Inside Look: Rose Olson’s Rain and Sunshine

Emma Newbery

The maxim that Rose repeats throughout our interview is: “the person you don’t want to bore is yourself.”

I spoke to Rose ahead of her upcoming show Rain and Sunshine, set to open on June 24th in Kingston’s main gallery. We discussed newer elements of her work, especially in the context of her long tenure as a painter.

“I’ve always painted all my life,” she explains. “I can’t change. No matter what my job was, how many hours of teaching I did or whatever I did, I would have to come home and do some work sometime during the evening before I went to bed.”

Over the course of her career, Rose has honed a distinct aesthetic. Using acrylic wash to play with light, movement, and opacity, Rose brings depth to the surface of her seemingly simple works. “When I was younger, I worked on everything: paper, it might be charcoal drawings. It might be anything because I had to work. Now, I work strictly with paint and wood and nothing else because that’s what interests me right now.”

Her upcoming show at Kingston signals a new dimension of this familiar medium. Perhaps reflecting the mercurial social environment, Olson’s show includes works like Red Intrusion, below. The notion of intrusion is something Rose explores deeply in her more recent work. The push and pull that results from the integrity of Rose’s natural canvas meeting the piercing strip of red that truncates its base is a relationship she relishes.

Rose Olson, Red Intrusion, acrylic on wood, 20”x 30”x 2”, 2019.

“I love what I’m doing right now,” adds Rose. “A lot of it is new because of blocks of colors. And the color is quite heavy. But it doesn’t eliminate the grain of the wood, which is very important to me when I’m painting.” 

Rose goes on to explain the importance of maintaining the integrity of the surface on which she paints. It’s as much a part of the painting as the materials that cover it: “The grain of the wood is something that I respect. So I try to make it clear. I try to make it available for the viewer to see no matter what color is over it.”

“A grain is unique,” she says. “They’re like our fingerprints, so no two are alike.”

Rose Olson, Violet Calm, acrylic on wood, 2020.

Within this medium, Rose’s work retains its fluidity. “Sometimes I’ll look at a painting that I had done and it bores me, so I will go back and work on it. So I guess they never end,” she muses. Five minutes before our interview, she made a final adjustment to a recent work titled Violet Calm, left. “I just finished a painting now that I had started earlier and it needed something desperately and I wasn’t sure what it needed. And I just discovered that it needed a golden band. So I put it in. It’s just a slim band and it enhances the grain as it goes up.”

Once she has finished a piece, Rose strives to keep the viewer’s experience of her work dynamic. “The colors keep changing continually, which is important to me. Also, when the work is on the wall, there’s the light going from one end of the room to the other that continually changes the colors, because there are so many layers of color and the light will pick up one layer after another.”

Rose did not cultivate this dynamic approach alone. She credits a shared workspace and creative process with her interest in the ongoing nature of her work. “My husband was a writer. He wrote poetry. We would very often stop our work and I would show him my work.”

Creating side-by-side elevated both of their processes. “When he would start reading his poetry, I would say, you know, it’s not quite there yet,” Rose recalls. “Then, all of the sudden, he would do it. It would be right there and I would get the goosebumps and I would say, stop. This is it. You’ve made it. You know, you don’t want it any different than this.”

While her husband passed recently, she continues to find motivation through these memories of collaboration: “My husband died suddenly three years ago, and that is a blow to me. It’s overwhelming,” says Rose.

“But,” she maintains, “it doesn’t stop me from painting.”

Rose Olson, Swirl, acrylic on wood, 12”x 12”x 1”, 2019.

Swirl is shot through with two, thick lines of red, lending the work a different feel than Red Intrusion possesses. The color pushes against the grain of the wood, and the whorls through which it slices seem to bend in protest, or perhaps in welcoming. The paler, nearly iridescent wide stroke of violet below lends a tactile element to the piece. Beneath the lines, straight and firm, it almost serves as the memory of a hand has followed their course, leaving behind an imprint. The work, like its maker, is pushing at the boundaries, suggesting a sense of continuance, and of potential chaos.

In addition to her career as a painter, Rose also taught for many years, spurring on her students in the same way she pushed her husband and continues to push herself.

“I don’t think there was anything that I didn’t like, and I don’t think there was a student that I didn’t like,” she recalls. “I pushed them very hard. I wanted them to create something uniquely theirs, and I think they understood that because we would both get excited.”

Rose encouraged her students to trust their unique perspective on shared, human experiences rather than attempting to break away from artists who inspired them. “Sometimes you can try to copy something, just so you understand what, what colors that person is using,” she explains, “but they’ll never come out the way that person uses them. They’ll come out the way you use them. You find yourself doing it in such a unique way.”

