May 2006
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Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
Utah Arts Alliance Hosts Annual UofU BFA Exhibition
by Kent Rigby

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In May, graduating senior students from the University of Utah’s Department of Art and Art History will present their work at the annual Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibit, hosted this year by the Utah Arts Alliance, at the Utah Center for the Arts, 2191 South 300 West, Salt Lake City. The exhibit begins Thursday May 4th and extends through Friday June 3rd.

The annual BFA Exhibit is traditionally organized by a committee of student volunteers and held at a venue away from the University campus. David Pendell, Professor of Ceramics, is this year’s faculty advisor to the committee. More than 90 students have been invited to submit works for juror, Anthony Siciliano’s consideration. Siciliano graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art-Photography from Weber State University and with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography from Arizona State University. He is an Associate Faculty Instructor at Westminster College, an Adjunct Faculty Instructor at Salt Lake Community College, and an Image Editor at Borge Andersen Photo Digital in Salt Lake City, Utah.

After jurying the entries Siciliano commented, “There does not appear to be a recognizable direction among these works; however, the strongest pieces are the ones where the artist maintained a consistent vision throughout the execution of the work. The most exciting works are the ones that employed different media. The number of entries is fairly evenly distributed between the different disciplines of painting and drawing, print-making, photography and 3-D.”

Each student was able to submit three entries, which might make Siciliano’s task seem daunting. However, Siciliano, no stranger to the jurying process, got immediately to work and made quick order out of seeming chaos. More pieces were ultimately accepted than rejected.

Exhibit standouts include:

Mason Fetzer’s, "Anne and John," spray paint and acrylic on Plexiglas, a colorful mixed-media piece that has a sense of mystery about it.|0| Anne is placed in the foreground and appears apprehensive as she begins to look over her shoulder towards John, who seems to be stalking her. The images and background are painted on three layers of Plexiglas, which provides physical distance between the figures, already psychologically distanced. Some rather ornate and flowery brushwork in the backgrounds is suggestive of romance, at least, in the mind of John. Anne seems more apprehensive than interested. The layers of Plexiglas are bolted together and hung with wire cable.

Rachael Bomingo’s two large canvases, "Sacrifice," and "Untitled" |1|, are abstract and painterly works, with an attractive “sketchy” rendering technique. The grounds have a matte finish, providing a decidedly contemporary texture. "Untitled" depicts a dancer in the foreground with a young woman’s face in the lower background, looking up at the dancer. This piece also has some strong psychological content. The dancer’s face is obliterated and a few red paint smears on her dress suggest some violence has occurred. The painting expresses the idea that principal dancers have been known to “claw” their way to the top.

Michelle Candrat’s etching, "Reach for the Sky," is a very competent etching, showing a good knowledge of the media, solid technique, and a steady drawing hand |2|. The outdoor scene depicts several species of trees and bushes, tightly rendered, and with a nice color shift in inks from a rose tint at the bottom to a pale sky blue at the top.

Daren Young’s three paintings are all well-conceived and painted in a strong representational style. In “WINO…Why No Wine, Oh,” Young has crafted a nice 3-d tableau. |3| A cutout young adult male holds a wine glass as a wine bottle and plastic grapes sit on an actual protruding shelf. On the shelf is a map, while in the background, a California wine country scene is rendered. The impression is that of a yuppie out on a wine tasting excursion, having a wonderful time. Window moldings serve as picture frame.

In Stephanie Geerlings’, "Device," mixed media, a sewing machine is connected, by threads, to a patchwork quilt constructed “Home”, surrounded with a fence made of curtain hangers.|4| The top of the sewing table has been covered with paper that has a green texture, suggestive of a yard. The sculpture is suggestive of family values. The sewing machine is representative of the traditional stay-at-home Mom and the threads are indicative of the ties that bind the family unit together.

Martin Campbell’s "Walking Tall,"wood and metal, rounds out the 3-D category with a well-crafted pedestal sculpture.|5| The abstracted female figure, constructed from various hard woods, stands atop a ‘high-heel’ shoe. A functioning hinge at the chest area allows the viewer to pivot the top part of the torso upward. The action is suggestive of a mouth opening and closing in empty or ‘silent’ speech.

All in all, this is an attractive show that showcases the young talents that will establish themselves as the new crop of ‘emerging artists.’ It’s well worth seeing.

The BFA exhibit is hosted by the Utah Arts Alliance, at the Utah Center for the Arts, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a wide-ranging mission. UAA was founded by Executive Director Derek Dyer to help fill some of the gaps created by ever reduced funding for arts and arts education. UAA provides access to many arts programs for children and adults, as well as alternative art venue space. The UAA also serves as a liaison between other arts-related organizations, to facilitate networking systems that can ultimately benefit many artists.

The 9,000 square foot Utah Center for the Arts is available for rent by the day or hour. Artists can use the large open space for many diverse purposes such as working on large-scale projects and photo shoots. The space may be used for events such as meetings, weddings, parties, and film screenings. Private studio space is also available on a limited basis (See 15 BYTES April 2006 edition).

