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March 2006
Published Monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization.
Artist Profile: Helper
Jamie Kirkland: Poker Chips & Paint Possibilities
by Melanie Steele

On a typical weeknight in Helper, Jamie Kirkland can often be found surrounded by five or six of her artist cohorts and a sizable stack of poker chips. In the five short months that she’s lived in this small southeastern Utah town, she has become quite the card shark.

The remainder of the group content themselves with bad imitations of Jamie’s lyrical southern accent. She speaks in a slow, articulate way and always addresses everyone by name. Occasionally Jamie will burst out into a very bad rendition of a Broadway show tune. “Everything's Coming Up Roses” seems to be her current favorite. Her audience bursts into a fit of giggles, but after a few minutes has to cover their ears and beg her to stop.

Moving to Helper was a spur of the moment decision for Jamie. Several of her fellow classmates and friends from the University of Utah had relocated to Helper, where there is a burgeoning art community amongst its 1,800 residents. They live where clean air is plentiful and large studio spaces are affordable.

“I knew I would be living in a community where the focus was art-making, and that was appealing,” she remembers. “It inspires me and challenges me and encourages me to grow. There is something so fabulous about being with other painters.”

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Exhibition Review: Ephraim
What Art Is: Sean Morello at the CUAC
by Geoff Wichert

At first sight, Sean Morello’s two-dimensional works seem too slight to support a title that properly belongs to an encyclopedia. But to view What Art Is as a summary is to look through the wrong end of the telescope. Morello, like Art Danto in “The Transfiguration of the Commonplace,” wants to find out what differentiates an art object from one that looks like it but isn’t art. It’s an ambitious project, but one to which Morello brings generous quantities of two of the qualities he finds not only important to art, but to be its essence: decisiveness and skill.

What art is may have been taken for granted in the past, but over a century the question has moved nearer the center of art’s preoccupations. Mere decades ago, within the memories of older artists and academics, asking if art making as a human activity would still be possible was a matter for urgent discussion. In the 20th century, whether or not something was art moved from a general matter to a specific critique, while the big question was whether is was true that, as popular graffiti held, “Art is dead.” The proliferation of movements and mediums near the end of the century may look to the casual observer like signs of vitality, but that is an illusion. One thing Minimalism, Earth, Environmental, Feminist and Gay Arts, Performance, Installation, Hyperrealism, Appropriation, and a spectrum of seriously mocking offshoots had in common was roots in the feeling that “real” art — i.e. painting and sculpture — was following the house call-making family doctor into obsolescence. Had it not been for the radical idea that it could somehow survive the end of history — an idea at the core of Postmodernism — art as we know it might well have joined the 8-track tape and the telegram on the scrapheap of human inventions.
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Exhibition Review: Salt Lake
March the Month for the UMFA
Snapp, Lee, Kahlo & Pioneer Art
by Kasey Boone

If you haven’t been to the UMFA in a while (and, well, there’s good reason – it’s the only art museum in the state that charges regular admission fees!) then make March your month to go. If you time things right, you will not only be able to see their always intriguing though fairly eclectic permanent collection, but also be able to catch four worthy temporary shows for your $4 admission price. No matter what your interests, one of these shows is sure to appeal to you: the early Utah art of Revisiting Utah’s Past, Nickolas Muray’s photos of modernist and feminist icon Frida Kahlo, the “Gesture Paintings” of Hyunmee Lee and the installation art of Brian Snapp.

For all you financially-challenged or non-UMFA member art lovers, the ten-day period between March 10th and March 20th is when the stars and planets are aligned for you. All the signs are right, for you’ll be able to see the newly hung works of Hyunmee Lee as well as University of Utah assistant professor Brian Snapp’s installation, Curing, before it comes down on the 20th.

It feels appropriate to mention signs in the same paragraph with Snapp because that is what his installation is all about. Occupying the Education Gallery, the installation is a series of fired clay pieces, suspended from the ceiling via meat hooks. Each ceramic piece hangs in front of a chair, upon which, according to the artist’s statement on the exhibition placard, you are invited to sit. Next to each chair are four ceramic tiles supporting a pile of rock salt. Each of the chairs is different, running a gamut of styles, from Queen Anne to Mission.

The ceramic pieces are the main focus of the installation. Each one is marked (whether through painting, incision or carving) with images, symbols or signs from a variety of cultures and fields of understanding, including religions, herbology and the symbols of ethnic and economic groups like gypsies and hobos.
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