Gift of Life

Updated: March 2, 2013


When the Carnegie Museum exhibit opened in December 1992, I was a vibrant healthy 47 years old, and in the same year was named "International Collectible Artist of the Year".
International Collectible Artist of the Year




Inside Cover Page from the

brochure of the Interenational

Collectible Exposition, Long

Beach, California * March, 1993


Photo of Bob before entering the hospital.

By the time the exhibit closed the following March 1993, I had entered the hospital for an operation for cancer of the colon and came out of the hospital as what I would describe as a "little old man." The operation did not go well and I almost lost my life. It took me a full 2 years to recover from the month I had spent in intensive care. 

At my lowest point, I was given last rites.  As I lay there listening to the prayers, I made myself two promises:  If I survived, I would leave my job at Goebel and I would propose to my girlfriend, Eva.  After two more operations and a team of specialists, I survived. 

When I returned home from the hospital I was so weak that just walking around our cul de sac was a huge effort.  So with that it was some time before I entered my art studio at the house.   When I finally sat down at my carving bench, there before me attached to my carving mount was the unfinished Nativity Angel. 

On the bench next to her were the completed wings waiting to be attached.  In all the excitement of the Anaheim Convention, the Carnegie Museum Show, and the stress of the upcoming cancer operation, I didn’t give much thought to the unfinished Angel, I had been working on for the Goebel Nativity.

Tears fill my eyes as I write this, as I remember that morning in the quiet of my studio, all alone being confronted with this wingless messenger, The Nativity Angel.  I can truly say that in my great time of need I was bridged by an Angel.  As you look at the comprehensive lists and see the great number of pieces I have worked on, I would feel wrong to  think that working on this particular piece was just a coincidence.  When I recovered, I did keep the promises that I made that day.  I resigned from Goebel and carved the “Tinker’s Treasure to commemorate the first promise. 

When I complete the write-up on the Tinker’s Treasure, collectors will be able to gain more insights into the personal symbolism of this very special collection.  The second promise I also kept and proposed to my wife, Eva.   The second promise was captured in The Proposal, a piece you will find at the beginning of the 1994 – Today era of Olszewski Studios.  My final comment is this:   I did almost lose my life and it did change me.  I always did believe in God, but now I want all the promises related to this belief to be true more than ever.

Even now I consider any day that I live and any work that I create after the Nativity Angel to be a gift.  This art and life of Bob Olszewski almost ended at this black line, and anything after this would not exist…

Take a moment and scan the balance of Goebel Miniatures Era of 1979 - 1994 and the comprehensive list of Art identified in the Olszewski Studios, 1994 - today era.  As I now say to my son and daughter, let’s be grateful. 

Grateful Bob Olszewski

Little Old Man



Two days after his release from the hospital in 1993, Bob poses as a "Little Old Man" at his home in Camarillo, CA

Photo by Eva 1993

Later on, I'll discuss the impact the hospital event had on the miniature figurative work and prints I did in the last year with Goebel Miniatures.

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