BLOG - Olson Larsen Gallery - contemporary art gallery West Des Moines, Iowa
See Art, Know Art, Buy Art


ONE PIECE: Anna Lambrini Moisiadis

Posted on 09/08/2016 at 12:42 PM

Our current exhibit is gorge, if you haven't seen it, get here soon. Anna Lambrini Moisiadis' work continues to surprise and amaze us. Here, she shares with us, and YOU a little about one the pieces from her newest body of work. The exhibit is on view until October 1. 

Beauty is essential in my art; beauty of imperfections, impermanence and incompleteness. My exploration tries to capture a balance of strength and fragility. It is in that struggle that I find beauty in imperfection.

Fall in 8, Found paper, copper leaf, ink, tape, 8 x 7 inches

The work is a record of my thoughts and experiences; a constant struggle of feeling courageous and insecure. This comes through, in part, with the materials I use. Metal and paper. Both have a warmth I am looking for. However, while metal conjures thoughts of solidity and strength, it can also be pliable and fragile. Similarly, paper can appear to be delicate and flimsy, but it is much stronger and holds a memory.

Anna's work installed in the gallery

My art making process has always been rooted limitations. I place certain controls on the work, for example, in 'Fall In 8' I used the text and markings as my limitations; connecting lines with the punched holes, filling in interesting markings, and blocking out extraneous text. Circles continuously appear in my work. They represent the desire for perfection, but are, in fact, the reality...the imperfections, the mistakes, the beauty in our life. As in 'Fall In 8' the large circle is imperfect. The edges are wavy and bleed into different areas.

ONE PIECE: Barbara Fedeler

Posted on 07/20/2016 at 2:17 PM

We are excited to share this issue of our ONE PIECE series with you.

Barbara Fedeler's work is on exhibit right now through the end of the month as part of our ANNUAL LANDSCAPE SHOW. Enjoy!

The hills and valleys of northeastern Iowa have been familiar since my childhood. Physical work and time outdoors defined agrarian culture and my understanding of plants and space. The landscape drawings integrate perceptions of beauty, physical movement of the hand, eye, and body, a tactile sensitivity to plants and nature, and idiosyncratic vision of pattern reduction.

South of Wadena

The landscape drawings begin with seeing - seeing light, dark, and middle tones, seeing the patterns of foliage, seeing the remnant dust or fog settling into the expanses of hills and valleys. The agricultural land, controlled in cultivation, planting, and harvesting contrasts the gestural, lesser touched land.

I document with photographs, planning a sequence of shots for the early morning or late-in-the-day when the directed light creates strong shadows and illuminates the volumes. The color photographs are stitched together to create black and white panoramic vistas. The specific places referenced are noted in the titles.

10/15, work in progress

11/15, work in progress

The drawing surface is Coventry Rag. Coates willow charcoal, a kneadable rubber eraser, and a blending stump are used for various textures, values, and surface alterations to create illusions of form in space. The additive charcoal and subtractive erasure techniques serve to sculpt the spaces and evoke the season.

The process, revealed in the October 2015 - January 2016 documentation of the drawing South of Wadena, unfolds in 20-30 hours spent in the studio. Gestural, light strokes note landmarks and spatial divisions, and varied tonal values define volumes and atmosphere. Working from upper left to lower right, I am able to control both the potential smear of the charcoal and the unfolding landscape presence.

ONE PIECE: Susan Chrysler White

Posted on 05/17/2016 at 2:18 PM

Welcome to another ONE PIECE post. This week Susan Chrysler White is up. Plus, she'll be here at  the gallery, THIS SATURDAY, May, 21 for a talk.

You should come! 

This piece, as all of my paintings, comes out of searching for something-and never knowing quite what it is. I had several serapes in my studio that I purchased in Mexico where I visit my mother. I love their gradated color stripes and the fact that they are quintessentially Mexican. Because of my close connection to Mexico, it has been hard watching the incredible violence in the country.  


Vera Cuz, Acrylic on Canvas, 65 x 83 inches

The use of the serape pattern, gold paint, baroque floral patterns all feel connected to different aspects of Mexican culture. I’m trying to navigate both celebrating the images and using them as codes. The serape patterns are fractured, almost flag like and I use the pouring paint over the right side both as a way of connecting the images and also veiling them. The drips are both a pattern of “lace” but also something spilled and messy. When you get a bit of distance on the piece you notice a deeper complicated space existing under the gold stripes which tend to hold you on the surface. I am trying to find visual metaphors for what I perceive as very complex ideas.

Susan Chrysler White


Posted on 05/12/2016 at 4:30 PM

We asked Priscilla Steele to give us some background on one piece hanging in her current exhibit at Olson-Larsen. Her response was as rich and lively as her works!  Which, by the way, are on view until MAY 28.

