Paul Stout . . . from page 1
From there, Stout took some time off from school and got a job at Home Depot so he could support himself while he decided what he wanted to do. He also found work as a blacksmith’s apprentice. “I’m kind of embarrassed to say I was interested in handmade knives and implements like that.”
Not long after, he learned that his high school drafting teacher in Claremont rescued some of his old drawings that he threw away and entered them in the county fair, where they received an award. “If there was a cash prize I didn’t get anything maybe that’s something she does to supplement her income.” Stout remains grateful to her, because the simple knowledge of the award gave him confidence and encouragement. “Through all these things, I sort of decided maybe art was something I should do. I started tinkering, got a little studio and worked at Home Depot on the side. The first things I made were really bad, but I kept working at it.”
Now that he had a better sense of direction, Stout decided getting more education would be a good idea, so he enrolled in the local community college to increase his GPA. He studied sculpture and eventually graduated with a BFA.
With a bachelor’s degree and newfound direction, Stout applied to many of the top ten graduate schools. The San Francisco Art Institute accepted him, but he learned he would have to do a three-year program with one year of post back which meant he would be required to reapply and then become a graduate student. The idea didn’t exactly appeal to him, but he moved out to San Francisco anyway. He visited the Art Institute and decided to work on some things and then reapply. During the next year, he worked as a plastic fabricator and researched some more graduate schools in the area. He learned that the sculpture buildings at the Art Institute were strewn across the city and the school was actually more suited for those doing painting, performance art and video. Stout ended up attending San Francisco State University. One of his most valuable classes was an electronic art class; the skills he gained provided him with more opportunity to pursue different ideas and bring them into a reality.
His MFA show (2000-2001) featured a series of guided missiles to hunt deer, using electronics, remote control devices, physics, plastics, surveillance technology, foam deer targets, video editing and projection. |2| Stout was inspired by the endeavors of backyard inventors and garage scientists, which is “an examination of the confluence of American hunting culture, remote telemetry, deer, high power rocketry, and naive science, tempered with a healthy dose of wonder and repulsion.”
Once Stout started creating more artwork that moved, he began looking at the history of technology and became intrigued about how humans relate to machines. “Everything that’s most common in our culture becomes a way of explaining everything else,” Stout says. “Clocks became the way of describing how people worked. Descartes talked about the machine inside. When steam engines were developed, they produced heat, took in fuel, etc. We think of a computer as a model for how the intellect works.” He explains how we have come to use the words “hardwire” or “program” as metaphors to explain how biology works.
“I’m very interested in the repackaging of the natural world as a display object. My small dome pieces have natural history landscapes in them.” These dome pieces use display conventions from science, museology, taxidermy and projected anthropomorphism to create an installation of a skewed natural history display. Stout uses flowers, road kill pigeons, butterflies, old clock parts, counting devices and programmed computer chips, and assembles them into robotic dioramas of natural ecologies. “This blend interrogates our culture’s cognitive, mechanistic ideas and expectations of the natural.”
The “Twenty Blades of Grass” series is his latest venture. He introduces it as “looking at the world with the preconceived notion that it’s a machine.” These machines have a big spool with a rolled up blade of grass that “grows,” extending several feet into the air.
“Once you’ve seen something happen through technology, time-lapse video, etc. it can become the way you look at the world. I thought I would try and recreate grass growing, but really big so you could walk around it and be underneath it.”
Like any artistic discipline, Stout’s pieces require a lot of study, research, and trial and error. Ideas from years ago rest in his mind until he can explore the feasibility and logistics of how to make them work. “I’m really interested in doing this machine that creates a spider web in a space. Spiders create a new web each day, so the machine would do that as well.”
It's a fortunate thing when the seemingly insignificant events in one's life work together in a profound way. Stout's high school drafting courses, his apprenticeships, his electronic art class in grad school, and perhaps even his work at Home Depot gave him the skills, inspiration and direction he needed to create his way through the profession of an artist.
