April 2006
Page 4
Poker in the Front . . . from page 1

In early 2005, Herridge posted a message on the forum section of a community-oriented site devoted to stencil art (a site which will remain nameless to protect the not-so-innocent). He announced that, in order to thank the community in that forum, he was willing to send a free piece of art to anyone who sent him their address.|0| Within a week, the first pieces were sent out and a couple months later the number had reached 100, at which point Herridge, exhausted and, one has to guess, a little cash poor, had to put a hold on the project -- to the chagrin of some members who came to the forum posting late.

But at least Herridge was working again, and Poker in the Front attests to his new creative energies as well as what can happen when the Internet is used as a marketing tool.

Herridge's work in Poker in the Front is different from the work sent around the world. |1| It still has a sense of the vitality of the stencil art which inspired his free art campaign, but it has become less structured, and more intricate in its line, the drawing and forms spreading across the entire surface of the work. The work is done in a naive hand -- Herridge says he is inspired by outsider art -- and includes strange figures (Mexican wrestlers being one of the artist’s favorites) and strange combinations. In "Digestion Suggestion," a drawing of an octopus wrapping its tentacles around a discw is combined with a collaged image of Christ in Gethsemane.|2|

An enthusiasm for collage and juxtaposition is also important for Angelos, who shares the gallery's west wall with Herridge. Angelos is a recent transplant from California who, with a day job that keeps him traveling around the country and so requires no specific home address, chose Pleasant Grove as an affordable place to live. His home in Utah County may be out of the mainstream art world, but it does provide him with an extra large garage where he can store tons of, well, junk. Old wood, waste material, garage-sale figurines, an old pack of cigarettes, multiple building products from Home Depot -- this is the palette for Angelino's work. Angelino says his mother's career as a florist is probably what inspired his creative process. Years of watching her assemble floral arrangements convinced him that the act of putting things together could be as artistic as applying a brush to a canvas.

Angelos does know how to use a brush -- a couple of his street-art inspired works are on display -- but his current interest is in assembling and collaging. His collages, which can include such disparate objects as landscape paintings, leaves, and bingo cards, are slightly obscured by a thick layer of resin applied to the piece, which serves both to unify the colors as well as give the piece the feeling of being a complete object rather than the pasting together of different elements. Angelos' resin is something you might find in the building materials at Home Depot, which is where he also probably bought the foam material that engulfs some of his other works. One such work, "Jaundice Dog," was inspired by a recent trip to one of the many new Art Expos popping up around the country. Angelos expected to see a lot of exciting work there, but what he found, instead, were dogs: dogs in acrylic, dogs in oil, dogs in watercolor, dogs in an impressionist style, dogs in an expressionist style. His sardonic salute to the art expo experience features re- and pre- sentations of dogs, from a drawing of man's best friend to actual canine bones. The combines of Robert Rauschenberg are obviously on the artist's mind, as is evident in "Tank Rauschenberg," a black plastic toy tank sprouting raven wings. Joseph Cornell is another strong influence in Angelos' work, inspiring much of the curiosity box like structure of pieces like "Dream of the Pink Pigeon." |3|

Pyper Hugos and Jarrod Eastman, who occupy the gallery's east wall, are husband and wife artists who live in Bozeman MT. Hugos' works are found object assemblages that use rusted metals as a palette to create works that can be strong and harsh in their totality but surprisingly soft and rendered in their specifics. The surface forms of some of her rusted materials are gorgeous and the teals and reds in the rust are very pleasing. But these soft and delicate effects are placed on a thick, hard wire structure. Much of her work concentrates on minimalist designs, and these seem to be the best of the work. |4|She also has a couple of pieces that employ found wood with little metal birds. These pieces seem more appropriate to an art fair than a gallery setting. But this exhibit is cautioning me to reserve my judgment as to what belongs where. What a lot of this art does is question what can be considered fine art.

Eastman's paintings seem to do this the most. For a long time (close to a hundred years) artists have been introducing "non-art" materials into a fine art setting. But often this art gets incorporated into the "serious" tradition of fine art. Eastman's art, though, comes out of a pop culture that most gallery goers may not yet be comfortable with in a gallery setting. Eastman's paintings are executed in a flat, straightforward manner and peopled (or "animaled") with figures from the artist's imaginary world. What you might think at first look is that these are "painted" cartoons. And it is certainly from cartoons -- as well as illustrations, skateboards, and pop music -- that these paintings are derived. |5| But, just because the figures in these pieces might remind me of Saturday morning cartoons, or graphic novels encountered in High School, does that exclude them from gallery walls?

A chance glance taken while I watched the artists hang their work made me ask just that question. Scanning the room, I caught a portion of Eastman's "Bent Feathers" which was partly obscured by a couch. A couple of the birdlike creatures in the painting quickly called to mind one of my favorite paintings when I was a college student in Belgium and used my student ID to hang out at the National Museum of Art on a regular basis. Brueghel's "Fall of the Rebel Angels," with its angels of the impossibly thin arms and hardly terrifying menagerie of demonic creatures is a type of art not unlike Eastman's.|6| Brueghel delighted in the folk imagery of his predecessor, Bosch, and was derided by some of his contemporaries for not following the refined forms of his fellow painters in Italy.

