Monthly Archives: March 2012

Swedish Washington-based artist Erica Eriksdotter successful with her wedding bouquet paintings

Swedish Washington-based artist Erica Eriksdotter is known for her wedding bouquet paintings. Photo: Casey CollingsSwedish Washington-based artist Erica Eriksdotter is known for her wedding bouquet paintings. Photo: Casey Collings

“MY WEDDING BOUQUET paintings (http://www.studioeriksdotter.com/bridal-bouquets/) have really taken off. It is a unique and special gift, and not just for newlyweds, as I thought in the beginning,” says Swedish-born Washington-based artist Erica Eriksdotter (www.studioeriksdotter.com).

Artist Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Casey CollingsArtist Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Casey Collings

“A LOT OF MY CUSTOMERS want to immortalize their bouquets, and they are popular among couples, who are going to get married, and women who plan their weddings. But also men who want to give that special gift to their wives on their birthdays, St. Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and mothers to their daughters as wedding gifts, and for anniversaries. When couples do a destination wedding – which are very popular nowadays – they are not able to bring back the bouquet and they ask me to do a painting.”

Wedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica EriksdotterWedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica Eriksdotter

BUT FAMILY celebrations are not the only occasions to order one of Erica’s paintings. She also has corporate clients. Often the gift comes in the form of a gift card or certificate (http://www.studioeriksdotter.com/commissions/).

Artist Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Casey CollingsArtist Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Casey Collings

“I DON’T NEED  the actual bouquet, a photograph is enough. An inscription in the corner of the painting has also become very popular,” she says.

LAST YEAR Erica worked full-time with the art and concentrated on prints. She participated in 17 art shows up and down the East Coast, among them in Washington, Cape Cod and Upper East Side in New York City, as well as having her paintings in showrooms and in gift shops. She is also working with a famous interior designer on the Upper East Side in New York.

Wedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica EriksdotterWedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica Eriksdotter

“I COLLABORATE with well-known Washington interior designer Jill Sorensen (www.livelikeyou.com). Jill sells my paintings, and I do the water color to her interior design drawings for her website,” says Erica.

Her upcoming art shows are in Richmond May 6-7 and the first week of July in Amagansett on Long Island, New York.

Wedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica EriksdotterWedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica Eriksdotter

Detail of Erica Eriksdotter at work. Photo: Casey CollingsDetail of Erica Eriksdotter at work. Photo: Casey Collings

Wedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica EriksdotterWedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica Eriksdotter

Wedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica EriksdotterWedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica Eriksdotter

Wedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica EriksdotterWedding Bouquet Painting by Erica Eriksdotter. Photo: Erica Eriksdotter

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Stockholm’s new planned community Hammarby Sj?stad discussed at House of Sweden in Washington, D.C.

Photograph of the House of Sweden and the Embassy of Sweden was presented to Ambassador Jonas Hafstr?m of Sweden by John Jessen, Managing Principal of the architecture firm VOA AssociatesPhotograph of the House of Sweden and the Embassy of Sweden was presented to Ambassador Jonas Hafstr?m of Sweden by John Jessen, Managing Principal of the architecture firm VOA Associates

SWEDISH AND American experts in sustainable architecture and design came to the beautiful Anna Lindh Hall at the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C., on March 21 to discuss the latest sustainable design trends, developments and projects in Sweden, the United States and around the world. The main architect of the new Swedish planned community Hammarby Sj?stad, Swede Stellan Fryxell from the firm Tengbom in Stockholm, Sweden, was present and talked about his work on the project since 1996. Hammarby Sj?stad is a new planned community in suburban Stockholm, which incorporates many of the latest sustainable design features, including heating systems, window design, central community garbage disposal, reusable water, convenience to mass transit and the planting of 100s of trees.

The Sustainable Summit was sponsored by VOA Associates, the American architecture firm that collaborated on the design of the House of Sweden.

BRADLEY J. OLSON, who is both the chair of SACC-DC (The Washington Chapter of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce) and SACC-USA, presided at the Summit.

After the seminar followed a reception. After the seminar followed a reception.

After the seminar followed a reception. View from the House of Sweden

Exhibition ‘HUICHOL art on wheels’ opens at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Kevin Gover, Director of National Museum of the American Indian; Leonda Levchuk Public Affairs Officer at the National Museum of the American Indian; and Eduardo D?z, Director of Smithsonian Latino CenterKevin Gover, Director of National Museum of the American Indian; Leonda Levchuk, Public Affairs Officer at the National Museum of the American Indian; and Eduardo D?z, Director of Smithsonian Latino Center

THE EXHIBITION “HUICHOL art on wheels” opened at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday evening, March 20. The exhibition shows the Vochol, a VW Bug covered with 200 pounds of more than 2,277,000 beads held together by 35 pounds of resin. This fabulous, indigenous, contemporary artwork is bursting with color, symbolism and traditional craftsmanship.

