“Hand Made Creations by Humans” Exhibit Oct 7-8

Handmade Creations Exhibit Oct 7 and 8
Handmade Creations Exhibit Oct 7 and 8, 2016

Heritage Center is sponsoring a public exhibition of hand-made articles and inventions.

Many individuals in the Bluff Country area have tool shops where they have created useful items for farm and home use, including children’s toys and scale replicas of farm buildings and other things. The Heritage Center would like to document them and exhibit them both indoors and in Enger Garden. The exhibit will run from Friday at 1:00 pm until Saturday at 6:00 pm.

The idea for this event came from Dr. Jim Gray who has been fascinated for 50 years by the useful creations which he saw on area farms. He says, “Farmers created gate latches, hand tools and livestock paraphernalia that were totally original and very useful.” Early in his career he enjoyed seeing shop creations by almost-pioneer farmers: Andy Kjome, Palmer Bergsgaard, Bert and Lloyd Deters, Orvel Treangen, Gil Myrah, Harold Rosendahl, Elling Solum, Nels Gulbranson, Lowell Vatland, Cy Casterton, Alvin Swenson, Luther Storlie, Leonard Sylling and many, many more. Unfortunately none of these persons can be filmed talking about how they used what they made, although their descendants are invited to bring their pieces in and tell stories in their stead.

We are asking that anyone who has hand-made pieces, old or new, should bring them to the Heritage Center for this event in advance of the 1:00 Friday, October 7 opening. Please bring a written description naming who made it, how it was used, photos of its location or use, and any background information you may have about it. Giant’s purpose for the exhibition is to showcase talent and ingenuity, and to create a permanent digital record by filming brief descriptions of them, how and why things were made and used.
Any exhibition questions can be answered by coordinators Ed Myrah at 507.696.7243 or Dr. Gray at 507.459.9188.

Both men and women are welcome to exhibit creations. There is no fee to participate and no fee to attend, although Giants is a non-profit, and all donations are gratefully accepted.

All exhibits should be picked up between 5:00 and 6:00 pm on Saturday, or at other times arranged previous to the opening.

The Bluff Country Artists Gallery on the opposite end of Main Street is hosting a gala fundraiser “8 by 8 Equals Art” beginning at 6:30 pm Saturday.

The Piecemakers are hosting their annual Festival of Quilts Show and Sale from 12 noon Friday through Saturday at 5:00 at the Fest Building.

“Inventions at Work” focuses on adaptations farmers and others have made to make their work easier.

“Inventions at Play” focuses on how all ages experience various playful habits of mind that underlie invention, such as curiosity, imagination, visual thinking, model building and problem solving. This category includes toys for children and musical instruments.

1. Selection and Examination of the Inventions

All are invited to bring their Hand-made items to the Heritage Center for documentation and an interview. We will ask your permission to film your interview especially so it can be shared with residents at the Care Center and Assisted Living who may not be able to view them during the exhibition. Smaller pieces should be brought in any time the week of October 3rd. Please bring a photo of the inventor if it isn’t you. Larger pieces will be displayed in Enger Garden and need to be in place as early in the morning as possible on October 7. They will need to be taken home by 5 PM on October 8.

Before the items are put on display at the exhibition, they will be examined at two levels. First, the items must be examined for creative innovation by a Giants Judges panel. Second, the judges are invited to assess the novelty and usefulness of the inventions.

2. It is not necessary that the invention be old. It is encouraged to make something special for this event. Judges will be offering preferential treatment to the inventions made by primary and middle school students. The award-winning rate for primary and middle school students is 10% higher than that of the adult inventors.

3. People’s Choice Award at the Exhibition
The public will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite inventions.

Download (DOCX, 86KB)


Celebrating Sigmund’s Legacy Oct 18 Agenda

Bicentenary Celebration Weekend October 18 and 19

Giants of the Earth Heritage Center in Spring Grove

Saturday, October 18

2:45    Gathering at the Cinema

3:15    Celebrating the Immigration of Peder and Aase Enger to Spring Grove

3:45    Celebrating the Legacy of Sigmund Årseth in America

        Unveiling bronze

        Exhibition of Art by Sigmund and by his students

5:45    Reception and Music by the Thankful Brass on the CLS Deck*

6:30     Bicentenary Celebration Dinner

Sunday, October 19

9:15    Worship at Trinity

3:00    Bicentenary Celebration Concert at Trinity Church by the Luren Singers with Special Guests: the Youth from Norwegian Ridge Choral Camp