Paul Stout will be honored in an exhibit along with fellowship recipients Madison Smith, Karen Horne and Steve Larsen at the Utah Arts Council’s Rio Gallery. The show will open September 16th and continue through October 28th 2005.
Art-Professional Profile: Salt Lake
Conversation with Susan Gallacher
by Sue Martin
Some artists, especially those who are starting on this path, complain they can’t seem to find time to create. If ever there was a role model for fully living the creative life, it is Susan Gallacher painter, teacher, and owner of King’s Cottage Gallery. Though much of Susan’s time is filled with the business of art and its myriad administrative details, her compass is set to painting, her true north.
Early mornings and late evenings; in her home studio and during spare moments in her studio at King’s Cottage; most weekends in Spring City and on plein air paint-outs every other Thursday Susan paints consistently and is highly productive.
“My number of paintings per week or month is hard to calculate,” says Susan. On a recent trip to Mt. Carmel for the Maynard Dixon Paint Out, she did about twelve paintings and plans to complete about eight of the best ones. To do so, she’ll have to find time between her teaching responsibilities, both in Salt Lake and Spring City.
The Artist as Teacher
As a teacher, Susan holds Monday afternoon and Wednesday evening classes in oils or watercolor in her King’s Cottage Gallery, located in Sugar House. She also invites students to drop in on twice-weekly figure drawing sessions (Tuesday evenings and Friday mornings for just $7 per session), where she doesn’t instruct, but joins participants in painting the models. She also teaches painting classes for the University of Utah’s Lifelong Learning program. But to really experience Susan at her best and learn her specialty plein air painting you need to go to one of her weekend classes in Spring City, which she holds three to seven times a year.
Soon after Susan began escaping to Spring City to paint she fell in love with the place. She purchased the old granary, built in 1874 for the Relief Society, and restored it as a second home and studio. After she began holding classes in Spring City, she purchased another historic building and turned it into student housing. There, students can live as a community, sharing meals and drawing inspiration from each other as well as from the lovely antique furnishings Susan has carefully selected.
One of the reasons Susan feels compelled to teach is that “my students become friends,” she says. “As they learn to paint, they also learn to appreciate artwork. Even if students never continue their studies and become artists themselves, they gain an appreciation and are more apt to become collectors.”
Art instruction can also turn communities into artist-friendly places. Back in the 1950s, dynamic Utah artist Max Blaine used to teach classes in Spring City. “Today, many of the adults living there studied with Max and support artists in where and when they choose to paint, even in their own front yards,” Susan points out.
Susan says painting is one of the first things she remembers doing as a child. When older siblings went off to school and Susan had to entertain herself, she drew and cut out paper dolls and their clothes. Though her parents never envisioned her having a career as an artist, both supported her artistic interests. Her father had been an artist and there were art books on the lower shelves of bookcases where young Susan could reach them.
From the time she could pick an elective in middle school, Susan took art classes. Over the years, her instructors included some of Utah’s best Paul Davis, Ed Maryon, Doug Snow, John Ericson, and Dave Dornan, to name a few.
Susan never expected to make a living at art, yet she found herself teaching art classes in her basement when her sons were young, and she invited artist friends to teach there also. Eventually, she moved out of her basement and began teaching in other artists’ studios.
In 1984, Susan moved into the unused upstairs space in a building owned by her father, and she’s still there today, atop a furniture store. The warren of rooms houses gallery space, a shop for painting supplies and framing, Susan’s studio, a teaching studio, and living quarters for visiting artists or for Susan, if she works late and wants to crash.
State of the Art in Utah
While some artists complain that it’s difficult to sell original art in Utah, Susan disagrees. However, if she could wave a magic wand and improve the Utah arts scene, she would somehow increase the population of art collectors.
On the whole,” says Susan, “art is too inexpensive and collectors have gotten used to it. So if you want to charge more for your work, you have to go out of state.”