And I rather like Brueghel, so I was not too quick to dismiss Eastman and came to enjoy his painted world, where everyone seems to have an onion-shaped head and Godzilla-like creatures invite young children for a ride on their spaceship.

Some of the work at Poker in the Front may turn you off at first. Pyper's metal fences, Angelo's hardware and junkyard materials, Herridge's scribbled line and Eastman's cartoon world may not be what you are used to encountering. Maybe the "poker" of the title refers to the gamble of making and exhibiting non-traditional art; or maybe it refers to the process of assembling materials to form a winning hand; or maybe it refers to the gamble of opening yourself up to new things: new materials, new styles, new methods of marketing and networking, new ways of conceiving art.

Or maybe it just refers to the set of playing cards -- each suit created by one of the artists -- hanging in the gallery entrance.|7| Check the show out. All you have to ante up is your time.

Images from Herridge's free art campaign can be seen at his site, Poker in the Front is at the Unknown Gallery through April 14th.

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Alternative Venue: Park City
Chester's Blacksmith Shop
Featuring Justin Tolentino
by Emily Chaney

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It’s Saturday, March 18th. Leaving my sweats, television, and usual married-Saturday-night at home, I venture onto Park City's Main Street. Starting at the top of the street and walking down, I end up in front of Chester’s Blacksmith clothing store.|1| The large windows display images of bold, simple, striking faces. Throngs of people come and go-this seems to be a hot spot!

Curious, I enter, and am immediately greeted at the door by a handsome twenty-something telling me it’s the opening reception for artist Justin Tolentino. Loud vibrations from DJ Honna’s spinning spill out the door as I walk up the stairs. Along the corridor my eyes catch colorful artwork hanging from chains-something you can't miss!

The space has warm bright lighting, which reflects off the stark white walls. Clothes are displayed neatly folded on wooded shelves and hanging from steel clothing racks. |2| Casually dressed people mingle over cold refreshing beverages, discussing the work of guest artist Justin Tolentino.

Tolentino's pieces are on every available wall space, hanging from the ceiling and even in the dressing rooms! Justin comments on his work, “Through my experience as a dedicated graffiti writer, I have taken that drive that I have and would use to explode on a wall to my canvases. Graffiti writers live their lives just to make their mark on anything they see fit. Living a simple life, striving only to alter the urban environment and thus creating something new from the old cities in which we live in, something that is uniquely theirs.”|3|

When asked to classify his work, Justin states, “I would call it Urban Contemporary art.” |4| Tolentino is getting his work out not only through gallery shows, but also through less traditional avenues such as: t-shirts, stickers, and especially the web (referred to as “bombing”).

This “Urban Contemporary art,” along with “Pop Surrealism,” “Lowbrow,” “Graffiti,” and “Post-Graffiti,” attracted store owner Jeff Wardell to get involved in the underground art movement by showing various artists from around the world in his store, which just opened in October 2005. “It’s an incredible story about an exploding art movement with roots on the East & West Coasts,” Wardell comments.

While living in San Francisco, close friends introduced him to this style, and it quickly became an obsession. He has combined his love for art with his passion for fashion! It’s important to Wardell that men enjoy the store’s experience, and he achieves this by providing a hip environment with all the latest name-brand clothing. People have the opportunity to check-out urban artists and browse the store’s tabletop book collection, such as Graffiti World and Weirdo Deluxe. All this and they even carry unique shoes and T-shirts designed by artists.|5|

Chester’s Blacksmith clothing store provides both the customer and artist an exciting environment to explore both fashion and art. Artists looking to show their work in a place with plentiful lighting, excellent street traffic, and an all-around cool place, would do well by hanging their work at Chester’s Blacksmith clothing store.

Justin Tolentino’s work will be shown now thru May 5th, or if you don’t have a chance to pop by the store go to his site at To explore the store through the web go to Another interesting site and magazine that dips into the underground art movement is

comments? go to the forums
Special Feature: Salt Lake City
Dancing a Painting
"Postcards from Utah" at the RDT

We normally do not cover the performing arts, but when a dance group decides to take on the intriguing task of dancing a painting (or sculpture or other visual artwork) we figure it's time to take notice.

For a very limited engagement (this Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and in celebration of its 40th Anniversary, the Repertory Dance Theatre will perform "movement postcards" filled with energy, texture, drama and design and inspired by the work of Utah visual artists exhibited at the Springville Museum of Art.

Postcards from Utah, the final performance of RDT's season, will be performed April 6-8, 2006 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center (138 W Broadway). Performances begin at 8:00 pm each evening, with a pre-concert discussion with Artistic Director Linda C. Smith at 7:30 pm.

Choreographers selected paintings and sculpture to influence the creation of new work. Guest alumni choreographers include Todd Allen, Lynne Wimmer, Michael K. Bruce, Jim Moreno, Brent Schneider, Andy Noble, and Bill Evans. Additional work has been choreographed by Thayer Jonutz and Chara Huckins, current RDT company members. These movement postcards are inspired by 17 Utah artists: Gregory L. Abbott, Wulf Barsch, Bruce Brainard, Lou Jene M. Carter, James C. Christensen, Maynard Dixon, Lee Deffebach, Mabel Frazer, Carel Brest van Kempen, David E. Linn, Lee Ann Miller, Everett C. Thorpe, Andrew Smith, Gary E. Smith, Trevor Southey, Doug Snow, Scott J. Wakefield.