Tracy Olson: the painter mariposa

Originally published in Tempo

Painter and jeweler T.D. (Tracy) Olson gets her creative energy from the night sky, the phases of the moon, rusty things and seeds. She is also inspired by her own lungs, which in many of her drawings appear transmuted into butterflies.

“My inspiration is the vastness of the universe in contrast to a tiny chrysalis,” she said. “I love transformation and the cycles of nature—everything from tree branches to technicolor sunsets.”

Artist TD. (Tracy) Olson 1

On Saturday August 13, the Pompadour Gallery at Salon X will host an artist’s reception of Olson’s work, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Here is her personal invitation to the show–watch the video on Facebook

The hair salon is already brimming with the colors, textures and evocative pairs of wings created by her.

‘I love the idea of exhibiting my art in this beautiful space,” she said. “Pompadour Gallery is always full of people: all the clients who come to get their hair done and spend hours browsing around. This is a special home for my art and I feel honored to have so many pieces displayed here.”

The artist: a steward of her land

Olson was classically trained at Georgia State University and holds a BA in fine art, drawing and painting.

“I feel connected to the abstract expressionists of the 40’s and other artists that blur the lines of art making and art showing,” she said.

She has been an art teacher at elementary schools, camps and privately.

Her work is part of private collections, colleges, universities and the Harwood Museum of Art.

A rare genetic lung decease brought her to Taos in 2001 and she has made it home ever since.

“I had actually come for the first time in 1996,” she said. “I fell in love with the vastness of the sky and the clean air. I was so happy to return and get established here! I have also been a picture framer for 25 years and thought that Taos would be a perfect match for me.”

Since moving to Ranchos de Taos, where she has a home and studio, Olson developed a strong sense of responsibility to the land, which is in turn reflected on her art.

“The dessert has influenced my palette: I use more white and black now, with lots of light” she said. “The materials and my style changed drastically because I am the steward of my little plot of earth. I love gardening, planting and discovering new plants and the landscape I can see from my home.”

In fact, a mountain outline that appears in many of her paintings is the view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from her studio.

Olson’s work is grounded in her connection to the natural world, with some personal touches and hidden meanings that are distinctive of her creative process.

“I enjoy painting over older paintings and adding text or secret messages to them,” she said. “I have always been interested in installation art. I like pulling the viewers in so they enter a space where they can stay and see what is around them.”

The show

The show at Pompadour Gallery is called “Gestures” and aptly so.

“It is a (literal) expression of ideas and emotions intended to convey a state of mind,” Olson said. “The show has a lot to do with the fact that I like the quality of a fast simple line in a drawing…it’s very expressive. Also, we use ‘gestures’ to talk with our hands and I am a talkative, expressive person myself. A very curious girl indeed!”

“Gestures” will showcase pieces from Olson’s personal collection and some of her more recent works, which she created specifically for this show.

“The evolution of Olson’s art mirrors her own personal metamorphosis from her

previous life in Atlanta to the high altitude desert of Taos,” said show curator Alan Vetter. “The paintings have become her markings along the way, with each new piece flowing out of the previous one.”

The show will feature around one hundred pieces. Part is her personal collection framed art, part abstract trees, mountains and seeds, and an installation of sketchy lung drawings.

“It’s really a retrospective of the last few years,” Olson said. “When I was hanging up the pieces, I felt as if I were in my own studio. It is a real glimpse into my creative process and interests of the past few years.”

How the exhibit came to be

The artist met Salon X’s owner, Delta Bayer-Trujillo, at a UNM jewelry making class.

“Delta has been cheering me on and encouraging me to show my art for years,” Olson said. “Then Alan Vetter, who is like a family member, helped me curate it so the show is a real collaboration of art and space. Come join us at the reception to see how beautifully we all worked together!”

The exhibit will run until December 2016.

The Pompadour Gallery at Salon X is located at 226 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte

Phone: (575) 758-1584




About dovalpage

Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana and now lives in Taos, New Mexico. She has a Ph.D. in Spanish literature and teaches at UNM Taos. She also freelances for Taos News, Profile, Hispanic Executive and other publications. A bilingual author, she has published eight novels, six in Spanish and two in English, two collections of short stories in Spanish and one in English. Her English-language novels are A Girl like Che Guevara (Soho Press, 2004) and Habanera, a Portrait of a Cuban Family (Floricanto Press, 2010). Her collection of short stories The Astral Plane, Stories of Cuba, the Southwest and Beyond was published by the University of New Orleans Press in 2012. In her native Spanish she has authored the novels Muerte de un murciano en La Habana (Death of a Murcian in Havana, Anagrama, 2006, a runner-up for the Herralde Award in Spain), El difunto Fidel (The late Fidel, Renacimiento, 2011, that won the Rincon de la Victoria Award in Spain in 2009), Posesas de La Habana (Haunted Ladies of Havana, PurePlay Press, 2004), La Regenta en La Habana (Edebe Group, Spain, 2012,) Orfeo en el Caribe(Atmósfera Literaria, Spain, 2013) and El retorno de la expatriada (The expat’s return, Egales, Spain, 2014). Her short novel Las Muertas de la West Mesa (The West Mesa Murders, based on a real event) is currently being published in serialized format by Taos News.
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