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DECORAH, Iowa —Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum announces a new exhibition of fine art from the museum’s collections, “The Norwegian Art and Craft Club of Brooklyn, 1938-1956.” The exhibition is sponsored by Robert and Evy Alsaker. “Rob and I are delighted to sponsor this exhibit drawn from Vesterheim’s extensive collection of Norwegian-American fine art in honor of our special friends and Vesterheim’s patrons Norman and Eldrid Arntzen,” Evy Alsaker said.

The exhibition will be open from October 21, 2010, through August 2011. There will be an opening reception at the museum’s Main Building on Thursday, October 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with comments at 6:00 p.m. “Held in conjunction with Vesterheim’s Free Thursdays, sponsored by Decorah Bank and Trust, this reception is a great opportunity to view the exhibition,” said Laurann Gilbertson, Vesterheim’s Chief Curator.

The Norwegian Art and Craft Club of Brooklyn, New York, was organized in 1938 by a group of amateur and semi-professional artists. The objective of the club was to promote interest in art and craft among its members and the public through exhibitions, lectures, discussions, and classes.

“Vesterheim is privileged to own so many pieces by club members,” said Gilbertson. “We are excited to share them with the public,” she added.

The club, although founded and led by Norwegian Americans, did not restrict its membership by ethnicity or by gender. It also gave equal status to fine art and Norwegian decorative arts. Members created and exhibited paintings, sculpture, carving, rosemaling (Norwegian decorative painting), tapestry, and knitting.

There were 28 founding members. By the late 1940s, the club membership had grown to more than one hundred. Some more well-known members of the club included Bernhard Berntsen, Michael Hoiland, Karli Waagenes Johnsen, Karl Larsen, Vilna Jørgen Morpurgo, Maria Mundal, Finn Nord, Thorn Norheim, Sigurd Olsen, August Satre, and William Torjesen.

Many classes were taught at the club, which, from 1943 to 1956, had its own location at 501 46th Street. The group held exhibitions at the club, local studios, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Staten Island Museum, and the Riverside Museum.

Vesterheim uses the story of Norwegian Americans to explore aspects of identity and culture common to everyone. The museum cares for over 24,000 artifacts, among which are some of the most outstanding examples of decorative and folk art to be seen in this country. For more information on the museum’s exhibits, activities, and membership opportunities, and on ways to make a contribution to Vesterheim, consult Vesterheim’s website at vesterheim.org, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 523 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.

On February 9, 1945 (only a few months before Germany surrendered in Norway) the Dallachy strike wing of the RAF flew a mission over Førde fjord in Norway to attack German shipping along the Norwegian west coast. The ensuing battle was the largest aerial clash over Norway during World War II. While the air battle occurred over a large area, the battle center around the anchorage point of a German convoy in Førdefjord near a farm called Frammarsvik in the community of Naustdal. Several British planes were lost in the battle, crashing into the fjord or on nearby farms.

In 1990 a museum dedicated to the air battle along with a cafe was built in the Frammarsvik area and included artifacts from the battle, a movie and many battle plan maps, photographs and models. Over the past 10 years they have entertained guests from the UK, Canada, Germany and the USA who were involved in the air battle as well as war historians researching material on the battle.

Recently the Luftkampmuseeum (Aerial combat museum) and Håjen Café celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary while unveiling a major renovation of the museum and cafe. The renovation, funded in part by the Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune, includes photos recently released from the Norwegian National Archives as well a privately owned photos donated by family members of the pilots, recorded accounts from survivors of the battle, and a published book that was extensively research both in Norway and England.

The Luftkampmuseeum and Håjen Café are located on the Slettehaug family farm in Naustdal kommune in the fylke of Sogn og Fjordane on Norway’s west coast. Håjen Café includes a locally known lefse bakery along with it’s well received cafe and catering service. Chef Else Slettehaug builds her menu around locally produced foods, some grown just outside the cafe window. Håjen specializes in traditional foods made from scratch, including all sorts of lefse, pancakes and other traditional cakes such as “bløtkake”, kransekake, krumkake and many more. Holiday meals at Christmas and Easter may include pinnekjøtt, lutefisk and svineribbe. The café is also know for desserts and ice cream many of them made of raspberries from the farm.

Håjen Café can be followed on Facebook.

Contributing Editor
Ken Nordan

Fun Facts

In articles I have written for the Norwegian-American Weekly and for this blog I have noted some interesting Norway related facts from the 1893 Columbia Exposition in Chicago.

  • I know of only three building left from the 1893 Expo, 1) Art Institute of Chicago building, 2) Museum of Science & Industry building, 3) The Norway Building in Little Norway Wisconsin.
  • A viking ship replica sailed from Bergen Norway to Chicago to prove that a ship of this type could make it to North America and is still around for you to see.
  • Norwegian smoked sardines were introduced to the United States at the World Exhibition in Chicago. Additionally, other world markets were explored.

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

“Back in the day”, the Citizens Band (“CB”) radio was all the rage. I had a CB, my friends had CBs, and we all hand “handles”. A handle is the little name that you gave yourself so that people could “call you” on the radio. I also had a license. CB users (at the time) were required by the FCC to have a Class “D” license and you were given a “call sign”. My call sign started with KAPA but I can not remember the rest right now.

Sorry… I am getting a little carried away with my memory recall. I’m sure you are asking yourself “how does this relate to the title of this entry: ‘Young people eat less fish in Norway’. Well, as I said above, I had a CB handle that friends would use to contact me. And this name does relate to this article. I called myself “The Norwegian Sardine”, because in our house we ate those little King Oscar brisling sardines. I never knew what a brisling was but boy I loved those little fish. Dad would pull from the cabinet one of those flat little cans wrapped in red plastic. After tearing open the wrapper he would pry off the skate key like tool and proceed to open the can. Around and around he would turn the key and after what felt like forever, it would eventually open.