I was excited to deliver the series of monumental drawings of amaryllis to Olson Larsen for this show. This is a flower that activates the space it occupies with such drama! Both its depth and breadth  provide an incomparable subject in texture, light, and organic grace. In this latest suite, I have pushed the scale of the drawings by adding a foot to the width. While underscoring an ambitious embrace of scale, the additional width allows for a drawing that explores more than a single blossom in more challenging compositions.

SPRING AMARYLLIS III, Pigmented charcoal, 48 x 60 inches

A surprise in the creation of this suite arose in the discovery of a new material, "pigmented" charcoal. Like most printmakers, I find great expressive power in the rich tonality of blacks that can be achieved with charcoal. And, I have used charcoal in tandem with earth toned pastels, enjoying the counterpoint of nuanced color with black. The pigmented charcoal, however, proved so compelling a drawing tool -yielding the lightest, softest areas of textures that mimicked the the floral delicacy of my subject, while simultaneously allowing me to incorporate deep saturated areas of color. I felt no need to use black for its graphic impact. Instead, the ochre of this suite of drawings remains distinctly floral. To emphasize this point, I felt it important to provide the working studies that I created directly from observation. The viewer can contrast the use of black in these early efforts with the final drawings. While evoking the moodiness that dramatic lighting can have, I found that the monochromatic interpretations of the final drawings reinforced their beauty with a potent reserve.


ONE PIECE: Michael Brangoccio

Posted on 03/30/2016 at 1:55 PM

We asked Michael Brangoccio to share with us about a piece of his artwork in our current exhibit. This was his response. Personally, I love this piece even more than I did prior to reading this. Two more days before his work comes down. Get here and see this work in person. Soon.

Passion, desire, faith and belief are the most recurring themes in my artwork. In the painting “Waiting”, the stage is set for the drama between the red bird (desire) and the storming sea (passion). 

Waiting, Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 93 inches

Most of us live our lives in the hopes that someday we will have the ability to achieve our dreams repeating to ourselves “if only”. The waves endlessly break on the sea wall like a recurring dream in a surreal landscape while the bird, haven been given the gift of flight, only sits and watches.

THE PROCESS: Mary Koenen Clausen

Posted on 03/25/2016 at 2:08 PM

Mary Koenen Clausen's captivating mixed media collages are on display at the gallery now through April 2nd. Below is her description of where her process began and what informs her artwork. 

LA VE VE, Mixed media, 30 x 23 inches

"Since childhood, I have had a lensing system that has permitted my access to a certain kind of knowledge.

At about five years of age I became a voluntary mute. This was in large part because when i started school I like all the others were expected to gain all kinds of skills that had to do with socialization, and memorization. I felt increasingly conflicted with what was coming at me from the outside world in sharp contrast to all the feelings and perceptions I was gaining from listening to my own inside world- thus the lensing system was born. I simply shut out what I felt took away from my ability to gain “internal knowledge”.

What became my filtering process has stayed with me through all of my experiences in life. It is the source of my art and my life. Art became a very significant idea and activity for me from about age three and continues into the present. I have allowed my perceptions to become refined, and with this and my internal creative drive I have developed a natural process of what determines my images, use of technique, choice of colors, and overall designs in my work. This process is what I choose to call knowledge gaining.

VOICES OF THE DAWN, Mixed media, 40 x 26 inches

The visual impact of my work can be experienced on many levels, depending on one’s individual readiness for receiving progressive levels of deeper and deeper internal feeling. The aesthetic ideal of my work is to nurture and ready the soul to wake up to a much larger reality. The functional ideal of my work is to house in a two dimensional format the designs necessary for one to access a new perspective from which to view larger and larger bodies of ideas and consciousness itself. It is my greatest pleasure to be able to help bring in new languages of “being” from worlds that we can only guess at today, but which will hopefully help expand our worlds of tomorrow."

ONE PIECE: Sarah Grant

Posted on 01/21/2016 at 12:29 PM

We asked Sarah Grant to tell us more about one piece from the current exhibit. Read below for her response. 

Weirdly I like "Trapped".  So different for me to paint so organized... I was trained first as a drawer then a printmaker then a painter...for all the years I have painted I have let my affinity with PAPER be the surface I paint on....

Trapped, Oil on canvas, 14 x 14 inches

I have been afraid to try canvas as the bouncy surface and texture of the canvas are so foreign to me.....but I took the plunge after a move to a new studio and amazing things happened......the  process of how and when to layer changed.....the intensity of color changed....the timing of brush stroke and line changed....and the absolute square edge of the canvas instead of the organic nature of papers edge changed the composition of many of the works in this canvas series...all in all it was a blast to change it up...

Trapped, along with other pieces of Sarah's latest work on exhibit at Olson-Larsen. From where we sit, Sarah's foray into painting on canvas is a wonderful success.

You have a a little bit of time to see them on view here until the show closes on 1/23!




