Gallery Stroll page 5
June 2004
Page 5
Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
Doug Snow's Inner Landscape
by Shawn Rossiter

doug snow
Doug Snow has been a central figure in Utah art for the past fifty years. He was one of the first to champion abstract art in Utah, and, as professor of art at the University of Utah,  influenced a number of artists that have received local and national recognition. An affable, energetic, constantly curious individual, Snow continues to produce the lively, inventive, always slightly mysterious paintings that have made him a Utah treasure.

Though the focus of “Capitol Reef: The Inner Landscape,” on exhibit at the SLC’s main library through June 27, is a series of nine identically sized paintings constituting a new body of work, in reality the exhibition amounts to a retrospective. The exhibition presents works in a variety of media spanning Snow’s career from the fifties to the present year.

As this exhibition aptly demonstrates, Snow’s forceful vision reveals the reality of abstraction and the abstraction of reality. In illustrations, figurative work, purely abstract, and semi representational work, Snow shows us that the strength of his vision is his personal style, not his subject matter. In all forms, Snow’s graceful line, celebratory sense of color, and strong formal design create breathtaking works that exude an intensity for life and a sense of awe before the mystery of the divine.

The outside north wall of the Library’s exhibition space contains a collection of figurative work from the fifties through the eighties, including portraits and animal paintings. “East on South Temple,” from 1956, demonstrates Snow’s early interest in creating an abstract visual vocabulary that could interact with the seen visual world. Body parts, some more loosely defined than others, appear out of an energetic mass of color, developed with the individual calligraphy of brushstrokes that characterizes Snow’s work throughout his career. A series of small watercolors from the nineties, done apparently from trips to central America and hanging on the interior north wall, are more representational, but still loose and playful.

The south wall of the exhibition space contains a series of illustrations: four advertisements from 1955 for the Hotel Utah Coffee Shop, as well as illustrations from 1974 for “The Tale of Two Cities.” These illustrations have the same graceful, curving line that sits atop many of Snow's abstract paintings and which you can find in his drawings of the landscape.

Snow has always proven difficult to categorize. He was in New York in the early fifties, during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism, and returned to Utah a champion of abstract art. But his work seems too carefully constructed, too intricately painted to be considered Expressionist. His work does, however, betray an obvious influence from the New York school. Snow coopts many of the techniques of the abstract artists of the forties and fifties and fuses them into a cohesive personal style. He has the hazed color layering of Rothko. Like Motherwell, he knows black is a color in its own right and knows how to use it. He scrawls a graffitti across the surface of his paintings much like Twombly. But it is all his own. He uses their techniques the same way he uses elements of the landscape – both are tools he merges to a whole.

Snow’s most characteristic works are large, delicately painted pieces that, though static two-dimensional pieces of canvas, shift between the reality of the landscape and the interiority of the mind. He has developed a visual vocabulary that respects what he has seen and learned of the southern Utah landscape he loves, but that also allows him play into areas that leave the solidity of reality behind.

In “Cove Fortress” a big creamy surface of peach creates the face of a cliff, looming over evergreens at the bottom of the painting. Across the surface of the cliff are black and red marks, like so much of his graffiti. But while these are interesting abstract painting elements, they also serves to describe the "bulletholes" that appear in the rocks of Southern Utah. “In Shinob Canyon” 1990, elements of a landscape disappear and reappear in the abstract and representational play that makes Snow's works both personal and universal.

When one sees “Twin Rocks” (1954) and "Eclipse" (1966), and compares them to the most recent work, it is evident that Snow is an artist that can stay true to a form, a method, while continuing to surprise and delight with variations and plays on a theme. The technique and composition of these pieces share many similarities with the most recent work, but the paintings never seem to be tiresome or repetitive.

The "Capitol Reef" paintings are all dated 2003-2004, though the actually painting of some works is sometimes ten years earlier. In this ensemble,  the pieces all remain part of a whole, obeying an established compositional formula: dividing the canvas vertically into thirds with a strong central focus;  a rock like form – the evocation of the Cockscomb that has so preoccupied Snow – weighted toward the bottom of the painting; clouds and vapors, revealed in a looser style, in the top two thirds. Within this repetitive structure, Snow reveals his maestro hand by evoking a variety of emotions and sensations. “Release” feels like walking home from a funeral on a rain day. “Sky Fire" is the thrill of a passionate epiphany.  In “Strike” the characteristic cloudy masses of white has turned into a bold flash striking down to the cliff forms below. In “IM” a weighty sense of white and black at the top of a  background of cerulean blue, magenta, and purple, creates a weighty sense of the presence of the divine

Since leaving teaching at the University, Douglas Snow has done anything but retire. "Capitol Reef: The Inner Landscape" reminds us why he has interested us for fifty years and why he should continue to do so. As evidenced in his paintings, he is still eloquent, enthusiastic and energetic. His most recent work shows that he hasn’t lost his verve or his vision

Art Festivals: Salt Lake City
The Utah Arts Festival
by Chad Saley

The Utah Arts Festival (UAF), Utah’s largest and foremost arts celebration, will be celebrating its second year on Salt Lake City’s Library Square. With the completion of construction on the east end of the library, the Festival will now be even larger, spreading from Washington Square all the way to 300 East. The Festival is bringing back favorites from years past and some new performances and events that are sure to be favorites of the future. The 28th annual UAF will take place Thursday, June 24, through Sunday, June 27.

“We have some very exciting things planned for this year’s Festival,” says UAF Executive Director Robyn Nelson. “Our international street theater is back once again, we have fabulous musicians and many other exhibits and artists that will make this a Festival to be remembered.”

