Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 28, 2003

From papering to painting, Bob Kegler enjoys many types of decorating

By Ryan Gueningsman

Not everyone can take $75 worth of fresh fruit and turn it into a colorful decoration.

Bob Kegler can ­ and did. The colorful piece was made for his niece Stephanie's wedding about two years ago.

He has been decorating for weddings, receptions, proms, and parade floats for many years. And that's just a start.

Kegler also makes paintings, in addition to wallpapering, something he now does "on the side."

"I used to paper a lot," he said. "But now it's mostly kitchens and bathrooms, which are the hardest rooms."

Kegler got his start in wallpapering when Giles Guggemos, known as Mr. Giles, asked Kegler if he wanted to wallpaper out in the Winsted area.

Kegler did not like the printing plant where he was working at, so he answered the question with "Can I start tomorrow?"

"In order to wallpaper, I had to go to school, join the union, and become an apprentice," he said.

He went through his three years of schooling, became an apprentice, and joined Guggemos. Kegler primarily wallpapered, and someone else who worked there took care of the painting.

"When I worked for Giles, I didn't care much for the painting," he said.

That changed a short time later after he and a co-worker entered some of their paintings in a statewide competition.

"Both he and I submitted more things together than the rest of the class did," Kegler said.

The submissions paid off as one of Kegler's paintings won first prize in state. The painting was also sent to Hawaii for a competition where it took honorable mention.

"The winning one was done by airbrush, which makes things look more perfect," he said. "Mine was done acrylic."

Also while working with Guggemos, Kegler and his co-workers wallpapered about 90 percent of the stores at the Ridgedale Mall, in addition to a lot of "upper money" places in St. Paul.

Now Kegler just does papering on the side. He has worked the past six years at Holy Trinity schools as a custodian.

"It's been an enjoyable six years," Kegler said. "I've been able to get involved with the decorating for a lot of things ­ proms, homecomings, snow fests, all kinds of things."

Recently, Kegler has become known around town for his paintings of Christ with thorns. So far, he has done three of those, one for Holy Trinity Church, one for Holy Trinity schools, and one for St. John's Lutheran Church.

"Strangers would stop me on the street and thank me for painting those," he said. "That wasn't an original drawing, but I was able to copy the picture pretty well."

He, along with Tom Specken, also decorates the Blue Note for wedding receptions and other events.

"I'd say we do every wedding at the Blue Note," he said, "with the exception of one or two."

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