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Studio Visit: Catherine Reinhart

Posted on 10/22/2019 at 2:47 PM

We are so thrilled to have Ames, Iowa artist, Catherine Reinhart as one of the eight incredible artists in our current exhibition, Women’s Work! We visited Catherine’s studio earlier this summer to see what she was up to and choose work for the show. Soon after our visit, Catherine was awarded an Iowa Arts Council Project Grant to help execute a series of Collective Mending Sessions that she has held in various communities in Iowa and neighboring states. After hearing the news, we jumped at the chance to host one of these community-building workshops in conjunction with Women’s Work. Join us at the gallery on Saturday, October 26th from 1-4pm and learn basic mending techniques to cultivate care for cloth and community through the meditative practice of slow stitching. Registration is free and all materials as well as light refreshments will be provided. All skill levels welcome! 

Collective Mending Session

OL: When we visited your studio space in Ames this summer, you were starting to prepare for a big transition in not only your studio environment, but also in the work/life balance that so many of us try to strike. Can you talk about that transition, how you’ve adjusted to it, and how you see your artwork evolving because of it.

CR: The Real Talk is that it has been tough. I moved from a gallery manager position which came with a big, light-filled studio (and an intern) to my dimly lit basement studio in my home. Most difficult was the loss of two wonderful college students who had nannied for us about three years and became like family. 

I am still adjusting, which means piles of texts and sketchbooks in odd places, fragmented making periods, and practicing the art of being flexible daily. Interestingly enough, I am beginning to see how my home[making] can be a seed bed for a new body of work about place, and the labor, both physical and emotional that goes into mapping the domestic space. A topography of dwelling, if you will. 

Catherine Reinhart artist studio visit

Catherine Reinhart artist studio visit

O-L: Tell us about a few women artists who have influenced your work. 

CR: Lenore Tawney, who currently has a retrospective at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (taking a pilgrimage there soon!) She was my fist engagement with installation art. 
Sheila Hicks
Ann Hamilton
– whom I got to work with in graduate school at The Spencer Museum of Art. Installation artist. 
Anne Wilson– I admire her comprehensive projects which include extensive research and supplemental materials. 
Anne Truitt– her book Daybook: the Journal of an Artist is enlightening and insightful.

Of late, many women poets/authors have been influencing me highly:
Mary Oliver– whose poems I read before every mending session. 
Debra Marquart– Ames very own! Whose book The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere was one of the first texts that made me want to make art inspired by them. 
Rebecca Solnit

Catherine Reinhart artist studio visit

O-L: What was the impetus behind your socially engaged Collective Mending Sessions? Mending is an activity that has traditionally been viewed as “women’s work”. Is that something you’re trying to address? 

CR: The impetus behind The Collective Mending Sessions to cultivate care for cloth and community. It begun with a quilt that was mine from my teenage years. I told my mom to discard it. Being wise, she did not. It came back to me two years ago and I knew it needed mending – physically and metaphorically. Quickly, I realized that I needed help and the Collective Mending Sessions was born. 

This topic or phrase “women’s work” is one that comes up a lot in the fiber and textile world. I don’t personally think of it in this gendered way, although I don’t deny its historical relevance. The Subversive Stich: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine by Rozsika Parkeris helping me learn more about this history. 

Moreover, I am trying to address the issue of ‘tending’ which is vital to the practice of mending and involves sustained care. The mending/tending done collaboratively to this quilt will make it an art object, this elevates the care and labor involved. Labor that “has rarely been honored and hardly recognized; it took and takes place in the realm of the female, the domestic, the rural, the private; it maintains and is marginalized with the body.” – Rebecca Solnit, Essay “The Making: Landscapes of Emergency. After Ann Hamilton” More on my Blog.

Catherine Reinhart artist studio visit

O-L: One of the most dominant visual components in your work is layering. I’m interested in how that relates to the idea of memory and story telling that I think is also inherent in your work. Are those things you think about while working or developing ideas?

CR: Wonderful question. Certainly, I am interested in the untold stories of the unknown makers who made the found textiles I use in my work. I am interested in second chances. This means listening to the stories people are not telling. 

My use of layers is highly influenced by my background in printmaking, where layers are king. The world of prints is where my compositional sense developed. 
Layers are also an example of history, time or duration. You can see time through layers of sediment in the earth or how high the dirty laundry is piled in your bedroom. This relates to a body of work dealing with Textiles + Topography, the genesis of which you can see in pieces on view in Women’s Work.

