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Studio Selfie: Barbara Fedeler

Posted on 07/16/2014 at 1:18 PM


We asked artist Barbara Fedeler, who is featured in our current Landscape Show to share a shot of herself in her workspace as well as little about the space itself.

"I'm a morning person and enjoy daylight for work and natural effects. I like best when the work takes on a vitality and energy that derives from seeing and responding. A filtered dance, allusive and illusive."

Hear more from Barbara on July 26th at our Gallery Talk which will also feature Gary Bowling and Larry Welo.

Call us at 515.277.6734 or email for more details.

It’s not too late!

Posted on 06/11/2014 at 2:39 PM

Don’t miss the chance to show your dear old dad how special he is.

Here are our dad-inspired choices for fantastic Father’s Day gifts.


Tilly Woodward, Two Fish, Oil on archival mat board, 8 x 8 inches

Larry Welo, Life Drawing, Color etching with chine collie, 6 x 8 inches

Bobbie McKibbin, Iowa Road North, Pastel, 24 x 24 inches

Brian Roberts, Untitled 59, Stoneware, cone 6 oxidation, 8 x 7 x 3 inches

William BarnesCatalina Series: Pillow, Casein on panel, 9 x 9 inches

Byron Burford, 60 Bears, Lithograph, 26 x 21 inches

These Guys.

Posted on 05/27/2014 at 4:45 PM

    Here at Olson-Larsen we are consistently cognizant of how wonderful our artists are and recently, they've given us a lot to brag about...

Amy Worthen's gallery talk on May 17 was fabulous.
Using her copper plates as visual aids, Amy explained her processes and defined technical terms, as well as giving a historical narrative of her career as an artist and her relationship with the gallery.
Amy graciously answered questions from the audience, who I think wanted to keep her here all afternoon. It was truly fascinating and we thank everyone who attended. 
Olson-Larsen recently featured an exhibit of Michael Brangoccio's new body of work. The pieces were all, as usual, stunning. It just so happened that this guy was installed on the wall opposite my desk.
Needless to say, I developed a slight infatuation with him...."What is he THINKING?! What's the deal with the bubble? Is that even a bubble?", I'll spare you the whole thing, but you get the idea. 
The May/June issue of dsm Magazine features a great story about Michael and his work.  You can read it online here
And just how gorgeous are these images of Kim Hutchison and her home studio space?
 Gestalt Creatives is an online project by Karla Conrad focused on highlighting creatives in their spaces.
Take a look!


Posted on 05/07/2014 at 11:22 AM

 This apartment featured in the March issue of Vogue magazine perfectly exhibits how powerful artwork is in determining the mood of a space.

The pieces are not only working as a focal point, they are the element of cool...the edge if you will.  Were the artwork to be brightly colored or a landscape for example, this space would read very differently.

We'd copy this look with artwork by Tim Frerichs. Add black floater frames like the ones they've used and perfect, instant cool factor. 


Tim FrerichsPotomac River 16 (print), Chin colle of handmade paper w/encaustic, acrylic, 12 x 9" and Potomac River 2 (print 1), Chin colle of handmade & found papers w/etching, 18 x 12"


This is Thirty. Five.

Posted on 04/30/2014 at 2:32 PM
A few weeks back we hosted the opening reception for our our Thirty-Fifth Anniversary exhibit, which also happened to be Spring Gallery Night. We'd hoped for a nice evening. What we got was perfect.  There were old friends and new faces, the weather was fabulous, the scene in Valley Junction was lively. It was a stellar way to kick-off our anniversary and to welcome Spring. Thanks to all who attended!
The exhibit features at least one piece from each artist represented by the gallery.  Every piece is a stand-alone knockout, but together, they are cohesive unit. There are works of energy, serenity, hyper-realism, surrealism, dark skies, sunny skies, town, country...let's face it, this could go on and on. It's a rare opportunity to see something by each of our artists, one you shouldn't miss.
We are proud to work with such talented and special people.
Like that friend who turns their birthday into a week-long thing, we're not satisfied with just one celebration, things are just getting started! Our next event is a gallery talk on May 17th at 1:00 pm.  Presented by Amy N. Worthen, internationally-known printmaker and Curator of Prints at the Des Moines Art Center.  
Amy will share her perspective as an artist based in Des Moines, her experiences with Olson-Larsen and on the changes to our central Iowa art scene.  We hope you will join us. 
Other Thirty-Fifth Anniversary event particulars to be announced soon. Stay tuned!

No tricks here!

Posted on 04/01/2014 at 1:01 PM

But it looks like this guy might be falling for something....