4:15   Reception at the Heritage Center

Longer Version:

Bicentenary Celebration Weekend October 18 and 19
Giants of the Earth Heritage Center in Spring Grove

Saturday, October 18

Commence at 2:45 by gathering at the Cinema
Welcome from Giants
Introduction of Special Guests: Enger Family
Årseth Family
Royal Norwegian Consulate General Gary Gandrud
Welcome from Consulate General
Introduction of Steve Kemp, Enger Garden Designer

3:15 Ribbon Cutting at Enger Garden Gate
Dedication Remarks by Irene Navarre
Garden Tour narrated by Steve Kemp

3:45 Introduction of Craig Bergsgaard, Sculptor
Remarks by Craig
Unveiling of life-size bronze of Sigmund Årseth by the Årseth family. Sigmund was chosen by the King of Norway as the most revered Artist of 2010

Coffee and Norwegian cookies on the decks of the Heritage Center
Exhibit of art created by Sigmund Årseth students and reception to honor the students. Filming of students recalling their teacher and his unique methods of teaching painting, to be documented and presented to Ingebjørg

5:45 Music by the Thankful Brass on the Deck
Open Cash Bar and light hors d’oeuvres

6:30 Bicentenary Celebration Dinner with tributes honoring the life of Sigmund: Sallie DeReus, Norma Wangsness
Auction of Rare Sigmund Creations

Sunday, October 19

9:15 Worship at Trinity
Recognition of Enger and Årseth Guests
Coffee Fellowship

3:00 Bicentenary Celebration Concert at Trinity Church by the Luren Singers, oldest Norwegian-American Male Chorus in the world, directed by Dr. David Judisch

4:15 Reception at the Heritage Center
Filming of artists continues

6:00 Closing of Exhibit of art created by Sigmund Årseth students

See announcement


Celebrating the Legacy of Sigmund Årseth Oct 18

sigmundaarsethFor Weekend Schedule of Events click HERE

Theme: Same as title of Exhibit. Each artist interprets the theme as they see fit based on what they have learned from Sigmund, and painted themselves.

Pieces to Exhibit:  There will be some of Sigmund’s work, and the rest from Artists who trained with Sigmund in classes he taught.
Each artist can submit 3-5 pieces of their own work and they can be a painting or painted objects.
Each artist will include an Artist Statement. It will answer this question – What do I want other people to understand about my art?  The main goal of writing an artist statement is to discuss your understanding of your process, ideas, and field. The statement also gives you an opportunity to define the critical conversation you want to engage through your art.  In general, an artist statement should address what you make, how you make it, why you make it and your understanding of your work’s meaning.
Exhibition Space:  We will use rooms in the beautiful Heritage Center where Sigmund painted murals at 163 West Main Street in Spring Grove, MN 55974.

Installation of the artwork:  Artists will be invited to suggest their ideas on installation and placement.  We will group art pieces.  Those artists who come before October 16 will have an opportunity to examine how we have installed their works.

Opening Reception: will occur on October 18:  We invite artists to bring their friends and peers to the Heritage Center.

Documenting the Weekend Reunion of Årseth Artists:  The Heritage Center filmers will be recording the artists as they share recollections and impressions and influences of their interactions with Sigmund.  The filmers will include their art pieces in the exhibition along with their artist statements.  This documentary will be shared with Sigmund’s widow Ingebjørg and his other family members.  It will also be available to others.

Pieces that are too large to ship or bring:  We encourage you to send JPEGs with at least 600DPI via Email to kbjbgray@springgrove.coop
Please indicate size of the painting or object.  We will be creating a photo gallery of them for this exhibit.



Heritage Center Restoration Checklist

We can't wait to get a porch.
We can’t wait to get a porch.

Insulate exterior
Replace cedar siding
Replace windows
Paint Pirate Treasure yellow
Trim building with paint and light
Rebuild porches
Create ADA ramp to access main entrance to building
Restore foundation
Create entry to the garden
Create Bluff/Woodland Plantings
Create pathway through garden
Create water feature
Create Sculpture to honor Sigmund Aarseth
Light the garden features
Build bridges over waterway
Create planting beds near sculpture


Piano Master Class and Concert

Jorgensen Encore Performance Revised

Piano Master Class and Concert

Piano students who want to take a master class with Jessica Paul, Ph.D of Musical Arts. at the Cinema in Spring Grove, MN should register before April 15.  The Master class will be offered from 4:30 until 6PM on Thursday, April 24.
To register, students need to provide their name and age, the title of the work to be performed and a $5.00 check made payable to Giants of the Earth Heritage Center, and mail to PO Box 241 at Spring Grove, 55974.
Each student must have the piece memorized, and bring an original copy of the music for Dr. Paul.  The student’s parent must approve of their child being video-recorded by Giants of the Earth and that form will be provided to parents upon receiving registration.

