery. The hats are mounted on Missouri River driftwood.
Since retirement, Lauren is spending more time finding the right objects for her mosaic art and enjoys traveling to seek them out in her old school camper van. A native of Mott, she graduated from the University of North Dakota. She and her husband “Pat” continue to live in Hazen, where she is active in a variety of civic and cultural organizations.