Exhibition Preview: Park City
Trent Alvey at the Kimball
by Shawn Rossiter
During the month of February, Salt Lake City artist, Trent Thursby Alvey, explores the relationship between earth and sky at the Kimball Art Center's Badami Gallery.
After first being approached about the exhibit, Alvey gave her show a working title of “Tibet Series” even though she had never been to Tibet. She had visited nearby Nepal, however, and “assumed some part of my memory cerebral cortex had been stimulated and all of these visual images were pouring forth."
As the exhibit has come together, however, she has gained a more acute understanding of the influences that have shaped her newest site-specific installation work. She saw the images coming forth as simple icons of unity, like circles, icons of Buddha and prayer flags that grace hr porch in Emigration Canyon.
For a decade, the 2500-year-old practice of compassion known as Tung Lung has become an important part of Alvey’s life. “I believe that this exhibit is the visual manifestation of my practice becoming internalized. I experimented with process and materials, which would give me the illumination that I was seeking. The composition remains simple, while the process takes a life of its own, taking me wherever it wants. I give myself to this work and allow it to speak for itself.”
“Installation art is the work of process. The way to learn something deeply is to experience it. Gathering sticks, seeing images, allowing repetition to occur, finding the object, applying paint or paper - this is my way of manifesting those oblique images and making them visible for the viewer."
Alvey eventually settled on “Between Earth and Sky” as a title because it reflects her present state of being, a sense of her place on the planet.
The exhibit is in the Badami Gallery, located in the basement of the Kimball. Another artist might shy away from the space, but Alvey, who is no stranger to installation, knows how to use the space to greatest effect.
Two of her assemblages, called “Looking Inward,” feature cots with the vague outlines of a person. As Alvey describes them, they are like “excavated sarcophagus, bearing witness to the physical body that once slept there.”
Alvey has used the sense of the basement as a cave, tomb and a place of hibernation. Her exhibit is about the quiet moments of winter, reflected in the intimate, dimly lit area of the basement gallery.
Two large paintings (6 ft x 7 ft) entitled "Raven in Lamar Valley" and "Buffalo in Lamar Valley," are paintings about winter and silence. Alvey is still far from the winter of her life, but she is now a mature artist practicing a type of listening that "must be done by examining those illusive, transparent moments that can only occur in Winter's silence."
Also included in the exhibit are a number of loose figurative paintings in enamel on thin Korean paper with rows of Korean figures. The earth tones of the paper and the cool black and white of the paint reflect the palette Alvey also uses in her paintings.
Trent Thursby Alvey will be giving a gallery talk at the Kimball Wednesday, Febraury 23 from 6:00 to 7:30pm. The subject will be process as ritual and the artist's job of bringing forth shadowy images.
Exhibition Review: SLC
John Kaly at Rose Wagner
by Kasey Boone
On Friday, February 18th, a reception for the John Kaly and Brett Peterson exhibitions will be held at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. The exhibitions are up now, however, for the viewing pleasure of the evening guests to the Arts Center and the odd day straggler, like myself, who can find the one unlocked door to the front foyer.
Kaly's series of small oil portraits on wood panels hang along the curved walls of the mezzanine area. Most are portraits of individuals, generally a bust view, though some are very closely cropped. A couple of the pieces show multiple figures. All are done in the same warm, limited palette.
Kaly has advanced degrees in Art History with an emphasis in early modern European art. To quote the exhibition material, "he became interested in the social history of art, and in particular with issues concerning the nature of viewer response. His work reflects an ongoing interest in historical works of art, both as models to be emulated and as idols to be toppled."
From what I can tell from the titles, a few of the paintings are self-portraits or portraits of friends. These tend to be cropped images, as if to highlight the intimacy of the work. The rest appear to be portraits worked up from old photographs or paintings. I recognize Ingres' portrait of Madame Moitessier in one of the paintings. Many others, due to the hairstyles and dress, seem to be from the early twentieth century.
