1) What led to becoming an artist or was that something natural?
I already knew when I was very young – I even carved it in wet concrete that is preserved up in Northern Alberta. The inscription says: Stanley Olthuis – 1961 – 9 yr old – Occupation Artist. I also included some First Nations style symbols – it looks very mystical and ancient.
2) Who were your major artistic influences?
Robert Rauschenberg, Willem DeKooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Salvadore Dali, Magritte, Claus Oldenberg, Tom Hodgson, Jim Dine, Tapies, Larry Rivers, Led Zeppelin, Talking Heads, Sigur Ros.
3) What did you learn from them?
Process is all-important. Look at things anew every moment.
4) What about your previous non-art experiences, what did you take from them into your art?
Action, gesture, time, layers, the human condition, seeking and asking.
5) What is the meaning of art for you?
Art comes from a place where words don't go and where feelings live.
6) What techniques do you find particularly useful?
Anything that serves the concept at hand. I have a broad range of materials experience and I try to stay open to mashing up any disciplines that can bring a new way of observation to life. I've done everything from drypoint etching to earth installations.
7) Who buys your art and why?
No specific type of person as far as I know. People who experience sensations and feelings when they are in front of the art that they would rather not live without.
8) How does your art reflect the city of Toronto more generally?
My 'Gowns' series is a direct reflection of the city. The inspiration came from the combination of the accidental beauty that results from construction hoardings randomly plastered in layers with posters and graffiti and then the effect time has on all of it revealing a constant change of view. Then I combined that inspiration with observations of fashion designer's pristine, glowing gowns in shop windows. Desire, promise and unscripted change define lives over time that are experienced and clearly evident living in the city.
9) How does your art reflect your personal beliefs?
I don't preach through my art – art is the result of my process that may reflect beliefs but I never do that consciously.
10) In your art where have you been?
In peaceful timeless places and at times in calculated problem solving places.
11) In your art, where do you want to go?
I'd like to continually build on lessons learned from bouts of unhinged discovery – whatever they may be. I'm just following my nose day by day.
12) Picasso said: “Good taste is the enemy of art.” Do you agree or disagree and why?
I can see why Picasso said that – accidents are the best teachers if you are open and aware. To conform to a pattern of common acceptance may be good in some endeavours but not in the creation of art. Artists must be the seers.
13) How important is good taste in art for you?
I don't think of it in my art. The process rules the outcome. When a calmness comes over me I know the piece is finished.
14) Yves Klein said: “My artworks are the ashes of my art.” What does that mean for you?
To me it means that the journey (process) is all important – one should put everything into each piece, each theory and unearth everything possible so as to leave nothing left to burn.
15) How can we encourage Toronto to be more artful?
Toronto has a reputation for being culturally alive but we are just at the starting point. Truly great cities have valued their full range of artists and have flourished in countless ways as a result. Our community and politicians have to be reminded that Toronto draws visitors, students, investors, and world attention as much for a vital cultural scene as it does for it's classic reputation for real estate opportunities, cleanliness and friendliness. All of the arts, when supported and encouraged to grow, help to build a city with openness, creativity, happiness, civility and diversity. Support your local neighborhood cultural events, vote for politicians who value culture, vote for mayors who understand how important culture is to the city, push for art programs in your schools, go out and join any clubs and organizations where you can get involved to develop seeds of your own creative spirit. Urge city officials to share our culture with other cities.
Stan Olthuis AOCA