“That is, it becomes exciting to you because we are all different from each other,” she adds. “That quality within each person is very important to me.”

Rose Olson, triptych. From left to right: Canals of Mars, Martian Sky, Martian Water, all acrylic on wood, 20”x 20” X 1.5”, 2020.

Ultimately, Rose views painting as a deeply personal, emotional experience that turns one’s internal experience outwards to face the world. “Whatever you are, whatever your passion is at the moment, whatever you see out there comes through in the work.”

“Whether you’re a painter or you put it into poetry and words, the way my husband used to, when it hits just right, that’s it. You get the goosebumps and that’s when you know.”

In any creative pursuit, Rose concludes: “When something is real, it’s it. It just affects you completely.”

Gallery Artists’ News

The second half of 2014 was as busy as the first for Kingston Gallery’s artists! We are happy to share what our artists have been up to:

Ilona Anderson currently has work in Imaginal/Imagining The World (organized by Deborah Davidson, Suffolk University Gallery Director) at the Adams Gallery, Suffolk Law School. The exhibition runs through January 25.

Kathleen Gerdon Archer was a finalist for the Photolucida Critical Mass awards. Photolucida is an arts nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon whose mission is to provide platforms that expand, inspire, educate and connect the regional, national, and international photography community.

Linda Leslie Brown Co-Host Ceramic, metal, plastic, paper clay 13 x 9 x 9 inches 2013
Linda Leslie Brown — Co-Host, ceramic, metal, plastic, paper clay, 13 x 9 x 9″, 2013

Linda Leslie Brown has been awarded a 2015 Traveling Fellowship from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She had a new environmental work in copper wire and crystal, Indra’s Drala Net, installed as part of the Kingstown RI Land Trust Sculpture Trail, and she currently has work in Imaginal/Imagining the World Imaginal/Imagining The World at the Adams Gallery, Suffolk Law School. (See Ilona Anderson, above, for full details).

Judith Brassard Brown’s painting, Frontline, was purchased by NYU’s School of Professional Studies in New York, NY. She had work in the group exhibit Faculty and Students of Montserrat College of Art and Endicott College at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center, Gloucester, MA during the month of October, and also during October she exhibited work at New England BioLabs in Ipswich, MA.

Mary Bucci McCoy is now represented by Gray Contemporary in Houston, TX and CG2 Gallery in Nashville, TN. Her work was included in an exhibition of work by gallery artists, Aloe Vera, at Gray Contemporary in August and also was featured in a two-person show with the British painter Erin Lawlor, Long Loud Silence, in September and October at the gallery. Reconfiguring Abstraction: Lisa Russell and Mary Bucci McCoy was on view at the FPAC Gallery in South Boston in August and September. Mary was the Visiting Critic for the fall semester at Montserrat College of Art’s Senior Fine Arts Seminar. She has work in a group exhibition of work by gallery artists at Gray Contemporary, Houston, TX through January 17.

Conny Goelz-Schmitt had work in Bibliophilia at Nave Gallery Annex, Somerville, MA during the month of October. Also during October Conny also had work in Time Travelers at Cambridge Arts Association, Kathryn Schultz Gallery, Cambridge.

Julie S Graham had work in the Salon Show at the Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA in November–December.

 the space between, hand embroidery on re-appropriated linen, 50 x 72", 2012
Joetta Maue — the space between, hand embroidery on re-appropriated linen, 50 x 72″, 2012

New member Joetta Maue spoke at the event With Thread in Hand, a program celebrating the historic and vital art of embroidery, at The Atwood House Museum in Chatham, MA in November. Also in November Joetta had work in Narcissism and The Self-Portrait at the Ann Street Gallery in Newburgh, NY. She had work in The Personal is Political, at the Slater Concourse Gallery, Aidekman Arts Center, Tufts University, Medford, MA in November and December. Joetta gave an informal talk within the context of the exhibition Vessels at the Nave Gallery Annex in Davis Square in December.

Jennifer Moses was an artist in residence at Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY for the month of July. She had work in the summer-long exhibition Surface, Strokes and Light, a group exhibition of of contemporary painters and sculptors at Kelly Roy Gallery. Broadsided Press displayed a collaboration between Moses and poet Annie Finch on the Cape Cod Public Bus Transit in the summer through September.

Rose Olson had work in Postscript: A Selection of Work from the Gallery Artists and the Director’s Collection at Hutson Gallery, Provincetown, MA in September and October . She had a group of small works on display in October at Susan Maasch Fine Art, Portland, ME, and currently has work on display there in Gallery Artists: Group Exhibition at Susan Maasch Fine Art, through February.

