Exhibition Reviews: Salt Lake
In Search of a Generation: Exhibits by Bonnie Sucec, Trent Alvey, Darryl Erdmann and Cary Griffiths
by Kasey Boone
A recent trip to the Springville Museum of Art, where I visited the In Memoriam
exhibit dedicated to four recently deceased Utah artists, spurred in me, rather naturally, thoughts of mortality; in addition, I began to think of generations and their passing, particularly artists. Not that these four artists (Lee Deffebach, Ed Maryon, Francis Zimbeaux and Wallace Lee) really constitute an artistic generation. They are similar in age -- all were born within seven years of each other -- but they have little in common artistically.
Nevertheless, and this is how the train of thought works sometimes (without logical conclusion) I began to think of generations of Utah artists. Mostly I began to wonder if there are any. To search for a generation we could probably break living artists into four groups. First, the elder generation, the group approaching 70 plus, one from which we are unlikely to see any major shifts or changes and the one to which the four in the Springville show would belong. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the under thirty crowd, the students and emerging artists, what Kent Rigby recently called the young lions, artists who might be doing something interesting but likely have not yet found their true voice. The next and possibly most dynamic is the thirty to fifty crowd, the ones beginning to be shown seriously by galleries, occupying teaching positions, the ones who we watch eagerly to see where they will go after seeing, in some respects, where they have been. The last, what I call the mature artists, are in the 50 to 70 range; they have presumably achieved a certain status, their friends and contemporaries have finally earned enough power or money to seriously help them, and they come under the eye of curators and the like for major exhibitions and awards.
Gallery Spotlight: Salt Lake City
Southam Gallery: 24 Years on a Shoestring
by Kent Rigby
Interviewing both Linda and Kimberly Southam at the same time is "electric" to say the least. As they discuss the history and future of their gallery and their insights into artists, galleries and the art market, energy absolutely floods out of these two vivacious women. Together, they can generate enough wattage to make hair stand on end!
Linda Southam opened Southam Gallery
at 50 East Broadway in Salt Lake City, in December of 1982. Daughter Kimberly, now President of Southam Gallery, Inc., was just 12 years old at the time. "I remember that on the grand opening evening, I was supposed to be in charge of the punch bowl," reminisces Kimberly. "At 6:00 people started arriving and Mom wasn't quite ready yet, so she sent me out to greet the guests, I was completely terrified and could hardly utter a word."
Exhibition Reviews: SLC & Ephraim
The Installation Art of Robert Taplin & Corey Strange
by Geoff Wichert
A long time ago in a gallery far, far away, rebels banded together to create an art with a new relation to reality. They called their art "Realism," but we know it today as merely the opening engagement of a movement that came to be called "Modernism."
The paintings, and the new drawing technique that would be called photography, that were exhibited in Paris in the middle of the 19th century had their roots in the Enlightenment, in the conviction that there is an ultimate reality that is physical in nature and can be discerned by objective observation. The intractable truth of this view of existence hasn't stopped later critics from throwing sand in our eyes and the gears of progress. After all, they point out, not everyone chooses to live his or her life as though this were true. Others try and fail. So if the truth is not universally accepted or practiced, it may as well not be true. The name given to this collapse of faith, either in the existence of reality or in our ability to discover it, is Postmodernism.
The arts, too, underwent a change. Of course art is more vulnerable than science or philosophy to the caprice of fashion. Artistic styles change when the public grows bored; the change always appears to be an advance, but in fact the progress in art since the discovery of abstraction from nature during the Upper Paleolithic has been on the level of improvements in punctuation. In thirty thousand years we've learned to suggest space and time more accurately, but as far as capturing one person's experience and making it available to another, it doesn't get any better than the animals drawn on the walls of Chauvet Cave. We humans had it all at the start, although we like to do it differently from the way our elders did it. There's no harm in that, unless we start believing that the older art has ceased to function, or that the only way forward is to follow the footsteps of the latest thing.
The news from the Salt Lake Art Center
is that Modernism not only is not dead, but it is alive and reasonably well. Robert Taplin's The Five Outer Planets
is a bold effort to update in sculpture the kind of work that T.S. Eliot and James Joyce did in literature almost a century ago. Modernists like they accepted that content, because of its ultimate grounding in reality, was universal, but that exploration of form gave it fresh significance and new accessibility. For Joyce, to take one example, the extraordinary adventures of Odysseus as he journeyed through the world and back home could inform the life of a Jew in Dublin in 1904 as he went about his everyday life.