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Dianna Molzan and Alex Olson artist talk

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I had to opportunity visit the exhibition "Painter Painter", curated by Eric Crosby personally, with my painting class. It was definitely helpful to see these pieces in person, and to be provided with background information from Eric about the artists and the works themselves.

I was excited to attend the talk because I was interested in hearing more information from the artists about their inspirations, art processes, and their personalities. But I was slightly disappointed. When the artists were asked where they drew inspiration from, it seemed like they were dodging the question by being slightly vague in their responses. The overall energy of the talk was slightly awkward because it looked like Alex, Dianna, and Eric were unsure how to delve deeper in certain topics. Difficult questions were asked by Crosby such as style, which were never truly answered and were forgotten.
There were a lot of awkward silences on stage. Molzan and Olson looked like they did not want to take part in the artist talk, and it seems like their personalities were removed.
From observing the lecture as a whole, I learnt that a more engaging artist talk requires the artist to actually connect and involve the audience such as Laylah Ali's talk.

I did appreciate Alex delving into the topic of life as an artist, and the struggles and acceptance that failure is very much a part of the art process. Learning from these mistakes and trying different solutions until something clicks is definitely something I find very rewarding in my art practice.

Alex Olson and Dianna Molzan

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After the Laylah Ali talk, I had been fairly excited to see what the next talk would consist of, especially with it being through the Walker, whose exhibits I often thoroughly enjoy. Unfortunately, the talk ended up being one of the most frustrating, unhelpful, and at times even infuriating things I have taken part in.

As a preface, I think both of these artists are immensely talented. After looking at their work both in Painter, Painter and online, I was impressed by their brushwork, the subtlety of their patterns, and especially Molzan's examinations of how the canvas and the piece interact. That said, I felt that neither of them wanted to be at the artist talk, and were downright hostile towards the audience.

For much of the talk, both of the artists and the moderator seemed to be embroiled in a private conversation, referring to private jokes, leaving sentences unfinished and speaking in very general terms about their work. Sometimes, one of the artists would speak for a good bit of time, but I would feel that almost nothing had been said at the end of it. Both artists appeared visibly uncomfortable for much of the talk, and didn't show much of their own work at all, making it fairly difficult to connect what they were saying with concrete examples in their work. I understand that a certain level of foreknowledge is expected, but to expect everyone in the audience to know their entire catalogue well seems a bit silly to me.

The breaking point of the lecture came for me during the question and answer portion, however. After a woman asked a question, that although a bit oddly worded, had a good point, those on stage absolutely savaged her and her question. As someone who appreciates hearing artists talk about fellows who challenge them and intrigue them, I too was curious to hear what artists in the exhibition Molzan and Olson found interesting. So when Molzan flippantly dismissed the woman's question as "from the American Idol mindset of wanting to compare everyone and pick one winner," I was frankly offended and shocked. I was thankful when the lecture ended and I could leave.
In the end, the talk served for me as an example of what not to do in an artist lecture: do not treat your audience poorly, do not create a private club on stage, do not only half-heartedly engage with the proceedings, and most of all, do not enter unwillingly. I was extremely frustrated directly after the talk, but continued reflection has made me glad for the lessons I learned that day.

-Trevor Spriggs

Diana Molzan / Alex Olson


I felt that during this lecture for the Painter, Painter exhibit, there was a lot of strange energy coming from the stage. The mediator did not seem interested in following the direction that either Molzan or Olson wanted to go in and continuously posed very difficult questions. I believe that this tension did not allow the audience to get as intellectually involved with the discussion that was occurring as possible. For instance, the mediator posed a question about style and how it is not supposed to be "constructed" anymore. I noticed that Molzan especially tried to move away from the question because she did not understand what "too stylish" was, but the mediator continued to push it. It clearly began to make Molzan uncomfortable on the stage.

The personalities of both Molzan and Olson were very removed I believe. They did not seem to ever be too interested in what they were doing and spoke with a slight emotional disconnect. I am curious as to whether or not it is LA culture to act like that as an artist, because from what I have heard, that seems to be the norm.