Most of the portraits are a blend of two related styles. Much of the figure is laid out in an extremely flat, poster-art manner. Other parts of the face receive more attention in their modeling, though the lighting stays stark and the overall effect remains graphic. The juxtaposition of styles creates an eerie sense that the old photographs are suddenly becoming alive, if only in part. The full embodiment slowly reaches out of the picture plane, like the girl from the movie The Ring coming out of the television screen.
I understand that Kaly may be presenting his paintings as "idols to be toppled." The small wood format certainly reflects the idea of icon art. But more than an engagement with the works, I feel a general sense of nostalgia. I think we've all been there. Enamored with a certain style of art or music, we become enmeshed in the period. We develop a fascination for the accroutements of the era. It becomes our fantasy world. Maybe this is where Kaly's art history experience gets in the way. The struggle is always to learn and apply from the past, to reinterpret it, and I'm not sure if this is really what Kaly is doing.
Many artists have tackled their predecessors. Picasso spent his mature years doing so. But that's precisely it: he did it in his mature years. I think there is some promise in Kaly's work, some insight that could fully mature as this artist continues to paint. But I think he needs to do much more of that, to distance himself from the books and theories that have occupied most of his studies. I'd like to see what he has in the way of a monologue before he engages in the type of dialogue he attempts in this exhibition.
John Kaly's exhibition The Last Face will hang at the Rose Wagner through March 27th. Showing concurrently is the installation art of Brett Peterson.
Exhibition Review: SLC
Archango, the Godzilla-like creature that sprang from Stone's imagination on to the drawings in this exhibit, leads a double life. He spends his time at his home in Montana with his devoted mate and five-year old son except when they are on international excursions, destroying or saving world-class cities like Tokyo or New York.
Inside Outside Lives at Art Access
by Chris Brooks
The Art Access galleries this month present two exhibitions that reveal the unique and dual nature of this non-profit organization. Art Access is about providing underserved communities and individuals with disabilities access to the arts. In other words, giving those found on the outside access to the inside. But in many of its sterling exhibitions, it also gives the viewers access to the inside lives of its outside artists and participants, oftentimes showing us there is little difference between the two worlds.
The work of autistic artist, Peter Scott Stone, now on display at Art Access, is a playful world of imagined monsters and intimate private lives. It is an entrance to the world of an individual who lives more in his mind than in the physical world. The photographic work of Lynn Hoffman-Brouse, also on display through February 11th, depicts the lives of a family living in a physically outside world.
"Worlds Apart," an exhibition of twenty-five pen and ink drawings by Stone, shows the imaginary worlds of this thirty-year old who was diagnosed with autism at age four. Stone has been working under the tutelage of mentor Sam Wilson.
Stone's second imaginary world depicts the lives of jet-setting Kate and Ben, a young couple who spend their time on an endless honeymoon making love and drinking pina coladas.
His drawings are straightforward, strong, contour lines that make me think of Matisse. On Stone's process, Wilson says, "The lines would flow, an immediate response to what Pete knew and what Pete saw in his mind's eye. Peter doesn't use actual clues or observed information. Inside Pete is a reserve of magical thoughts, imaginative characters and a remarkable visual vocabulary."
The themes expressed in Stone's work are as directly connected to his interior life as are the visual imagery he employs. Stone yearns for a mate and wishes to have the power of his Archango.The thirty black & white photographs by Hoffman-Brouse examine the life of Cheryl Candelaria and her three boys, as they live at the YWCA's Transitional Housing Apartments over a five month period.
Candelaria's past includes bouts with drug
addiction, domestic abuse and jail. She has been clean for two years now, and the photographs document her long journey towards healing.
Stone's visual world is that of one who has been outside emotionally, yearning for emotional and physical contact. The world depicted by Hoffman-Brouse, on the other hand, is that of someone reeling from the harsh realities of domestic abuse and the physical world. Yet both exhibitions contain hope and the desire to move beyond one world to another.
Both exhibits included writing -- poetry in the case of Stone, and a written narrative of Candelaria's life -- but the most moving and most accessible parts of the exhibits are by far the images. These exhibits show us the true power of art, which is a bridge between the private world of the creator and the viewer. Art shows us that we are all outside and that we can all be inside. Both exhibits will be on display through February 11.