The Vochol took two Wix?itari families seven months to complete. The unique design is made from almost 200 pounds of more than 2,277,000 beads held together by 35 pounds of resin. The Vochol took two Wix?itari families seven months to complete. The unique design is made from almost 200 pounds of more than 2,277,000 beads held together by 35 pounds of resin.

THE NAME Vochol is a combination of vocho, a name for the Volkswagen Beetle in Mexico, and Huichol, the Huichol people, known as the Wix?itari, in their own language, are from the west-central Mexico. They are widely recognized for their colorful beadwork and fiber arts.

Liliana Ferrer, H?tor Dom?guez and Claudia Keller of the Embassy of MexicoLiliana Ferrer, H?tor Dom?guez and Claudia Keller of the Embassy of Mexico

THE VOCHOL demonstrates the complex intersections of traditional and modern cultures. The project is a collaboration between the Association of Friends of the Museo de Arte Popular, the Museo de Arte Popular, and the state governments of Nayarit and Jalisco, home to the Wix?itari people. The Vochol will be on display through May 6, 2012. The National Museum of the American Indian is located at Fourth Street and Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. For more information: www.AmericanIndian.si.edu.

Los Amigos performed.The group Los Amigos performed.

New York-based Swede Maja Svensson — from political science to fashion design

Swedish designer Maja Svensson started her clothing line Swedish designer Maja Svensson started her clothing line “ELSA AND ME” (www.elsaandme.com) in 2009.

“TWO AND a half years ago I started the company ‘ELSA AND ME’ (www.elsaandme.com). My inspiration is my grandmother, who always dressed very elegantly and timeless,” says Maja Svensson, a tall, slender and elegant young Swedish woman, who now calls New York home and previously worked for Invest Sweden.

“I WANTED TO use both my entrepreneurial side and business experience. Early on, during my studies, I realized that I wanted to have my own company, and it was here in New York that all the pieces fell into place. I got in touch with people in the garment industry and found an excellent pattern maker. I also participated in a fashion show in May 2009.”

SHE NOW DESIGNS a sleek dress – the ELSA dress – that so far comes in two colors, Dusty Black and Vanilla White. But she plans to launch more colors this year.

“I WORK MOSTLY with ecological fabrics, which sometimes can be limiting. I chose woven fabrics, which are more business-like and tighter, and I have found a good supplier. My designs are elegant and geared towards business women. The dress should be useful, but also compliment the female body,” she says.

Maja starts out making drawings, and then works with her pattern maker, Li, who takes care of the production as well. Twenty dresses are made each time.

Tatjana Kostic, designer Maja Svensson, and Dragana PajovicDesigner Maja Svensson (in the middle) will participate at an event, arranged by the Washington Chapter of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce (SACC-DC), on April 26.

ALL SALES go through her website or sales party events, and Maja has a colleague in Stockholm, Sweden, who helps her with marketing. Additionally, she sends out a newsletter, and is on Facebook and Twitter. She has held events in New York and Stockholm, and one is planned with SACC-DC (the Washington Chapter of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce) in Washington, D.C. on April 26.

MAJA GREW up in N?um in Sk?e in southern Sweden, and studied international economy, with focus on macro economics and political science, at J?nk?ping International Business School (Internationella Handelsh?gskolan i J?nk?ping), a town in the central part of the country. During the 3-1/2 years of her studies she spent one year abroad – in New Zeeland and Monterrey, Mexico.

“I WAS ALWAYS interested in the world outside Sweden, and wanted to travel outside Europe,” she says.

“THE SUMMER of 2007 I was an intern at the bank Handelsbanken in Stockholm, and I liked the city a lot, but I wanted something different.”

MAJA APPLIED for an internship abroad, and landed one at the Swedish consulate in New York in the spring of 2008. “This was my first time in New York, even though I had been to U.S. before. New York, with its energy, is overwhelming.”

IN THE FALL that year, she learnt about a job opening at Invest Sweden, the Official Investment Promotion Agency of Sweden, an organization that advices American companies, which want to establish a presence in Sweden. She started as a trainee and worked there until December 2011, when she decided to devote herself full-time to her company.

