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Gavin's Underground

September Stroll: Sandi Olson & Catherine Darling Hostetter

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2008-09-21 -

Back to Gallery Stroll I go, making my way to the west side of Broadway for a dual show held in an old gallery with a new location.

Palmer’s Gallery played host in its new location across from Pioneer Park for this past Friday's stroll, showcasing two artists in their main gallery.  The conceptual oil work of Sandi Olson, and the whimsical water color paintings of Catherine Darling Hostetter. I got a chance to step in on Friday night to take some pictures, and also chat with both artists about their work, thoughts on local art, the Stroll, and some other topics.

Sandi Olson


Gavin: Hey Sandi.  First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Sandi:  I am originally from New England.  I started painting about 15 years ago and work in traditional watercolors, mixed media and oils.  I have a studio in Rockwood Art Studios, Sugar House, where I paint and teach classes.  When I'm not painting, I'm gardening, mountain biking, road cycling, playing tennis, skiing--aaah, the life of an indulged artist!

Gavin:  What first got you interested in doing art for a living, and what were some of your inspirations?

Sandi:  A friend got me involved in a watercolor class.  I never expected to do anything much more than take classes, but within a year I had been accepted into the Springville Salon!  And then another show.  That inspired me to enter more shows and, as a result, paint more.  My inspiration and motivation still comes from having shows, festivals, galleries, or other venues.

Gavin: Did you take any education for what you do?

Sandi:  I have no degree in art and have always considered myself a "poor" student.  I seem to be very resistant to "learning" art from anyone.  I have dropped out of many learning situations--including my first classes with my friend!  But there have been two events that were spring boards for me--Summer Snow at Snow College in Ephraim, and the Intensive Studies Seminar in Taos, NM.   In Ephraim I learned all the "rules," and in Taos, I learned to throw them out!

Gavin:  For those unfamiliar with your work, what are you most known for in the local art community?

Sandi:  I don't know what I'm most known for in the local art community!  I'd like people to know me for my newer creative process which is a unique, gesso-based style.  It's conceptual and a bit more abstract and is based on people, dance and music.  All my work is from my head (conceptual), and I seldom use reference material.

Gavin: A lot of the paintings I’ve seen from you are more outdoors and wildlife.  What inspired you to do that kind of artwork?

Sandi:  The outdoors and wildlife themes you refer to must be traditional watercolors I've done in the past.  For many years I painted things to sell at the Farmer's Market so I painted sheep, cows, landscapes.  I also create horse paintings in the gesso-based, abstract style.  Inspiration for those came because I had a festival in Bozeman and needed appropriate themes. Yes, I pandered to my audience.

Gavin:  It seems you’re constantly doing shows almost every month.  Do you do all the shows out of necessity as an artist, or more for the enjoyment of showing people your work?

Sandi:  Basically I love doing shows!  This year I tried to schedule as many shows as I could reasonably paint for.  I don't feel I show my work out of the necessity as an artist.  Having goals motivates me to continue painting, even through the hard times.  But my future goal is to "leave the audience" wanting more.  This means not being so available.

Gavin: Tell us about the display you’re showing for the Stroll.

Sandi:  I'm very excited about this show, but I'm also a bit intimidated because I've never shown a large body of this type of work.  I loved planning for this exhibit of mixed media and oil paintings.  I wanted to keep with the figure theme because that is how I'm represented in Palmer Gallery.  All of the paintings have "found" figures in them.  Some of the figures are more subtle--a patron thinks they are looking at a door painting until they discover the figures in the wall.  An artist's goal should be to hold the viewer's eye for more than a few seconds.  I'm going to be checking this out during the show.  Yikes!  This could be humbling!

Gavin:  Where did the idea come from to do a dual show with Catherine?

Sandi:  Catherine Hostetter and I have known each other for a few years.  We've shown together at Local Colors, are both members of the Utah Watercolor Society, and painted together.  She's been very supportive in all aspects.  Somehow we just came together on this--actually Ricky may have suggested that she was scheduling a show.  It's really, really nice to know the person you’re exhibiting with and know she supports you and your artwork!

Gavin: What’s your take on the local art scene, both good and bad? And is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Sandi:  I love the local art scene--there are so many events all the time.  Utah has so many great artists, great venues and great patrons.  The one thing I wish is that art openings would be on Thursdays, as well as Fridays or Saturdays.  There are SO many events on Fridays and Saturdays that participation gets diluted.  Also, I wish there was a short Trib or DN newspaper column that would feature individual local artists--not just the best known artists.

Gavin:  What are your thoughts on Gallery Stroll and how it’s evolved over the years?

Sandi:  I think the art stroll is wonderful -- the Gallery Association has done a great job with it.  Of course, it almost has a life of its own now because we have such supportive patrons!  I would like to see it expanded (different Friday, of course) to other areas, such as Sugar House where there are many studios/galleries.  Several years ago I attempted to organize Second Friday art strolls, with minimal success after 9 months.  But I could see very positive things and think it would work with Gallery Association behind it.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?

