Minnesota is known for its people of Norwegian heritage. Thanks to one of them, Tom Maakestad (left), the farmland and rolling hills of Minnesota also will become known in Norway.
Four of Maakestad's landscape paintings of his home state were selected for installation in the Oslo residence of the U.S. ambassador.
"Being of Norwegian heritage, this is an even greater honor," said the member of Christ Lutheran Church, Marine on St. Croix, Minn. He is an alumnus of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa.
Maakestad's work was chosen after a nationwide search by the U.S. Department for Art in Embassies Program. Several art dealers were asked to make presentations, including Mary J. Thorsheim of Norway Art in Minneapolis.
Tom MaakestadThe decision was made to accept four Maakestad pastels, each about 25-inches-by-35-inches, that depict a farmland area in southeast Minnesota, not far from the Mississippi River. He spent several days in the area, making notes, sketching and taking photographs at different times of the day and while the clouds were in various formations. Back at his studio, he used his research and preliminary work to create a series of six paintings — two of which were sold privately.
Maakestad's reputation as a painter, already solid in Minnesota, will undoubtedly receive a boost from this latest honor. His father, John, also a well-known artist, is the retired art department chair at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn.
But Maakestad plans to continue dividing his time between graphic design and painting. "The reason I have decided not to be a full-time painter is that for me it's got to be fun," he said. "I want to paint because I enjoy it, not because I have to."
Maakestad would love to some day visit the homeland of his ancestors and see his work at the ambassador's residence. Perhaps he will paint Oslo, and it will end up in a home back in Minnesota — a true cultural exchange.
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