April 2006
Page 2
David Wolfgram's Studio Space
photos by Tom Szalay | text by Robin Macnofsky, Ogden City Arts

I met David Wolfgram in the late 90’s when has was crafting African wooden drums and selling them at local arts fairs. In 1999, after rescuing 13 old growth trees on their way to the dump—(torn out of Ogden’s Municipal Gardens to make room for the new amphitheater), David began collecting more tools and built his own sawmill in the yard behind his home. He relocated through the Own In Ogden program in 2004, and has converted his 3-car garage into a woodshop (including the mill). Since 2000, his work has evolved from the functional (drums, wooden utensils and cutting boards) to sophisticated furniture stylings, and, most recently, figurative forms. In the Spring of 2005, David embarked on a 3 month project for the LDS Church in Nigeria, where he worked with a team of local craftsmen in the creation of wood furnishings for a new Temple being constructed in a semi-remote Township. During a layover in Paris on his way to Africa, David spent several days in the Louvre, where he was inspired by viewing the classic sculpture to try his own hand at the revealing the human form using wood as the medium.

"I'm fascinated by the curves and the radius, and the color combinations in different types of wood," David says. "I want people to see that it’s still a piece of wood, but I also want to show how refined it can be—there’s balance for me between revealing the beauty of the wood and forming the design. I start with an idea, but then sometimes the wood will inspire me by its shape and curve and texture."


Feature: Recently Read
DADA: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris
by Jay Heuman

DADA: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris Ed. Leah Dickerman, with essays by Brigid Doherty, Dorothea Dietrcih, Sabine T. Kreibel, Michael R. Taylor, Janine Mileaf, Mathhew S. Witkovsky. National Gallery of Art, Washington in association with D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc., 2005.
ISBN: 0-89468-313-6 (softcover); 1-933045-20-5 (hardcover)

Consider a group of young men and women, gathering during a time of global strife, rejecting traditional perspectives and methods of their predecessors. This description applies to the artists who founded the short-lived movement called Dada. Oddly, this also describes the scholars who contributed to the exhibition catalogue for the most comprehensive Dada exhibition ever. Begun at the Musée national d'art moderne (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris), the exhibition is currently at the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.) and will conclude its tour at the Museum of Modern Art (New York).

Time and again, the Dada artists have been labeled absurdists, anarchists, rebels, unpatriotic . . . and a host of other pejoratives. Dada has often been called an "anti-aesthetic"; hence, Modernist scholars often exclude it from the perceived chronology of the development of "Modern art." (Of course, one might question why Clement Greenberg did not understand Dada was the ultimate in Kantian self-criticism . . . not superficial inquiry into art-making media but seeking critical inquiry into the art world's practices, theories and assumptions.)

Rather than rehash conventional views of Dada, the young scholars in this book – holding fresh doctoral degrees from prestigious institutions – provide fresh insights into this oft-parodied, poorly understood group. Newer methods of art history attempt to place aesthetics in context (of artists' life experiences, sociopolitical machinations, etc.), and avoid judgments of taste. After all, as Postmodern methods of art-making were emergent, so too were Postmodern methods of scholarship.

The tome is massive, providing the best-rounded perspectives on the unique flavor of each Dada city/group. Soon after the outbreak of World War I, Dada was established in Zurich in 1916. (Hence, it is the first chapter to follow the "Introduction".) Very soon, news spread – thanks in part to the group's manifesto (written by Tristan Tzara) – through the European avant-garde, leading to groups founded in five other cities: Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, and Paris. Each city is portrayed by a scholarly essay, followed by a "Plates" section including numerous reproductions of artworks from all media - drawings and paintings, typography and puppetry, film stills and collages, sculpture and photography, etc. - as well as documentary photography of people, places and events. By 1924, the Dada movement was suffering creative entropy, and the artists drifted apart and into other endeavors - some, like Marcel Duchamp, into fame (or infamy); others into obscurity.

So the personalities are not lost in the shuffle, the 'Artists' Biographies section (pp. 460-489) is invaluable. Each is put in context – how they knew and worked with one another, how their artworks matured with or in contrast to others, etc. Additionally, a 'Chronology' (pp. 416-459) lays out the Dada movement from beginning to end, with ‘Related Events’ and each Dada city’s/group’s activities parallel. Again, this reinforces the simultaneity of countless developments, interactions, and practices.

One aspect that cannot be ignored is the fetishism of Dada despite the artists' own self-effacement. Dada artwork and performances were not intended to be co-opted by the established art world. This was a group of protest-thinkers, producing consumable products and demonstrations (of their theoretical perspectives) - not easel paintings for living room décor - as a cohesive assault against traditional means of legitimizing the inconsequential through exhibition in galleries and museums, art criticism, and academic research. Paradoxically, the Dada movement has been granted credence by that which they sought to question. [Then again, an interrelated paradox is the solipsism – the internal (il)logic -- of Dada: the exclusion (in whole or in part) of those who were not collaborators and producers.]

This exhibition catalogue is exhausting but inexhaustible. There are too many names to name, too many histories and methodologies and philosophies to describe. This is a slow read, requiring an investment of attention and thought. But is it not so that a book worth reading is a book worth investment of attention and thought?

For one interested in learning about the past, and to gain insights into the world’s lack of learning from the past, this exhibition catalogue is essential. We are told today, paralleling the days of World War I, of our victimhood and of threats by a faceless enemy, while understanding that our fears are enhanced by governmental and media construction. While some fears are rational, others may be irrational. We could learn from the Dada artists.


15 Bytes is published monthly by Artists of Utah, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization located in Salt Lake City Utah. The opinions expressed in these articles are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 15 Bytes or Artists of Utah.

Editor: Shawn Rossiter
Assitant Editor: Laura Durham

15 Bytes is published the first Wednesday of the month. Submissions are due the last Wednesday of the previous month.

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Salt Lake City artist Ruby Chacon, currently showing at The Kimball Art Center's Arte Latino.

1)What are you reading lately?
I have been reading the biography of "Siquieros" by Phillip Stein. I read only a few pages of it a night so you can do the math and figure out that I am only half way through but have been carrying it around for several months. I love this book. I have read all about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera biographies. In comparision, I have to say that Siqueiros is not only an artist, social activist, communist/revolutionary, but he's also a philospher. When I read about his ideas, I discover a part of myself that has always existed under the surface, then Siqueiros pulls it out of my spirit into visibility. The underlying messages that I cherish from reading the biographies of these artists are that if I am honest with who I am as an individual than that will reach to and through the universe in connection to humanity and it's struggles. Their ideas confirm to me that my intuition is always right, that it is stronger than I give credit.

2) What hangs above your mantel?I don't have a mantel. My paintings are all in my studio. What I have in my living space are little things, such as, family pictures, rosaries, folk art, books, chess board, candles, things I have picked up while travelling that I connect with, not to mention...a TV.

3)If you could choose any artist (living or dead) to paint or sculpt your portrait, who would it be?
I'm not sure. There are too many artists that I love. To name a few: Rodin, Rivera, Siqueiros, Kahlo, Picasso, Goya, Van Gogh, Modigliani, Michaelangelo, Alan Hauser, George Yepes, and my old professor Paul Davis. I would also love for Flor Garduno to take my photo. I would like to see how each of them interprets my image and my spirit in a way that's unique to themselves and their creativity.