Sandi:  I have one more exhibit this year during Gallery Stroll.  It is at Charlie Hafen Jewelry and Gallery in November/December.  I also like to do a holiday festival at St. Mary's in Park City.  Other than that, I think I'll focus on plein air landscapes for the rest of the year.  And, of course, plan next year's schedule.

Gavin:  Is there anything you’d like to plug or promote?

Sandi:  I would like to take this opportunity to promote a couple of things.  I exhibit at the Juniper Sky Gallery in Kayenta (outside of St. George), as well as Palmer Gallery.  Juniper Sky has a wonderful website where their artists' work can be seen:  CoyoteGulchArtVillage.com.  Also, I am planning to begin teaching in my Sugar House studio after a 2 year sabbatical.  Interested persons can contact me at
sandiolsonart@hotmail.com, or 467-3694.


Catherine Darling Hostetter

http://catherine-pure-art.tripod.com/

Gavin: Hey Catherine.  First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Catherine: I was born and raised in the Salt Lake Valley and interested in art from an early age. In first grade, I did my math homework in the rainbow of Crayola, until my teacher asked my mom at parent teacher conference to put a stop to it. Years later, I found out that my art teacher and mentor Donald P. Olsen was the husband of my 1st grade teacher! I still to this day puzzle how the wife of such a noted Utah artist could restrict young budding talent.  I have 5 kids that are supposedly grown up (a mom can say that with a smile) and great guy in my life that supports me in my art and sings like an angel.

Gavin: What first got you interested in doing art for a living, and what were some of your inspirations?

Catherine: I have always wanted to do art for a living, but it wasn't until 1999 that I started seriously heading in that direction. I didn't know anything about the art business, so my first step was to join the Utah Watercolor Society. I figured that by associating with other artists, I could learn about becoming an artist. It was one of the best things I ever did! They offered workshops and monthly demos and best of all I made friends that freely gave advice. It is really a super network. From my associations there I was invited to join Local Colors gallery, an artist's cooperative, where I had the freedom to test the market with my art and find my own 'voice' in my artwork. I am still very much involved with LC which has now evolved into Local Colors of Utah, located at 535 So. 700 E. in SLC.  It was directly because of belonging to an artist society that I was invited to show my work at Palmers Gallery. Palmers has been more than generous in hosting UWS juried shows as well as Intermountain Society of Artist (another group I belong to) in which I have participated in. Ricky Hansing, Palmers gallery director is wonderful to work with and it was his invitation that got me in there, which may not have come about had it not been for UWS. My involvement in UWS has grown with each year, and this year I am serving as the President!

Gavin: I read that art tends to follow in the family; can you tell us about your previous relatives who were involved in art and what they did?

Catherine: My mom dabbled in art, so I am thankful for the inspiration she gave me. I come from pioneer stock and had great grandfathers that were stone masons and sculptors. They worked on several LDS temples and there's some mighty fine work done on the Nauvoo, Salt Lake and Manti temple that can be attributed to my family, not to mention beautifully sculpted headstones in Utah cemeteries.

Gavin: For those unfamiliar with your work, what are you most known for in the local art community?

Catherine: My work tends to lean towards the whimsical mixed with a bit of humor. I have used patterns a lot in my work that makes it distinctive. Currently I enjoy weaving in quotes of famous authors with my work. People throughout the ages have said some really great things that I find inspiring. I always attempt to put something in my paintings that imparts a feeling of well being.

Gavin: You seem to do everything from straight-forward portraits to whimsical paintings.  Why choose to paint in so many different forms instead of focusing on a specific form?

Catherine: I love work that is beautifully done, like the classic masters of old. I continue to strive at improving my abilities and believe as an artist, you must have the foundation of knowing how to draw well and understand the fundamentals of what makes good art. I am continually working to improve my talent. While I am honing it, on occasion I find it necessary to do more classic approaches to my subject matter. But...there is something quirky in me that has to do the whimsical. I love letting my imagination direct my art and my style is what I term as whimsical realism. If my kids were to quote me on anything, it would be what I usually say after I painted something: "You don't think it's too weird, do you?"

Gavin: Aside from Utah, you sell a lot of your work via eBay.  How did that decision come about, and is there a great demand for artwork on eBay?

Catherine: In 2001 I decided it was time to start marketing my art in the community. I entered the Sugarhouse 4th of July street festival. I worked like crazy the 3 months before it to have an inventory. At that time I was doing watercolor paintings. The day arrived and I excitedly set up my booth. I sat there all day smiling. It was 104 degrees, but I still sat there smiling at everyone. I only sold one small painting for $15 that day! I thought to myself, what am I going to do with all these paintings now? I decided I would give eBay a try. I am not one to just jump in and do it, so I researched and learned all about it. I was also working full time as an administrative assistant, so I only had evenings to devote it. Finally I was ready to list my first auction! It just happened to be September 11th, 2001. That evening with the television recapturing that fateful day's events, I was trying to put my first auction together. I only had a free dialup connection (slow, very slow) and finally after putting all of the elements together, I listed my auction just a few minutes after midnight.

