Southside’s new exhibit is ‘whimsical with a twist’

Posted on Mar 8 2016 - 9:21am by Shelby Pack

The latest exhibit at Southside Gallery features the eclectic and fun works of Maggie Russell, Jay Jensen and Wendy Olson.

As you’re walking on the Square this month, you will be sure to notice a large, mint green canvas portraying a young woman in a glittery pink mask peering out from the window of Southside. This work is the playful painting “She likes to shop at party city” by Maggie Russell.

“The pieces and titles are largely intuitive,” Russell said about the canvas. “Oftentimes, a person takes on the role of the spectacle. They act out positively or negatively and await reaction from the onlooker. I sometimes wonder if we really are all connected to each other and the only thing that separates us is a veil of ‘us and them.’  The mask is that sort of veil. It’s tricky because while it throws a bit of a wrench into the whole thing, it’s still pretty alluring.  As far as the title goes, all of the titles really, I just needed to add some levity to it all and make myself laugh.”

Her works largely feature her favorite medium, charcoal, mixed with a pop of color in the form of paint or glitter or sometimes both. Russell describes her pieces as “quirky works and imaginings,” and she could not be more spot on in her description.

Husband and wife Jay Jensen and Wendy Olson are also showcased in this exhibit.
“I think it’s just really cool that I got to share this space with Jay Jensen and Wendy Olson,” Russell said of her fellow artists. “It’s just cool to be in their ranks.”
Both Jensen and Olson have ceramic works currently on display, but this month Olson features her paintings in Southside as well.

“I like to work in a medium that translates my ideas in the best possible way,” Olson said. “Most of the time that is ceramics and painting. I also really appreciate having the opportunity to create both paintings and ceramic work, and have them shown together.”
Jensen’s pottery is as useful as it is artistic, something he said he values greatly, and his favorite pieces reflect that.

“I like the small cups that have blue and tan glaze,” he said. “I find that cups are simple and fun things to make. They are very functional and that is important to me.”
Although Jensen and Olson’s preferences of mediums and techniques vary slightly, their style and inspiration stems from a very similar place.
“I’m always inspired by everyday events, especially when they involve humor or if there is an event that’s quirky in some way,” Olson said about the vision behind her pieces.
Much in this same way does Russell draw from life in order to create.

“I roll along throughout life for a while like a tumbleweed picking up debris and the more I move, the more that I collect,” Russell said. “Eventually I have to unload all of that and the result is my art.  Sometimes it’s a waiting game for the moment of inspiration to spark but when it does, the work keeps coming until the ideas run out.”
The roots of this exhibit are found in the everyday realities, resulting in a powerfully poignant display. Olson describes it best as “whimsical with a twist.”

This exhibit will be open through April 2.

– Shelby Pack