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An expressionist painter, Bettye Olson works with natural imagery depicting flowers, streams, oceans or entire landscapes with bold brush strokes and vibrant colors that intermittently reverse the typical theory applied to complementary contrasting hues.
Olson graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1945 and went on to earn a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Minnesota in 1949. Olson also studied under pioneer modernist Jo Lutz Rollins at the Stillwater Art Colony as well as at the University of New Mexico in Taos and the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. She was one of the founding members of the West Lake Gallery and ran it for 20 years. She also taught art at Concordia University, St. Paul and Augsburg College in Minneapolis.
Olson has exhibited and lectured extensively and has had over 56 one-woman exhibitions, participated in 16 Minnesota State Fair art shows and was a judge at the State Fair in 2000. Her works are represented in many permanent collections including: Walker Art Center, the Weisman Art Museum, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Smaland Museum of Sweden and the Kuopio Art Museum of Finland. An Afton Press book highlighting Bettye’s art and life was published in 2017.