Randy Richmond, A Probable Descent, Selenium toned Van Dyke print, 5 x 7 inches

Guest Post: Helen Burford

Posted on 02/26/2014 at 12:37 PM

We are thrilled to present our very first guest post on the Olson-Larsen blog. Helen Burford, daughter-in-law of the late Byron Burford was kind enough to share her perspective and memories with us and all of you.

Burford's work is on view as part of our current exhibit, Prints, Drawings and Paintings, on view until April 5. 

Whenever I go through the body of Byron’s work, I want to find a way to explain how his images were from his memories of life in Mississippi, his love of music, his fascination with entertainment and melancholy or disappointment with humanity rather than focusing only on the circus imagery. Byron was also a great technician, understanding the mediums he worked in and he liked to experiment with the mediums leading to the prints, xerographs and even restoration work.

When I met Byron in the late 60’s there were domestic tensions, protests, riots and the ominous Vietnam War. It seemed only natural to me that he was questioning sending his son into war. Decades later I learned he had a close friendship with Kurt Vonnegut during this period and that they shared a deep cynicism for war and the destruction of humanity.  But it also took me a long time to put two and two together and realize that the year (1960) he spent in England painting also immersed him in  “war weary” Europe.

Byron Burford in his studio

The Burford household was always full of books as both Byron and Kay were voracious readers. They amassed collections of books and periodicals on their favorite subjects such as magic, the circus and sideshows, Antarctic and polar exploration, jazz musicians, poetry, photography and history. Byron was particularly interested in the history of World War I and amassed a collection of books, photojournalist accounts and anthologies on the subject. Included in his collection was a book of poetry “Lost Voices of World War I” that was compiled by Tim Cross for the University of Iowa Press. The book is heavily marked-indicating that particular poems and poets were of interest to Byron. For example, “After Court Martial” by Francis Ledwidge appears to have triggered the image “Court Martial of a Female Spy” that has a young girl being tossed into the air. 

Byron Burford, Courtmarshall of a Female Spy, Lithograph, 17 x 13 inches

Other images such as the Soldiers Head, Irene’s Mission, Sergeant Carter, Figures with Zeppelin Wreckage, Posters of Past Events and the xerographs draw heavily from this knowledge.  But it is Byron himself that explains it best, “ My work tends to be figurative in nature as I am interested in the human experience, history and behavior as I am in the in the purely formal aspects of art.  For me, the figure becomes not an object but an image, a metaphor for human experience.  I have found that the polarity between constructive use of the human imagination and the destructive use which one observes in humanity can be made visual, in my case, through the use of images derived from themes of exploration and warfare-other images would have sufficed perhaps as metaphors.  However, I had a lifelong emotional reaction to these themes and this takes them out of the realm of abstract ideas into the realm of compulsive ideas.  I find that ideas must have this compulsive quality for me to overcome the inertia I feel when faced with an blank canvas or paper.” (Iowan Magazine, Winter 1969)

Byron Burford, Solider with Gas Mask, Lithograph, 8 x 14 inches

But most of Byron’s life was immersed with people and ideas.  He was a showman in his own right, having toured with a dance band, performing his own spook show and even managing his own Byron Burford Circus of Artistic Wonders.  And, his paintings and prints reflect this life.  As Byron commented, “ To be honest, I feel like I have to paint a certain biography of things that happened to me.  I don’t care if everyone else in the world is painting a different way. This is the way I work. …I just don’t think anybody ever had all the kinds of experiences I had.  It’d be impossible for me to leave all that out at this point. I gotta get all that in, even if it’s awkward, messy and sometimes out of date, I guess.” (Gazette, Friday, March 2, 1990)

As Byron often related, his first job was fetching Coca Colas and candy bars for “Baby Ruth” while she was in competition to be the first woman to gain over 800 pounds.  The sideshow also introduced Byron to “Mildred”, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, According to Byron , she was a  German woman who had emigrated to the US. He was fascinated by her tattoos from head to  toe  and remembered watching her walking in her mules wrapped in a robe in her wagon on the back lot.  For a teenager, this was a mysterious and dangerous experience. His memories of this moment brought life to “Mildred” who he immortalized in his prints and paintings.   

