Jan Olsson is best known for edgy Paris cityscapes.
In jazzy expressionist works, human figures float in angular spaces, and coffee cups hover over round café tables.
Her new show at Davis Dominguez does a 180.
Instead of Paris, where Olsson now lives, she paints the Tucson desert and other remembered childscapes. Instead of arty, urban sophisticates, she has a mother, a father, and three children, repeated again and again in painterly acrylics on canvas. Drawn from memory, these soft-edged works are elegies to the past.
One of the most powerful—and mournful—of the works, "The Rock Hunter," pictures a woman in a 1950s dress. She stands young and strong in the familiar desert, but we can't exactly make out her features: her face is the blurred face of dreams and loss. Even the desert seems conjured out of the past: painted in rough swathes of paint, it's colored in the muted tones of memory.
In "Family on the Beach," father, daughter, and small son in 1950s bathing suits stand on the shiny wet sand at the edge of the sea. Painted so loosely that the paint drips down the canvas, its figures look ready to disappear.
Olsson's marvelous new paintings are part of the three-woman show "New Figurative Works," an energetic exhibition that at Davis Dominguez Gallery.
Sculptor Judith Stewart of Rancho Linda Vista shows her ethereal, but cracked, neoclassical sculptures of women. This go-round, she also shows us the origins of these serene 3-D figures. The walls are filled with large-scale canvases from her grad school years. Brilliantly colored figures—both male and female—cavort across bright yellow backgrounds whose paint has been slashed onto the canvas in bold strokes.
Tucson painter Charlotte Bender returns with her usual quirky paintings of landscape wrapped in cloth, but she's also ventured into cheerful works like "To and Fro." Its sun-splashed Tucson patio is made modernist by its enclosure: it's hemmed in by landscape paintings-within-a-painting.
Davis Dominguez is not the only gallery heralding the New Year with fresh work. Baker + Hesseldenz, at neighboring 100 E. Sixth St., is exhibiting muted color photos by Norwegian artist Ole Marius Jørgensen through Jan. 23. His moody northern images capture both the beauty of the frozen landscape and the crushing isolation it imposes. The gallery will celebrate with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 3, during the First Saturday group openings. 760-0037; www.bakerhesseldenz.com.
The adjacent Contreras Gallery, 110 E. Sixth, debuts a new suite of bright and wild animal paintings by Tucson artist Mary Theresa Dietz, 6 to 9 p.m. during First Saturday. 398-6557; www.contrerashousefineart.com. "Pequeños: A Small Works Exhibition," the Christmas show at Raices Taller 222, remains up through Jan. 10. 218 E. Sixth St. 881-5335. Scheduled to open for First Saturday, the gallery is at 218 E. Sixth St. 881-5335.
Conrad Wilde, nearby in the Steinfeld Warehouse, 101 W. Sixth St., also opens First Saturday to celebrate the inaugural exhibition in its renovated new space. "Extra Ordinary," reviewed in Tucson Weekly Dec. 18, showcases six innovative artists who use ordinary materials like plywood and PVC piping to make extraordinary art. 622-8997; www.conradwildegallery.com.
Philabaum Glass Gallery, on the south end of Downtown, has extended "Wired: A Fusion of Glass & Copper," the second collaboration between Tucson's glass maven Tom Philabaum and metal artists Wes Hunting and Wesley Hunting. Their works, combining glistening glass and shiny metal, make for a sparkly welcome to the New Year. The exhibit continues through Jan. 31, at 711 S. Sixth Ave. www.philabaum glass.com. Note: Philabaum and Davis Dominguez are closed the evening of First Saturday.