We grew up eating sardines, it was part of our culture, every good Norwegian family as well as many other families from a European heritage had sardines for some of their meals. Back then we were not aware of the health benefits associated with eating fish with high concentrations of Omega-3 fatty oils, today we do know but we usually get our “O3” oils from a pill made from sardines.

I was reading an article last week on NRK.com about the fact that young people and especially young women eat less and less fatty fish in Norway. For most of them the reason is that they do not like the taste. Fish, like vegetables, are an acquired taste and if you are not introduced to them early (my wife the dietitian would say “early and often”) children rarely become adults who eat fish and vegetables. In this article one individual interviewed stated “…it is especially important to do something in relation to young women and get them to eat fish so they can transfer the good habits to the next generation when it comes to eating fish.”  The article noted an article by the Norwegian Helsedirektoratet discussing that “Fish consumption is lower than desired, and substantially lower than the consumption of meat.”

This is so true about many of the dietary issues we see here in the USA and now many health-care providers are seeing them in Norway. Whether it is eating balanced meals at home or ordering the right meals at restaurants and fast food establishments, it is the parents (and in many cases the mother) that have control over what families eat. My wife the dietitian reminds me over and over, parents are the prime teachers of good eating habits. Even if the fast food company targets the kids with toys in their fun meals, the parents have the final say, they can as the NRK.com article implies, use eating right as a “teaching moment”.

Mom, I eat my vegetable every day and still have a can of sardines once a week.

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

I was very dismayed to recently read an article on Aftenposten (in Norwegian so have your dictionary handy), about the possible sale of one family owned hotel in Telemark. Hotels are sold all the time, but the part that got to me was the fact that many family run hotels not located in major cities are also for sale.   A sidebar to the article says that “The four largest chains Choice, Rica, Thon and Rezidor, have 50 percent of the hotel accommodations in Norway.”  And I would guess that most of these hotel properties are in the larger cities.  I worry that if these small family run hotels should go out of business, accessing the “Interior of Norway” will be harder for average people.

As we all know, Norway is not the cheapest vacation destination. The cost of everything is considerably higher than other world destinations looking for our tourist dollars (or Euros). However, because Norway is primarily a summer tourist destination (July and August mostly), hotels that are not located in major cities or near business activity must receive most of their bed nights in this limited time. This drives the cost of running the hotel (which includes finding help) up even higher. I have some very good friends and family members in Norway that depend on a large percentage of their income from the tourist trade. They own summer cottages, rent boats, run a cafe and have tourist support companies (tour guiding). These individuals must have other income sources during the non-summer months to get by.

Hotels are very important to the economic health of small towns and kommunes of Norway. Some of the best places to go are not near large cities including many Stavkirke (Stave Church), signature falls, adventure activities and some good local history museums. So if you are really interested in seeing Norway, you must get out of your cars, buses and trains and stay a few nights in these places.  I have, and love it!!!

Norway is known for it’s nature and taking a hike in the Norwegian fjords can be very exciting. If you stay in Bergen, Ålesund or Oslo you can get a feel for the fjords while staying at a very nice hotel chain in town. I’ve done this several times and would recommend doing it if you want. However, I’ve also taken a day long midsummer hike (from 6am to 8pm) out of a small town in Sunnfjord and enjoyed this adventure even more. The closest hotel was a small family run place that also had a bus service to a nearby white water rafting company and when in season helped you find a local guide to take you fishing for salmon, snow skiing, hunting or on picture safari.

In another article that I read on Aftenposten, they talked about Innovation Norway, the company that is set up to promote tourism to Norway. Innovation Norway has asked Norwegian for their help in promoting Norway by launching a website where people have the opportunity to share their Norwegian favorite vacations and nicest places with other vacationers. I’ve already done a little by contributing to the cause at this site and I hope you can also. We need to help Norway promote itself, because if you are like me I want others to know what I do about this fabulous country and help them experience what we have experienced.

Then again maybe I should become more selfish and do my best to keep people away. I’d like to keep it to myself.    ;-)

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

I wanted to thank my friends at Th!nk for sending a Th!nk City all electric car to the Park Ridge Illinois (Chicago Area) Syttende Mai Parade, also known as the Norwegian Constitution Day (May 17) celebration.

After looking at the pictures I submitted in the prior post, it is easy to see that the Park Ridge parade brings together members (young and old) of the Chicago Norwegian Community to celebrate our common heritage. And with the Th!nk City in the parade this year, not only were all ages of people found at the parade but also all ages of cars. As you can see in the following pictures we had a few older cars and (with the all electric, Norwegian designed, and soon to be American built) Th!nk City car we had a very new car as well.

Hank Solberg driving his Model A car in the parade. (photo Kathy Larson)


That is me driving the Th!nk City. (photo Ken Larson)

Contributing Editor,
Ken Nordan

Having written the previous post several weeks ago and not published it I realized that I am still not doing my part on this blog.  So I published the previous blog and now also submit these pictures for your enjoyment. If you missed out on the parade or some of the other activities, I hope you can get out there next year waving your Norwegian flag. We do it at the same time (around May 17) and place (Park Ridge for the parade), every year no excuses if you don’t get an invitation. ;-)

Ken Nordan,
Contributing Editor

Members of NACC show off their Bunads

Members of NACC show off their Bunads

Seth

Seth Howard

Lorraine saving our heritage

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