Christina Pitsch — Flora of Fauna Porcelain 21” x 21” x 5” 2013 [photo: Millyard Studios]
Christina Pitsch — Flora of Fauna, porcelain, 21” x 21” x 5”, 2013
[photo: Millyard Studios]
New member Christina Pitsch has work in Beasticon II at Mark MIller Gallery, 92 Orchard Street, New York, NY. The exhibition runs through January 15.

Lynda Schlosberg is guest juror for Chroma, a national juried exhibition of work on hue, saturation and value at Gallery 263 in Cambridge, MA. The exhibition will run January 15 – February 14, 2015. She has work in Gallery Artists: Group Exhibition at Susan Maasch Fine Art, Portland, ME through February.

Elif Soyer had work in the annual exhibition Ekim Gecidi (The Passage of October) at the Canakkale Museum of Ceramics in Canakkale, Turkey in October and November.

Ann Wessmann had work in the group show Earth to Heaven at Spoke Gallery @ Medicine Wheel Productions, South Boston from September to November.

Luanne E Witkowski’s works on paper and selected paintings were featured at Hutson Gallery, Provincetown, MA during the summer and she had work on display there in Postscript: A Selection of Work from the Gallery Artists and the Director’s Collection in September and October. She also had work in Trans-Alternate: artists, social practitioners, and voices seldom heard from Nepal: Art and Social Practice – Call and Response at Godine Family Gallery, Mass. College of Art and Design, Boston, MA in October.

 

Kingston Gallery Artist News

Kingston Gallery artists have had a busy first half of 2014:

Stacey Alickman — Lost Year, oil on canvas, 48 x 42", 2014
Stacey Alickman — Lost Year, oil on canvas, 48 x 42″, 2014

Stacey Alickman received the 2014 Blanche E. Colman Award.

Ilona Anderson has work in Pipe Dreams, Wishful Thinking, Grand Gestures & Dirty Lies at ASC project space, 526 West 26th Street, Room 304, New York, NY through July 15. Ilona also has work in the group exhibition As | Orchard opening July 31, Lower East Side, NY.

Kathleen Gerdon Archer and Barbara Moody were named Co-directors of Kingston Gallery for 2014. Kathleen Gerdon Archer and Conny Goelz-Schmitt both had work in the group exhibition Synchronicity at the Associazione Culturale Rosa Venerini (ACRV) in Viterbo, Italy from June 27 – July 6. They spent the month of June at the Associazione Culturale Rosa Venerini (ACRV) Residency Program.

Judith Brassard Brown is exhibited in The Power of Suggestion at Gallery Alpers Fine Art in Andover, MA from January 15 – March 22. For more information visit www.alpersfineartonline.com. Judith is now also represented by Art in Giving, www.artingiving.com. This non-profit organization provides a creative way to raise funds for research for the prevention and cure of childhood cancer.

Linda Leslie Brown and Luanne E Witkowski both had work in a group show at AMP: Art Market Provincetown, 148 Commercial Street, which runs June 25 – July 9.

Mary Bucci McCoy was interviewed by the 365 Artists 365 Days project.

Mira Cantor is teaching at the Burren College of Art in Ireland during the month of July.

Julie Graham was in the group show Small Works at the Ruth Bachofner Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, November 30, 2013 – January 11, 2014. She also had a solo show Topoanalysis at the Carol Schlosberg Alumni Gallery at Montserrat College, Beverly, MA, May 28 – June 27.

Mary Lang’s had a one-person retrospective exhibit, Like Water, at the Trustman Gallery at Simmons College, March 17 – April 17. The exhibition was reviewed by Mark Feeney in the Boston Globe.

Barbara Moody taught a new studio intensive course entitled Expressive Interpretations of the Landscape, at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA in both January and July. She exhibited her photo-collages March 17 – May 7 in a three-person exhibition at the Albright Gallery, in Concord, MA. And she and Ann Wessman both have work in Dreaming Gardens at Suffolk University Gallery, 75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA, which runs June 10 – August 22, curated by Deborah Davidson.

Jennifer Moses showed her work in a group exhibition of 12×12 paintings at the Oxbow Gallery in North Hampton, MA, December 5, 2013 – January 5, 2014. She has work in the summer long exhibit Surface, Strokes and Light, a group exhibition of of contemporary painters and sculptors at Kelly Roy Gallery. Broadsided Press is displaying a collaboration between Moses and poet Annie Finch on the Cape Cod Public Bus Transit through September. Jennifer is also an artist in residence at Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY for the month of July.