Jessica Paul, a native of Chicago, holds a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from Northwestern University, where she studied with pianist and vocal coach Laurence Davis. Ms. Paul went on to the University of Illinois as a student of John Wustman, eventually earning the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in vocal coaching and accompanying. She is frequently engaged as a collaborative pianist and guest clinician, and she has worked with such opera companies as the Pittsburgh Opera Theatre, Opera Theatre of Illinois, National Opera Company, Cleveland Opera Theatre, Virginia Opera Association, Lake George Opera Festival, Cedar Rapids Opera, and Pine Mountain Music Festival. She is the former Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Dorian Opera Theatre and is currently Professor of Music at Luther College as vocal coach, collaborative pianist, and teacher of accompanying. On-going research projects include the study of art song of Lithuania and the vocal works of women composers, specifically twentieth century American composers.

At 7PM, also at the Cinema Dr. Michael and Bonnie Jorgensen are presenting a program that will be of interest to all.

In 2013 Bonnie and Michael Jorgensen visited Spring Grove and presented the life and music of first-generation Norwegian-American composer Theodora Cormontan (1840-1922).  Now they are returning for an expanded presentation on Thursday, April 24 at 7 pm at the Spring Grove Cinema.

In 2011 the Jorgensens rediscovered over 150 original handwritten manuscripts by Theodora Cormontan, one of the first Norwegian women to have her classical compositions published and widely performed, and the first woman to own and operate her own music publishing business in Norway. On April 24 the Jorgensens will recap Theodora’s story and share some of the music they performed before as well as some they did not.

This time, reflecting new research since last year, Bonnie and Michael will offer a special focus on Theodora the music teacher.  Cormontan offered lessons in piano, voice, and organ from the 1890’s to the 1910’s in several towns in south central and southwestern Minnesota.  Contemporary newspapers described her as “an excellent teacher in vocal as well as instrumental music” and “a music teacher of superior merit.” Bonnie and Michael will provide some insights into what it was like to teach music in this era and will consider a few of Theodora’s students.  The couple will also look at the work of Theodora’s niece Alpha Hirsch Lienhard, a contemporary of Cormontan’s who taught piano in New Ulm in the 1890’s. Numerous pictures will accompany the lecture and music, providing a unique look at the music teaching profession in Minnesota over 100 years ago.

Dr. Michael Jorgensen’s recent performances include presentations with Bonnie Jorgensen on the life and music of Norwegian-American composer Theodora Cormontan (1840-1922) at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota; and at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
Additional recent activity includes him as the bass soloist in Rossini’s “Petite messe solennelle” for the Tucson, Arizona Desert Song Festival

Bonnie is a collaborative pianist in St Peter. You can see her on You Tube in a video called
The Evening Sentiments.

Although there is no admission fee, a free will donation will be accepted.

There is a reception following the performance at the Heritage Center for all attendees.




Gala–Benefit Dinner and Auction


Gourmet dinner in beautiful Honored Immigrant Hall
Gourmet dinner in beautiful Honored Immigrant Hall

6PM Social

Hors d’ouvres and cocktails

7PM Dinner

Gourmet Fare

8PM Auction of Art, Heritage Items, and more.

($85 includes a $45 tax-deductible donation)

Hurry, seating is limited for this special event.

507-498-5281. Please consider being a sponsor for this event.


To register, please click on May 17 Benefit page.


End of Year Deductible Donation Opportunity

Dear Friends of Giants of the Earth Heritage Center,

One of the best things about being part of our heritage center is that our research continually reminds us that we are part of a great extended family. Every day, we encounter a continuation of our ancestors’ good will in our members. This Christmas, as you looked into a child’s eyes as they were sparkling in front of the Christmas Tree, you didn’t just see their eyes, did you? You also saw your eyes. You beheld a chain of life bigger than yourself, but which you are and always will be a part of. While most older people can identify with feeling this connection, younger people can too, when they see the twinkle in their grandparents’ eyes as they tell stories of, for example, their childhood on the farm on Christmas eve.

