John Olsen was a professional wood carver, an artisan working in an art form he learned in Norway. More than a hobby, wood carving was his livelihood for his entire working life. Fortunately, his three works shown here have remained in our family, gifts to my parents from John. John's work, to my extraordinarily untrained eye, seems to have been influenced by European art styles of earlier periods more than those in favor in his time.
Set of Two Friezes: Religious Figures
EACH OF THESE FIGURES OF MARY AND JESUS STAND ABOUT 4 FEET TALL, WITH FLAT BACKS SO AS TO BE HUNG ON A WALL. THEY WERE GIFTS TO MY MOTHER FROM HER STEP FATHER, JOHN OLSEN. AFTER MY PARENTS’ DEATHS, THEY WERE HOUSED FOR MANY YEARS IN THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH IN LOWELL, MASS.
PROFILE OF MARY
Trio of Sculptured Candlestick Holders
AS WE SEE HERE, JOHN’S TALENTS EXTENDED NOT ONLY TO THE SACRED BUT THE PROFANE. THIS SET OF 3 FIGURES IN FORM OF CANDLE STICK HOLDERS WAS, I BELIEVE, A WEDDING GIFT TO MY PARENTS.
DETAIL ON BASE OF CENTRAL CANDLE STICK HOLDER.
Sculptured Bust: Abraham Lincoln
BUST OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. TODAY, IN OUR LIVING ROOM IN ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA, ABE FACES SOUTH, PERHAPS EXPLAINING THE LOOK OF CONCERN ON HIS FACE.
Lincoln Bust on Shelf (family photograph)
IN THIS PHOTO OF DAD, MOM AND ME TAKEN CIRCA 1944-1945, YOU CAN SEE LINCOLN'S BUST ON THE SHELF TO THE RIGHT OF DAD’S HEAD. THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN IN THE LIVING ROOM OF OUR HOME AT 42 MONADNOCK AVENUE, LOWELL, MASS.
John Olsen displaying bust of Lincoln
IN THIS PHOTO, YOU SEE JOHN OLSEN PRESENTING THE BUST OF ABE, APPARENTLY JUST COMPLETED. JOHN AND ABE ARE IN THE FRAME OF THE ENTRANCE TO THE OUT-BUILDING BEHIND THE OLSEN HOUSE IN WEYMOUTH WHERE JOHN DID HIS CARVING.