Byron Burford, Mildred Dressed for the Princess of Thebes, Mixed Media, 44 x 36 inches

Working with the sideshow was a humanizing experience for Byron, however, it was the circus that held his fascination for the remainder of his life. “ The part of the Circus that the public thinks of, the stereotypes of clowns, wire-walkers, etc. doesn’t interest me as much as the overall experience-the teardown the night before; the jump to the next town; setting up, often under the most adverse conditions; the performances; and then the teardown again. I like to observe the transformation of an ordinary housewife to a “Princess who stands on one finger.” I like the shared illusion of Art which keeps people working in what is one of the most grueling professions in the world.”  (Iowan Magazine, Winter 1969) The circus was part of his life. Each summer he traveled to join a small mud show. He painted banners, played the drums in the “orchestra” and helped set up and tear down the tent. Over the years, he grew to know many of the performers, animal acts and different circuses. He kept track of them all. When he was not on the road with them, he followed the circus routes and schedules, read every publication and even corresponded with many.

Byron Burford, In Grand Combination, Screenprint, 29 x 21

As a painter, Byron was well-known for his knowledge of pigments, paints and the chemistry of painting. He had restored a number of works, most famously, the Jackson Pollack gifted to the University of Iowa by Peggy Guggenheim. Therefore, it was not unusual for Byron, as a printer, to experiment with inks, papers, metals, and work both in with silk screens and lithography. From his studio in Iowa, Byron ran “Butterfly Press”. Using the process camera he repurposed from the local newspaper, Byron produced his own images and silk screens. In the summer of 1978, Byron was invited as a Master Artists for Tamarind Institute, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here he worked with three surfaces for his lithographs: zinc, aluminum and Barvarian limestone. Byron completed nine designs during the semester. In later years, Byron experimented with digital printing, producing several large giclees.

A particular song comes to mind when I think of Byron, “Lush Life.”  I think he shared his lush life with us all.  He brought to life people who lived in the shadows of society and made them stars.  He entwined us in the mystery of magic and illusions. He reminded us of how lonely it is to face adversity. He invested years in guiding students on to successful careers of their own.

Who would have thought a young boy from Mississippi would come to Iowa to study with Grant Wood and have a wonderful career of his own?

Helen Burford

To see all of the Burford works in the current exhibit, visit our website


Posted on 01/29/2014 at 12:15 PM

Maybe Valentine's Day is slightly hokey, but that's no excuse for your gift to be.

Keeping traditions in mind, we've rounded up some gift ideas that will certainly be right on target for your Valentine.  



Pat Edwards, Heidi's Flowers 4,  Oil on canvas, 10 x 20 inches       

                                               Jeanine Coupe Ryding, Two Red Flowers, Woodcut print on Japanese paper, 28 x 70 inches




                  Brian Roberts, Pendant 2 & Brooch 4, Mixed media,  3 x 3 x 1/4 inches,  




 Left: Byron Burford, Mildred with Patriotic Tattooing, Screen monoprint,  31 x 26 inches. RightMary-Merkel Hess, Rinard, Reed, paper, acrylic paint, 30 x 19 x 11inches 



Randy Richmond, Unfinished Prairie Sonata, Selenium toned Van Dyke print, 5 x 7 inches

Wendy Rolfe, Birdy Night Out, Oil on panel, 17 x 17 inches 



Amy Worthen, Iowa Alphabet X & O, Handcolored engraving, 6 x 4 inches

The Elephant (or Wild Boar) in the Room

Posted on 01/21/2014 at 12:37 PM


Image from the Simplified Bee

Just for fun, we searched "animal artwork" on the internet, not surprisingly, the results were...well, they were varied in quality and subject. 

Precisely why the artwork of Michael Brangoccio thrills us so. The animal subjects in his work have so much personality and presence. The viewer just can't help but wonder what they're thinking, what they will do next. 

Michael Brangoccio, Dreamers, Acrylic on Canvas, 31 x 93 inches
This wild boar hanging opposite my desk has been looking at me sideways for over a month, he's also made his way into my heart.
I haven't gone so far as to give him a name - but if he came home with you, maybe you could!  Wouldn't he (she?!) look spectacular in a hallway, or on a mantel? 
Michael Brangoccio, Sotto Voce, Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 93 inches
We love these amazing interiors, the design and the artwork are fresh and surprising.
The scale, composition, and of course, the subject of the works, challenge, in a GOOD way, these spaces. 
And that's the whole point, right?
Image from


Prints, Drawings and Paintings

Posted on 01/15/2014 at 11:53 AM

We mentioned this on Facebook last week, but we can't tell you all how excited we are about our upcoming show!  The exhibit features prints, drawings and paintings of three deceased artists who are among Iowa's most well known (and loved).  Each one of them an amazing mentor and friend, we feel lucky to hear the stories and memories shared by many of our patrons and artists. If you have a story to share, please do so in the comments!

Prints, Drawing and Paintings opens on February 7 with an opening reception from 5-7 pm.  To read more about each artist, please view their pages on our website, Byron Burford, Jules Kirschenbaum and Cornelis Ruhtenberg.


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