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    February 2008
Published monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization
Steve Songer in his studio

Artist Profile: Ogden
Looking for Living Paint: Ogden's Steve Songer
by Kimberly Rock | photos by John Steele

Vividly present in the current moment, Steve Songer creates pieces indicative of his positive intensity. By means mysterious, even to himself, Songer channels his palpable freshness and immediacy into his widely-sought works, invigorating every subject he portrays.

"I have a theory that there's live paint and there's dead paint," says the Utah artist, "and I'm trying to get live paint." "What causes that, I don't know. It just happens," he says, gesturing toward a large landscape-in-the works. "This painting is really frustrating to me because I'm feeling like this paint's getting a little dead on me up here," he says, his fingertip circling above flat brown beginnings of leaves. As his hand drifts down to brisk white swirls, light leaping on boulders, he continues, "And this paint has some good life. Do you see the difference?"

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Exhibition Review: Ephraim
Nicaise & Goss: Dueling Diptychs at the CUAC
by Geoff Wichert

While carrying out his pivotal role in the early days of Modernism, Cezanne found time to set a precedent for one of its characteristic exercises: in sixty-some paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire and uncounted tabletop arrangements of apples, pears, bowls, and bottles, he showed that an artist can paint essentially the same subject over and over, seeking to wring from it every nuance of visual experience that its component parts can provide. So it is that Kurt Nicaise and Peter Goss has each taken a finite set of elements --pigments, forms, colors, and gestures for Nicaise, photographers' conventions and choices for Goss -- and rearranged them according to a limited set of self-made rules. The results recall the linguistic principle that a finite number of words and transformational rules can produce an infinite variety of sentences. Since paint provides more permutations, Nicaise's panels are richer and call forth a greater range of feelings. Goss, who chose to work with the capacity of photographs to store information and make associations, evokes fewer, more cerebral delights with, for those so inclined, a powerful and at times eerie sense of dislocation in time.

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Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
Choosing Serendipity
Laurel Casjens at Finch Lane Gallery
by Jim Frazer

Laurel Casjens is an unabashed tourist. The photographs in her exhibit at Finch Lane Gallery are, for the most part, landscapes or architectural subjects, but they were not taken with the calculated precision which characterizes most landscape or architectural photographers. Instead, the images were all taken on the move, on family trips with husband, grown children, various girl and boy friends all in train. Indeed Casjens says that being with her family is part of the process. The resulting aesthetic is more closely akin to that of street photography, where the photographer makes images from what is presented to her rather than trying to create an image by positioning herself in the landscape, setting up the camera, waiting for the light. The images do not, however, have the studiedly abrupt cropping one associates with "snapshots as art" or the "caught in time" feeling of the decisive moment. Instead, they are more like the travel photos most of us take, made with as much care as the situation permits at the time.

A unique aspect of this selection of Casjens’ photos is that they are all made with a specially converted digital infrared camera. (If you get the idea you want to look into the conversion process for your own camera, it’s done by a company called Life Pixel). Essentially, this means that the visible light that Casjens sees is not the light that is making the image in the camera. And since the raw infrared image is a red tinted monochrome, the camera’s display can be used only for checking composition, not for previewing the actual tones in the finished image. The two most obvious differences between an ordinary black and white photo and an infrared black and white photo is that the sky is dramatically darkened, making the clouds stand out, and anything green, such as vegetation is made strikingly lighter, seeming to glow. Since there is no film involved, digital infrared photos lack the grainy look of images made with infrared film. One could add digital grain, which Casjens has not. Interestingly, Casjens had never experimented with infrared until she got her digital camera converted. It was a desire to look at the world in a different way and to portray what is literally not visible to the naked eye that led her to make what she describes as a leap of faith and send in her camera for conversion.
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Work by Laurel Casjens