“I have a major art crush on John McAllister,” says Nancy Andruk Olson. She found him on Instagram, which she began using a few years ago when she was getting back into painting after a motherhood-inspired hiatus. “Like all major crushes, I use the internet to stalk him regularly. The scope of his work is inspiring as well as the unique quality of his work. He is an unusual voice in the art world and seems to operate unaffected by trends, but in a place that he describes as, ‘serious about making beautiful paintings.'”
Raised in Los Angeles, Olson spent her childhood regularly attending museums with her family, most notably the Norton Simon Museum, which has a significant impressionist and post impressionist collection. These images remain firmly implanted in her mind and are where she continues to draw her aesthetic. She attended Art Center College of Design as a high school student and has a BFA in painting from BYU, where she spent most of her time working with Bruce Hixson Smith. She also has a post-baccalaureate certificate from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She just finished the Artist in Residence Program at the Bountiful Davis Art Center.
McAllister is also an Art Center alum: Maybe something was going on there that brings the two artists so close together? “He seems to be lost in the same dream-like space that I imagine myself to be,” Olson says. “Wandering in the work of the 19th-century colorists, he unabashedly uses color to transport the viewer away from nature to illusory space.”
Olson creates lush, dreamlike landscapes reminiscent of an imagined world. Her work is also characterized by the the use of broad, loose brushstrokes and vibrant color. “McCallister’s color palette is magical and perhaps the most inspiring aspect of his work. Although the color is fantasized, the color choices seem to be naturally placed and intended for each location. There is an ease and spontaneity to his work that makes it appear as though that is what nature intended it to be, like a found object. It is that subtlety that is so ethereal and intangible which I highly covet. That is what I am searching for, the connection to a nonexistent sphere that allows you to rest inside the painting and wonder if it is real. Maybe someday, I will get there, but for now I long to be like John McAllister, unfettered by the outside world, living in my own imagination.”
During the month of February we ask Utah artists about a specific piece of art or artist, living or not, local or global, that has sparked their curiosity or influenced their work. We run their responses throughout the month.