Never too old
Groovy Grandma has a passion to create
How does one define the work of an artist who produces in a variety of styles, themes, and materials? Perhaps it’s best to allow them to speak for themselves, which is what I did after examining dozens of pieces created by GiGi Keefe Lindquist.
But I would be remiss if I did not share some of her dynamic work with you to enjoy for yourself. I really loved her urban image to the right. It reminds me of Munch’s “Evening on Karl Johan Street,” not so much in the tone, but in the juxtaposition of constraint and movement. Her urbane chicness and colors delight. Munch typifies the style of the turn of the last century, while GiGi nails the look of the 1920s. Who does not romanticize about how well turned out folks in the past were?
Women dominate in her work. There is a freeness in her brush strokes and a fine use of texture that makes her work flow.
Victoria Hofmo: Solveig, you call yourself GiGi, can you explain how that came about?
GiGi Keefe Lindquist: People have a terrible time pronouncing my real name. Someone was angry with me and called me Groovy Grandma. I decided to make it “worse” by liking it and shortening it to GiGi.
VH: Tell us a little about your early life.
GKL: I was born, raised, and went to schools in the Oslo area. I come from a prominent family. My dad was in politics after running the main railway station in Oslo: Suk (John Odvar) Sundhagen. My mother, Ellen Marit, worked after I turned 8. The outdoors, animals, and colors have always fascinated me. I used to dream of being a gypsy and tried to dress like one. I spent as much time outside as I could with my best girlfriend.
VH: When did you come to the U.S.?
GKL: I first came to the United States because my mother brought me to visit an aunt and uncle. I hated it and went back home. I returned later.
VH: When did you get interested in art?
GKL: I have always been creative. It is simply who I am. I have been an activist for most of my life. I was creative in political issues as well as in making jewelry, clothing, and home decor.
VH: Your work is so diverse that I had a hard time categorizing it. What do you attribute that to?
GKL: I started late in life. I was a mom. I retired when I was 67. I just started being an artist when I was 70. I think because I started so late, I am always experimenting.
VH: Do you feel your ethnic background is part of your art? If so, how?
GKL: My colors are bright as are many Norwegian towns like Bergen, Lofoten, etc. My painting is my diary. Bunader also are colorful, and the Norwegian flag that we love so much. There are also experiences from U.S., Africa, Australia, New Zealand and other European countries included in my work.
VH: Can you speak about your soldier series and how it relates to your life as an activist?
GKL: I hate guns, war, physical punishment, spankings, and violence of any kind. My activism has dealt mostly with sexual crimes and domestic crimes. I have also done some work with homeless youth. I have been a member on a few boards.
I was born right after WWII and saw some of the damage Hitler caused, to my teachers and family. With soldiers—I feel we the adults are responsible for their deaths. Young people are encouraged by us to enlist, with the Blue Angels and other such events, using cash in the thousands of dollars to sign up as a bribe. It is a violation of humanity.
I find no fault with the young people who take the bait. As their brains are not yet mature, it makes them easy prey. But, anyone over 25—they chose. Simply, no soldier comes back from war unhurt. It’s impossible. Then those who come back with no arms, legs, and sight are stuck living with these injuries, because we make them. It’s cruel. How I hate guns!
VH: Can you speak a little about the handbags you have been making?
GKL: One day I bought some grass carpet and made a purse. All of my handbags are made of new and recycled materials.
VH: Is there anything you’d like to add?
GKL: I am art and art is me. It fascinates me that at age 70 I became an artist; an oil painter. One is never too old.
This is a mantra we can all live by!
This article originally appeared in the December 14, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.