The current Center schedule is quite full and includes such diverse offerings as, Brownrice Modern Dance Theater; Capoeira – Kids Intermediate and Teen/Adult; Speed Pour; Raffa Dance Class; various Belly Dance classes; SLC Photo Group; Jago and Eriuka Salsa Group; and Incendiary Circus Fire Arts Class.

At UAA, just about the only limit is your imagination. Visit the BFA exhibition this month and see for yourself what the UAA is all about. The opening reception for the students will be Saturday May 6th from 6 to 9 p.m. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. The public is invited free of charge.

For more information, contact: Derek Dyer, Executive Director, Utah Arts Alliance. Email: (801) 651-3937

Exhibition Spotlight: Salt Lake
Groutage's Last Call

It is last call for Salt Lake City's Groutage Gallery, and possibly the last chance to see artwork by Harrison Groutage himself. After over a year of successful business, Sugarhouse's Groutage Gallery will be closing its doors permanently May 31. For two weeks only, an exciting array of Harrison Groutage's work will be available to the public for the last time at Groutage Gallery. As It Was, a closing retrospective of Harrison T. Groutage at Groutage Gallery opens May 12 and 13 from 6 to 9 pm.

The Groutage Gallery opened in March of 2005 as a way to showcase the work of Groutage as well as a number of other artists connected to the Utah State University professor. Though Groutage is well-known in Utah, especially through his long relationship with USU, before the opening of Groutage Gallery, his works were hard to see in Salt Lake. Consequently the two exhibits of Groutage's work held over the past year were great successes.

Now approaching 82, Groutage is inextricably linked to the Utah landscape through his work in watercolor, oil and acrylic. In the 1960s, as head of the art department at USU, Groutage formed a creative alliance with Alvin Gittins at the University of Utah and took art students from both schools to study and paint in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It was the beginning of a lifelong fascination with Mexico for Groutage. But it is the Utah landscape Grout loves. His moody northern Utah skies and stately interpretations of the red rocks of southern Utah have become the standard by which Utah landscape painting is measured. He has worked from studios in Hurricane and Logan for more than fifty years and As It Was will include never before exhibited pieces from the artist's private collection that will be offered to the public for the first time.

"The challenges of the forms, colors and climate of the Utah landscape offer an unending supply of interesting subjects," Groutage said in a recent interview.

Groutage Gallery has offered a range of traditional oil and watercolor landscapes, as well as a variety of contemporary styles and mediums. Over the past six months, Groutage Gallery owners Dee Malan and Kim Larkin began to branch out from the original concept of a gallery showcasing works by Groutage and his students or artists otherwise connected to him. The gallery, which is located in Sugarhouse next door to the Rockwood Studios, has recently been home to exhibits of art brut, contemporary found object assemblage and contemporary photography. To date, shows have included work by Paul Butler, Adrian Van Suchtelen, Steve Kropp, Brad Whalquist, Steve Rasmussen, Darryl Erdmann, as well as a variety of ceramicists and emerging artists.

Despite the commercial and critical success of the gallery, Malan and Larkin have decided to close the gallery so that both can pursue other interests out of state. Before doing so, however, they have returned to the roots of the gallery for one last exhibit of Harrison Groutage.

"This is a very important show for Harrison and Groutage Gallery, it could be the last opportunity the public has to view and collect his paintings," said Malan.

As It Was will be up for two weeks. Opening receptions are set for Friday, May 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, May 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. The Gallery is located at 1058 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City.

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In Plain Site: Salt Lake
Not-so-official Public Art

Public art is usually thought of as the art installed or commissioned in conjunction with a public building such as government offices, a hospital or a University. But there is a whole different type of "public" art, equally visible to the public, but the property and project of private individuals. This is the not-so-official public art that you find in someone's front yard as you commute to work, visit your grandmother, or take an evening stroll. Some neighborhoods might be considered blighted (and in some locales in the nation subject to imminent domain) because of rusted cars propped up on cinderblocks. But weld that rusted car to some other disparate elements, maybe a moving element or two, and all of a sudden you have cutting edge assemblage art. In plain site for the public to see.

For this month's plain site feature, we highlight two pieces of this type of art, within a short stroll of each other. The first is the kinetic art of Cal Vestal. Vestal is represented by galleries in Salt Lake like Phillips Gallery and Utah Artist Hands and you may be familiar with his work from visits to these galleries. More likely, though, you know his work from a Saturday afternoon jaunt to Liberty Park. The building at 637 East and 900 South, near the Liberty Park entrance has multiple pieces by Vestal spinning, rotating and gliding in the wind while their surfaces reflect the spotlights of the sun. |2-3| Also near Liberty Park, but on a much less visible side street, you may have noticed the Hansen home at 1083 Lake St. (740 E.), where an assemblage of cattle skull, deadwood and farm machinery adorns the front lawn.|4|

Is there a favorite piece of not-so-public art in your neighborhood that you love (or hate)? Email us an image of it and we will publish it in our next In Plain Site.
Aaron Fritz

My Other Sky

Stefanie Dykes

My Other Sky