Luther College Chips

Java John’s features Nordic art

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Matthew Epsey (‘19) and Garret Baumler (‘20) enjoy the gnome and Nordic landscape pieces.

Matthew Epsey (‘19) and Garret Baumler (‘20) enjoy the gnome and Nordic landscape pieces.

Lily Kime (‘19) | Chips

Lily Kime (‘19) | Chips

Matthew Epsey (‘19) and Garret Baumler (‘20) enjoy the gnome and Nordic landscape pieces.

Lily Kime, Staff Writer

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Visitors will find an art display of bicycles, landscapes, and gnomes in earthy tones at Java John’s coffee house in downtown Decorah. Art and Nordic studies double majors Alexis Hove (‘18) and Hannah Tulgren (‘18) have coordinated with the owner of Java John’s to create an art display during the month of April.

According to Java John’s owner Doug Reid, the local coffee shop has featured student artwork in the past. During one of her frequent study sessions at the location, Tulgren noticed that the artwork had recently been changed.

After inquiring with an employee, she learned that the artist that was scheduled for April was no longer able to display their art as scheduled. Tulgren and Hove then approached Reid and submitted to him examples of their work to see if he would allow the two of them to collaborate for a display.

With Reid’s approval, Tulgren and Hove chose their pieces for display and put their work up on the walls of Java Johns on April 2. Tulgren said that the experience has been surreal.

“I’ve always seen the artwork at Java John’s change because I study there a lot,” Tulgren said. “I always thought it’d be really cool to have my artwork there someday, but I did not think it would be my junior year of college.”

Hove was satisfied with how well the artwork complemented the setting at Java Johns.

“I think [our artworks] fit in really well with the location and the Norwegian [heritage] that Decorah has,” Hove said. “We filled up the space pretty well with all of our works.”

Both Tulgren and Hove used watercolors as their medium for the pieces on display. Tulgren has worked with watercolors in the past and introduced them to Hove on their study-abroad trip to Norway in the fall of 2016. According to Hove, the University of Oslo did not offer a studio class, so they decided to take their artistic studies into their own hands.

When exploring the sights or hiking, Tulgren brought her watercolors and paper with her to practice her skills and fill her sketchbook with landscapes. She especially enjoyed sketching the Arctic Norway mountains.

“I keep [my landscapes] fairly small because I can do intricate work with water droplets or line work,” Tulgren said. “Some of the better, smaller ones just kind of happen. They can happen in only an hour, but it just depends on the landscape and the size of it.”

Lily Kime (‘19) | Chips
Garret Baumler (‘20) and Matthew Espey (‘19) observe Alexis Hove’s bicycle paintings in Java Johns.

Although she was new to watercolor when she began the study-abroad trip, Hove became more accustomed to the medium as she practiced. Hove’s artwork was inspired by aspects of the traditions and culture of Norway during her visit.

“For me, watercolor is kind of a meditative thing,” Hove said. “As far the gnomes, I got the idea in Norway. There are cute touristy shops all over that have gnomes that are similar in shape and form, and I really like that aesthetic.”

The community response to this display has been positive, according to Hove. Both artists have sold multiple pieces of their work on display.

Reid is glad that his shop has been able to display this show.

“We have a place in the local community that allows people to show their art, and we get to have beautiful artwork on our walls that we get to change once a month,” Reid said. “It works out perfectly for us.”

This display will remain in Java John’s for rest of April with pieces still available for purchase. Both artists are continuing to create art and are considering future opportunities for displays.

Hove is currently conversing with coffee and bicycle shops around both Decorah and Minneapolis to see if they will display her watercolors of bicycles with wheels made of coffee. Java John’s welcomes other current Luther students to contact them to request space in the shop as the location for their future art displays.

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