Norway House presents Red, White & Blue

Art exhibit makes last US stop in Minneapolis

Photo courtesy of Trond B. Olsen, exhibit curator Captives 1, oil on canvas, by Christer Robert Glein, a painter and sculptor, who has solo exhibitions in Oslo, Asker, and Trondheim, his hometown.

Photo courtesy of Trond B. Olsen, exhibit curator
Captives 1, oil on canvas, by Christer Robert Glein, a painter and sculptor, who has solo exhibitions in Oslo, Asker, and Trondheim, his hometown.

Leslee Lane Hoyum
Rockford, Minn.

Two hundred years ago, on May 17, 1814, the Norwegian constitution was signed at Eidsvoll northeast of Oslo. This document is to no small degree inspired by the American Constitution, and although true Norwegian sovereignty did not happen until 1905, when the country broke free from its union with Sweden, May 17 has become Norway’s national day.

The only traveling exhibit created in Norway to mark the constitution’s 200th anniversary is coming to Norway House in Minneapolis May 12. Entitled 1814-2014 —Red, White, and Blue: Norwegian Constitution, American Inspiration, the display celebrates the bicentennial by incorporating 55 original works of 10 Norwegian artists working in a variety of media.

Photo courtesy of Trond B. Olsen, exhibit curator Copenhagen, August 1807, oil on canvas, by Bjørn Båsen, an artist who works in many mediums, and through his works reveals the dual complexity of bourgeois esthetics.

Photo courtesy of Trond B. Olsen, exhibit curator
Copenhagen, August 1807, oil on canvas, by Bjørn Båsen, an artist who works in many mediums, and through his works reveals the dual complexity of bourgeois esthetics.

The Minneapolis engagement is the last U.S. stop before the exhibit returns to Norway. For Norway House, it is its first exhibit, and coincides with the grand opening of the Norway House Education Center.

“Norway House focuses on contemporary Norway,” said Norway House Chair Jon Pederson, Spicer, Minn. “We purposely choose to embrace, highlight, and promote Norway today in the areas of art, music, culture, business, and education, while seeking to actively engage people in conversation and collaboration that will create a foundation for an ongoing relationship with future generations of Norwegians and Americans.

“The Red, White, and Blue exhibit,” Pederson continued, “is a contemporary take on a 200-year-old event, in which Norwegian artists share their interpretations of the 1814 signing of the Norwegian constitution. Everyone who views this extraordinary exhibit will leave with a greater appreciation of Norwegian contemporary art and a renewed awareness of American influence on Norwegian history. The exhibit is the perfect transition from the Norway of yesterday to the Norway of tomorrow.”

Photo courtesy of Trond B. Olsen, exhibit curator n Motion, a lithography by Inger Sitter, a one-time young rebel who became a pioneer of Norwegian abstract in the post World War II years.

Photo courtesy of Trond B. Olsen, exhibit curator
In Motion, a lithography by Inger Sitter, a one-time young rebel who became a pioneer of Norwegian abstract in the post World War II years.

Norwegian exhibit curator Trond B. Olsen, Oslo, Norway, couldn’t agree more. “The U.S. and Norwegian constitutions speak to the right to life, free speech, religious freedom, and due process of law,” said Olsen. “We (Norway) are thankful to your nation. The project was intended to promote the ideas of freedom protected in our constitutions,” stated Olsen.

The exhibit provides a contemporary perspective on the significance of the Norwegian Constitution and explores themes ranging from freedom and stability to the struggles facing democracy and globalization. Each of the 10 chosen artists submitted several works, which range from bold, colorful graphics to subtle ink drawings and photographs as well as oil paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media.

Photo courtesy of Trond B. Olsen, exhibit curator Norwegian Installation, a sculpture and oil on canvas by Sverre Bjertnæs, who had his first exhibition at age 15 and is one of Norway’s leading artists.

Photo courtesy of Trond B. Olsen, exhibit curator
Norwegian Installation, a sculpture and oil on canvas by Sverre Bjertnæs, who had his first exhibition at age 15 and is one of Norway’s leading artists.

The exhibit opened in Eidsvoll, Norway, on May 17, 2014, during Norway’s bicentennial celebration. During the summer, thousands of Norwegians viewed the exhibit, and since then it has been showcased in Tacoma, Wash., Philadelphia, Penn., Washington, D.C., and Grand Forks, N.D., with its U.S. tour culminating at Norway House in Minneapolis.

The exhibit runs May 12 through June 14 and is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; the Center is closed on Monday. Tickets range from $4 to $6. Norway House members and students receive complimentary admission.

The Norway House event is sponsored by Syttende Mai Minnesota, Royal Norwegian Honorary Consulate General, Minneapolis, Ertugrul and Karen Owen Tuzcu, Jon Pederson, Erik and Rima Torgerson, Ruth Donhowe, and Eidsvollsmen Council of North America.

Norway House is located at 913 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, Minn., adjacent to Mindekirken, the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church. For information, call (612) 871-2211 or e-mail info@norwayhouse.net.

This article originally appeared in the May 8, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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