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Posts Tagged ‘Vesterheim’

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.

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Decorah, IOWA— The Chicago Area Friends of Vesterheim are pleased to host a Nordic Marketplace and Luncheon to benefit Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, in Decorah, Iowa. The event will be held on Saturday, March 20, at the Park Ridge Country Club, Park Ridge, Illinois.

The marketplace opens at 9:30 a.m., and there will plenty of Norsk merchandise, including Dale sweaters, rosemaling, acanthus woodcarving, and genealogy materials. Accomplished artisans working in the Scandinavian tradition will demonstrate rosemaling and woodworking. The luncheon, which begins at 12:30 p.m., will feature a delectable menu. There will also be a silent auction and raffle drawing.

Everyone is cordially invited to meet the Honorary Consul General in Chicago Paul S. Anderson, who will give a special greeting. Vesterheim’s Executive Director Steven Johnson will also be on hand.

Tickets are $50 per person. Seating is limited. Advanced reservations are necessary and should be made by March 15. For further information, please contact Vesterheim at 563-382-9681, eMail: info@vesterheim.org, or check the museum’s website at www.vesterheim.org.

Proceeds of the event will benefit future editions of Vesterheim’s outstanding magazine “Vesterheim.” The museum uses the story of Norwegian Americans to explore aspects of identity and culture common to everyone. Vesterheim 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. Founded in 1877, Vesterheim is one of the oldest and most comprehensive museum in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group. This national treasure includes a main complex of 16 historic buildings in downtown Decorah, and an immigrant farmstead and prairie church just outside the city. “Vesterheim” magazine helps make the museum collections and Norwegian-American heritage accessible to larger groups of people.

From May 1 – Oct. 31, Vesterheim is open daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. From Nov. 1 – April 30, Vesterheim is open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays and is closed Monday. For more information on the museum’s exhibits, activities, and membership opportunities, 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.

Previous participants of the Luncheon.

The Illinois Rosemalers booth.

Many other craft companies including jewlery, carving, clothes and painted items as well as book sellers were in attendance.

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Steve Johnson was recently named the Interim Executive Director at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. It was Steve who turned me on to the (at the time) new book called Astri, My Astri by Deb Nelson Gourley. The bi-lingual book (Norwegian/English) recounts, in 16 short stories, her quest to learn about her Norwegian genealogy. This journey started with the discovery of a old truck destined for a garbage fire that had the name Astri and the year 1812 artistically written on the outside. Steve knew that the book would reinvigorate my quest for knowledge of my families past. If you have not read the book please give it a try I think you will like it.

As always, I’m very interested in hearing how you got started (your catalyst) in collecting information about Norway or your Norwegian heritage. Like any traveling vacation, the journey can be more fun than the destination.

Steve’s new position and his recommendation to add “Astri” to my book collection caused me to think about rosemaling. Rosemaling is a Norwegian art form that drew my interest when I came across a few pieces of work while going through my father estate after he passed away. At the time I found them, I knew very little (actually nothing) about the art form. So I contacted the museum and they invited me to Decorah for a tour of their collection. The items I had were not well preserved and had fallen on hard times, however the Vesterheim collection gave me a chance to see how my pieces would have looked had they been preserved.

The people at Vesterheim also connected me to the Illinois Norsk Rosemalers’ Association, a group of rosemalers that offers artistic support and classes in the art of rosemaling. Rosemaling has multiple styles. I studied the Telemark style with Lorraine Straw and have created a few pieces of my own. My works are not “Gold Medal” quality, however these pieces have given me a chance to be an artist and create a few unique conversation pieces for my home.

Welcome to my home

Welcome to my home

My wife has fallen in love with rosemaling and has purchased over the years some good examples of the art form. If you live in the Chicago area an upcoming event at the Geneva Swedish Days festival will give you a great chance to see the finest examples of Rosemaling. If you are interest in purchasing a few items, bring your check book, many of the items will be for sale.

The Annual Norwegian Rosemaling Show & Sale June 24 – 27, 2009
NEW LOCATION:
Geneva History Center
113 S 3rd St
Geneva, IL 60134

Next up, I’ll take you to a place in Norway that I visited last year that produces fine wooden pieces that are Rosemaled in a style many people have not seen here in the US.

Ken Nordan, Contributing Editor

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