At this year’s festival, prepare to enter a world of color and light in the Luminarium. A new exhibit at the Festival, the Luminarium is a 16,000-square-foot inflatable structure that from the outside looks like a fanciful vinyl village. Inside it becomes a place of peace and tranquility as organic shapes catch the natural light and put on a dazzling display of color.

“Words cannot describe the Luminarium, it is something that must be experienced,” says Nelson. “It brings a visual art experience to the Festival like we have never had before.”

As always, the visual arts are an integral part of the festival. Known year after year as a Festival favorite, the Artists Marketplace this year will feature artists from a variety of genres. The artists’ booths will start on the east side of the City County block and stretch all the way to the east side of Library Square. Festival patrons will be able to meander in and out of the 136 artists’ booths in search of one-of-a-kind treasures created by local, national and international artists. This year’s Artists Marketplace will include: mixed media, ceramics and sculptures, drawings and paintings, glass, fiber and leather, metal and wood, photography, toys and wearable art.

A more formal visual art experience can be had inside Salt Lake City Library’s main branch. The Festival, in partnership with The Gallery at Library Square is proud to present “Capitol Reef – The Inner Landscape,” a collection of recent work by renowned Utah artist V. Douglas Snow. The exhibition is free and open to the public, not just patrons of the Festival (see adjacent review).

The Utah Arts Festival is about more than just the visual arts. This year’s musical headliners will keep Festival patrons moving and grooving with a variety of acts, from experimental polka and slideshow accompanied pop to Salsa and Celtic rock. This year’s Festival headliners include: Young & Rollins, Kaki King, James McMurty, Brave Combo and Betty LaVette.

 And featured each night of the Festival is the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. Originally from Seattle, the now New York based family threesome sings pop songs about slides they purchase at estate sales and thrift stores. Dad, Jason, plays keyboards and guitar as well as supplying lead vocals, 10-year-old daughter, Rachel, plays drums, and mom, Tina Pina, operates the slide projector. The band has been selling out shows all over New York City and are sure to delight Festival patrons with their clever slide-based pop.

The UAF’s signature local and international street performers will be out and about the Festival grounds. Favorites from years past will be returning along with fresh new acts that will delight and amaze Festival patrons. There will be everything from life size slinkies and a New Orleans style musical procession to a daredevil unicyclist and a flame dancer.

In its second year, the Festival’s Short Film Program, “Fear No Film,” is back with more than fifty-six short films produced by local, national and international directors. The films will be shown in 90-minute programs several times a day throughout the Festival in the Library Auditorium.

This year’s Festival includes three competitive programs: the Composer Competition, the Jazz Composer Commission and the Mayor’s Artists Awards. The purpose of all three programs is to identify artistic talent and provide vehicles to have it recognized during the Festival.

For more information on the festival, including times, prices and events, visit

Art Festivals: Brighton
Artists & Naturalists
by Patrick Nelson


Focusing on the “natural” interplay of the beauty of the Wasatch Mountains and the artistic process, the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation will host its second annual Art in Nature Party on June 19th at the Silver Lake Nature Center in Big Cottonwood Canyon near Brighton.

Foundation volunteers and local artists Susie Campbell and Cathy Dern helped organize this event, which aims to fulfill the nonprofit’s mission of “working to maintain and improve the environmental health of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons through public education and stewardship,” by focusing on connecting the community with their beautiful backyard through learning about the artistic process.

Silver Lake is the perfect location for this party with a .7 mile, fully accessible boardwalk that encircles a beautiful alpine lake and wetlands. The approach to Art in Nature Party is to have the participating artists, many who have returned for a second year, painting on the boardwalk in three different areas while answering questions to the public about their work, their approach and how they view the area.

At last year’s event, a guided walk led visitors around the boardwalk through these three zones, co-led by an artist and a naturalist. While the naturalist focused on the wildflowers, observing the signs left behind by beaver, moose and mink, the artist focused on the process.

According to Dern, “It’s really great to create a fusion of two opposite perspectives, the art and the science. Ecologists frequently focus on the world one way, while artists another. The tour really fused both approaches . . . the accessibility of the artists while they are working really helps develop an understanding of the process in that it is not just about the end product.”

Along with the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation, last year’s event was sponsored by the US Forest Service, Solitude Mountain Resort and Tony Caputo’s who provided lunch for the artists. Carol Majeske, with Wasatch-Cache National Forest, participated in last year’s event and enjoyed the different perspective each artist brought to their work. “Their individual approach helped me appreciate an environment that I am out in every day even more. It’s great that they can impart this viewpoint on other people as we face user impact challenges that could be mitigated by this appreciation.”

Work produced at last year’s event will be hanging at Silver Lake through the 19th. This year’s event starts at 9AM on June 19th, with artists painting. The guided walk will begin at 11AM, meet at the Nature Center. Artists participating in this year’s event include:
Rob Adamson
Trent Alvey
Susie Campbell
Sheila Chambers
Cathy Dern
Carole Evans
Willamarie Huelskamp
John Hughes
Shirley McKay
Dottie Miles
Tom Mulder
Pilar Pobil
Kent Rich
Gretchen Reynolds
Trina Steffensen

For more information, please visit

cottonwood canyons

Other Arts Festivals
June 25-27 Tooele Arts Festival

July 3 Sugar House Street Festival

July 29 San Rafael Swell Paint Out

August 7 - 8 Park City Arts Festival

August 19-20 Helper Arts Festival

September 26-27 Cedar City Fall Arts Festival

October 9 -10 Bluff County Arts Fair