Meet Chad Olsen | Contemporary Artist|Painter

Shoutout Colorado – March 26, 2024

We had the good fortune of connecting with Chad Olsen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chad, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
In 2017, I was living in NYC. On the surface, I appeared to be very successful, but I was burned out and not happy. I recently became represented by Kiechel Fine Art in Lincoln, NE, and I was having trouble finding time to paint in the studio. After some soul searching, I realized that my time living in NYC had served its purpose. I made the decision to move back to my home state of Nebraska so I could focus more of my time in the art studio. I also had a goal to do a solo exhibition at Kiechel Fine Art.

Since that time, I have had three solo exhibitions at Kiechel Fine Art. I have created more paintings than I could have while living in NYC. I also met my wife. Those things would not have happened if I hadn’t made the difficult decision to move back to Nebraska.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a painter. My work aesthetically connects to abstraction and minimalism. Through oil painting, I like to explore texture and color to communicate emotions. I often find myself working to capture the atmospheres of nature and the emotions from being in these places.

My paintings are a balance of both the serenity and harshness of nature; areas of dramatic contrast are often tempered with a wash-like textural effect that creates a dream-like atmosphere. The overall effect is a marriage of intensity and calm.

My philosophy is rooted in Formalism. The most important aspect of my work is the way it is made and its visual aspects. A viewer does not need to know me personally or read a statement about my work to understand it. They only need to experience the work and come to their own conclusions.

Lately, I’ve been trying to tap into my unconscious mind while I paint. I want to see, through painting, if I can discover a new way of understanding my inner world and how it connects with the outer world. Most importantly, I want to see if connecting to my unconscious mind helps me create interesting paintings.

My professional art career began in Nebraska in 2010 after studying painting at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln under Aaron Holz and Keith Jacobshagen, followed by several years of living and working in New York City. While living in New York City, I sought solace in the natural world, psychologically returning to the Nebraska grasslands as a form of meditation and as a prevalent theme in my work. In 2017, I returned to Nebraska where I currently reside and maintain a studio in Kearney. I am represented by Kiechel Fine Art in Lincoln, Nebraska. They have been representing me since 2016. I have had three solo exhibitions and have been in several group exhibitions at Kiechel Fine Art.

Being an artist, the most important thing is making good/great art. Nothing else really matters. I have a standard that I set for myself, and I want to continue to raise that standard. Emotionally, it is challenging. I want people to like/love my artwork. I also want to sell my art and make money. I discovered that if I focus on what others think of my work, it affects my work negatively. I try my best to tune out the noise around me and make art that I want to make without worrying about sales.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Every summer, I make it a priority to go to Colorado to backpack, hike, and climb with my friend, Casey. My favorite part of Colorado is the San Isabel National Forest. I have climbed mountains in the Sawatch Range and the Collegiate Range. I’m hoping to climb mountains in the Sangre de Cristo Range in the Summer of 2024. All of Colorado is beautiful, but I have a special fondness for this area because of the time I spent with my friend in the backcountry. Even though I’m a flatlander from Nebraska, I feel like part of my heart is in the mountains of Colorado. Shinrin-yoku, or “Forest Bathing,” is my best healer. Mountaineering is challenging and can be dangerous. It is important to be mindful of yourself and your surroundings. I have to be in a state of being present and respectful to truly enjoy the wonders of the mountains. I have never been more aware of my breath than when I’m in the mountains.
My favorite towns to visit are Leadville, Buena Vista, and Salida. My favorite coffee shop in the state of Colorado is “City on the Hill Coffee” in Leadville. I always get a macchiato, a dark roast coffee, and an eclair cake when I pass through. Leadville also has great antique stores to browse.

In Buena Vista, they have a terrific diner called “Jan’s Restaurant”. I love their breakfast. It’s traditional diner food in the middle of Colorado. It hits the spot after being in the backcountry for a few days.

Lastly, there are natural hot springs in Chaffee County. I really enjoyed the Mount Princeton Hot Spring and Resort. I still need to experience the other hot springs in the area, such as Cottonwood Hot Springs and Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My wife, Karissa Johnson. She supports me unconditionally and encourages me when I’m doubtful.

Kiechel Fine Art. The owner, Buck Kiechel, gave me the opportunity to be one of the contemporary artists that they represent. I will forever be grateful to him for believing in me.