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   September 2008
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Red Spheres I, II, and III by Thea Shrack
Color from the Hive . . . from page 1

Individual brushstrokes and other applications of wax harden almost as soon as they are applied and record the precise history of the painting, making a record of progress that can get in the way of the artist's intent. Most encaustic painters periodically apply heat to fuse multiple layers of hot wax into a continuous, smooth, velvety matte surface instead. This may be left alone or worked over and played with to produce contrasting textures. Like Cohen, Thea Schrack uses wax to cover work done in another medium: in her case, photography. Where Cohen's effect is meant to be subtle, merging on subliminal, hers is meant as an integral part of her multiple-part ensembles. In "Red Spheres I, II, and III," a thick layer of translucent wax and a finely textured surface diffuse light and soften the focus of already soft focused images. The effect is to distance the subject from the viewer: an idealized or possibly nostalgic impression heightened by the discoloration staining each panel's borders.

Robin Denevan's wetlands landscapes are a far cry from Schrack's wax-covered photos, being built entirely from the panel surface up. What makes encaustic so versatile is that unlike oils or acrylics wax doesn't polymerize, so its solidifying is reversible. Colors can be mixed with molten wax and applied as one, but they can also be painted onto hardened wax and then be melted into the body of the wax. In "Quiet Delta," Denevan uses combined wax and pigment to draw and paint the atmospheric backgrounds of his landscape, then covers them with a layer of wax to soften them visually and create a feeling of distance.|0| Then he carves deep into the new surface to render foreground foliage, filling the knife cuts with color that stains the surrounding wax. Limiting his palette creates a mood of early morning or dusk, the margins of day and night appropriate to the marginal places he depicts. The way wax records everything that happens to it contributes a feeling of organic life, with all the mess and happenstance so characteristic of wild places.

Amber George also exploits the memory of the wax, but uses it to suggest the passage of time resulting in patina and loss. "Embroidery #1" seemingly acknowledges the impact of microorganisms on living cells: the embroidery of life by life. |1| On the left, wax puddles stand out from an otherwise smooth surface, while on the other tatted antimacassars were pressed into the surface to suggest transparent spheres. Other works depict plants in stencil-like interaction with ornamental patterns, recalling how batik combines such designs with wax and vegetable pigments to produce organic, rather than mechanical effects on dyed fabrics.

Among the antecedents Tracey Adams invokes in "Revolution 53" |2| is Jasper Johns, whose targets, flags, and other subjects referred only to themselves: a flag is as flat as a painting of a flag and in that sense is indistinguishable from it. They were also essentially geometric forms consisting entirely of their surfaces, which surfaces Johns used encaustic to activate and expand on. More immediately, through luminous optics and the depth of the wax body Adams brings to life what would otherwise be a relatively static exercise in arranging decorative color forms. Her colors resist being confined to their forms, but spread in ways that resonate with associations. Vertical smearing invokes an animated movie slipping its sprockets. Spreading tints suggests optical glare or pigment bleeding into the surrounding white background. A red band on the left resembles the binding fabric of a book cover. The painting proposes a variety of possibilities to the eye, but leaves them unresolved.

It's challenging to find a term that adequately encompasses what Kirsten Stolle does in her encaustic collages and collaborations. "Narratives" implies too much time passing for what are snapshots of an imaginary, alternate world. "Vignettes" accurately describes how the encaustic technique allows her collaged inclusions to occupy center stage while surrounded by accidental marks and artifacts alluding to spurious documentary history. "Mythology" may come closest, so long as her myths are allowed to be substantially scientific. And what are myths but the science of an earlier time? So it is that Stolle's precipitous, net– or sponge–like promontories support trees drawn from anatomical engravings of lungs.|3| They are also ringed by what could be vegetal or animal reproductive parts. What should not be overlooked, but is impossible to gauge from photographs, is how suspending these individual elements in the wax—parts borrowed from over half a millennium of scientific observation and abetted by the artist's own drawings—simultaneously lends them an illusion of three-dimensional perspective while it unifies their collaged elements into a complex whole. While the purpose of all this serious play remains cloudy, the eye responds with curiosity and delight.

Julie Nester and her staff have hung the works of six artists that provide a broad survey of the capacity of encaustic as technique. They have also managed to include a spectrum of approaches to representing how the world looks to us today. It's strange how the more accurately we are able to collect and collate light, the less sure and certain we are about what we see. Thus the history of painting, a story about ever more accurate ways of reproducing what we see, has come full circle, returning to a material that offers spontaneity and direct expression instead of meticulous rendering of detail. As T.S. Eliot said, we return to the place where we began , and know it for the first time.

