Museum’s Betty Crocker exhibit a Mother’s Day hit

by Alan Bjerga

Betty Crocker was at the Weisman Art Museum on Sunday for Mother’s Day. She was on the wall. She walked the halls. On the international holiday of motherly love, Betty couldn’t be escaped.
“It was planned,” said Stanislaw Retinger, an operations assistant at the museum. “We’ve had Betty Crocker look-alikes here all day, dressed in pink and smiling. They’ve turned a few heads.”
Betty is 75 this year, and although it is unknown whether the eternally youthful symbol of matronly bliss has children, her presence drew people to the Weisman’s opening of the Betty Crocker 75th Anniversary commemorative exhibit. The exhibit featured the first public showing of the portrait of the new Betty Crocker created by John Stuart Ingle, a professor of humanities at the University.
Seeing the Crocker exhibit was a popular Mother’s Day activity. “Attendance here has been really good for a Sunday,” Retinger said. “We’ve had lots of mothers and their children.”
People who attended the Weisman showing received free Betty Crocker cookbooks, and University art professor Karal Ann Marling gave a presentation on “America’s Favorite Mother: A Lesson on Being Betty Crocker.”
Although every picture may tell a story, and though Betty Crocker may be a portrait of ideal American domesticity, attendees at the exhibit had a variety of Mother’s Day experiences and memories. University seniors Audra Laabs and Brandi Funk went to the Weisman as a sort of absentee Mother’s Day commemoration in the absence of their mothers. “I’d rather be with her, but I can’t,” Funk said. “I sent her a card.”
Laabs called her mother the night before to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. To her, Mother’s Day is more than a day for women with children. “It’s kind of like woman’s day,” she said, adding that “it’s more important for a son to do something for his mother on Mother’s Day than a woman to do something (for her mother), because someday he’ll be honored anyway.”
Laabs’ mother and father divorced when she was 17. “He did something for her the year after, and then it’s kind of been bitter.” Laabs has two brothers, ages 17 and 19. They do a pretty good job of taking responsibility for celebrating Mother’s Day, Laabs said.
The meaning and practices of Mother’s Day have changed for Funk since she was a child. “I remember when I was growing up; we’d go to church on Mother’s Day and I’d get my mother a rose.” But now Funk doesn’t buy anyone roses, and she doesn’t go to church anymore. She still sees her mom, however. “I’ll go visit her next weekend. We’re celebrating Mother’s Day late this year,” she said.
Evey Anderson came from Canby, Minn., to see the Weisman exhibit and spend time with her daughter, Jeshalem Salisbury, a University freshman. Salisbury bought her mother a cactus and a salad bowl as Mother’s Day gifts.
This year was the first Mother’s Day Anderson and her daughter celebrated away from Canby. Anderson brought her 4-year-old son Remi along. “We used to go to a park by home every year, but we’re coming to visit this time,” Anderson said.
Anderson made no claims to being anything like Betty Crocker, but thought Mother’s Day was a good idea, even if every woman isn’t Betty. “I think Mother’s Day is all right,” Anderson said.
“Admit it. You love it,” her daughter said.
“Yeah. We like it,” Anderson replied, smiling as she took her son in her arms.