“DURING MY YEARS at Invest Sweden, I made a lot of connections with people involved in Swedish start-ups, and who were seeking American capital. That gave me an extensive network and a good insight in business activities.”

Installation – ‘I am Mother Nile’ – by Lilian Thomas Burwell presented at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

“I am Mother Nile” – artwork by Lilian Thomas Burwell

“I am Mother Nile” – an artwork by artist Lilian Thomas Burwell (www.burwellstudios.com) – was presented at a reception at Howard University on Saturday afternoon, March 17.

MS. BURWELL’S three dimensional wall compositions and sculptural installations continue her innovative tradition of blurring the line between painting and painting as sculpture. In this, her latest piece, the components move into multi-media. Although grounded in firm academic foundations and exploring abstract expressionism, she has never been bound by any tradition. Now in her mid-80s, she continues to explore, and she calls it “the process of learning to fly.”

Swedish opera singer Ulla Westlund called ‘The best quality voice material since Birgit Nilsson’

Swedish opera singer Ulla Westlund, who lives in New York and in Sweden, performed at a fundraising gala for The Swedish Alzheimer's Association in Borl?ge Jan. 24. Swedish opera singer Ulla Westlund (www.ullawestlund.com), who lives in New York and in Sweden, performed at a fundraising gala for The Swedish Alzheimer’s Association in Borl?ge Jan. 24.

SWEDISH opera singer Ulla Westlund (www.ullawestlund.com) nowadays calls New York City her home, but she still gets to Sweden often. During a recent trip there to perform during the Christmas and holiday season, she visited Gothenburg and also performed Jan. 24 at a fundraising gala for Alzheimerf?reningen i Sverige (The Swedish Alzheimer’s Association) in her hometown of Borl?ge in the Dalecarlia area of the country. Additionally, she gave several Christmas concerts at other Swedish locations.

AT HER ONE-PERSON show in Borl?ge she performed works by Wagner as well as a more modern repertoire with songs, jazz and her own compositions to great acclaim.

THE VIVID AND charismatic Ulla recalls growing up on a farm outside Borl?ge in V?ter-Tuna sl?ten, which also happens to be the birthplace of the world-renowned Swedish opera star Jussi Bj?rling.

“I HAVE SUNG since I was a child, and my parents and sisters sang also,” she says. “I could sing before I talked. Since my voice was particularly strong, I was often the soloist.” Her influences were Swedish jazz singer Meta Roos and opera singer Jussi Bj?rling.

“I PEFORMED AND entertained, and started with theater at the age of 14, in such plays as ‘Klas Kl?termus’ and ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ (‘Spelman p?Taket’) and toured around all of Sweden. I studied two years at theater schools in ?ebro K?vesta in Central Sweden and Vendelsberg, in M?lnlycke in the Gothenburg area, and I finished with a degree in theater.”

Swedish opera singer Ulla WestlundSwedish opera singer Ulla Westlund

SHE DID free lance work in Gothenburg for three years, from 1992 to1995, dabbled in TV, film and in musicals, sang in a big band, had her own shows and worked as a stand-up comedienne, but decided to pursue a singing career. She met Sten Sj?stedt, an opera singer and also a director. He directed the musical “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying,” with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, at Kung?v Theatre outside Gothenburg, and gave her a chance in that show in 1994. This was followed by excerpts from the role of Lucia in “Lucia di Lammermoor,” at the Gothenburg’s Opera House small scene, a role she learnt in a short period of time. Mr. Sj?stedt called her an “uncut diamond.”

SHE CONTINUED her music education in Gothenburg, and applied to the University Colleges of Opera (Operah?gskolorna) in Stockholm and Gothenburg, but was rejected. Even though one of the jurors — a prominent Scandinavian conductor — considered her “the best quality voice material since Birgit Nilsson.”

“BIRGIT-LOISE Franz? – a Swedish coloratura soprano – worked with me during one year, in 1995. In 1994-95 a jury from England went to the northern part of Sweden scouting for new talent, and I was immediately accepted at the Birmingham Conservartory (Bmus),” says Ulla.

During her first year in Birmingham, she briefly met and came to know Simon Rattle, who was responsible for the school’s orchestra. And she debuted before the first year’s end, in 1996, in “Sounds of Sweden” with Swedish opera stars Nikolai Gedda and Elisabeth S?derstr?m and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at a performance that was broadcast on BBC Live, with Swedish Princess Christina present. She also toured in England, Wales and Sweden, and performed Nanetta in “Falstaff” by Verdi with conductor Mark Elder.