Rose Olson will be featured at Hutson Gallery, 432 Commercial Street in Provincetown, July 25 – August 7. She also has work in Danforth Art Museum’s Community of Artists Annual Juried Exhibition, which runs June 8 – August 3.

Lynda Schlosberg had a solo exhibition Field of Potentiality in the Spencer Presentation Gallery at the Walter J. Manninen Center for the Arts, Endicott College, Beverly, MA, January 28 – March 20. She was the featured gallery artist at Susan Maasch Fine Art in Portland, ME for the month of March. And her work was included in Painting Intricacies, curated by Resa Blatman at Nave Annex Gallery in Somerville, MA, April 18.

Luanne E Witkowski’s mixed media works were included in a group exhibition in the President’s Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, December 9, 2013 – January 23, 2014.

Rose Olson and Lynda Schlosberg Exhibit in Portland, Maine

Rose Olson — Source, acrylic on Baltic Birch veneer, 28 x 28 x 2", 2013
Rose Olson — Source, acrylic on Baltic Birch veneer, 28 x 28 x 2″, 2013

 

 

 

 

Lynda Schlosberg—Allowance, acrylic on panel, 12 x 12"
Lynda Schlosberg—Allowance, acrylic on panel, 12 x 12″

Heading up the Maine coast for the last days of summer? No need to leave Kingston art behind! This summer both Rose Olson and Lynda Schlosberg are included in Susan Maasch Fine Art’s grand reopening exhibition of gallery artists at their new location, 4 City Center in Portland, Maine. The gallery is open Tuesday–Saturday 11–5.

Rose Olson and Karen Meninno Exhibitions Covered by Slightly Wonky

Many thanks to artist and architect Elizabeth Kostojohn for covering Karen Meninno’s current exhibition Sculpture Remix and Rose Olson’s April exhibition Light Moves on her blog, Slightly Wonky. We love her refreshingly down-to-earth take on art and life!

Last Week to See Our March Shows

On a recent visit on a lovely Friday afternoon to Kingston Gallery, Rose Olson’s paintings were still glowing. How these works are perceived is so dependent on the light, time of day and where one is in the space in relationship to the work.

This exhibition and the other two are up for one more week, through March 30. Congratulations are in order for Rose Olson, Haruyo Nakanishi and Susan Alport, as we have had many visitors and great response to the work. Something came to mind when looking at the Center Gallery’s Paper Dialogue.  How do works of art, these mute objects, speak? And how do they speak to each other? The materials, color, forms, and technique are all elements that allow this to happen, but it is also the dialogue that can occur between the objects. That certainly is happening in the Gallery this month.

Two neighboring shows are very much worth mentioning, as they are stand out exhibitions in themselves and also are in dialogue (in this viewer’s opinion), both in terms of form and content, with Kingston Gallery. They are Catherine Kernan’s exhibition After Images: New Woodcut Monoprints at Soprafina Gallery and Ann Pibal’s Los Dos at Steven Zevitas Gallery.

A visit to 450 Harrison Avenue is in order — all these exhibitions are harbingers of spring, and are a powerful reminder that artworks made of paint, ink, wood, and paper act as mirrors: they reflect back, revealing us to ourselves.

Rose Olson, Light Moves

Rose Olson — Sky Catcher
Rose Olson — Sky Catcher

I recently went to see the work up in the Kingston Gallery through March 30, “Light Moves”.  In daylight the gallery was glowing.

Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin

Rose Olson’s paintings are an emanation and a reflection at the same time, much like the elements of nature (water, sky) reflect and refract how and what we perceive. These new paintings remind me of Agnes Martin, that is if Agnes Martin were to key up her colors to a very high pitch and abandon the emptiness of the desert. The similarity of course in both artists’ work is the reference to landscape and to geography without the actual representation. These paintings are slow. Experienced as a whole, they make sense as if they were a unit, connected by their horizontality.

Rose’s work also brings to mind the 19th century American Luminists, whose view of nature as one of ‘illumination’ was shared with the Transcendental movement. She says that color has a sharpening aspect – affecting our senses and intellect simultaneously. The predominate use of pink, yellow and orange feel not of our climate or sensibility, and the delicate surfaces belie the impact of the palette. The colors push against the edges of the support, transforming and transcending the wood and the grain, which becomes part of the image, pushing back against the color. They are imperative as objects and are also evocative of something beyond their material selves. As with all art which is compelling, the paintings act as a projection, precisely because the viewer is invited to see both themselves and the world in a new way.