O-L: What’s next for you? Do you have any new projects on the horizon?

CR: The Collective Mending Sessions is trucking along. It has entered my mind that this project could continue indefinitely with more quilts that need mending. I would take donations!

As I always have about three things going at once, there is a body of work I am trying to synthesize enough to present in the next year or two. I am on the hunt for an artist residency to aid in that process and some funding to create a larger set of sculptural objects. Wish me luck or support my practice by purchasing work from Olson-Larsen Galleries!

Don't miss Catherine's Collective Mending Session at the gallery Saturday, October 26th from 1-4 pm. Register for FREE here. If you can't make it to the workshop, come by the gallery before November 30th to see all of the talented ladies in Women's Work!

Interview and photography by Alyss Vernon

Studio Insights: Andrew Kaufman

Posted on 09/17/2019 at 3:03 PM

Andrew Kaufman is one of the featured artists in our current exhibition, LINES & LAYERS, closing October 4, 2019. Kaufman is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Grinnell College and he considers himself a convergent artist, letting idea dictate medium, which has led to a multiplicity of mediums that include video, sound, sculpture, painting and digital print. The multi-media nature of his work is precisely why we chose to include him with Susan Chrysler White and Tim Frerichs. All three artists are not only professors, but also consistently incorporate a variety of techniques, processes, and media in each piece they create. 

Double Andrew, panoramic capture of Kaufman in his studio editing video and sampling sound 

O-L: To create your artwork, you make use of many traditional artistic tools but also incorporate newer technologies that some may say are unconventional in artistic practices. Can you talk about what interests you in mixing the old and new in unexpected ways and maybe where that interest stems from?

AK: Traditional, non-traditional, new-media, sound– It is all new to me because I am in the process of learning. Once I figure out how to use and control ‘new’ media, I love folding it into ongoing processes. For instance, the silver-point drawings currently at Olson-Larsen are created using a parallel process as the Funeral Flower drawings/paintings. I have been experimenting with silver point for four years, and just now put it together in a form that I value.

Detail shots of Abstract Geography (Iris) 1 & 2, Silverpoint on prepared rag paper, mounted to aluminum, unvarnished to encourage oxidation

O-L: The subject matter of your framed paintings and your video installations are the same, funeral flower arrangements. Do you often take one theme and expand on it and translate it through multiple media? Do you end up liking one result over another? 

AK: I love doing series of artworks. It produces a sustained investigation, and ample time for learning while not locking me into the burden of endless repetition.  And it feels very natural to take an idea and experimenting with process and material, and scrutinizing the resulting forms. I really like the forms for different reasons; in the case of the Funeral Flower series in video and paint, the paintings offer an immediacy, surface, and stasis unique from the videos.   

Untitled Funeral Flowers 3 & 2, Paint and ink on prepared paper

O-L: It has been interesting observing how gallery visitors engage with your video installations. Typically people will either walk right on by and just give it a passing glance, or they will immediately pick up the headphones and watch, captivated for several minutes. What is your hope in how people engage with your videos?

AK: I am a terrible museum goer, because I want to run through the galleries and see, rather than slowly experiencing each work and it is hard for me to not be resentful of time-based artworks that demand time to unfold. For this reason I am interested in non-narrative time based work in which I can drop in and out without running the risk of missing a critical narrative component of the work. The videos and sounds I create are non-narrative, endlessly looping glitch pieces, and might be hard for some people to experience- I personally love the quick fleeting distortions and non-rhythmic sounds. What do I hope? I don’t have expectations of time spent.

O-L: What’s next for you? Do you have any new projects in the works that you are excited about?

AK: I have upcoming shows at Central College in Pella, and over at Legion Arts in Cedar Rapids. I am geeking out on time lapse photography and video, and how this process compresses time and makes it visible. I plan on making more site-specific time lapses during my upcoming sabbatical.


Be sure to visit the gallery by October 4th to see Andrew, Susan, and Tim's artwork on the walls. Our next exhibition, WOMEN'S WORK will feature eight talented women artists and will open Friday, October 11 from 5-9pm on Valley Junction Gallery Night. Join us for a fun evening of art, food, and friends!


Studio Visit: Barbara Walton

Posted on 05/24/2019 at 2:28 PM

Barbara Walton’s studio is located in downtown Ames where she has been a professor in Integrated Studio Arts at Iowa State University for 23 years. After walking up a narrow flight of stairs, I saw Barbara’s open studio door at the end of the hallway. Although the day I visited was rainy and gray, the studio was still filled with light and felt like a space conducive to creating. After giving me a tour and showing me the remnants of the occasional two or three-person encaustic workshops she holds there, Barbara picked up where she had left off on a new painting and I began to photograph the studio while we talked more.