I felt that Molzan talked about an interesting concept with her work about wanting herself completely removed. She was not totally ignorant to the fact that that was impossible, but she noted it as her goal. I had a quiet, guilty pleasured reaction when looking at her work after the lecture because I knew it was not meant to be analyzed. I could stand there and ponder it, merely to experience its physicality.

Lastly, the structure of the conversation was not well developed. The mediator did not walk the audience through work of the artists while they were speaking and I felt like there was little connection between the audience and the conversation that was happening on stage.

Dianna Molzan and Alex Olson

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I was not able to attend this talk in the flesh, but I did watch it via video on the Walker's website. Considering this fact, I did not have much context for the artist's conversation, which I found somewhat closed-off and a bit too abstract for my taste. Although some might say the format of the other artist's talk may have been more like a history lesson, I appreciated how they did not expect those who attended to already be familiar with their work and to know how this work came to be.

With this talk, it felt like the two artists and the questioner were having a private conversation, with almost no regard to how the audience would react. I guess it was interesting to hear about their lives in Los Angeles, and how they could be a part of a flourishing artist community while also having the option of retreating, but to be honest that is true of most places. If I wanted to hole up in my apartment in Minneapolis (or even Brooklyn, NY) and make art for a while, I could easily do the same thing. To be honest, I had a hard time following exactly what they were talking about because I lacked context and they weren't talking much about specific works. The way they talked about how they worked instead of the actual product was somewhat interesting, but it would have been more to my liking if they talked more about why and way their works were actually about.

Dianna Molzan and Alex Olson

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I was not able to make it to the talk given at the Walker but I have been able to go and see the Painter, Painters exhibit. While I was there I felt like I could spend hours walking through the exhibit without getting tired of it, which is strange for me because I don't normally like spending all my time observing more of the abstract painting, I typically prefer more of the realistic paintings and sculptures. Both Dianna and Alex have such unique and creative ways of working and I really appreciate their originality. I know that both of these artists have had quite an influence in LA and I think it would be really interesting to be able to go to places that artists such as Dianna and Alex are more comfortable in to see where they draw their inspiration from. From what I've heard of the talk given by Dianna Molzan and Alex Olson, I didn't really miss much by not going but I know from reading up on them a little bit and they both seem to be very successful artists and I found it really surprising that they seemed to have such a difficult time connecting with the audience.

Dianna Molzan and Alex Olson


As I sat in the talk for Dianna Molzan and Alex Olson, I quickly found myself appreciating and simultaneously becoming discouraged by the fact that the format of this talk was so different than others we had attended. Its structure as more of an observed conversation was interesting to say the least, and it led to a much more informal time than we had previous experienced, when other artists had prepared exactly what they were going to mention and talk about. On the other hand, I was disappointed that Molzan and Olson did not focus more directly on their works, instead talking about other parts of the artist's life. This was remedied to a certain extent at the end, when they showed numerous pictures of the artists' paintings, but I still wished that they had been able to talk more about them.
I thought it was particularly engaging when they talked about living in an artist's town like Los Angeles. One of them mentioned that they have a community around them when they want it, but that they can also withdraw from it for months at a time if necessary. I certainly could appreciate the need for a social life at certain times in the creation of art, which is primarily a solitary activity. I believe they also mentioned not keeping regular "work hours" instead being constantly "at work." I think that this is also an important point for people to remember, especially since ideally doing art is something the artist loves. If they insist on treating it like work, it becomes work, and it won't be something they love to do anymore.

