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ASF Announces Awards for Scandinavian Folk Art and Cultures Programming

Thursday, December 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rosalind V. Rini Larson
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The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF) is pleased to announce its first awards to support Scandinavian folk arts and cultural traditions in the Upper Midwest (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan). The fellowships and grants programs, initiated this year, seek to encourage the development and perpetuation of traditional arts and skills that are rooted in Scandinavia but are carried out in the United States. Through these grants, ASF extends its reach beyond New York and promotes cultural exchange between the U.S. and Scandinavia, as well as the creation of community projects and public programs that highlight the traditional arts in communities throughout the Upper Midwest.


Ten fellowships were awarded in the first round of competition. Two will support painters traveling to Scandinavia to study their art. Pieper Bloomquist from Grand Forks, North Dakota, will travel to Sweden with an apprentice to visit museums and work with Swedish experts in Dala canvas painting and traditional decorative painting on furniture. Andrea Herkert from Belleville, Wisconsin, will study three styles of Norwegian rosemaling—Telemark, Gudbrandsdal and Hallingdal. By traveling to the three valleys, visiting local museums, and working with artists, she will deepen her understanding of rosemaling and, after she returns to the U.S., will incorporate this enhanced knowledge in her classes.

Two other projects involve the transcription of tune books created in the 1890s by Norwegian immigrants, which are invaluable sources for understanding traditional music and dance in Scandinavian-American communities. Amy Shaw from St. Paul, Minnesota, will prepare an edition of Norwegian fiddler Ole Hendricks’ manuscript that documents rienlenders, schottisches, waltzes and polkas from western Minnesota. The old-time dance band the Foot-Notes from Decorah, Iowa, will work with a professional musician to transcribe to standard notation the handwritten notations of Johan Arndt (1833-1909), a highly skilled, formal musician in Norway who emigrated to the U.S. and settled in a remote area of northeast Iowa in 1869, where he played for house parties and barn dances. Once the music is transcribed the Foot-Notes will play the tunes at local events, and eventually record them.

Arna Rennan from Duluth, Minnesota, will travel to Norway, Sweden, and Finland to interview 20 musicians and vocalists for programs that will air on Nordic Roots Music, her radio program broadcast in Northern Minnesota. She will focus on trends among younger folk musicians and the spectrum between traditional folk and contemporary fusion, and hopes to create awareness of the folk cultures and traditions of the past and present.

Two fellows will study Hardanger fiddle making in Norway. Robert “Bud” Larsen, from Brainerd, Minnesota, and two of his apprentices will study Hardanger fiddle collections in museums and private collections, and learn from Norwegian luthiers in Telemark. Karen Rebholz, from Madison, Wisconsin, will study sound adjustments made during the construction of Hardanger fiddles with a master artist in Voss.

In Southeastern South Dakota, folklorist Joshua Chrysler will survey several communities to identify Scandinavian folk traditions and artists and then work with them to help perpetuate their work and increase its visibility through programs of the South Dakota Arts Council.

Master shipwright John Finkle, from Duluth, Minnesota, will travel with his apprentice Justin Anderson to Denmark, to study the design, tools, and techniques involved in the construction of a Hardanger-style faering. They will construct and launch a faering in Duluth, where their storefront workshop is ideal for community demonstrations and events.

And, finally, wooden bowl-maker Jess Hirsch will travel to Sweden to study bowl carving with master craftsperson Beth Moen. When she returns to Minneapolis, Hirsch will share what she learns through classes at the Women’s Woodshop.


In addition to the fellowships, ASF awarded four grants for public programs and community projects. One will support the completion of an independent public television documentary by Cris Anderson about 83-year-old master Danish-American folk fiddler and button accordion player Dwight Lamb. The film tells the story of Mr. Lamb’s music making, which he learned from his grandfather and which preserved, in the U.S., music that was no longer played in Denmark.

Two grants will support the creation of classes and workshops at Vesterheim in Decorah, Iowa, and the Folklore Village in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. These new offerings will help perpetuate craft traditions and expand the public’s understanding and appreciation of them.

The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis will host Hoven Droven, a Swedish folk rock group, at their tenth annual Global Roots Festival in the fall of 2018. During their three-day residency, Hoven Droven will conduct educational activities, workshops, and community discussion among the local Somali community.


The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF) promotes firsthand exchange of intellectual and creative influence between the United States and the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. A publicly supported American nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, ASF has an extensive program of fellowships, grants, intern/trainee sponsorship, publishing, and cultural activities. Headquartered in New York City, ASF has members throughout the United States, and alumni and donors worldwide. For more information, visit

Please direct questions to Sally Yerkovich, Director of Special Projects, at 212-847-9714 or

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