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   June 2008
Page 9    
Work by Olivia Mae Pendergast
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Exhibition Spotlight: Park City
From a Warm Heart
Olivia Mae Pendergast at Phoenix Gallery
by Shawn Rossiter

Olivia Mae Pendergast first appeared in these pages in March of 2003 (athough then she was known as Holly Mae). At the time she was in a period of transition, taking her work from the impasto landscapes that had first established her in Park City galleries to the thinly washed figurative work that would make her a favorite all along the Wasatch Front. She was also struggling with her newly diagnosed Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. For the next four years Pendergast worked tirelessly, showing ubiquitously, all the while struggling to find an environment and art materials that would allow her to work. In the process she became a favorite among area art patrons. Which is why it struck many as odd when she decided to pack up her life and move to Seatte last year. It was in Seattle, at the beginning of a new life, that she adopted the new name, Olivia.

Pendergast's work has never really left Utah, however. She was featured in an exhibit recently at Kayo Gallery, and her plates at Art Access' 300 Plates show sold quickly. This month she returns to Phoenix Gallery with a new body of work from her recent trip to Africa.

15 BYTES: So, what took you to Africa?

PENDERGAST: Well, I met someone who I was seeing who works there 4-6 months out of the year. I had already planned on going... someday, (I wanted to go paint the people in Malawi where, coincidentally Peter works) but felt really nervous with all my health stuff to actually make it happen. But he really encouraged me and already knew so much about it that I felt really comfortable.

15 BYTES: Why Malawi?

PENDERGAST: The main reason I wanted to go to Malawi was I heard it was called "The Warm Heart of Africa." I just loved the way that sounded and I had always wanted to go and paint people that were experiencing life in such a totally different way than I have. I think I wanted to shake up my little (American) world, as I had never left the US before this trip!

15 BYTES: Any special preparations for the trip?

PENDERGAST: I had a small fundraiser before I left to ease the financial burden of the trip and sold all the paintings I had for sale at about 1/2 the price they would normally be. The support was amazing. I am always so amazed at the outpouring of support around my work and in a personal way, as well. I flew there alone and spent a great deal of time on my own so it felt like a real accomplishment in my life... probably one of the biggest ones! I took all of my paints and a roll of gessoed paper on the plane under my arm like a precious child.

15 BYTES: Any difficulties while you were there?

PENDERGAST: The first night I was there we were robbed in the house while we slept! They took all of my equipment I use for taking pictures... my digital Nikon Camera, a small camera, a digi cam, my laptop but!!! they left my roll of paper, paints, brushes... all things that would be impossible to replace. It felt like a real gift that they did not hurt us and they left my paints... yeah! I did not like my laptop anyway! And I kept counting my blessings because they stole everything on the first night instead of the last night. I ordered a new Nikon and had someone bring it on the plane to Malawi and I took about 3000 photos in the 4 months I was there!!! I would have lost them all and they are worth gold to me! SO they were really generous, gentle thieves! They spared me much suffering!

15 BYTES: What kind of things did you do while you were there?

PENDERGAST: I spent about 2.5 months painting there and about two weeks at a pottery in a town called Nkhotakota on Lake Malawi. I was trying to sculpt the figuratives I had painted in local clay using sawdust kilns. It went well. Some of them fell apart but it really encouraged me to want to return (next winter) to work for two months or so while working with local artists. I am trying to write a grant proposal to get some assistance with the trip. I had a show right before I left Malawi in which I invited 3 Malawian artists to show with me. The show was an incredible success. I also spent time at a Buddhist orphanage (Amitofo Care Center) In Blantyr, Malawi. I took a lot of photos of the children and want to start a program shipping books over for the kids.

15 BYTES: How has the trip affected your work?

PENDERGAST: Africa is big. Everything there is big. I realized in all of that my own bigness and at the sametime my own nothingness (I do not mean this in a self-denigrating way). I want to work big. While I was there I was limited to the size of the prepared paper (about 10- 36x48" sheets). But now that I am back in Seattle I am looking for a studio that can accommodate 8'x14' canvases. There are just so many people there. ... it just has to be done big.

15 BYTES: So, closer to home, how do you like Seattle?

PENDERGAST: I love Seattle. It has been fantastic for me to be in such a large city after living a rather solitary life (on the outskirts of Park City). Because it is so big here and there is so much going on I am finding it difficult to really get involved in the art scene. It is almost like I cannot find it! In SLC it is a little more humble and centralized and much easier to actually put your finger on the pulse. I love the vastness of it here but miss how personal it felt in SLC!

15 BYTES: How's your health?

PENDERGAST: My health is good. The best in years. Since SLC the Neurologists that I work with here at University of Washington have decided that the chemical sensitivities that I experience are a symptom of an underlying condition and I am undergoing lots of tests to try to understand what is happening. Africa was challenging with the chemicals as most of the vehicles are older and take diesel. And when I was flying form Nairobi the airline attendants walked down the isles with cans of pesticides spraying everything. I hid with my mask on under a blanket for about an hour. But all in all I did fantastic and broke through a lot of fear-based limits I had imposed on my life. I feel free!

15 BYTES: And finally, out of curiosity, why the name change?

PENDERGAST: Olivia? Well, just wanted a grown up name, something different. My roommate -- years ago -- was from Mexico and she used to call me "olly" (Silent h) or Olivia. I loved it. When I moved to Seattle it was a new start in so many ways so I just started calling myself Olivia and it stuck.