Barbara Walton studio view 1

O-L: What led you to primarily working with encaustic and why do you prefer it to other media?

BW: It was always the mystery medium in the museums or the occasional exhibition that one might encounter an encaustic painting. I decided to look into it and took a weeklong encaustic workshop in Santa Fe in 2001. The gauntlet was thrown down with its immediacy in dry time and the amazingly sensuous aroma of beeswax. There were so many techniques to explore and endless applications.

Barbara Walton studio view 2

O-L: While your subject matter varies quite a bit, you seem to work around similar themes encompassing the natural and spiritual world. What are some of your influences and what subjects do you find yourself revisiting or more drawn to? 

BW: I always found refuge in nature. Being in nature comforted me and afforded me a wildness and curiosity and it made more sense than any organized religious upbringing.  
It is truth that we ourselves are nature and not above or separate from nature. The work that I do is a way to honor, to meditate to, to pray to, to conjure, to heal, to evoke, to remember, this connection. 

  • The horse – I was a 13-year-old city kid when I asked my parents for a horse. When they said “no”, I said “yes” in my head and began mowing lawns, babysitting, working at the market and bought myself a horse by the time I was 14. Caring and keeping this big beautiful buckskin gelding kept me grounded and alive, in my angst filled teenaged years. The horse = my holy dog = my totem.
  • The Lotus – When I have been absent from my studio for too long, I begin with a mandala painting to re-acquaint, find my way, my rhythm in my studio.

Barbara Walton studio view 3

O-L: The way you speak about your interests is very poetic. Your artwork often includes words and individual letters, so I’m curious what types of writings and/or research you gravitate toward and how that started to manifest in your practice?

BW: Text allows a place to begin, a focus. Even so, by the time I have completed a work, most of the words can become completely obscured. This doesn’t negate or lessen the value of the underlying text but rather allows a history, a depth, an enigma. The various text I choose come from prayers, poems, songs, invocations, meditations, mantras, literature, all which express an honoring, a reverence of earth, of nature, of all beings. The writings come from all over the world, from historical to contemporary.

O-L: What’s next for you? Any major projects or goals you have yet to conquer?

BW: I am excited to be working on the 20 Artists/20 Parks Project, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Iowa State Parks in 2020. This project is supported by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa Arts Council. Pikes Peak Park is the park I have been assigned.
Beyond this, I have a dream to paint a large mural on a concrete wall using encaustic painting techniques and another dream to apply encaustic to sculptural forms that I would build.

Barbara Walton studio view 4

To experience Barbara’s work in person, be sure to come by the gallery on May 31st from 5-7pm for the opening reception of our ANNUAL LANDSCAPE SHOW

Interview and photography by Alyss Vernon 

Studio Visit: Christopher Chiavetta

Posted on 02/08/2019 at 3:07 PM

It isn’t everyday we get to visit an artist’s studio, so we were thrilled to visit Christopher Chiavetta to select works for Olson-Larsen Galleries’ upcoming show FLUID GROUND. Bright morning sun lit up Christopher’s studio, and the plants lined up along the windowsill created a wonderful setting for Christopher’s art. Christopher’s current works explore a new minimalistic direction that juxtaposes his previous works. Christopher described how he spent a long time exploring disintegrating spaces whereas now he is looking to explore the opposite: solid, grounded forms. 

Christopher explained this new direction and what he hopes to convey: “By emphasizing a sense of groundedness I wanted to convey the impression of being surrounded by and within these metaphysical spaces. This past summer I spent a week painting a mural in a NYC park, and it was really exciting to see it evolve and become part of the environment. I enjoyed that process a lot and wanted to see what would happen if I took the same approach in the studio.”

To see Christopher’s completed works, come to the opening reception of FLUID GROUND on Friday, February 15th from 5-7pm or stop by to see the show February 15th—April 6th.

–Kelli Emerson

For the month of January, Olson-Larsen Galleries had some extra help from intern Kelli Emerson. Kelli is a senior at Luther College, studying English. One of the items we tasked her with was writing a blog post about our recent visit to Christopher Chiavetta’s downtown Des Moines studio. We were able to see some of his works in progress and made selections for the upcoming exhibition.

Photography by Alyss Vernon

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