See “Luck Walk With Me” by Janie Olsen in the Artist of the Year’s exhibition “Animal Kingdom” through April 13 at the Schack Art Center in Everett.

See “Luck Walk With Me” by Janie Olsen in the Artist of the Year’s exhibition “Animal Kingdom” through April 13 at the Schack Art Center in Everett.

Janie Olsen’s paintings are reminiscent of children’s books

The Artist of the Year’s exhibition titled “Animal Kingdom” opens March 7 at the Schack Art Center.

EVERETT — It’s realism. But it’s magical.

Painter Janie Olsen — Schack Art Center’s 2019 Artist of the Year — produces the stuff of make-believe.

Think bejeweled creatures lopping through a mossy forest replete with detailed flora and fauna, myth and legend.

About 80 of Olsen’s acrylic paintings are on view in a solo exhibition titled “Animal Kingdom” through April 13 at the Schack. Olsen plans to be on hand at the opening from 5 to 8 p.m. today, March 7.

Longtime friend and fellow artist Karla Matzke, who also represents Olsen at her gallery on Camano Island, says Olsen’s work shouldn’t be confused with surrealism.

“She starts with realistic portraits of animals and adds mystical symbolism,” Matzke said. “Janie’s work brings me back to my childhood and those magical feelings you get from children’s books. I am so happy the Schack has recognized Janie and her fascinating work.”

Olsen, 62, grew up in Issaquah as Janie Williams, a girl who loved crayons and easels. After high school, she graduated from the Burnley School of Professional Art, the forerunner of the Art Institute of Seattle.

“I had wanted to go to Cornish (College of the Arts), but graphic art was a sure way to make money,” Olsen said.

The Bellevue-based Rena Ware cookware company employed Olsen for 38 years, keeping her busy with photography and layout design for its catalogs. Despite her full-time job and while rearing two children, Olsen continued to paint.

“There was never a time when I wasn’t painting,” said Olsen, who now lives in Monroe with her dog Arrow. “I like to be busy. My paintings are busy. I quit my job a year ago, and now I can’t stop painting. I have to paint each day.”

Inspiration for her work comes from the likes of Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, Jamie Wyeth and her grandmother’s Swedish children’s books.

“And I’ve always loved animals. I was raised with with animals, and so were my kids,” said Olsen, who has names for each of the hummingbirds that feed in her back garden.

“The ideas of nature, romance, chaos and opposites — good versus evil and ugly versus beauty — are elements in my paintings.”

Olsen does her own framing, and the computer skills she learned at Rena Ware have helped Olsen prepare for the work she does making prints of her paintings.

Her prints and paintings are offered for sale at the Schack, as well as at Matzke’s gallery, The Curious Nest in Seattle and A Lot of Flowers in Bellingham.

“It is a great honor to be named Artist of the Year by the Schack,” Olsen said. “I was not expecting it at all. I am sure this will be the biggest show of my life.”

Since 1992, the Schack Art Center (previously Arts Council of Snohomish County) has annually recognized a local artist to celebrate her or his artistic excellence and achievements in the visual arts.

Also opening today at the Schack is a group exhibit titled “Pets on Parade,” which offers a tribute to pets through the eyes of 40 regional artists. The works include acrylic, watercolor, photography, ceramics and sculpture.

If you go

Artist of the Year Janie Olsen’s “Animal Kingdom” and the group exhibit “Pets on Parade” are displayed through April 13 at the Schack Art Center, 2921 Hoyt Ave., Everett. Opening reception is 5 to 8 this evening. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Call 425-259-5050. More information, including about Schack art classes, is available at www.schack.org.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Urban treats prove Switzerland is more than its pristine alpine meadows

For interesting art, colorful old towns and serene waterfront settings, be sure to stop in Zürich, Luzern and Lausanne.

ITA Airways lost my luggage. Why won’t it cover my expenses?

Jacqueline Bartolini spends $992 after ITA Airways loses her luggage. It wants to reimburse her for just $733.

Pleasant and progressive, Oslo puts its people first

Every time I come to Norway, I’m fascinated by their experiment in big government, and how little people are bothered by high taxes.

College kids home for the summer? Expect it to be a balancing act for all

They’ve tasted independence and some of the privileges of adulthood. So, how can parents make this an easier transition?

Denise McKenzie, who has been a bartenders at Kuhnle’s Tavern for many years, works behind the bar on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After 106 years, Kuhnle’s Tavern in Marysville is closing

Come say farewell Sunday from noon to midnight at the historic bar with five beers on tap and a 50-cent pay phone.

Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Hop on over to Whidbey Island for a garden tour on Saturday, then rock out with local bands in Everett on Saturday night.

Great Plant Pick: Sapphire indigo clematis

What: A profusion of royal purple flowers burst forth in early summer… Continue reading

Decorative floral violet background from a blooming Nepeta cataria catnip, catswort, catmint with bright bee.
Please pollinators with perennials like hyssop, catmint and cape fuschia

Newer cultivars of perennials simply bloom longer, quenching our cravings for color and extending the benefit to bees.

Mountlake Terrace maintenance crew Ty Burns begins demolishing “the bunkers” on Monday, June 10, 2024 in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Eyesore no more: After decades, Mountlake Terrace bunkers bite the dust

The bunkers held a storehouse of history, much of it moldy, outdated and unwanted.

Subaru Forester Touring SUV (Photo provided by Subaru)
2025 Subaru Forester Touring

Don’t look now, the 2025 model year vehicles are beginning to hit… Continue reading

Hitting a homer is hard for most. On this machine, we all have a chance

This restored 1930s Jennings slot machine — with candy prizes for knocking it out of the park — sold for $3,840 at auction.

Airbnb host banned after spilling food in another host’s home

Airbnb bans River Roberts after he accidentally spills food on his host’s sofa. Will he ever be able to book another rental?

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.