ULLA WESTLUND finalized her education in Birmingham, and received the Diploma in Opera Performance – the conservatory’s highest award. After returning to Sweden, she performed Jenny Lind, when the Stockholm Music Museum had its celebration in 1999. And she was awarded the European Union Art Scholarship.

“I SPENT TWO YEARS in Rome. It was a fantastic time, and I got a chance to see all the opera prima donnas. But I also met people who said that ‘America is where you should go.’”

“MY DREAM was to work with a really good coach, and I contacted conductor Jeffrey Goldberg at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, who became interested since I had worked with the opera diva Antonietta Stella in Rome.” She received a cultural scholarship from Konstn?sn?nden, a Swedish authority under the supervision of the Department of Culture and traveled to New York.

ULLA Westlund rehearsed the roles Tosca and Aida with Mr. Goldberg, and her debut – as Maddalena in “I Tre Compagni” by Louis Gioia – was in 2009 at one of the Metropolitan scenes. Singing at Caf?Tacci in New York, she met Eric Kaufmann, an opera aficionado, who became a close friend and introduced her to his connections. He helped her become the soloist at two music festivals, and participate at church concerts. Other performances include at the Oslo Concert House with conductor Laurent Pillot, at the Concert House of Sweden with French-Italian guitarist Alexandre Pier Federici, and at Teatro Flavio Vespasiano in Rieti, Italy.

Swedish opera singer Ulla WestlundOpera singer Ulla Westlund

“THE ATMOSPHERE in New York is so dynamic, full of energy and enthusiasm, with a wonderful pulse, you grow as an artist – but it is also extremely competitive, and Americans are very professional,” says Ulla.

IN 2008 she got an agent, Rita Sardos, who helped her with auditions, and in 2009 she got the leading role in a Verismo opera near Lincoln Center, which opened to splendid reviews. One of the conductors told her “you should sing Wagner.”

AND SO, in a Wagner Society of New York competition, she won the first prize, and the prize check gave her the opportunity to study at Berliner Staatsoper. It was also in Berlin she met her partner, and with whom she now has a daughter and lives in New York. She recently had to study Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” for a performance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

ULLA WESTLUND says that her favorite roles are Tosca, Isolde and Amelia (“Un ballo in Maschera”) and favorite composers Puccini, Verdi and Wagner. Among conductors she is specially fond of Claudio Abbado, and her favorite orchestra is The Orchestra of Metropolitan Opera Theatre.

“MY PLAN FOR THE future is to learn more Wagner roles and do auditions in Europe, and learn to sing in Russian, since many say that would suit my voice.” In the summer she will tour Sweden and work on a CD with guitarist Alexandre Pier Federici. She says: “My dream role is Tosca and to perform it at Il Teatro dell’Roma in Italy — with Jonas Kaufman as Cavaradossi and Pl?ido Domingo as Scarpia. A collaboration with Domingo would be fabulous – and to do an opera film with Zeffirelli and the role Maddalena in ‘Andrea Chenier’ by Giordano!”

SWEA Washington, D.C. holds its annual Pea Soup event — ‘?tsoppa med Punsch’

SWEA Washington, D.C. chair Cecilia Browning and Kamilla Kohn R?berg, Ph.D., Counselor, Science and Innovation at the Embassy of SwedenSWEA Washington, D.C. chair Cecilia Browning and Kamilla Kohn R?berg, Ph.D., Counselor, Science and Innovation at the Embassy of Sweden

KAMILLA KOHN R?BERG, Ph.D., who is counselor, Science and Innovation, and head of Office of Science and Innovation at the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, D.C., was the speaker at this year’s SWEA (Swedish Women’s Educational Association) (www.swea.org) Pea Soup - “?tsoppa 2012″ – event in Alexandria, Va. on Thursday evening, March 15. Ms. Kohn R?berg discussed and compared, in her presentation, Sweden and the United States, when it comes to growth analysis and policy issues, education and innovation, etc.

SWEA Program Committee, which arranged the dinner - Monica Anderson, Ann-Sofie Cox, Kristina Bergsten Chereton and Lena BrislandSWEA Program Committee, which arranged the dinner – Monica Anderson, Ann-Sofie Cox, Kristina Bergsten Chereton and Lena Brisland

‘?TSOPPA MED PUNSCH’ – Pea Soup with Punsch — is a Swedish tradition, and the evening’s delicious soup was made by SWEA members. The meal is served on Thursdays during the late winter season. Punsch is traditional, sweet, Swedish liquor, which is sometimes drunk together with coffee after a several course dinner.

