Artist Profile: Park City
David Chaplin's Opus
by Shawn Rossiter
This Friday, May 7th,
Park City’s Kimball Art Center will open a unique exhibition: an artist’s
retrospective that is in reality a group show. David Chaplin’s Opus is a
retrospective that displays the personal work of this long-time Utah artist
as well as the work of students he has influenced in his forty plus years
Chaplin’s influence on artists in Utah
stretches from the early sixties, when he was an instructor at Hillside Junior
High School in Salt Lake City, through the seventies when he taught at Weber
State University, and finally to the past twenty years in Park City where
he has taught in the public schools as well as in private.
For the retrospective exhibition, Chaplin
has selected works from his personal collection that span his career and
give a sense of his development from the beginning of his career until now.
Chaplin’s works are characterized by bold colors and strong design elements.
As Darryl Erdmann, a student of Chaplin’s at Weber State University, says,
“Chaplin is a great painter of flatness. He never concerned himself with
mixing or anything. It was always about blocks and colors, the shape of things.”
Most of Chaplin's work rely on equal parts
figurative elements and abstract design. A self-portrait of Chaplin racing
downhill on a bike, jolly figures in pubs , good 'ol boys in their trucks;
the figure is always present – not as something with which to display virtuoisity
in hands or torso – but as basic human element. Even his most abstract pieces
begin with a figure. “Though it’s abstract I’m still thinking about dancers,”
he says of one of his paintings in the exhibition.
Chaplin’s students exhibiting in the
show, many of whom are now established professional artists, also span his
forty year teaching career. As an instructor, Chaplin always stood out.
You noticed him, despite his quite voice and slow manners. Claudia Sisemore
taught English at Hillside when Chaplin was an instructor there and later
took art lessons from him when he was at Weber State. “The pipe, the Porsche,
folded arms, a wise mischievous smile, an incredible sense of humor, and
the first guy I had ever seen wearing checkered shirts with ties. And,
of course, his paintings uniquely his and wonderful. An original –
the quintessential example of cool.” She says.
Exhibition Review: Provo
by Tony Watson
I enjoy exhibits at BYU’s Museum of Art. Regardless of the actual pieces
shown, the museum almost always manages to create a wonderfully crafted and
visually interesting exhibition. The more I visit the museum, the more I
am convinced of the curatorial expertise that has used a unique space to
the best of its ability. The University of Utah museum, with its peach walls
and airy spaces, is all about light and color. The BYU museum is darker,
more contemplative. Even the ground floor exhibition spaces, where a new
exhibit, “Metaphorically Speaking,” is now on display, have a somber quality
to them. The paintings and sculpture hover in a spotlight on the museum walls.
Walking into the museum’s exhibits is always like entering a Romanesque chapel
of space and color and form.
It seems to me the Museum has taken on an ample task: tackling the use of
symbol and metaphor in a religious context (which has been such a strong
component of art over the centuries), in a religious culture that is
much better known for its pragmatism and prose than for its poetry. But as
the exhibit attests, artists know how to go beyond their culture and speak
with a fresh vision.
“Metaphorically Speaking,”on display through January 8, 2005, is a
varied exhibit of Mormon artists using visual means to create symbols of
a spiritual nature. Or so the artists are presented. Some are more and some
less symbolic, or metaphorical as the title of the exhibition would have
it. The general sense of the exhibition is that of an educational venue,
trying to teach and inform the public about symbols and their use in art.
Glass standards with word definitions, designed to evoke associations with
what is going on in the artwork, are placed at the entrance to each room
or hall. In this sense the curator is an artist, using the paintings and
lights and his own elements to create a whole work.