Rosemaling ("rose painting") traveled to our country on the baggage of our Norwegian immigrants. Now many years later, the art is still alive and can be found anywhere, even on a barn at Dennis and Donna Blumhagen's by Castalia.
Dennis got the idea one day looking at his barn and thinking that he wanted to put on a barn quilt, but wasn't crazy about the patterns he had seen. His grandfather built the barn in 1907, coming from Germany at the age of 15 in 1883. Then he thought about his wife, Donna's heritage which is Norwegian and decided a rosemaling quilt would look great on his barn and also a way to mix their heritages together. The rest is history! They are very pleased with barn and happy a friend knew just who to contact to make the vision a reality.
The beautiful work of art was done by a specialist Teresa McCue who comes each year from Colorado during the Nordic Fest. Teresa teaches her art form at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah around Nordic Fest and takes on a rosemaling jobs for people in the area while she is here each year. The Blumhagen's barn quilt, with its huge panels was done in Decorah where she was staying last July. Teresa worked hard and in a few days had the large art project completed and in August the Blumhagen's proudly hung it up on their barn.
Teresa explained to me how she got involved in such a massive project , "This project started with meeting the Blumhagen's at their home and viewing the area where the barn quilt would be installed. I considered many factors before designing the quilt. The position of where it would hang, the background color of the barn, and the colors of the flowers blooming in the landscape of the Blumhagen farm. Before my paint brushes went to work I asked Dennis if he had a last request on my design. He replied enthusiastically, 'Yes I do. Make it bold and dynamic!' Hence, I painted a bold and dynamic Telemark style barn quilt. I so appreciate it when my clients let me have the rein with the final design. I look forward to the possibility of painting other Norwegian Rosemaled barn quilts for those who are proud of their Nordic heritage."
It is not the only barn quilt in the county with rosemaling on it, but the only one on a barn that we know of. Harry and Barbara Davidson, north of Decorah, had Teresa do a barn quilt that is on a silo, done years ago and they also had Teresa do extensive work on their new home. Both couples commented that Teresa was wonderful to work with. Barbara had Teresa do a large border in their livingroom; in their Norwegian guestroom Teresa rosmaled the bed and other places.
Teresa is an artist and teacher specializing in the Telemark style of Rosemaling, using oils as my medium. Inspired by the old Norwegian master painters and the love of her Scandinavian heritage, her work over the years has been a blend of instruction at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, private study in Norway, and professional practice. Her dedication as a rosemaling artist has enabled her to help preserve the integrity of this highly stylized Nordic art form.
I enjoy passing by these beautiful barn quilts all over the country and especially enjoy the variety of ideas and thought that was put in each unique barn quilt. Keep your eyes open next time you are out driving the countryside, barn quilts are popping up everywhere!