How ‘HE & SHE’ came to Rockford

Rockford Art Museum (RAM) is producing a masterpiece, “HE & SHE: Bertil Vallien and Ulrica Hydman-Vallien.” You’ve all heard about the relationship of Rockford to Sweden starting with immigration, continuing with artists from our sister city of Borgholm at Greenwich to Swedish businesses landing in our great city. The story of this particular exhibit coming to RAM is incredible. It is steeped in the relationship-building that has been growing for years.

Wendy Fisher’s affinity for Sweden is no secret. The hard work she and her friends have put in to achieving this exhibit is probably less known. In October 2005, Wendy Fisher, RAM Executive Director Linda Dennis, and RAM Board members Karen Harding, Lisa Lindman and Patty Rhea traveled to Sweden. They met husband and wife artists, Bertil Vallien and Ulrica Hydman-Vallien, as well as Barbro and Borge Kamaras of the Vida Museum, which is dedicated to the work of Vallien and Hydman-Vallien. They were escorted by Bertil on a tour of the Orrefors/Kosta Boda glass factory. Bertil showed them sketches and walked them through the factory to show them the entire process, from concept to creation.

“It was such an honor to have the artist himself take us through the artistic process,” Dennis said.

Last March, I had the pleasure of meeting Barbro at the Vida and was absolutely intrigued with the artwork. It is the use of glass as a canvas, the likes of which I had never seen. I was awestruck this work would be coming to Rockford for all to experience.

There are events that are not to be missed. Both artists will speak at 7 p.m., March 28 at Rockford College’s Maddox Theatre. A RAM members’ reception is set for 5:30 to 8 p.m., March 30. The gallery walk with both artists is from 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, March 31.

Anne E. O’Keefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.

from the March 28-April 3, 2007, issue

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