December 2005
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Finch Lane Show . . . from page 1

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Heller’s painting, “Stained Glass,” |1| is another strong, colorful piece and continues in the style of the large works. However, the title suggests perhaps a landscape seen beyond, through a stained glass window. Certainly the composition suggests both stained glass and abstracted landscape elements. Again, we see Heller’s additive technique of large, individual brush strokes, relating and reacting to previous strokes, applied over areas of “scumbled” paint, or washes.

In “North of Wanship,” |0| a smaller canvas, Heller shifts gears and provides a less abstracted rendering. There is also a greater sense of depth of field, with a sky and clouds in the background of a more clearly defined range of rolling hills, and a foreground of tilted planes and outcropping of rock.

These images, although abstract, seem familiar and friendly. It is easy to recall memories of similar Utah landscapes seen from highways during excursions into the regional hinterlands. The style of the paintings is also familiar, though personal. These are non-threatening works that would be very easy to live with. All in all, Heller’s paintings work and react well together and present a handsome body of work, representing the development of a mature style. Eighteen paintings are included in the exhibit, nine large canvases, two medium sized, and seven small pieces.

Judith Romney Wolbach is a ceramic artist working with hand built techniques in red and black clay, high fired in primarily a reduction atmosphere, with oxide finishes rather than glazes. The sculptures feature elements from the natural world and range in height from 12 to 33 inches. She began working with ceramics later in life and describes herself as being a self-taught artist, now experiencing the new thrill of discovery and a new passion.

Her pieces have been arranged to good effect as trios. The central and largest piece in one of these trios trio features a bird perched atop a lidded vessel, seemingly “crowing” its welcome of daybreak. |2| This is a well-formed and conceived piece and is attractive as well as lighthearted. The firing reduction provided the perfect oxide “patina” which fits the bird and vessel shapes in texture and scale, and increases the naturalistic feel of the piece.

The next trio of figures is sculpted from both red and black clay and has a stronger, more “burned” reduction of the oxides.|3| This slightly metallic look provides a feeling of ancient ICON to the pieces, in keeping with the “fetish” theme. Wolback has developed a strong, very competent and controlled technique, which carries through to the firing. The variation of clays and firing atmospheres evident in the different pieces tells us that Wolback is very purposeful in her approach. The materials, designs, scale, and firing techniques are deliberate and well executed. The total effect provides a strong sense of “authority” to the pieces.

As mentioned in the preface, the deliberation of the selection committee is very evident. All three artists selected for this exhibit are women and all work with images taken from nature. Additionally, their determination to place Wolbach’s ceramic pieces strategically in both galleries serves to visually join the very different styles of two-dimensional artists into a more cohesive exhibit. Richard’s expertise in arranging the pieces so as to develop interesting dialogues between adjacent pieces is masterful. ”Glen Richards is without a doubt one of the best installers with whom I work,” complemented Kim Duffin of Richard’s installation skills.

Jennifer Worsley’s series of water-themed pastel drawings are also very competent and attractive works. From across the room, the drawings do not appear to be pastels. The tight and controlled rendering imparts a feel of photo-realism. However, as one approaches the pieces, the line work becomes increasingly evident, until lines become the primary graphic element.

Worsley’s convincing rendering of the water elements consists largely of swirly lines, which activate the surface and impart a heightened sense of motion and agitation. |4| The drawings are done en plein air and have captured the sense of place as well as time of year and day.

"June Evening, Parley’s Creek” provides a close study of water and rock, further evidence of Worsley’s draftsmanship and attention to detail. |5| The evening light has also been carefully rendered and convincingly captured. The coloring and shading of the rocks is wonderful and the layering and chalkiness of the pastels enhance the naturalistic textural and tactile feel of the organic materials and surfaces.

The “October Evening, Big Cottonwood Creek” drawing again shows Worsley’s immaculate attention to detail and concentrated effort to record the setting. |6| The soft, warm light says “evening,” and the colors of the foliage and level of the water says “autumn.”

While Worsley’s drawings are done on site and are representational and very descriptive, one can also discern the artist’s “eye” and deliberate compositional ploys to capture the viewer’s attention and direct their “eye” to look at the entire drawing. The compositions are organized in a circular manner. The line of a fallen tree reflects the incline of the creek bank directing the viewer’s eye uphill where rocks tumble into the water’s edge, directing the eye to the water which cascades downhill to a series of boulders, which direct the eye back to the creek bank and back up the sloping bank again.

Not only has the scene been captured by the artist, but also the viewer. One can imagine the quiet solitary contemplation of these works during a leisurely Sunday afternoon spent resting at home, as well as enjoying them during pleasant dinner conversation with friends and loved ones.

The optimum experience would be to have one piece from each artist for a balanced and harmonious ensemble. Barring that possibility, visit the Finch Lane Gallery as many times as possible between now and December 30.

While at Finch Lane, the intrepid art lover can also have a great time seeing the 22nd Annual Salt Lake City Arts Council, HOLIDAY CRAFT EXHIBIT and SALE, on the lower level.

