Cindi Lagoudakis pictured with stacks of community artwork before it was arranged for public view. (Photo: Shelby Herbert/KFSK)

Wind chimes made out of sea glass, a chess set made out of table legs, and tiny knitted birds in Viking hats — these are just some of the art pieces now displayed at Petersburg’s Clausen Memorial Museum for the Little Norway Festival Art Show, which showcases artwork from community members. 

The back room of the Clausen Memorial Museum was packed with paintings and lovingly-crafted objects to be shown to the hundreds of Little Norway festival-goers set to pack the streets of Petersburg. Cindi Lagoudakis, the museum’s director, painstakingly logged all of the pieces local artists handed over.

Lagoudakis enjoyed sorting through the many painting and photography submissions. However, she said, it’s also fun to see the three dimensional art that people around town came up with. 

“Jean Curry brought in some items I haven’t even completely gotten to look at yet,” said Lagoudakis. “She makes wind chimes — this one is made out of a fishing float. And then she’s put a little shell nautilus design on that, and it’s really pretty.”

Some of the submissions are a nod to the generations of Norwegian fishing families who emigrated to Petersburg around the turn of the century. 

“Robin Roberts came in with this — it’s a little knitted bird,” said Lagoudakis. “It’s kind of Norwegian in theme, so he’s got a viking hat on. And it’s [made in] a Scandinavian sweater pattern. He’s really cute.”

The art show’s participants are as diverse as the mediums they work in. Lagoudakis points out a detailed landscape painting of a waterfall. 

“This one was made, apparently, by a young person,” said Lagoudakis. “A nine year old — Lily Ellis. I’m impressed by that. When you stand away and look at it, it looks like the water is moving in the piece. It’s twilight, or maybe there’s a little northern lights effect there with the pink on the horizon. It’s very pretty.

One of the standouts is made from someone who has never shown her art at all. Hoopie Davidson is a retired school bus driver. She brought a series of embroidery samplers, which depict Alaskan wildlife: a Canada goose and puffin. Her technique is called Russian embroidery.

Davidson says she’s fortunate to have picked it up from a group of women she calls, “the real deal” — a small Ukrainian sewing circle she joined when she lived in Kasilof on the Kenai Peninsula.

“A friend of mine and I went to take their classes, and they refused to speak English,” said Davidson. “But they did know — ‘Oh, that’s not right.’ They’d pull out my thread and say, ‘Oh, you redo it.’”

Hoopie Davidson visited KFSK’s newsroom to demonstrate her Russian embroidery skills. (Photo: Shelby Herbert/KFSK)

Eventually, her persistence paid off — just like it did when she started working on her chess set, which she’s had in the works for nearly 40 years. As a child, Davidson says she pined for a big chess set. In high school, she took a class to learn how to actually play the game.

In adulthood, Davidson wanted to work as a flight attendant for Lufthansa, a German airline — so she moved to Germany for language classes. There, she drew inspiration from the design of Teutonic castles, as well as a more contemporary German tradition of repurposing table legs for woodworking crafts. All of her chess pieces are made from the hand-carved and painted legs of tables — and a piano.

“Through those years, I’ve had deaths in the family,” said Davidson. “I’ve raised kids. I also started driving a school bus at that time. I didn’t feel like working on my chess set when I got home. And I still had hope that I was going to get this done.”

The exhibit will mark the very first time Davidson has ever shown off her artwork. She says that she’s one of many artists in Petersburg who are reluctant to put their pieces out there, and that the event is a place where the community can come together and take that creative leap. 

The Little Norway Festival Art Show will be on display at the Clausen Memorial Museum until May 20th.