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    August 2008
Published monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization
Vacuum Bag by Downy Doxey at Art Access

Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
The Female Vernacular
Amy Adams, Downy Doxey & Shilo Jackson at Art Access
by Geoff Wichert

It's one of the ironies of our time that, while most novels and poems are bought and read by women and most self-proclaimed professional artists are women, men in these fields continue to get a free promotion in significance and importance, and stating that ones art is rooted in being female still permits it to be trivialized, if not dismissed outright. So Amy Adams, Downy Doxey, and by association Shilo Jackson are all to be commended for the exhibit of mixed media about to close at Art Access, a venue not known for worrying about its status among small minds and egos.

Adams and Doxey, who reportedly had never met before they decided to show together, chose to stress not female vision, or female experience, but female vernacular. Vernacular is not simply language. Vernacular, which the Catholic Church fought for centuries to keep its rites and texts from being translated into, is the everyday speech that turns our individual ideas and experiences into the medium that we immerse ourselves in together. Unlike language, vernacular is never precisely written down. Capturing its qualities, what it feels like dwelling within it—like the water we swim in or the air we breathe—is accordingly suitable labor for an artist to undertake.

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Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
From Scopophilia to Espionage
Operation Salt: Surveillance at the Main Library
by Geoff Wichert

Scopophilia, the inborn love of looking, and espionage, making war with the eyes, are neither identical nor mutually exclusive activities. Voyeurs, who seek the scurrilous and scandalous, can be found at both ends of the spectrum, and so can artists. Operation Salt, a loose association of (currently) ten artists who meet monthly to advance their shared interests in experimenting with media, has taken over the fourth floor gallery at the Main Library for an aesthetic presentation of some of the more political issues, in both the broad and narrow senses of "political," facing society today.

It comes as no surprise that mechanical problems continue to beset exhibitions of new media. "Surveillance Footage," a video by Laina Thomas, was inexplicably shut off on the day we visited. Winston Inoway's illustration, "Fresh Values," was identified by a wall tag but couldn't be located—perhaps the most trenchant overall comment on surveillance. The remaining works vary both in aesthetic quality and their success in making their points, without any relationship between the two measures becoming apparent. For example, Eugene Tachinni presents two large wall pieces that feature dramatic and effective designs made with tape. One, "Moral Issue," is a number of very large circles divided by one of the structural pillars that support the library building. In the other, "Preserving and Strengthening," an irregular polygon of tape surrounds several large sheets of paper hung like a tablet—joined at the top but otherwise free while overlapping. Both are clearly meant to address the current controversy over the precise nature of marriage: apparently to comment on its role in uniting some and dividing others. Such works are often said to preach to the choir, but in Tachinni's case it was impossible to tell with any certainty what his sermon meant to say. Instead, it can be interpreted to support whatever position on the issue the viewer already holds. Additionally, there is a dissonance between the many signs asking viewers not to touch the works and the need to lift the sheets of paper comprising “Preserving . . . ” in order to see what makes up the ghost image visible through the top sheet.

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