This traditional Holiday craft exhibit is always very popular with area art and craft aficionados as well as savvy bargain shoppers. Exhibit coordinator Shaari Peddersen has done a great job bring together a wonderful and delightful collection of crafts. Craft objects from 66 artists will be available for Holiday gift giving, or a special treat just for your self.

Show highlights include: miniatures by John Anderson, sushi dishes by Sharon Bailey, tatted earrings by Lisa Bosworth, tree-top angels by Michele Debouzek-Dornan, silk scarves by Roberta Glidden, hand-painted Majolica by Diana Lea Hymas, carved dragons by Ray Kartchner, retablos by Peruvian folk artist Jeronimo Lozano, pottery by Sharon Brown Mikkelson, kaleidoscopes by April Motley, stained glass by Gail Piccoli, dried floral arrangements by Valerie Rich, bottle cap jewelry by Colleen Bryan Rodgers, hand-stitched leather bags and pottery by Wendy Wood, glass work by Dan Cummings, and many, many more wonderful items by local talented and creative craft artists, too numerous to mention.

This great fine art exhibit and intriguing craft show proves once again Finch Lane Gallery is one of the premier places to visit this month.
Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
A Sense of Scale: Jun Kaneko at the Salt Lake Art Center
by Sue Martin

If you were to take several of the quarter or nickel-size round stones on the beach at Antelope Island, as I once did, and stand them or stack them in the sand so that the sun caused them to cast long shadows, then photograph them up close without surrounding reference objects, one might interpret the objects in the resulting photograph as gigantic rock formations.

As Jun Kaneko reminds us at the entrance to his current exhibit at the Salt Lake Art Center, a sense of scale derives from the relationship of objects in their surroundings. His work is about scale – whether it’s the relationship of geometric forms to a background on a large piece of rice paper, or the relationship of human observers standing next to ceramic heads the size of small cars.

Jun Kaneko was born in Nayoya, Japan in 1942. In 1964 he came to the United States to study ceramics, first at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, and later at the California Insititute of Arts and University of California-Berkeley. Kaneko now has US citizenship works in Nebraska.He is a respected and highly influential artist in the realm of ceramics and design. He is known in Salt Lake for the “Salt Palace Wall”, made of hundreds of hand-made ceramic tiles, located in the primary corridor of the Salt Palace Convention Center.

The Street Level Gallery features several of Kaneko’s ink drawings on handmade paper and the Main Gallery features many ceramic objects as well as site-specific intallations.

I did not find the rice paper paintings nearly as interesting as the ceramics, except as a fuller representation of Kaneko’s work and a good lesson to any working artist that experimentation in various media enriches our work in our favorite medium.

But looking down into the Center’s lower gallery from the walkway above, I was impressed with an overview of two large black and white glazed ceramic heads, a large bronze head with grommet-like appendages, tall Lincoln-log-like structures of colored glass bars, two large three-dimensional-looking paintings, and the large wall of ceramic squares.

Then again, the overview was nothing like the up-close experience of observing Kaneko’s work at ground level. Starting with the glass bar structures, not only is the size (nearly seven feet tall) impressive, but also the fragility – light and color passing through the semi-opaque glass and through the spaces between the bars; and, as one visitor noted, “They’re just stacked; they’re not even bolted together.”

The paintings were another surprise at eye level. From a dozen feet away, they appeared three-dimensional. I expect to see/feel a washboard of peaks and valleys in the varied colored horizontal lines. But on closer inspection, I find that while the paint is a bit thick on the canvas, the dimension is mostly illusion. Further, the horizontal stripes are layered over an underpainting of shapes that make little impression up close, but create a more recognizable composition from further away.

The quilt-like, though less predictable, ceramic square installation on one wall is my favorite piece. There is something comforting in the repeating, geometric patterns, with circles spanning four squares. Yet the less symmetrical arrangement of the patterns captures and holds your attention. Once again, the attraction was largely due to Kaneko’s attention to scale and the observer’s interaction with the piece from far away to up close.

An adjacent gallery space holds Kaneko’s “Wave Wall,” a curving expanse of fused glass about seven feet tall. The exhibit program offers a view of the piece from up high allowing you to see the spiral. I wonder why the Art Center didn’t place the piece in the other space where visitors could see it from that perspective? The ground level experience of walking around the spiral to the center of the “wave,” while interesting, could have been enhanced by a view from above.

The Salt Lake Art Center’s mission statement says it “is responsible for challenging and educating the community about contemporary visual art and for developing a strong mutual trust with it.” This exhibit is an excellent opportunity for members of the community to be challenged and educated.

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Special Event: Salt Lake
Artist Celebration at Patrick Moore

:Next Wednesday, December 14th, 2005, Salt Lake City's Patrick Moore Gallery will be holding an annual celebration of art in Utah and the artists who create it. Utah visual artists are invited to attend this mixer event from 5 to 8 pm. Margaret Hunt, executive director of the Utah Arts Council and honorary guest speaker for the evening, will be speaking at 6pm. Light refreshments will be served and an RSVP is mandatory. All visual artists are encouraged to attend. To RSVP call Patrick Moore Gallery at 521-5999.

Frank McEntire

Rob Colvin