About the WSRA

In the late nineteenth century, rosemaling was a dying tradition in Norway. In the 1940s American interest in this folk art form awakened. Rosemaling became an ethnic artistic expression for many who now had leisure time. This revival of rosemaling in the Norwegian American community was largely associated with the name of Per Lysne of Stoughton, Wisconsin.

Lysne was influential to other Norwegian American rosemaling artists such as, Ethel Kvalheim, who lived down the street from Lysne in Stoughton, Wisconsin. Kvalheim took notice that Lysne was selling wooden ware he had painted with rosemaling. Although she never had a lesson, she started rosemaling and supplementing the household income with her painting.

The folk art form did not begin to fully flourish until the late 1960's and 1970's. Vesterheim, the Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center, held its first folk art exhibition in 1967. Kvalheim entered this competition and received the first awarded gold medal.

Wisconsin State Rosemaling Association (WSRA) was founded in Stoughton, Wisconsin in 1967 and held its first Rosemaling Exhibition and Sale in conjunction with the annual Stoughton Norwegian heritage celebration of Syttende Mai. During the early years of WSRA, up to 300 individuals were members, with diverse ethnic backgrounds. This was a very active group whose talent and interest in this art form reached far beyond Stoughton, Wisconsin. Many members of the original charter still belong to WSRA and continue to be active.

Now with the availability of internet research, information on Norwegian culture and arts can be discovered more widely. Interest in Rosemaling can be a draw to those of Norwegian heritage and to those who enjoy all painting arts. We are now proud to say that our membership has increased to almost 200 members.

WSRA continues to hold an annual exhibition and sale during the City of Stoughton’s annual Syttende Mai celebration. Members can compete and sell pieces in many of the different styles and categories. In the fall, during the last weekend in October, the WSRA's Fall Bazaar is a wonderful opportunity to purchase holiday gifts, in association with the Stoughton Norwegian Destination Weekend.

The WSRA holds approximately 4 classes each summer and fall where the art of rosemaling can be learned from Vesterheim Gold Medalists and other talented artists. A few times a year, members meet together at Skape Days for fellowship and painting. WSRA General Meetings are held each spring and fall. A newsletter is emailed out 3 times each year to keep members updated on activities and opportunities.

Whether you are of Norwegian heritage and want to learn more about the history of this art, or if you are artistic with an interest to learn to paint this folk art form, you are invited to join WSRA!