Oliver Solmitz

Solmitz Image (2)As Oliver Walter Solmitz began to burnout in a Paramedic career that lasted more than twenty years, he returned to his calling in art.  This quest began with figure drawing at the Western Maine Art Group, and culminated with earning a BA in Architecture, summa cum laude, from the University of Maine at Augusta, in 2011. 

Beyond the architecture curriculum, Solmitz pursued fine art by choosing only drawing and painting electives for his BA.  The artist has also taken workshops at the Provincetown Art Association Museum School, Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill, and Maine College of Art, as well as having had the opportunity to study human figure painting under Cape Cod artist Sarah Holl. Additionally, Solmitz completed an apprenticeship with Organic Architect James Walter Schildroth that has led to nearly ten years of mentoring in which Solmitz learned to integrate real world constraints with very strong design principles.

Along with his drawing and design abilities, the artist honed his carpentry and cabinet making skills through the building of two homes to professional standards, leading to the qualities evident in his sculpture.  Strong carpentry skills as well as his knowledge and experience with earth sheltering allowed Solmitz to initiate, coordinate, and lead the 2011 restoration of the earth sheltered roof at the Underground Art Gallery of Cape Cod.  Solmitz did this work on a volunteer basis because the building had been designed and built by the well-known late Architect Malcolm Wells.  Solmitz, and everyone involved, hoped to preserve and perpetuate Wells’ legacy and vision for a sustainable future.

Rather than solving problems, the artist looks to the possibilities of design, hidden within.  This potential, coupled with the education in architecture, is the foundation on which Solmitz bases his conceptually driven work.  Although art in one medium informs another, painting is his favorite (even though it is easy to concentrate on color relationships at a cost to mark making).  Space, scale, and light as a unified whole, beyond the formal elements of two-dimensional work, can be found in much of Solmitz’s painting.  Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series have been influential in some of this work. Although Mr. Solmitz was good at realism, he has found the challenges of abstract expressionism as well as impressionism to be the most rewarding searches . . .

Solmitz finds inspiration in societal issues such as capitalism, materialism, and Peak Oil.  The social conscience work of Kathe Kollwitz has had a significant effect on the artist.  He is also inspired by Nature, and was greatly affected by spending some 16 years living off the grid in the woods of Western Maine’s foothills.  Solmitz likes to say, “Nature is my church” echoing those words of Architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

The principles behind Mr. Wright’s Organic Architecture have been fundamental to Solmitz’s art.  The artist sum’s it up as “creating an awareness of beyond while celebrating place”.  To Solmitz, this is one of the greatest powers that artwork can have with a people.  Through art, he hopes to be part of creating a future in which the cultural demise brought on by the industrial revolution is replaced with the opportunity Peak Oil presents.

The artist may be reached at: oliver.solmitz@maine.edu or via his website at: