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    June 2008
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At the Sego Art Center inaugural exhibit, Genesis
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Sego Art Center . . . from page 1

"Miraculously," says Neely, describing the genesis of the Center, "a space opened up." With limited funding but plenty of willpower, the Foundation has converted what was previously a bakery on Provo's University Avenue into a world-class gallery space. Neely serves as Director of Visual Arts and Jason Metcalf as Curator of Exhibits. When Sego Arts opened its doors last month for its aptly titled inaugural exhibit, Genesis, it experienced phenomenal success. Not only was the art on show up to standard and housed in a refined and well developed space, but the 1000 sq. foot gallery was crowded and enthusiasm and excitement filled the space from 6-9 pm. Mingling with artists and other patrons that evening I couldn't help but think: "There really are people in this town who love and appreciate contemporary art!"

The Center, says Neely, "is to educate and enlighten in an art dialogue, to understand more of art and have fun appreciating contemporary art." The operative word here is fun. Contemporary art is and should be fun. It is not there for a limited elite to be catered to and "get" but for the masses to enjoy and be edified by. If art is to reach its full potential, reflecting the world through the eyes of the artist, the threads of this dialogue must be accessible to all and this is what is now available to the community of Utah Valley.

Genesis was no second rate show thrown together by novices; it is a project representing the passion of artists who believe in art. The Center purposefully included artists who would embody the scope of future artists and artworks to be shown at the Center. This show, which featured works by Valerie Atkisson, Ruel Brown, Brian Christensen, Jared Clark, Jeff Larsen, Jared Latimer, Hyunmee Lee, Ryan Neely and Chris Purdie, is ripe with talent -- formal and cognitive -- and reveals the power of contemporary art: to be seen visually, heard through the mind's eye and felt in the heart of the viewer.

Hyunmee Lee's abstract, "War, Conflict and the Possibility of Attack" evokes thoughts and emotions in conflict or in harmony at the same time. The beautifully crafted composition in black and white is a virtual yin and yang, a duality between the positive and the negative, right and wrong, good and bad, life and death, and most profoundly, in Lee's eyes, war and peace. The composition is intricately balanced allowing the metaphor to speak for itself. Although Lee does not dictate, the viewer experiences a balance alluding to the title, an objective ostensibly not left-field from Lee's intentions.

As the viewer meanders through the gallery, the dialogue, in its free-form purity continues with Neely's "Untitled" piece, a site-specific, three-fold collage that manipulates positive and negative space. This is a collage primarily because it is composed of text in minutia; secondly because this text is the substance of the larger image, itself a cut-out such as one would find Matisse creating; and thirdly because it is a site specific work. It is an allusion to the real, the corporeal, and presence and absence.

Chris Purdie's piece "Atom," a sphere of shadeless vintage lamps focused in on a single unit, a convergence of light bulbs, is appropriately titled and allows the viewer to confirm what he/she is looking at. It is inner space, it is outer space. It uses the everyday to create an element of sublime hyper-reality and physics. It has an uncanny quality to it, a metaphor of the pervasive yet allusive element, the atom so small yet so infinite.

Sego's gallery space is highly visible, located in the center of Provo, on University Avenue just north of Center Street. Many pass by the gallery (which thankfully is open regular hours) and will have a chance to experience the local and national art the Foundation will be bringing to the space. While Genesis portends a fine series of monthly exhibits, Sego Arts is a center and not just a gallery. Its primary motivation is education, for the artist and the public. Under the main gallery floor is a subterranean 1500 sq. foot space, a project of Conrad Nebeker's, who hopes to see this vast basement as an artist's haven to create and produce.

Neely has lofty goals for the future and also has the financing to back these goals up. The Sego Foundation will encompass much more than just the visual arts. Film, music and poetry programming are being planned and the group is already talking about a larger space. Those involved are highly visible professional artists as well as business owners. Theirs is a grassroots effort that promises an exciting future as, in Neely's words, they "feel a need" for contemporary artists who "feel that Provo can benefit from participating in- the contemporary art dialogue going on today."

Sego Arts is busy installing their second show, Lamborhghinis, Sacks and the Senior Captain of the Wilderness Brethren, which opens this Friday, June 6. The exhibition, curated by Jason Metcalf, features work by three emerging artists: Allan Ludwig, Rebecca Neely, and Gian Pierotti.

Allan Ludwig's paintings present many layers of possible interpretation.|2| Ludwig purposefully places in his work an assortment of environments, animate and inanimate objects, and geometric shapes and forms in what at first seems to be an arbitrary arrangement. When given time, the shapes and forms produce compositionally sophisticated relationships which holistically generate equality between the complete work and its parts which possess individual, relevant identities.

Rebecca Neely's sculpture "Dipped in paint to represent a day," conceptually reveals and analyzes struggle through personal narrative.|3| The piece is comprised of nearly 1000 crudely made sacs of fabric. Each pod or sac physically and symbolically represents a day in which Neely has sought conception. The work immediately offers varying levels of comprehension to individual viewers -- levels which are limited or facilitated by viewers' gender and experience.

Gian Pierotti's porcelain sculptures contain a freshness in application of media, formalism, and structure.|4| Although small, almost precious in scale, they possess a largeness of presence- a rarity among objects hewn from clay.

