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Bettye Olson  (1923 - 2023)


An abstract expressionist painter, Bettye Olson worked with natural imagery depicting flowers, streams, oceans, mountains or entire landscapes with bold brushstrokes and vibrant colors.  She was an energetic pillar of the art community in Minnesota from the 1940s to the 2020s.  


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 Summit School in St. Paul, the University of Minnesota, Concordia University, St. Paul, and Augsburg University in Minneapolis.


Olson exhibited and lectured extensively and had over 49 one-woman exhibitions and 25 Group exhibitions.  She also 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, the Kuopio Art Museum of Finland, St. Olaf College, Augsburg University, Concordia University in St. Paul, Luther College, St. Catherine University, 3M Corporation, Pillsbury Corporation, HCMC Hospital, and many more.  


In 2017 Afton Press published a book, titled "Persistence of Vision: The Art of Bettye Olson," highlighting Bettye’s art and life.   

Recognized as one of Minnesota's most influential artists of the 20th century, Betty Olson passed away on April 16, 2023 at the age of 100.  


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