We followed a Volvo into the parking lot and parked our Ford next to a Saab – which seemed like an appropriate way of arriving at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. The museum is a hybrid of an elegant over-the-top 19th century Turnblad Mansion with rococo ceilings, elaborately carved mahogany woodwork and the most remarkable assortment of tiled stoves I’ve seen, plus an equally elegant but very spare Scandinavian modern wing with pristine white walls and spotless floors and pale wood.
As expected, the exhibit we saw of exquisite papercuts (the art of “psaligraphy”) by Danish-Norwegian artist Karen Bit Vejle were remarkable – huge, intricate, lovely, I cannot imagine how she does such lovely things with a small pair of scissors. The papercuts were exhibited in both the modern wing and scattered around the mansion, which was cool. We also were impressed with the paper cuts (see below) of St. Paul artist Cindy McKeen, who studied at Grinnell and at Drake and whose work was reportedly influenced by her rural Iowa childhood. I found out later her work is on sale at Ingebretsen’s, the well-known Scandinavian Gift shop in Minneapolis.
The day before, we went to the Room and Board Outlet in nearby Golden Valley – and I found EXACTLY the chair I was looking for (or pretty darned close!) for $600 off the catalog price. How amazing is that? We saved an extra $100 or so on shipping. I am a longtime fan of Room and Board but never knew there was an outlet – this is the only one in the country and it’s only open on Saturday and Sunday. The place was packed and as I wandered around looking for “my chair” – I suddenly spotted it in a remote area of the cavernous warehouse, surrounded by couches similar to the I bought for full price a few years ago. But another woman spotted “my chair” too and promptly sat on it. I waited nervously for her to leave then jumped into it and held on for dear life until my husband arrived and could go fetch a salesclerk. It was the only one in the whole place!