It is artists and innovators such as Neely and his companions at the Sego Arts Foundation, that open doors to new ways of thinking and seeing our world today, a never ending dialogue of meaning and creativity. This dialogue is an open one, all may participate regardless of being a creator or an observer. It is a synthesis between artists and viewer that is reached by an art that is manifest and reveals contemporary reality through meaning and the power of unification of the many through a collective of thought and sensibility. It is nice that Provo may now participate!

The Sego Art Center is located at 169 North University Avenue Provo, Utah. Lamborhghinis, Sacks and the Senior Captain of the Wilderness Brethren opens Friday, June 6 from 6 - 9 pm as part of Provo's Gallery Stroll.


Exhibition Spotlight: Salt Lake City
A Perfect Storm
The Utah Arts Festival, Jann Haworth, Sri Whipple & UCACA at SL's Library Square
by Laura Durham

If you’re already planning on attending the Utah Arts Festival at Library Square later this month, you’re in for a treat. And if you’re still debating, you may want to make up your mind to go – and when you do, consider being there Thursday night.

Pop Plastiques at the City Library
In addition to the Utah Arts Festival, the Salt Lake City Library is featuring a new exhibit by Jann Haworth. One of the few female veterans of the pop movement in Britain, Haworth is most famous for her involvement in the making of the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club band album cover. Her fame was overshadowed by that of her artist partner and husband of the time. Haworth eventually came to Sundance, Utah where she founded the Art Shack Studios and Glass Recycling Works, and co-founded the Sundance Mountain Charter School (now the Soldier Hollow Charter School). If none of this rings a bell, you may be more familiar with "SLC Pepper," a 50 x 30 foot mural on the parking structure next to the Ford Building in Salt Lake City. Haworth co-created this neighborhood treasure with 30 other artists in 2004 (see Julie Checkoway's article in the Trib).

Pop Plastiques, a 20-piece exhibit, opens Friday June 6th in the fourth floor Main Gallery at the library. Haworth "cuts and sews painted canvas and vinyl plastic to create abstracted images of corsets, mannequins, and 'portraits.' She explores the form and subjects of pop culture using the comis 'frame' convention of the graphic novel and film strip.” Look to the end of this article for an interview with Haworth.

An artist reception for the exhibit will be held on Thursday, June 26 to coincide with the opening of the Utah Arts Festival.

“Clash of the Titans” Unveiled
That same night, on the bottom floor, the Library will unveil the newest piece in their collection. The Utah Committee for the Advocacy of Contemporary Art (UCACA) recently donated "Clash of the Titans" a large pencil drawing by Sri Whipple, to the library.

Clash of the Titans by Sri Whipple

UCACA is a grassroots organization that pools resources to purchase works by contemporary artists and then donates the pieces to local non-profits. The organization came together after a series of conversations by local artists in 2006. UCACA seeks to contribute an artist's perspective to the process of deciding what artwork is displayed in public venues. Every member donates the same amount. Then, with these resources they began considering work by contemporary artists. All members were allowed the opportunity to submit a piece for proposal. Trent Alvey brought in Sri Whipple's "Clash of the Titans." "Sri is a very dedicated young artist, who challenges himself to keep his work spontaneous and original," Alvey says. "Talent flows out of his fingertips, especially in his drawings." Though his work is highly professional and challenging, Alvey says, it is unnoticed in the larger art community and so fit UCACA's mission. In the fall of 2007, the Committee voted unanimously to purchase the piece.

Whipple was born in 1973 in Los Angeles and raised in the Salt Lake Valley since the age of three. Whipple's obsession with masters such as Carravaggio, Bosch, Vermeer and Van Dyke has always been balanced with a love of pop culture, comic books and animation. After graduating from the University of Utah in 2000 with a BFA in fine art, with an emphasis in painting and drawing, he worked to marry the two traditions. Whipple says, "In my art I unite the masters' craft and symbolic narratives with cartoon surrealism and subconscious mysticism to create esoteric metaphors for the modern Man.”

Once the piece was chosen, a location needed to be selected. Ultimately, the Committee chose the Salt Lake City Main Library. Jim Frazer, a local artist and the group's current president, was instrumental in placing “Clash of the Titans”: “UCACA is very excited about Sri's drawing being placed in a prominent place in the main library, right next to the audio-visual checkout station. We hope library patrons, especially those who don't usually get to gallery exhibits, will enjoy seeing the artwork and perhaps be motivated to want to see more."

Britton Lund, Assistant Director of the Library is also pleased with the newest addition to their collection. "People from all walks of life come to the Main Library and we're delighted to have this piece because it gives us another opportunity to serve as the city's living room."

The reception for Pop Plastiques and the unveiling of "Clash of the Titans" will take place Thursday, June 26 from 6-8 PM at the Main Library, 210 East 400 South. UCACA is open to all individuals interested in promoting Contemporary Art in Utah. Annual dues (which are used for the purchase of artwork) are currently $50. If you are interested in joining contact Jim Frazer at ucacainfo@gmail.com.

Jann Haworth
interviewed by Dallas Graham

As part of his Daily Documentary series, Dallas Graham interviewed Sundance artist Jann Haworth on the occasion of her upcoming exhibit Pop Plastiques at the Salt Lake Main Library. Below are images by Graham as well as a segment of the interview. For the complete interview, visit Montage-Creative.

Jann Haworth by Dallas Graham
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