New Encaustic Paintings, featuring work by Tracey Adams, Robin Denevan, Amber George, Thea Schrack, and Kirsten Stolle continues at Julie Nester Gallery through October 10.

Quiet Delta by Robert Denevan at Julie Nester Gallery
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Gallery Spotlight: Salt Lake City
Patrick Moore Returns
The downtown gallery relocates to Sugarhouse
by Sue Martin

Just off I-80, with off-street parking bordering a quiet, residential neighborhood, you'll find Patrick Moore's new art gallery. A far cry from his former west-side location behind the Rio Grande Depot -- a hip, edgy part of town with parking challenges -- the new gallery at 2233 S. 700 East, near Sugarhouse, is a comfortable destination, especially for those who live in mid- or south-valley areas or Park City.

Location is important but that's not the only attraction in Moore's new space. Formerly a furniture store on the ground floor of Susan Gallacher's King's Cottage Gallery and Art School, Moore's gallery is nearly 4,000 square feet of interesting rooms that seem to go on forever. Each discrete room may potentially showcase a different artist, enabling Moore to offer more artists more opportunities and his customers a greater variety of art to choose from. The more intimate size of the rooms, some furnished with sofas or chairs, also help buyers envision how a piece might fit on their wall back home.

The Patrick Moore Gallery opened in August with the annual show of the Art Glass Guild of Utah, along with some artists Moore has represented for some time, including Holly Mae Pendergast, Darryl Erdmann, Susan Gallacher, and Kim Reasor, a California artist who renders cityscapes in oil. Just as in his former space, Moore also sells jewelry and other small art pieces in his gift gallery.

After closing his west-side gallery at the end of December, Moore says he began looking for another space in the downtown area, "but nothing caught my eye." Meanwhile, artist, teacher and gallery owner Susan Gallacher was dreaming of having someone develop a gallery in the ground floor space of her building. When she heard Moore was looking, she contacted him and the two began dreaming together of what could be.

The very nature of the new gallery suggests a different vision for Moore. "I'd like to bring more out-of-state artists into this market," he says. "Right now, there's a perception around the country that the Salt Lake art market is strong." Because of the way the space is arranged, in five discrete rooms, he can feature three or four artists at the same time.

In addition to featuring new works of art, the new gallery enables Moore to provide another service for his clients: reselling works of art the client no longer wants or needs after down-sizing or simply running out of wall space in the home.

Moore is also planning to offer his space for special events and parties – from book groups to small theatrical productions, to charity fundraisers. Though there's no formal collaboration with Susan Gallacher or the six other artists who occupy studios in the building, there's always the possibility of an open studio tour, art lectures, or similar art-related events that would help put this unassuming, art-filled building on everyone's art-destination map, so to speak.

"The more traffic we can generate together," says Gallacher, "the better it is for all of us."

You wouldn't realize it at first glance, but the building has even more space that could be put to synergistic art purposes. There's an empty studio upstairs, and a larger space downstairs that could be another small gallery and/or art studio.

The gallery will be participating in the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll, and for the September show will feature a group show of landscape paintings.

The Patrick Moore Gallery, located at 2233 South 700 East in SLC is open 11-6 Tuesday – Saturday and can be contacted at 801-484-6641.

Interior of Patrick Moore Gallery with a painting by Darryl Erdmann
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Other Gallery News
Provo: In August Provo's Gallery OneTen announced that it is supsending its operations. Citing financial difficulties, director Ashley Christensen indicated that it would no longer be able to operate at its current location. She thanks the community for all the support the gallery has received and indicated that the board is still discussing "continuing projects, gatherings, shows, lectures and readings in the future, and the possibility of resurrecting Gallery 110."

Park City: The Gallery MAR blog reports that the Park City Gallery Association will once again be turned over to the control of the local galleries. Since the Spring of 2006 the Association was spearheaded by Park City's Kimball Art Center. "From what I have been able to discern, with this new organization, the Kimball Art Center will be a part of the stroll and Association, but there will not be a charge for the stroll (previously $7) paid to the Kimball," Maren Bargreen writes on her blog. "This means more responsibility, time and effort for the galleries, but also more say in the organization and operations of the Association."

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