Rosemaling exhibit highlights longtime artists

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CSI Media staff | March 19, 2014

ELKHORN — The public is invited to an exhibit by the late Elma and Thelma Olsen of Elkhorn, well-known rosemaling artists who painted together for years.

The exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 29, at St. John's Lutheran Church, 104 S. Broad St., Elkhorn. The Olsen twins were longtime members of St. John's and sang in the church choir.

Rosemaling artists, Olsen family members, former students and those who might have pieces of the Olsen sisters' work are invited to bring an Olsen piece to display.

The church opens at 9 a.m. for those who want to display a piece of rosemaling work.

Dan Meunier, a piano composer in Door County for most of the year, is coordinating the exhibit and will perform a selection of Scandinavian hymns and songs for the exhibit.
According to Meunier's research, the Olsen sisters first taught themselves the Norwegian art of rosemaling, the patterns of scrolls and flowers. They later took classes in America and Norway.

The Olsens taught rosemaling to hundreds of students through classes at Gateway Technical College, St. John's Lutheran Church and art classes in Door County.

“Students came from Wisconsin, Illinois and beyond,” Meunier said in a news release. “The twins would exhibit their work throughout America.”

In 1980, the twins were awarded the gold medal, a lifetime achievement award that honors excellence in rosemaling, from the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa.

Elma Olsen died in 1988; Thelma Olsen died in 1997.

For more information about the exhibit, call Meunier at (262) 723-1443.

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