Artist Profile: Salt Lake
Colleen Howe:Total Immersion
Crossing Over from Pastel to Oil
I'm going back to using oils. Totally immersing myself. It is how I've always approached my art. I don't know any other way to go about it," says Colleen Howe, a Salt Lake City artist best-known for her work in pastel "I am going on a journey. I'm not giving up on pastels. I'm evolving, hopefully in the right direction. Immersing myself in oil painting is something I have to do." Howe's immersion in oil comes at a time when she is becoming recognized nationally as a pastel artist. A gallery owner in Laguna Beach mentioned Howe to me in October, 2007. "She is terrific. I think that her pastels are in a league with Albert Handel and a few others. And she's from Utah, Dude." When I tell Colleen about the gallery owner's comment she is honestly pleased and almost blushes.
Art Professional Spotlight
A Community Organizer
The Salt Lake Art Center's Heather Ferrell
by Shawn Rossiter |
photos by Shalee Cooper
Heather Ferrell would like to get to know you. The new director of the Salt Lake Art Center says she's a very social person, and hopes that as people come to the Art Center they will pop their head into her office and introduce themselves. Ferrell took over in July, filling the vacancy created by Ric Collier's departure last fall, and she looks forward to the opportunities her new position will give her to engage with individuals and groups in the community.
Ferrell grew up in the Rocky Mountains. She was born in Boise, Idaho and, when her mother married a second time, moved with her to Utah. They lived in the Highland/Alpine area and Ferrell attended American Fork High School. She was the first in her family to go to college and attended Utah State University, a state school where she could afford to pay her own way. Working at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art gave Ferrell her first museum experience. When she graduated from USU with a dual emphasis in Photography and in Art History, Ferrell had two promising graduate school options: continue her studio work in Photography at the Cranbook Academy of Art in Detroit, or pursue an Art History degree at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland.
by Geoff Wichert
In Utah, artists divide themselves into a variety of sub-categories according to where they live, the mediums they use to make art, and their loyalties to various historical art movements. None of these choices is without controversy. One of the more interesting but less well-known choices is strategy, which explains many of the observable differences and some not-so-obvious distinctions between works that may hang side by side discordantly. Several recent exhibitions featuring particularly prolific, or at least active, painters point up some of their differences and some natural affinities between them. For whatever reasons, this fall season has seen some of the same painters appear at the Phillips, Palmer, and Saltgrass Galleries in Salt Lake, and at the Springville Museum, the Central Utah Art Center (CUAC), and Snow College’s Art Gallery further south. The opportunity to see several works by the same artist in different contexts goes far towards revealing the individual strategies underlying the various results.
Just what strategies are available to artists remains an open question. Indeed, the still inflammatory differences between traditional or conventional art and much (though by no means all) modern art are largely matters of strategy. According to one highly influential art historian, Ernst Gombrich, the story of art (which was the title of one of his books) is the story of mankind’s efforts to understand the mechanism of visual perception. Within this one unifying strategy he observed many tactics -- from the invention of perspective and the grading of tonality to the study of underlying structure and physiognomy -- that climaxed in the nineteenth century with the ability to render a convincing copy of the visual field. Since then, artists have searched for a new strategy, or strategies, with which to approach their easels. If Gombrich is right, the division in play between conservative and radical artists is that the former, to borrow the words of Mozart, don’t want to do it differently, but would rather do it better, while the latter are all searching as individuals to discover the new dominant strategy, or to lead, however briefly, the expedition to discover it, or at least to cast an historically memorable vote on the final direction.