Artist Robert Alan Olason is one of the tribe of the second careerists. His shift is jarring in the juxtaposition and the linkage: transportation planner/representative artist, resident of this transportation obsessed nation.The spanner in the works that ended his career with a moderately sized city was over his insistence that placing people sanely in the urban landscape could reduce the number of trips on both cars and buses, a suggestion that was shouted down for the sheer heresy of it. One’s job as a planner is to make plans that are different from the last ones, but not different as to make a difference. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic
See "The Walk Mode" article and IndyWeek.
"Robert's Hearing," 48 in X 48 in, acrylic on canvas
Fine. Robert took his ball and glove and went home, embarking on an nascent career in art that has brought him from his interpretations of Japanese Sumi style brush and ink, to hallucinatory idealized American landscapes, not lilting streams and millraces. Vistas of unsullied valleys and mountain ranges have been replaced by surly corridors of asphalt where thunderous semi trucks menace smaller, pathetic mere autos, occasionally crushing them into piles resembling so many squashed paper cups. It is a land where masculinely assertive, phallic roadways languidly wend through feminized landscapes replete with nipple putting greens, evoking perhaps what his boyhood home of Houston has become.
"The Winged Mare's Peddler," 48 in X 48 in, acrylic on canvas
Some of Olason’s most compelling works
are of people, who seem to have been dragged from behind the comfort and security of artifice and exposed for all the horrible and common foibles of humans. Many of his pieces created during the lurid murder trial of Vietnam veteran and novelist, Michael Peterson, exemplify this rending of the mask that most of us wear, often unknowingly.
"DOT Simulation," 9 in X 6 in, ink on paper
The truth is sometimes difficult to confront and react to. Most of what makes us uncomfortable is all too often rejected and, we simply walked away. That is the artist’s job, to force us to examine what sometimes we choose to shun and fear. That is why the world of art needs creators like Olason, to oblige us to gaze at a world without artifice or coloration.
"New Orleans Flamedog." 60 in X 72 in, acrylic on canvas