Trillium Woods residents Diane and Richard Flom are on their third act. After Richard retired from his medical career as a neuro-radiologist in Phoenix, Arizona, they relocated in 2007 to Minnesota for Richard’s second career as an Orthodox Christian Priest. They soon discovered the availability of learning rosemaling in this area, and have availed themselves of workshops in rosemaling taught by master rosemalers in various places in the upper Midwest. As a result, they are now flourishing as artists in this Norwegian tradition.
Rosemaling is the decorative folk art of Norway, most popular from the early 1700’s to mid-nineteenth century. During that time, many types of wooden items were painted, including walls, beds, chairs, cabinets, etc. Early Norwegian immigrants to the United States often arrived with rosemaled trunks containing all they would need to set up a new life.
“Rosemaling has many different styles, “ said Diane Flom. “One of the most familiar to Americans is the Telemark style, which has scrolls based on the letters C and S. I paint with acrylic paints, being as detailed and precise as possible. Pieces usually take three or four days, working part-time.” The majority of pieces are on “plates” or plaques, but can also be on a variety of pieces such as a Bible box or a serving tray. Richard is especially pleased with the black cabinet panel he painted in the Telemark style.
The couple has also had another art tradition in their lives, that of painting religious icons. Painting icons has been part of their spiritual journey. Diane has now painted over 220 icons. Some of them are in their home and in the homes of family members; many are in various churches, and Diane accepts commissions to paint icons.
The couple moved to Trillium Woods in 2015, and they find that the carefree lifestyle at Trillium Woods leaves them with time to pursue and deeply explore art and religion. “My heritage is Norwegian,” says Richard. “This is a way to educate people about the history of Norway and its art.” He feels it is an honor to those who created rosemaling. Diane adds, “The Norwegians of centuries past brought beauty into their lives by their rosemaling, and we are delighted to continue that tradition.” And it seems an additional generation is embracing this tradition, as one of their grandsons has been rosemaling since age nine, and intends to continue in that art.
Learn more about our resident artists in this ongoing series on the Trillium Woods blog.