TYPE-A BOHEMIAN, OLIVIA DAANE, FINDS HER VOICE ELEVATED WITH BUTTERFLY WINGS
In 2011 my wife and I walked into LivAspenArt Gallery on the Aspen mall; the exhibit was hip and flowing with good vibes. Young and old were mixing and mingling over a group showing of local artists. The vivacious, captivating gallery owner introduced herself as Olivia. An intoxicating enthusiasm carried the conversation. Her animated gestures and the passion she held for her artists was apparent. We felt very comfortable in her gallery and interested in the artists she represented with such zeal. My wife and I bought a piece from her that night... and I remember thinking that she was the type of person any artist would be lucky to have as a champion of his or her work.
Olivia, 49, was top of her class, receiving a B.A. from Vanderbilt University in 1992, she then went on to study at the University of Syracuse undergraduate and graduate courses in Florence, Italy followed by an apprenticeship with respected artist Paul Harmon.
Our paths were to cross again in the near future. After finding my studio at Aspen Highlands, it put me in the special place of being Olivia’s closest neighbor. Our studio doors are twenty feet apart. We share many ideas of the art world and the creative process. What works, what doesn’t, how to manage the business of being an artist, other arty and not so arty things as well. The opportunity to write about her came to me. So on a blustery afternoon at her Aspen studio, I got to talk artist to artist about what makes her a Type-A Bohemian atop the Continental Divide who shares her love of painting through the beautiful wings of butterflies.
“Holy lucky me!” is the first thing out of her mouth as we settle into the chairs in her studio, where canvases are in various states of completion.
She is bouncing with excitement as I begin the interview. Mostly because she is heading to a self-admitted major milestone; showing her work at Aqua Art Miami during ArtBasel and ArtMiami week where she will be unveiling an impressive ceramic installation.
I ask, “What makes you think you are so lucky?”
“Because you channel something and share it with someone whether it’s paint or words, and it touches them.”
“And that makes you lucky?”
“Yes, to do it for a living is fantastic”. It is apparent to me that she has embraced the sacrifice it requires to deliver your vision and connect with your audience.
“Do you feel like you work all the time?”
With no hesitation she answers, “YES, there is the sense that your work is never done... always thinking the next piece will be better, always more to give and no guarantee that you will receive what you seek. Always thinking, what could be? Then finding the time to do it.”
The challenge of being supported by one’s artistic efforts alone can be monumental on its face. Olivia does this in addition to being a super mom to her 20 year old daughter, Ki-Lin and her 11 year old son, Daane.
As most things that happen in Aspen, where the world’s most influential come to share ideas and play, she sat next to the Chief of the Open Forum at the Aspen Ideas Festival who was working for Mike Pompeo the Secretary of State. Being in charge of selecting persons to participate in the summit, he asked Olivia to participate after learning of her multi-faceted talents. At the conference, she interacted on design, biomimicry, and how limits are self-imposed. The conference reinforced the idea to Olivia that we should look to nature for design and ideas that might improve our odds of sustainability. Describing her experience she excitedly states, “I like to think outside the box.”
“IT’S THE ENERGY OUTSIDE THE BOX I SEEK”
I have to stop her for a moment. “Come on Olivia, isn't that a throwaway statement?” I suggest the box is pretty big, “you really think outside the box?”
She considers, and recalibrates, “It’s the energy outside the box I seek.” It is apparent that she has found that energy and shares it through the wings of the beautiful butterflies she paints.
I ask, “What is it about the butterfly?” Her eyes light up,“They represent both the very real potential of transformation as well as the magical parts of life that give us wings, help us dream. They are temporary and fragile.”
One can sense the passion she pours into painting these magical creations. The buoyancy, her enthusiasm, is ever present in each stroke of the brush.
I can attest to the power of her work, one of her baby butterflies resides in my daughter’s room, a beacon of energy and excitement to anyone close to it. One of her truly favorite possessions, as I imagine it is to the hundreds of collectors that have one as well.
Walking by the Opera Gallery Aspen, which is one of thirteen global locations, I see her butterfly paintings hanging next to a Sam Francis. I can’t help but smile. The Type-A bohemian atop the Rockies has truly found and continues to find herself in the best of company. I feel very lucky to call her friend, and colleague. To those who collect her beautiful work, they should feel lucky as well.
When in Aspen, do yourself a favor and find Olivia Daane, the quintessential guarantee to an unforgettably memorialized visit.