ONE PIECE: Tilly Woodward

Posted on 12/30/2015 at 12:35 PM

We asked Tilly Woodward to chose one piece from her current exhibit at Olson-Larsen and share a little more about it. Here's what she had to say about this wonderful piece titled Mango...

Mango, Oil on archival mat board, 11 x 8.5 inches

I love everything about painting.  The way paint smells, the way it moves, captures light, describes a form or surface, the contextual relationship of color.  I love the way painting slows me down and helps me take time to look closely at the nature and mystery of physical objects. It’s a meditative process that I feel lucky to engage in, and helps to remind me to appreciate the beauty of the world.

There is always a story behind my paintings.  For me the objects I paint are not just the objects themselves, but are often embedded with a sense of associated memory and meaning that provides me with a particular point of connection with a specific person. The connection helps me focus and commit to close observation and interpretation through the process of painting. It’s a motivation thing.

Mango, alongside Peach installed at the gallery.

This mango was a beautiful object: it’s size, shape and colors, promised taste, all called to me.  I loved the weight of it in my hand, that it was a fruit with a large seed, and the idea of fecundity, especially as my daughter delighted in her first pregnancy and I recalled my delight at being pregnant with her years ago. It’s form spoke of the changing shape of Adrian’s body, the growth of baby Ira inside her. A reminder that once Adrian was the size of a mango herself, living inside me.

These are the sorts of things the viewer isn’t privy to just by looking at the painting, but hopefully the evidence of love and engagement comes forward through the process of thinking, seeing, feeling, painting. From my hands and into the eyes and hearts of viewers.

Tilly's work is on view through the end of January. 

ONE PIECE: Two Pieces

Posted on 11/05/2015 at 4:04 PM

Although this series is titled ONE PIECE, we made an exception in the case of John Beckelman who wanted to share more about two pieces from the current exhibit. 

These two pieces are part of an on-going series of work that intentionally reference until the solidity, stability and permanence of ‘mountains’. They are made of the stuff of mountains – clay, turned to stone by the forces of compression and heat. The scale of the pieces (larger than typical ceramic objects), their general shape (somewhat asymmetrical forms that are wider at the bottom than the top), their surface articulation and coloration - and the firing process itself - are all done in an attempt to create in the work the same sense of both time and timelessness, the quiet presence, that one associates with mountains.


Tall Tapered Vessel 1 and Tall Tapered Vessel 2 are part of NEW WORK, on display until November 28th. 

At the same time, we all know that ‘mountains’ are constantly changing (evolving, breaking down, reconstituting themselves), so also in this work, there is for me a curious intersection between the enduring, seemingly timeless character of fired ceramics and the fleeting, yet wonderful, impermanence of phenomena in the natural world.

ONE PIECE, Thomas Jewell-Vtiale

Posted on 10/27/2015 at 3:06 PM
The ONE PIECE series on the blog offers a closer look at one piece that is currently on exhibit at the gallery. Today's featured artist is Thomas Jewell-Vitale, whose work is on view until November as part of NEW WORK.
The title of this painting is "Koi and Enso" and is Japan themed. My wife Jane introduced me to Japan years ago, otherwise I would never have been able to think of this title or reference. We are fond of visiting Japanese gardens which often have Koi ponds. The  chaotic, squirming trails of the paint and abrupt punctuations of the brush work in and surrounding the blue center panel make me think of Koi fish gliding and splashing about.
KOI AND ENSO, Oil/wax/canvas, 48 x 36
 An "Enso" is a circle often made with a single, loose stroke of the brush in Japanese calligraphy and I realized that I had made a crude circle in the lower left, two-thirds, center panel of the painting. In Japanese calligraphy an "Enso" is said to symbolize the universe or some form of completeness. I found, or better yet, discovered both the Koi and Enso references in this work. I say, "found," because their discovery surprised me much in the same way that other types of associations or significances a viewer might find and attribute to a painting may have relevance only to the viewer but may not have had anythingto do with the artist or his/her intentions.
One writer I ran across said, "Its necessary to attend to what a painting knows apart from what the artist knows". I think that it is good advice. I've built my entire approach to painting around it and also my eagerness to paint in the anticipation of self-discovery. For me, discovering what a work has to say can only come by looking closely for the direction in which the work is leaning as it develops. Certainly I push and pull it to maneuver things but I try to avoid being shackled to any premature interpretation by forcing the shoe to fit. I never start with an idea and then try to execute it. For me painting is about discovery, the same type of discovery I eagerly anticipate when I visit an art museum. I would much prefer to be surprised by the unthought-of imagery a new painting has in store for me and simply let it use my personal history and baggage as its prompt. Eventually we agree when I'm satisfied I've maneuvered it to the point that  it has a life of its own. Only then I can I release the work on to its next incarnation in your mind's eye, to communicate whatever it might mean to you. In this way I believe a work can live on indefinitely.
© 2018 Olson-Larsen Galleries. All Rights Reserved.