Olson-Larsen Galleries has a long history of supporting artists. 

Since its founding in 1970, starting as Jan's Gallery, transitioning to what we now know to be Olson-Larsen Galleries, the gallery has been committed to nurturing artistic talent and providing a platform for creative expression. Over the years, Olson-Larsen Galleries has represented a wide range of artists, from emerging to established. 

The gallery's legacy is a tapestry, each thread woven by artists whose creative journey spans decades. Among them are Doug Shelton, Gary Bowling, Jeanine Coupe Ryding, Paula Schuette Kraemer, and Amy Worthen. These names are not mere labels on the gallery walls; they represent talented, dedicated individuals whose artistic footprints have left and continue to leave an indelible mark on the gallery's identity. 

Doug Shelton is an artist whose palette extends beyond canvases to the murals that adorn historical ceilings and theaters. Doug Shelton is a painter and muralist whose work is characterized by its rich detail and complex symbolism. Shelton's paintings often depict dreamlike or surreal scenes, and his murals can be found throughout the United States. Shelton has been represented by Olson-Larsen Galleries for over 30 years. But the story goes deeper, winding back to the late seventies when he first stepped into Jan's Gallery, bearing not just his paintings but also cookies shaped like artist palettes. Doug tells the story as such:

"My first show with the gallery was when it was Jan's Gallery, sometime in the late seventies. One Christmas my parents had given me a cookie cutter in the shape of an artist pallet. It was oval with the hole for the thumb and indents of six or so colors - pretty nice. I thought that it would be kind of cool to have cookies for snacks at the opening to I made a few dozen with different colored frosting and they looked great! I don't think that anybody was too impressed with my paintings, but the cookies were a big hit!" 


- Doug Shelton 




"New Paintings" exhibition announcement, 1988

"New Work" by Doug and Bill Barnes, 2018 

Doug helping paint the gallery, 1992

Gary Bowling, a master of capturing light on canvas, has painted his way through landscapes and exhibitions, leaving a trail of textures that speak volumes. Yet, his journey resonates even more profoundly within the walls of Olson-Larsen Galleries, where he has been represented since the mid - 1980s. 


A decade earlier Bowling encountered Gary and Marlene Olson who were living in LeMars, Iowa doing an Iowa Arts Council artist residency when he moved there to join the faculty as head of the art department at Westmar College. It's a story of brushes and canvases, of paper pieces that are polished gems, and a relationship that has flourished over time, enriching both artist and gallery. What he cherishes most from this long-standing relationship is the inclusivity and support. Bowling describes the partnership fondly:

"Openings were a community celebration often followed by a dinner or gathering of artists. Sometimes this happened during 'after hours' at the gallery, sometimes at Marlene and Gary's farm, sometimes at the home of a gallery patron. This spirit brought me a broader and deeper bond with the other gallery artists as well as with many of the friends and supporters of the gallery. I will always cherish the memories and richness these moments brought to my life." 


- Gary Bowling

1992 installation view of Jeanine Coupe Ryding prints

Jeanine Coupe Ryding in front of her work, 1992


Jeanine Coupe Ryding's woodcut prints have crossed continents, but it's the path she carved into the heart of the gallery that truly captivates. Jeanine came to the gallery around 1979 almost a year and a half out of grad school in Germany, then living in Ames, Iowa. As a young artist she graced the gallery scene attending openings at Jan’s Gallery taking inspiration from the represented Iowa artists. 


Ryding then decided to show Jan Shotwell some of her etchings and woodcut prints. Jan, who had her eye on Jeanine after seeing her solo show of Tulip prints at the Octagon Gallery in Ames earlier that year, extended an offer to consign some of her works to the gallery and the relationship grew from there. Her artistic philosophy, that the expressive quality of the cut mark holds energy, has echoed not only in her work but also in her relationship with the gallery. From early interactions with Jan's Gallery to the transition to Olson-Larsen Galleries, her narrative is a testament to the bonds that stand the test of time. Jeanine describes her experience with Olson-Larsen Galleries as one that she values deeply. 


“Over the years, everyone has been great to work with and encouraging through the transitions in my approaches to my prints. I am most grateful for and treasure this long term relationship.” 


- Jeanine Coupe Ryding








"Contoured Color" exhibition opening reception, July 2023: Alyss Vernon, Susan Chrysler White, Kristen Martincic, Laura Berman, Jeanine Coupe Ryding, Susan Watts.

Paula Schuette Kraemer's work in the gallery, summer 1992

Paula Schuette Kraemer's prints embody life's nuances, capturing universal themes that resonate deeply. Within the gallery's embrace, her prints have transformed into echoes of personal experiences. As she applies etching needles to copper plates, the textures she creates are not only layers of ink but also layers of stories. Her artistic journey has unfolded hand in hand with the gallery's narrative, each piece finding a home within its walls. 


Kraemer’s journey started with Jan Shotwell in 1974 under the representation of Jan’s Gallery. The following year, whilst participating in the Des Moines Art Center art fair, Marlene Olson and Ann Larsen approached Paula asking to represent her. Longer than any other gallery in her portfolio, Paula Schuette Kraemer has resided at Olson-Larsen Galleries for nearly 50 years, a testament to the bond. Kraemer expressed her gratitude as the following: 



The gallery is extremely professional and fair to its artists; and I am thankful for the opportunities you've given me to participate in group and one person shows. I have always been thankful for that opportunity and grateful that Olson-Larsen Galleries believes in my work enough to encourage and facilitate it.”


– Paula Schuette Kraemer

"Engraving Tools", Engraving, 1999

Process shot in Amy's studio of "VOTE" print, 2020

"Iowa Valentine", Hand colored engraving


Renowned printmaker, Amy N. Worthen, known for her intricate and evocative prints has had a long standing relationship with the gallery. Amy was one of the original artists who Jan Shotwell saw the potential in when she opened Jan’s Gallery. Worthen had just moved to Des Moines after finishing graduate school in printmaking at the University of Iowa when Jan brought her in. 


Following Jan’s Gallery, Marlene and Ann inherited and embraced her when they took over. Her work often explores themes of landscape, architecture, and calligraphy. Worthen has been represented by Olson-Larsen Galleries for over 40 years, and her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. 


Amy has graciously offered to write more about her valued relationship and experience with Olson-Larsen in a forthcoming guest blog post in The OLG Archives series. 

Long-standing gallery artists such as Doug Shelton, Gary Bowling, Jeanine Coupe Ryding, Paula Schuette Kraemer, and Amy Worthen exemplify the pillars of Olson-Larsen Galleries talented roster of artists. Their dedication and unique perspectives showcase the essence of creativity and lasting relationships. 


As a continuation of Olson-Larsen’s commitment to showcasing artistic brilliance that transcends generations, our upcoming exhibition, "Wing & Bloom" features two of the remarkable artists discussed above. Join us for the opening reception on Friday, October 13th from 5pm to 8pm, where the works of Rachel Deutmeyer, Barbara Fedeler, Kirsten Furlong, Paula Schuette Kraemer, Molly Wood, and Amy Worthen will illuminate the gallery's new space in West Des Moines during Valley Junction Gallery Night.

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542 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
United States
542 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
United States
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