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    May 2008
Published monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization
John Berry in his studio
Artist Profile: Logan
Something to Say: The Art & Life of John Berry
by Megan Holm

"This is what I am and this is what I do: the land and the desert." Those are the words Cache Valley illustrator-turned-artist John Berry uses to sum up how he feels about his art, which portrays the sparse, light-infused desert-scapes of Nevada and Utah. Berry made the transition from illustrator to artist after realizing that illustration did not convey or represent what he wanted to say through the medium of visual art. This transition led him to find a subject for his paintings that embodied what he knew and who he was.

Berry grew up in the Reno, Nevada area and later went to Brigham Young University (1988-1992) where he studied illustration. He worked as a freelance illustrator from 1994 to 2002, but around 2000 he began experimenting with fine art painting. As he experimented, he searched for the particular subject matter that would fit his emerging style and his personality. He remarks that it was the time he spent away at school and in pursuing illustration that eventually brought him back to the desert of his youth. "I played around with what I wanted to do after I knew I wanted to move away from illustration; I even tried to paint the kind of lush, green canyons that I fished in. I was looking for a subject that would say what I had to say, but even at that time I wasn't sure what that message was. I would say to myself, 'I'm a middle-class kid from Reno, Nevada, you know, out in the ugly desert--what do I have to say?' But finally I realized that the desert is who I am and in painting it, I did have something to say."
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Essay: Art & Issues
Warhol on the High Seas
An Travel Essay on Art and the Power of Presentation
by Shawn Rossiter

In business, we are told, location (and its close-cousin, presentation) is everything. The business of selling or presenting art is no different. Rich, recession-proof patrons will fly a thousand miles and spend unseemly amounts of money to purchase art in meccas like New York or Los Angeles, even though the work they are purchasing might have been made down the street and available there for a lot less money and carbon expenditure. Some patrons have what Joyce Wadler terms "art anxiety," a condition that drives its sufferers to pay consultants healthy sums to insure that their art is okay, that it was bought at the right galleries and that they won't be embarrassed to show it to their friends. Recession-prone middle America is equally susceptible to the subtle powers of presentation. Send them to another city on business or pleasure and they are likely to spend some time (and money) walking quietly and respectfully past whatever art exhibit the local Art Center or Museum has seen fit to hang. But, as I learned recently, put a museum masterpiece in the wrong location and it will go virtually ignored; and place an intriguing cultural artifact under spotlights and on a nicely painted wall and you'll have transformed it into art.

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Exhibition Review: Salt Lake
The Next Landscape
Lenka Konopasek & Charles E. Uibel
by Lane Bachman

When we hear of the subject of landscape in art, most of us tend to visualize the beauty of nature or a simple sunset over rolling hills. This isn't the case in the work of Lenka Konopasek or Charles E. Uibel, two artists exhibiting their work at Salt Lake's Finch Lane Gallery through May 30th. Konopasek, a painter, and Uibel, a photographer, explore beyond the traditional interpretations of landscape and present the elements of casualty and human presence in their work.

Lenka Konopasek's interpretation of landscape shows the devastation that natural disaster can have on all things material. She juxtaposes pieces of the organic with the manmade in order to bring us into these devastating situations. Working from media photographs that have been computer manipulated, Konopasek draws on the elements of composition and theme in her large oil paintings. Her style is effective when she is loose with the organic subjects of destruction. While the majority of her works are successful, a few pieces fail closer inspection and unfortunately detract from the exhibit as a whole.

Konopasek's paintings struggle with the geometry of lines in shape (inherent in architectural landscape) and the organic forms of natural disasters. For example, in "Landslide 2," we see the massive devastation of destroyed buildings in deep tones against a distant horizon. Unfortunately, we can't see beyond the diagonal lines drawing the eye into the frame from the lower left quarter. The geometry of these distracting architectural elements fills over 2/3rds of the foreground, causing us to wonder if these forms were, in fact, executed with the use of a stencil. This type of application contrasts with the stronger qualities of the other paintings.

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Landslide 2 by Lenka Konopasek at Finch Lane Gallery