We believe that this feeling is the foundation for the kind of stewardship that leaves a true heritage for future generations. Our “Circle of Life” mural at Giants of the Earth Heritage Center, painted by our dear friend, Sigmund Aarseth, who passed away on December 12, poignantly depicts the stages of sustainable life and the importance of family and community in each of them. Nurturing this multigenerational consciousness is a major part of our mission and we encourage you all to visit our website and learn how you can take advantage of our family history videos, our genealogical and genetic ancestry services, and our intergenerational classes and events.

From the immense popularity of our website, GiantsHeritageCenter Youtube Channel, Facebook pages, and services, it is obvious that many people feel our mission is important. Altogether, we have had more than a million online views this year, not even counting visits to our immense family trees. Our national and international popularity reminds us how special Norwegian Ridge really is. We are “a city on a hill.” Each of our area seniors who we interview are little lights unto the world, the best ambassadors for our country that could exist. Our videography team is working hard using the latest technology to make sure that the inspiring stories of our seniors’ won’t be covered up, but that they will continue to be a light to younger generations.

Our many activities would not be possible without your continued support. We want to thank those of you who have already made your generous end of the year contribution to our center (helping us to meet several crucial goals). Further, we want to remind you all that there is still an opportunity to make a tax deductible contribution for this year to our 501c3 organization. To learn more, just visit www.sgheritage.org and make a donation on the left sidebar.

Or to renew, upgrade your membership, or donate, with different payment options (including check), just click here: Become a Member or Renew Membership – Giants of the Earth Heritage Center

Tusen Takk og Godt Nytt År,

Your friends at

Giants of the Earth Heritage Center

“Cherishing memories, Championing dreams”


Seniors and Computers

Although there are a number of technologically savvy elders in our world, most of us can think of a parent or grandparent that is similar to the man in this video. I even have to consult my three year old to figure out how to use my wife’s complicated phone. It is tempting for us to say, “We didn’t need that technology when we were younger, so why do we need it now?” When we ask ourselves this question, we have to remember that this technology helps a knowledge worker to accomplish thousands of times the productivity of a person using the old technology. While it might have been possible to be effective using 1980s’ technology twenty years ago, if we use 1980s’ technology today we would be dead in the water. We need to embrace the new technologies if we are to efficiently preserve our heritage, because only digitally do we have the ability to preserve so many letters, diaries, photos, and videos-and to market our services so that they can be accessed by people who are interested in them.

Here is another funny one. While experience is often helpful, sometimes prior experience can be a hindrance.

Since many seniors are interested in Genealogy and Genetic Ancestry, but don’t know where to begin, we offer online Genealogy Assistance to (English speaking) people anywhere in the world to help them get past any hurdles they might have. Sign up by clicking Genealogy Assistance in the link at the top of the page or by clicking the link below.

Genealogy Assistance


Spencer Wells on How DNA Reveals our History

Spencer Wells used just mtDNA and yDNA to trace the movements of peoples through time.
If you take all the DNA in one cell of your body it would stretch out to be over 2 meters long. This DNA in one cell contains over 6 billion nucleotides and the pattern of genetic variation allows us to construct a family tree for everyone who is alive today.


Partially Hydrogenated Poisons in Your Cookies

What if you found out that every week your local grocery and convenience stores sold poison mixed in with your food that has been repeatedly proven to shrink your brain, increase heart disease, increase autoimmune disorders and diabetes, disrupt cellular balance, double cancer rates, and significantly decrease your IQ and brain size? That is what Partially Hydrogenated Oils and Fats, known as trans fats do–and guess what, they are sold in Spring Grove, MN–sold to us and to our children.
Now 99% of our population has never taken Biochemistry, so they really aren’t going to understand at the molecular level why these chemicals are horrible to ingest. Our stores are selling these because people buy them who don’t understand that trans fats aren’t a natural food, like other oils and fats, but are a synthesized chemical created by chemists. Trans fats do not exist in nature, and have only been fabricated in the last century. Since then, they have a proven track record as killers, but again, most people remain ignorant of this, and millions of people in the US live less healthy lives and thousands will die prematurely because of them.

What can you do? Write your congressman and ask him or her to ban trans fats as food additives in your state.


Be Your Family’s Hero

Lack of TVNZ News Oct 31, 2012.
With Hurricane Sandy beating down on millions; millions without power; and a rising death count-a lot of people are glad they thought this through in advance. Those who didn’t are wondering “What was I thinking?–that I could go indefinitely without a natural disaster happening to me?