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September 2005
Published Monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization.
Artist Spotlight: Salt Lake City
Paul Stout: Repackaging the Natural World
by Laura Durham | photos by Tami Baum

Walking into Paul Stout’s studio at the University of Utah, where he works as an assistant professor, is almost like walking into a metal shop. His shelves consist of toolboxes full of screws, nuts, bolts and connectors. Colorful electrical wires sit on the ground along with other unrecognizable gadgets that he’s collected over the years. A piece from his “Twenty Blades of Grass” installation sits against the wall, secured in bubble wrap. This latest series of grass-growing machines is his most ambitious project to date and will be featured at Salt Lake’s Rio Gallery for the September Gallery Stroll.

Earlier this year, the Utah Arts Council honored Stout with the prestigious Fellowship Award – a grand prize for someone who not too long ago “sort of” decided that “maybe” art was something he should do.

Stout grew up in Clarement, a suburb in the foothills near Los Angeles, California. Art was a part of his life growing up. “I took a ceramics class in high school, but I was really bad at it. I was more interested in architecture, so I took some drafting courses.” Stout was never very impressed with any of his work, and he actually threw away all his drawings from class. Nevertheless, after high school he moved to Arizona and studied architecture at Arizona State where his dad was working. But six months later, he decided architecture wasn’t what he wanted to do.

“I thought college would be different, but the first year was four classes of technical drawing. I felt it was counter-creative and I just realized this was not something I could do for the next four years.” So he dropped out of school altogether.

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Exhibition Review: SLC/NYC
John Bell: The Real Deal in NYC
by Kent Rigby | photos courtesy the artist

Part of my role as Salt Lake Gallery Association President is to help assist artists, represented by member galleries, with the advancement of their careers. Towards that end, I was excited to hear of an exhibition opportunity for Salt Lake City artist John Bell in New York City, and was pleased to be able to review the works in progress and provide a statement for his press release and the following review.

I met with Bell several times at his studio and observed the works in progress and completed works. During those meetings and discussions, several things became apparent. One of which is that John Bell is the real deal. He has consistently worked toward the development of a mature artistic style since graduating from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1987. He had, however, held back from putting his work on public display until he was confident that it was ready. In June of 2003, Bell participated in a group exhibit at Chroma Gallery. His paintings all sold within two weeks of the opening. This led to the “Drinking, Smoking and Dancing with the Muse” solo exhibit at Chroma where 9 of 16 pieces were sold. This in itself is a good indicator that Bell had prepared well and that his work was ready for exhibit.

Bell has now secured an exhibit in New York at the penthouse apartment of Sandie Tillotson at the Mandarin Oriental at Time Warner Center, overlooking Central Park. He has meticulously designed and created an impressive body of work for the exhibit, consisting of three-dimensional canvases, which he calls (re) DEFINING SPACE.

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Exhibition Spotlight: Park City
Adam Bateman: Maximum Minimalism
by Shawn Rossiter

an exhibition review of Adam Bateman: Literal Sculptures at the Kimball Art Center through November 15th

Don’t believe everything you read.

Or at least don’t swallow it wholesale, for words are slippery things. They can mask something just as easily as they can point to it – especially when those words are art labels, the mediocre adhesives we use to desperately pull together artists who themselves are inclined to break away from any controlled center like atoms at a big bang.

Which is why artists rarely like us critics. Because with our words we try to rope in their works, herd them into a box that is readily comprehensible to a general public.

But artists, with the need to provide biographies and artist statements for exhibitions, grant applications and gallery submissions, fall victim to the same problem as critics -- throwing up art labels like sign posts which, while possibly pointing in the direction of the works, also threaten to surround and obfuscate them.

So, when you visit the Kimball Art Center this month – and I suggest you do – to see the installation by Adam Bateman entitled Literal Sculpture, don’t take things you read there too literally. Even if Bateman himself wrote them.

Bateman creates sculptures out of books. Lots of books. Truckloads of books stacked into massive cubes, arranged as thin teetering towers, or screwed together as globe-like spheres. They are used books, from libraries mostly. Bateman is interested in the books as symbols of language -- signifiers of signification -- but shows little interest in the individual book itself. Often turned spine inwards, so all we see is the fore-edge, the books are essentially building blocks for his sculptures that create patterns, rhythms, and textures.

And thus we read on the placard at the Kimball: “Adhering to the basic principles of Minimalism, Bateman’s work is mechanical and impersonal rather than emotional and introspective.” The books are the building blocks of Bateman’s “minimalist” sculptures, but don’t be too quick to put them in a shiny aluminum Donald Judd box.

Bateman’s choice of materials gives his minimalism a very earthy, brittle, dewy appeal. And I imagine he will like the deconstructive aspect of my appreciation when I point out that the sculptures, at least in their state of being viewed, burst out of any “minimalist” pen we might try to put around them.

With minimal materials and minimal construction, Bateman creates the maximum effect. There is nothing minimal about where these sculptures can take you.

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Literal Sculptures