J GO Gallery’s Curtis R. Olson is inspired by archaeological objects | ParkRecord.com

J GO Gallery’s Curtis R. Olson is inspired by archaeological objects

When Curtis R. Olson, co-owner of J GO Gallery, starts to create his own art, he finds inspiration from all sorts of objects, especially ones from the past.

"I look at old stuff, things that have lasted throughout civilizations," Olson said during an interview with The Park Record. "I love archaeological finds, in fact, the Antikythera mechanism was the jumping off point for my recent body of work."

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient analog computer that was used to predict eclipses, and astronomical positions for calendars.

"It took scientists and archaeologists hundreds of years to figure out what it did," he said. "That got the ball rolling for creating something based on these important objects that we have no idea what they are."

Olson will unveil a body of new work at J GO Gallery, 408 Main St., on Friday, Aug. 26, during the Park City Gallery Association's Monthly Gallery Stroll from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The work that Olson will debut is a continuation of a theme that he's been working on for a couple of years.

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"I have always been attracted to creating objects that have a substantialness to them," he said. "They feel important in some way. They are like an artifact in the past or will be in the future. I work with the idea that they contain knowledge or mystery and if you unlock them, you can answer and solve some big questions."

At the moment, Olson said he may have more than nine new pieces.

"I'm literally still working," he laughed. "I use these shows to force some deadlines."
The pieces are large wall mounts that measure up to four feet.

"That isn't large in contemporary art standards, but they are large for me," Olson said. "The reason is because my work is labor intensive and very heavy."

Of course, the materials have a lot to do with the weight. Olson uses wood, plaster, wire, metal and cement to create his works.

"It has to do with the idea of creating an object, rather than a picture," he said. "I want my work to be singular and unique."

The artist also likes the imperfections in the cement.

"I use universal shapes — the circle, the square, a lot being geometrically based and I contrast those shapes with textures," he said. "I chip away pieces from the cement and play with the idea of precision and imperfectness that just feels right, even though they are abstract pieces."

Olson officially became an artist 16 years ago.

"I quit my architecture career and gave myself one year to start my art career," he said. "I wasn't getting any younger."

However, his architecture training has helped with his art.

"When I was an architect, I was into studying all different proportion systems where if you used that certain proportion system, the thing you designed would just look right to the human eye," he said. "I was always interested in that and tried to apply it in my own works."

At the same time, he would break those rules.

"I would lay the geometrical proportion over things and then break it up," he said. "That's what I do with my artwork."

The creative process is both a blessing and a curse for Olson, who will have good days and bad days in the studio.

"On good days, I'll get a lot done and things will come together," he said. "Other days, I'll just struggle and nothing will come easy. On days like that, I'll think this is a stupid profession. 

"However, there is a joy in the challenge, because at the same time, I will think that there is nothing I would rather do than make art," he said.

Still, there is a trade-off that Olson is all too much aware of.

"A lot of my life has suffered, because you kind of have to become a hermit to do art," he said. "You have to work alone usually. So, you don't have time to pursue other interests or be social.

"But it's what I love to do," he said. "It's a great thing to find something that you would do, whether you will get paid or not. It's a bonus if you get a little money."

J GO Gallery, 408 Main St., will host an artist reception for gallery co-owner Curtis R. Olson on Friday, Aug. 26, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.jgogallery.com.