Tim Olson • Dubuque, IA • Mixed Media

Self-Portrait

In 2003 I started a series of drawings of Dubuque scenes. My original idea was to create a set of alternative postcards-parodies of tourist-friendly artwork-picturing unlikely local scenes.

The first drawings connected with this postcard idea started with a specific storyline or joke (for instance the idea of inserting a domestic disturbance into a scenic view of the city).

However, as I began to look at Dubuque and to build up a stock-pile of photographs to draw from, I became less interested in fictional, cartoon subject matter, and was instead drawn to both the visual beauty of Dubuque and to the incongruities created by years of building, erasing, and re-building its parts-one time for reasons of utility, one time for reasons of aesthetics, and other times for reasons impossible to fathom.

I started to explore the parking lots, industry, and plots of urban no-man's-land left by a city expanding outward, leaving its center stretched paper-thin.

For me the best idea is rarely the first idea-it's much more likely to be the thirteenth idea. The struggle of working out ideas of composition, color and line, one on top of one another, all while trying to retain a high level of clarity, plainly shows in the finished drawings and paintings. In some ways that struggle becomes the drawing style.

 

Paul's Tavern

St. Mary's

What is that style?

Cartoon-Expressionism?

Naïve-Academic?

Picturesque-Messiness?

All of the above?

I'm not sure. But I do think, in the end, these drawings would make a nice set of postcards.

 

Tim Olson was born in Marathon, Iowa in 1962. He has worked as a photographer and has exhibited in the ARC Gallery in Chicago, the Des Moines Art Center, and the Sioux City Art Center. Although he grew up in Iowa, he spent twenty years in Los Angeles and Chicago. Since 2002 he has been living in Dubuque with his wife and two children.

 

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