Dianna Molzan and Alex Olson


Unfortunately, I was unable to the Painter Painter show, but I have seen their work before and it was nice that they showed which works were in the exhibit. I was a little disappointed with this talk, though. I felt that it was a little boring and Erik asked them questions about things in their personal lives that I felt like you needed to know about them to understand this talk. I was also disappointed that they didn't talk more about the process they go through to create their works rather than so much talk about their lives in Los Angeles at the beginning of the talk. I was very glad that an audience member had made a comment about not showing their work, because when they had finally shown more examples of their work it was easier to grasp how they work as artists.
I do enjoy their work a lot, they each have a specific way of working and it's easy to tell whose work belongs to whom. I feel like Diane should be considered more of a sculpture rather than a painter because she makes her canvases into three-dimensional works and uses materials other than paints. I was glad that an audience member asked her a question relating to the same thoughts I had on the sculpture aspect of her work. She seemed to explain that she was indeed a painter because she painted on these works. I view Alex's work to be more of a painters work because her works are two-dimensional paintings.

-Moriah Kelly

Visiting Artists Lecture #5 - Dianna Molzan with Alex Olson

Bailey Haack
14 March 2013

The talk this week with Dianna Molzan and Alex Olson was a little bit dry compared with the past couple weeks. Though I enjoyed both of their work, and they both seemed like interesting people, the talk seemed unrehearsed and somewhat awkward, and the format of the questions being asked was not very conducive to getting any fascinating, lively conversation going.

Both artists discussed working in Los Angeles, and how there are many different outlets and places to show art there - their example of the apartment gallery shows was very interesting to me, and I wonder if there are people doing that kind of thing here in the cities, or if it's just a West coast thing. They were both very individual artists, and neither one seemed interested in working with - or even around - another artist. They described how they hide away in their studios and how they both like to be in complete control of their works - though both of them work in a less image-based, more abstract aesthetic style.

I thought it was interesting that both of them described wanting their works to project ideas out, but also wanting the viewers to be able to project their own views in onto the works. They both described their works as having a narrative, but the narrative isn't necessarily about the artist.

The part of their talk that engaged me the most was when they were asked the question, "What do you reference, or do you reference, within your art?" Both of the artists seemed to have a difficult time answering, and Dianna noted that, though she is sure that her general exposure to the world surely fuels her work, she isn't always logically thinking about what/if she is referencing others in her work. This got me thinking about the importance or unimportance of studying art to creating art. We absorb bits and pieces of the world as we go about our lives, and I have always believed that this absorption can be as beneficial as any class, especially if we are conscious of it. The two artists were somewhat negative about their school experiences, and I wonder how much of their art/aesthetic learning came from school, and how much from simply absorbing through their creative minds.

Dianna Molzan & Alex Olson

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The talk with Dianna Molzan and Alex Olson was rather a bit confusing to me. I first regret that I wasn't able to visit the exhibition, "Painter, Painters." If I were able to visit the exhibition beforehand, I will be able to understand and connect more about the artist inspiration and the intention of both artist's work. But, I felt that the talk was still unorganized, which the system would have been better to show both of their work and put in as the discussion format in the beginning rather than showing them at the end while the audience members asked a question to show the work. Since I am not a painter, I had some difficulties to engage with the artists. However, the artist work was quite interesting; abstracted and utilized varieties of materials into the painting with the unique display.

Overall, the audience discussion panel was the most engaging moment of the talk. The audience definitely asked interesting question for the artist to answer in a unique way and I liked how the audience had lot of opportunity to ask the artist a question. But, as I said in the beginning, it was rather inconvenient that that the overall talk was unorganized and dry at the same time. If the talk was organized, I would have definitely would be engaged more on listening to the talk.

Dianna Molzan & Alex Olson at the Walker


I was excited about attended the talk with Dianna Molzan & Alex Olson at the Walker Art Center. I had the opportunity to see the exhibition , "Painter, Painters." before I attended the talk which helped a lot because I had a background of the work of each artist. Even with the background of seeing the work it was hard to make connects. I wanted to hear more about their processes and the expresses. It would have also been nice to hear more about how these artists gained contact with the Walker to have their work in the show.
I thought it was inappropriate for one of the audience members to ask Dianna and Alex their reviews of the show.It was not a critic of the other work!!! I just wished I had gained more about the processes of the painters and how to become involved in a show like "Painter, Painters."
-Nina A.

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