Dorothy Berge was destined to be an artist, but unlike her siblings, who liked to draw, she envisioned works in three dimensions. Berge used that gift to create large abstract metal sculptures that found their way to museums across the country and even adorned shopping-center parking lots and heavily traveled street corners.
Berge, who died in her sleep at age 85 Tuesday in her Stillwater home, was a fearless artist who tried a little bit of everything, said her niece Jane Eastwood. But Berge will be remembered most for her sculptures created out of corrugated cardboard, metal and stainless steel, said Gudmund Vigtel, who was director of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in the early 1970s.
"She was a talented sculptor," Vigtel said. "She was a very good welder. She would create things that were elegant and tall. She was completely abstract, and she was the only one at that time."
Many of her works are still housed at the High Museum. Among other prized works are an abstract mythological classical sculpture that stands at the corner of Peachtree and 14th streets in Atlanta.
Berge's sculptures have graced halls at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Dulin Gallery in Knoxville, Tenn., and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She won a First Award for a bronze sculpture called "Budding Plant" at the MIA's 40th annual Local Artists Exhibition in 1955. One of her bronze and copper statues, "Moses," was on display in the late 1950s at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, where she also worked as a registrar and was curator of a show featuring Scandinavian furniture and design, Eastwood said.
She also was proud of "Unicycle," a sculpture that stood tall in the Southdale parking lot until the mid-1990s. It was taken down when the Edina mall's parking lot was reconfigured, said Eastwood.
More recently, Berge fulfilled a lifelong dream of running her own gallery. In the early 1990s, she moved to Stillwater and opened the Dorothy Berge Gallery, named by Stillwatertraveler.com as "a little gem in a cozy home-like setting." There she featured her own work along with paintings and works by artists from the St. Croix Valley, Eastwood said.
Born in Ottawa, Ill., Berge earned a bachelor's degree in 1945 from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., where she developed her interest in sculpture. She also attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art in suburban Detroit and earned a master's degree in visual arts from Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Berge was proud of her Norwegian heritage, Eastwood said. She liked to fish, golf and play bridge.
Berge is survived by nephews and nieces Phil Eastwood, Jane Eastwood, Sue Selbitschka, Tom Eastwood and Matt Eastwood. Services have been held.