Aluminum kitchenware exhibit

Aluminum kitchenware was all the rage 75 years ago in North Dakota and across the country.

“Classic Years of Aluminum Kitchen-ware: 1922-1952” from the collection of Duane Halvorson, of Minot, is on display in the Northwest Art Center’s Gordon B. Olson Library Gallery through Oct. 31. The exhibit is free to the public.

The display has well over 250 pieces made by major companies and represents kitchenware from Minot, Rugby and Bismarck areas. Norwegian and German-Russian fine needlework accents the exhibit.

Halvorson’s project began in December 2012 when his sister, Jan Halvorson Hoiland, suffered a stroke. She had always wanted to collect aluminum but it was still pricey in the 1970s and 1980s and again now and she was finishing her collection of original Fiesta Ware. He said she lived with Halvorson and his wife, Deb Kunkel, for several months during her recovery.

Halvorson said he reasoned that the work and organization required of collecting would aid her recovery and also to have fun. He said that started their collections of Bakelite, a thorough restoration of their family’s antique crochet and cross-stitch, and the extensive collection of aluminum ware. Hoiland now lives in Maple View in Minot.

The kitchenware was collected locally, including pieces that were in two boxes of items belong to Halvorson’s aunt Katy Voeller, of Rugby.

The 100 percent aluminum handmade dinnerware includes serving plates, platters, crumb trays – everything for the table.

“Everything is totally hand-forged and totally seamless,” Halvorson said, adding, “It’s light and strong. It keeps cold food cold and hot food hot.”

“It took hundreds of hours to clean it,” he said.

Halvorson is an English lecturer with Minot State University. He grew up and operated his family farm near Knox. He attended Minot State University and graduated from University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. He has taught for 41 years with the past 23 at MSU. Before that, he started his career with seven years in Point Barrow and then Nome, Alaska. For nearly seven years he lived in Nairobi, Kenya, where he taught at the International School of Kenya. He has backpacked through 76 countries using 17 different languages.

This is his seventh exhibition. He hosted his first four showings of photography and drawings in Nome, Nairobi and Minot. The last three have been of his ethnographic collections.

He is a master gardener, was once a concert-level pianist, and enjoys music, art and traveling with his wife. He is currently photographing and studying ancient Anasazi petroglyphs and pictographs in northern Arizona.

The kitchenware exhibit can be viewed during library hours Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 to 8:30 p.m.