Hello! Olson-Larsen Galleries Director, Alyss Vernon here... As I approach my sixth year as Gallery Director, I am thinking about the countless guests I have greeted and the wonderful clients I have helped find art they love. Even though I always offer to answer any questions guests may have about the artwork on display in the gallery, I still occasionally hear the words “I just don’t get it”, either sheepishly or emphatically uttered. 


Well, if you have said that to yourself more than once, you are not alone. If you are intimidated by contemporary art or if you feel like there is something you’re simply missing, don’t worry, we are here to help you “get it”. 


No gatekeeping. No judgement.


Keep reading to learn 3 simple tips as you start or continue your art appreciation journey.

01 |  You do not need an art history degree or years of training to find art you connect with. Art is for everyone! When you first walk into a museum or gallery, check all of your pre-conceived expectations at the door and be open to the unexpected. Start by accessing and fine-tuning your observation skills. Look at things like size, colors, basic shapes, subjects, or anything else that you see. Once you get a good sense of the big picture, zoom in closer and look for textures. Identify the materials used, or find a hidden gem you didn’t see from six feet away.

02 |  Ask yourself if the elements you have observed so far remind you of anything specific. Do any of your personal experiences relate to the piece you are observing? Let your mind wander without judgement and follow that train of thought, wherever it may lead. 



03 |  Remember you still don’t have any expectations, right? Good. Now take what you have observed, what you associate those observations with, and then explore how those elements make you feel. I know, feelings can be scary. Embrace it. This is supposed to be fun, after all. 


Do the blues in that beach scene or fluffy clouds you’re looking at make you feel calm? Are you unsettled by the dark shadows on one side of the painting or the red stripe running across the canvas? Maybe you’re confused about the artist’s intention or what the story is. Turn your confusion into a story about the piece that makes sense to you. One of the best things about art is that it can be like a choose-your-own-adventure book. If there was something about the piece that the artist wanted viewers to know, they would make it evident. So, interpretation is up to you! How great is that?

We can install pretty much anything

Perfect piece for this space

Try before you buy

If you are still feeling a little lost after this exercise, remember to start small and give yourself a break. It’s more than OK to not have a reason for liking something. Sometimes gravitating toward art simply because it’s pretty can be liberating. You might not have profound thoughts about every single piece you come across, but I bet you will find something you liked about the experience. You might even discover something about yourself and your personal aesthetics you didn’t realize before.

As always, we are here to help you along the way. We have been asked all the questions one could possibly think of about art, so don’t be shy! We will probably have some questions ready to ask you so that we can get closer to finding artwork you love. 



Can’t quite visualize what will fit best in your space? No problem! We can bring a selection of artwork you like to your home or office so you can try before you buy. Once you decide on your favorites, let us know if you’d like to explore one of our 0% interest payment plans. 



See art. Know art. Buy art. Simple as that. 



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542 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
United States
542 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
United States
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