Up and Upcoming: To The North
Exhibition Listings in Northern Utah
Prepared by 15 Bytes staff unless otherwise indicated. UPCOMING and UP listings should reach us by the last Wednesday of the month. Those accepted will run until the closing date, or for one month if no closing date is given. Readers using the guide are cautioned to check with the exhibitor if the accuracy of the listing is crucial. Errors reported to us will lead to correction and earn good Karma. Please send listings for this page to editor@artistsofutah.org

Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art UP: USES OF THE REAL: Originality, Conditional Objects, and Action/Documentation, Contemplation an exhibition of objects selected from the museum's collection, many of which will be shown in NEHMA for the first time. Through December 2008.

AND: Picturing Faith: Religious America in Government Photography, 1935 - 1943, a unique series of photographs showing the place of religion in American society through the lens of some of America's most well known photographers-Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks. Through June 28 in the West Gallery.

Brigham City Museum UP: Artworks by Bill Laursen, featuring 50 watercolors and acrylics by the Sandy landscape artist. Laursen says the inspiration and ideas for his compositions come from personal photos, sketches, places he has visited and memory. The artist also enjoys creating a work "off the top of his head." He has been greatly influenced by the impressionists, post-impressionists and the moderns|2|

The next Park City Gallery Stroll is Friday, June 27, from 6 to 9 pm.
Kimball Art Center UP: Aaron Fritz: Color and the Landscape in the Badami Gallery through July 14.|3|

UPCOMING: ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM: from/for NATURE in the Main & Garage Galleries. Ketchum, a photographer trained at UCLA, is famous both for his colorful depictions of the natural world and his environmental activism. June 6 - July 21.

Phoenix Gallery UPCOMING: Portraits of Malawi, a new body of work by Olivia (Holly) Mae Pendergast . June 27 - July 11. Reception July 27, 6 to 9 pm (see left column).

Julie Nester Gallery UP: Spring Group Show, an exhibition of recent work by 20 of the gallery's artists including abstract, figurative and contemporary landscape paintings, and sculpture. Through June 27.

UPCOMING: During the month of June, the gallery will be relocating to their new space, a 3200 sq. foot warehouse that has been gutted and remodeled to showcase art. To mark the event, the gallery will be launching a new exhibit called "Moving Pictures," which will include at least one new painting from each of their 35 artists. The opening reception will be on July 5.

Gallery MAR UP: Park City's newest gallery is currently featuring an exhibit of works by gallery artists. Grand opening celebrations will be July 4th weekend (look for it in our July edition).

Meyer Gallery UPCOMING: A new body of work by Brian Kershisnik on exhibit beginning June 27, 6 -8 pm.|4| 

BDAC UP: The State Street Project: A Portrait of Utah is a portrait of the state of Utah at the intersection of historical documentation and personal self-expression. Selecting US Highway 89 as a representative cross section of the state, a group of artists traveled the length of the road from the Idaho border to the Arizona border. This experience forms the basis for the show. Each artist's work is based on individual experience and interpretation. The pieces together form a collective portrait of the state of Utah (see March edition). Through June 16.

AND: An exhibition of 20 pieces from Utah artists Linnie Brown, Jinny Lee Snow and Olivia Celine Glascock will exhibit up to 20 pieces each.

UPCOMING: Bountiful Handcart Days exhibition. The Arts & Crafts Exhibit will be accepting entries on June 13th & 14th, with the Arts & Crafts exhibit opening June 30th and continuing to July 25th.

Apple Frame Gallery UP: Lithograph prints of Arnold Friberg's Book of Mormon paintings. June 6 through June 27

Lamplight Art Gallery (170 S. Main, Bountiful, 298-0290) UP: Paintings by Barbara Dowdle and watercolors by Deon Dowdle Quitbert, through the month of June.

The Ogden First Fridays Art Walk takes place every month on the First Friday (June 6). Galleries are open from 6 to 9 pm for receptions.
Eccles Community Art Center UP: Paintings by Donna O. Kearney in the Main Gallery and works by her students in the Carriage House Gallery. Donna O. Kearney, best known for her religious pieces and her portraits, is currently working on a series of paintings that update some of her favorite nursery rhymes.|5| The exhibit will run June 6 - 28.

Gallery 25 UP: Landscape paintings by Jeff Hepworth through June.

Gallery at the Station UP: Paintings by Heather R. Barron and pottery by Janelle Call Davis through July 1.

Universe City (2556 Washington Blvd, Ogden 458-8959 ) UP: Karen Thurber and Bill Hackett, two Ogden area artists, join up for a fundraising exhibit in support of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden (UUCO) and Universe City. Hackett's work reveals the hidden beauty of wood. Hackett is a professional geologist who has pursued craftsmanship in wood, stone and metal for most of his life. He makes contemporary furniture, turned wooden vessels and sculpture in his residential shop. |0| The artists' combined vision is a celebration of many aspects of the material world. Thurber's work is filled with sunlit colors. She finds her inspiration around her home near the Indian Trailhead and on her travels, especially in Southern Utah, but also in Europe and Central America.|1| Through June 21.

Bill Hackett at Universe City
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