Ingrid Beach and Ann CederhallIngrid Beach and Ann Cederhall

 Ulrika Svenneke, Eva Cohen and Cecilia BrowningUlrika Svenneke, Eva Cohen and Cecilia Browning

Kenneth and Gunnel HamiltonKenneth and Gunnel Hamilton

Madelaine Fusfield and Annelie LandgrenMadelaine Fusfield and Annelie Landgren

Photo exhibition ‘En Foco/In Focus’ opens at AMA/Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, D.C.

“La Virgen del Norte” by Ana de Orbegoso

THE PHOTO exhibition “En Foco/In Focus” - with selected works from the En Foco permanent collection — opened at the OAS/AMA F Street Gallery in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday evening, March 14. The exhibition is guest curated by Elizabeth Ferrer.

EN FOCO, which was founded in New York in 1974, has been dedicated to promoting cultural diversity in the field of photography. It has supported photographers of diverse background and cultures, beginning with Latinos in New York, the focus of its initial efforts in the 1970s, and then eventually broadening its mission to embrace photographers of African, Asian and Native American heritage across the United States.

“Catwoman” by Dulce Pinz?

THE FEATURED artists are Ad?, Sama Alshaibi, Don Gregorio Ant?, Chuy Benitez, Louis Carlos Bernal, Dawoud Bey, Charles Biasiny-Rivera, Samantha Box, Roger Cab?, Gerald Cyrus, Phil Dante, Ana de Orbegoso, Luis Delgado-Qualtrough, Dean Dempsey, Lola Flash, Ricky Flores, Myra Greene, Muriel Hasbun, Kenzo Izu, Stephen Marc, Rania Matar, Larry McNeil, Groana Melendez, Frank X. M?dez, H?tor M?dez Caratini, Tony Mendoza, Nestor Mill?, Delilah Montoya, Pipo Nguyen-duy, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Dulce Pinz?, Juan S?chez, Hong-An Truong, V?tor V?quez, Wendel A. White and Hank Willis Thomas.

“La Virgen de la Baking Pan” by Chuy Benitez

OAS/AMA F Street Gallery is located at 1889 F Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. For more information: www.enfoco.org.

‘Preparing U.S. Diplomats to Serve in Scandinavian Countries’ will be the topic of a SACU Luncheon on Wednesday, March 28 in Washington, D.C.

MR. JON GUNDERSEN, a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer and currently chair of Advanced Nordic Area Studies at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) will be the speaker at a SACU (Swedish-American Cultural Union) luncheon in Washington on Wednesday, March 28. The topic will be “Preparing U.S. Diplomats to Serve in Scandinavian Countries.” Mr. Gunderson will talk about how the FSI prepares U.S. diplomats to serve in Scandinavian countries, specifically in Sweden.

ADDITIONALLY, he will speak about some of the main issues in U.S.-Swedish bilateral relations, including some do’s and don’ts for Americans living in Sweden. Mr. Gundersen is also a Senior Associate at the National Defense University and is conducting a project called, “Lessons Learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

THE SACU luncheon will be held at the Pier Seven Restaurant in the Channel Inn (650 Water Street, S.W. on the Washington waterfront) on Wednesday, March 28, beginning at 12 noon and concluding at 2 p.m. Member cost is $25.00 and non-members, $29.00. For reservations contact 301-365-4763 by Monday, March 26.

Art exhibition ‘Tight Fit’ opens at The Dunes in Washington, D.C.

Peter Davis and Swedish artist Anna U. DavisPeter Davis and Swedish artist Anna U. Davis

A BIG CROWD came to the opening reception for the intriguing art exhibition “Tight Fit” at The Dunes (http://thedunesdc.com/) in Washington, D.C. on Friday evening, March 2. The participating artists are Chris Bishop, Scott Brooks, Swedish painter Anna U. Davis, Jared Davis, Dana Ellyn, Emily Greene Liddle, Matt Sesow and Andrew Wodzianski.

THE EXHIBITON runs through March 28, 2012. The Dunes is located at 1402 Meridian Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009.

Stacie Kirby, Fernando Batista and Francesca LaursenStacie Kirby, Fernando Batista and Francesca Laursen

Opening reception at The Dunes in Washington, D.C.Opening reception at The Dunes in Washington, D.C.

“Naked Chicken Dead Pigs and Flowers” by Dana Ellyn

“Russian Deli” by Anna U. Davis