Husband & Husband: Lon Michels and Todd Olson
September 15 to November 10, 2017
Opening Reception: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, September 15, 2017
Review: Kat Kneevers, Shepherd Express, “Exuberance Side by Side.”
Review: Wisconsin Gazette, “Shared Lives in Art”
Video interview: Husband and Husband, Kat Kneevers for Shepherd Express
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Gallery Night recommendations
Portrait Society is pleased to present its first exhibition of work by Lon Michels and Todd Olson as well as the first exhibition where they have shown their work side-by-side.
The couple resides in Lodi, Wisconsin with their dog Bazzy on a hilltop with grounds that they have cultivated to summon a Claude Monet state of mind. Lon Michels began painting as a child under the tutelage of his mother who was an artist. After many years in New York as Louise Nevelson’s studio assistant and a model for Calvin Klein, Michels found his way back to Wisconsin with his partner Todd Olson. He completed his MFA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007. About nine years ago, Todd also began painting. Because Lon wanted him to have something to do while he was in the studio, the most logical solution was to teach Todd to paint.
Todd’s work has subsequently flourished with a similar but distinctive style. Both compose paintings with detailed, vibrant patterns, which, they say, allude to the positive human and spiritual energy they seek in daily life, having both endured health crises and other challenges in their pasts. The art critic for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mary Louise Schumacher said, “Every face, every fold of fabric, every inch of space is brimming with textile like designs.”
In their first side-by-side show, Lon and Todd take over the entire gallery (all three rooms) with masterworks that will be shown for the first time including some paintings of the same subject, such as Icarus and Daedalus, rendered from live models in the studio. Also included is a suite of paintings done while they were in Ecuador last winter, several recent portraits, and paintings based on vistas in Lodi.
As a statement of their abiding love for one another as well as a document attesting to the legal rights of human beings to partner and live in freedom and equality, their marriage license, secured in California several years ago, will be on display and central to the theme, Husband & Husband.
Lon Michels’ work is in many prominent collections, including the Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, where his 8 x 10 foot interpretation of “The Last Supper,” is on display in the permanent contemporary collection.