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    September 2007
Published monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization

Artist Profile: Provo
The Ascension of Classical Arts: An Interview With William Whitaker
by Ehren Clark

Many are aware of classical art, but most are unaware of the fullness of the tradition, whose elements are so fundamental to the basic structure of painting, sculpture, and architecture. It was a tradition that had its genesis with the Greeks, the Romans, subsequently the Renaissance revival, and a 400-year dominance of the French Academy, only to become obscured, lost amidst the paths of the modern. With limitless forms of contemporary art, are we to find classical art, in its pure and original state, a part of the forefront of mainstream art once more?

To shed light on the subject which encompasses a ubiquitous role in the history of art, we may focus on the perspective of Provo-based artist William Whitaker, someone at the pinnacle of his profession; an artist trained in the classical tradition and painting in the highest standard. A dominant force in Utah and globally, he began painting in oil at the age of 6, fell in love with figurative drawing, which has progressed to a career which has placed him among the very best in his field. Whitaker believes that “the value of painting is to be found in its spiritual power.” His practical and first-hand understanding of Classical art is formulated through many years of study, practice and training and his ideas on the subject are insightful and informative. Whitaker now spends his time in his studio painting, training a few select talented students, and also painting portraits of Utah dignitaries as he has done for many years, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ President Gordon B. Hinckley.

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Public Issues
Salt Lake City's Art Mayor?
Four SLC Mayoral candidates and their personal and professional views on the visual arts
by Amanda Moore | photos by Laurie Warner

15 Bytes sat down with the four major candidates in the Salt Lake City mayoral race to get their views on arts in Salt Lake City. We asked each of them the same set of questions, and although each expressed general support, their answers varied as much as might be expected.

Ralph Becker, Keith Christensen, Dave Buhler and Jenny Wilson are running in the Salt Lake City mayoral primaries held Tuesday September 11th. For a full transcript of the interviews, look for the links at the bottom of this article.
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Exhibition Review: Fairview
Myriad-Minded Maker
Benson Whittle Retrospective at the Museum of History and Art in Fairview
by Sean Francis

One of the most magnificent works in the retrospective of visionary artist Benson Whittle now at The Museum of History and Art in Fairview is a wooden screen/pierced relief that treats a deep and ancient myth: Apollo's thwarted pursuit of Daphne. Carved and coaxed out from a massive panel of black walnut, the piece captures the moment when the smitten god sees his fleeing love-object transformed into a laurel tree—from whose leaves will come the bays that form the poets' only crown, and from whose branches will be fashioned the lyre for musicians' lays and laments. It is a meditation through allegory on the sublimation of Eros, and is worthy of a place alongside the stunning sculpture in marble on the same theme by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. That Whittle might be regarded as a latter-day peer of the Baroque master will suggest the stature of this extraordinary maker—and instances why his exhibit is not to be missed.

Magnificent, yes—and also definitive; for in its interplay of formal bravura and symbolic suggestiveness it is perfectly representative of this artist's comprehensive gifts. A penetrating interpreter of the past, a musician and a poet, he has here brought into satisfying synthesis his profoundest thought, his most moving rhythms, and his long-honed sense of telling beauty.

It is Whittle's versatility, in fact, along with his mastery of tradition and sheer manual dexterity, that set him apart. That work such as this should have been made in our debased day—when threadbare "concepts" stand in for accomplished craft and the "less" of minimalist musings remains inalterably that—seems all-but unbelievable; so, too, does the fact that the screen at Fairview is surrounded by works wrestled into being from such a wide array of materials. Produced over the course of 50 years, there are drawings, paintings, and bronzes; sculptures in wood, alabaster and stone; woodcuts and an etching—and all have sprung from the same perfervid imagination and broad knowledge, the same unerring and even magical hand.

Archer, by Benson Whittle
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