A good friend and artist, Gerald Olson passed away this week after a short battle with cancer. He and his wife Sally recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Since his passing a couple of days ago I’ve spent some time reminiscing about our experiences together. This is the third artist friend that I’ve lost this year and it really started me thinking. Life is very short, and our associations are everything. I believe we not only live again after death, but that our associations continue in Heaven as well. So why not get started now? Lately I’ve become more involved in local art groups, and even signed up for workshops with other artists. I do not want to have to say when it’s too late, “I wish we had spent more time together.”
Photo at left: A wonderful display of some of Gerald Olson’s artist materials(including his well-worn green artist’s smock) that the Olson family lovingly set this up at the funeral to celebrate his life.
Jerry was the art department chairman when I began teaching at Dixie College in 1976, and became a mentor as he encouraged me along as a young teacher. As a former commercial artist I was confident in my own abilities, but he shook that confidence a lot when he assigned me to teach classes in photography, silk screen printing, and art for elementary teachers. I tried to stay one step ahead of the students and plowed through books night after night. But I enjoyed every minute of it and became grounded in art fundamentals that have affected my life in many ways since. Jerry never once criticized my teaching, but instead gave some helpful advice in gentle ways. After four years of teaching, I left Dixie College to begin a full-time painting career. Jerry continued teaching and retired in 1987. It’s hard to say how many lives have been affected by him, but I know hundreds of young students who have him to thank for their start in art.
As I left the funeral home tonight I asked Sally for one of Jerry’s oil painting brushes. I am going to save it, but before I put it away I’m going to honor his name by using it in my painting. I think he would like that.