She notes that some Utah painters sell only out of state, for that very reason. As a result they are little known here but well known elsewhere. At the same time, Susan believes “Utah has, collectively, some of the best artists in the United States. There is a greater number of truly fine artists here than elsewhere.”
Susan also credits state and local governments, as well as citizens, for being strong supporters of the arts, noting that the state commissions public art pieces, especially around the Trax stations and in other public places.
Though some people might wonder if Susan “has a life,” given the amount of time she spends with paintbrush in hand, she would say she does what she loves with people she loves.
What could be more fun than painting with my artist friends?” asks Susan. Or, could life be any more fulfilling than making new friends with the people for whom she is teacher, mentor, and gracious hostess?
With painting in the center of Susan’s busy life, everything else falls into place.
Kings Gallery and Academy of Art is located at 2233 S. 700 E. SLC. 801. 486-5019. For a schedule of classes and workshops and to view work by Susan Gallacher, visit www.susangallacher.com. Susan's work can also be viewed at Williams Fine Art, David Ericson Gallery and Sego Gallery.
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The deadline for the next issue is September 31.
Extended information on many of
these announcements can be found at the AoU
-- PROVO MEETING: The Utah Arts Council has scheduled a town meeting in Provo on Tuesday, September 20th at 7:00 p.m. at the Provo Academy Square, Bullock Room, 550 North University Avenue. The public is invited to attend and participate. The Utah Arts Council wants to know whats important to the public, to individuals, and to communities regarding arts and cultural interests. For more information, contact Lynnette Hiskey at (801) 236-7552.
-- Salt Lake's newest gallery, Palmers Gallery, will opens its door ths month at the Salt Lake Design Center, 378 West Broadway. The Gallery will be open every month for Gallery Stroll.
--The Women's Art Center is looking for a new Executive Director. Due to continuing health problems, Teresa Flowers, founder of the Center and its current Executive Director, is looking for someone to take her place. Flowers will work as a consultant during the transition. Flowers writes: "The Women's Art Center is an incredible opportunity for someone who's interested in running an established and forward moving non-profit. It's not for the faint of heart, but it will nourish you in ways you can't even imagine. I believe there is someone out there who is perfect for this. If you or someone you know is that person, please call me at 403-4315. Thank you for passing the word on."
-- SLAC Art Talks: In conjunction with the Salt Lake Art Center’s exhibition "Scott Fife: Big Trouble, The Idaho Project," the Art Center will present a series of free Art Talks exploring the history, ethics, and jurisprudence surrounding the labor movement in the American west in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and its influence on the region’s economic, political and social landscape. September 7, 2005 Scott Fife 7:00 p.m. Seattle-based artist Scott Fife was inspired by Anthony Lukas’s book Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America to create larger-than-life sculptural portraits depicting the characters chronicled in the book
September 14 Panel Discussion led by Phil Notarianni 7:00 p.m. Director of the Utah State Historical Society, Phil Notarianni will lead a discussion exploring the history of the labor movement in Idaho and Utah. A. Kent Powell, historian with the Utah State Historical Society, will be among the panelists. September 21 Peter DeLaFosse interviews Ron Magden 7:00 p.m. University of Utah Press Acquistion Editor Peter DeLafosse will join labor historian Ron Magden in a conversation about Lukas’s book and the events that occurred around the famous murder trial of the former Governor of Idaho, Frank Steunenberg. September 28 Reading of the play Harry Orchard 7:00 p.m. Gerald McDonough will direct a reading of his play Harry Orchard based on the famous courtroom confrontation between Senator William Borah and Clarence Darrow in Big Bill Haywood’s trial. All Art Talks are presented free of charge and are supported in part by the Utah Humanities Council and the Cultural Vision Fund. The Salt Lake Art Center is located at 20 South West Temple. For more information call 328-4201 or visit www.slartcenter.org.