Catherine: Ebay has been pretty good to me. When a family crisis forced me to quite my job to be at home, I became a full time artist with eBay as my only marketing outlet. I found that to make any money, I had to paint fast and learned I could sell acrylic paintings for more money than watercolors. Some people have done really well on eBay selling their art and have become trendy to collect and there is a potential to make good money. As a full time artist it has been a great supplement to my income while I develop my following with my gallery work. My theory for my eBay work is paint it fast, sell it at a rate that it moves consistently and get paid several times a week. Like any job it takes a lot of hard work. But I really love selling to people all over the world, and have a lot of repeat customers. As I began to expand locally and was accepted into galleries, I felt a need to make the art that I sell on eBay different from what I sell in the galleries, in respect to them. My artwork on eBay is what I call modern folk art, definitely whimsical, and more simplistic than my gallery work.

Gavin: Tell us about the display you’re showing for the Stroll.

Catherine: My mom passed away this summer and I had a really hard time preparing for my show at Palmers. As I mentioned previously I love quotes from favorite authors. I was having a difficult time deciding what the theme of my show should be and found that including the quotes in my artwork helped me to get started with painting for my show, because I didn't have to think so much. (Thinking too much can be dangerous!) As I painted, I found my art evolving. I had started out painting in muted colors and then after painting several pieces, I began to paint in more vibrant colors. I work in acrylic and I decided that I wanted to incorporate some of my watercolor techniques using acrylic in my art. So the work went from opaque and muted colors to vibrant, more transparent. It felt really good!

Gavin: Where did the idea come from to do a dual show with Sandi?

Catherine: Last year when I was accepted into Palmers, I suggested Sandi approach Ricky and see if he would accept her work. She did and we ended up scheduled to have a show together. Sandi is a great friend and a wonderful artist. She has been one of those friends that freely shares her art knowledge and one thing I really love about her, is how fun it is to talk about art together. We can go on for hours.

Gavin: What’s your take on the local art scene, both good and bad?

Catherine: I think Salt Lake has a wonderful art scene. I have been a faithful gallery stroller for years and I think the quality of art we have here is amazing. I attend as many art functions as possible, from venues at the Museum of Art at the U, to Poor Yorick's quarterly open studios. I love the fund raising events that feature art, like Community Nursing's Art and Soup. We are really rich in art culture. The only bad thing I can think of is there is not enough money for the public schools to facilitate more substantial art programs.

Gavin: Is there anything you think could be done to make it bigger or better?

Catherine: To make anything grow you need support. We have a wonderful community of patrons. I'd like to thank everyone who buys art, and encourage those that haven't to get a little art in their lives. There's something to appeal to everyone. In my association with artists and gallery owners, I have found that this year with the economy being what it is has been has especially hit them hard. Art isn't always considered a necessity, so when gas prices are high and stocks are falling, I hope people will become creative in their ways to purchase art. Art makes wonderful wedding, Christmas and birthday presents. If you have to buy a gift, think art!

Gavin: What are your thoughts on Gallery Stroll and how it’s evolved over the years?

Catherine: Gallery Stroll is a necessity to the galleries. It helps to get people to the galleries on a regular basis. If there is someone who has never attended a Gallery Stroll, you are in for a good time and it's free! The only major change I can think of regarding Gallery Stroll is that galleries can no longer serve alcoholic beverages at stroll. I used to chuckle when I would go to a stroll in September and October and see all these students that had assignments from their art teachers to attend Gallery Stroll. The galleries that served alcohol were the most popular! It's probably a good thing that it's been banned because it's pretty hard to check everyone's license for under-age art viewers.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?

Catherine: As mentioned I am a featured artist at Palmers till mid October. September 27th and October 18th I will be at the Salt Lake Farmer's Market. I will be a featured artist for the Gallery Stroll at Local Colors on October 17th (which is my birthday!)  Come and wish me happy birthday and see what I come up with for that show. It will be new and fun. October 11th and 12th I will be in a fundraiser for the J. E. Cosgriff Memorial School. November 15th I will be participating in a group show for Intermountain Society of Artist.

Gavin: Is there anything you’d like to plug or promote?

Catherine: Come see our show at Palmers gallery. Local Colors of Utah has a call for entry for new artists. This fall I will be teaching a workshop on selling art on eBay, time not set yet. If you are interested in either Local Colors or the workshop, email me at
pureart3@comcast.net.  Last but not least visit the UWS fall show at the Art Barn on Finch Lane now through October.  If you are interested in learning more about UWS join us at Wheeler Farm. We have a general meeting on October 7th with nationally known artist Ted Nuttall doing a demo - painting people in watercolor. Meeting starts at 7:30 with socializing at 7:00. Admittance is free.

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