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        February 2010
Published monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization    
Kathryn Stedham

Artist Profile: Salt Lake City
In Utah Light
The Art and Life of Kathryn Stedham
| photos by Kim Silcox

It’s often said that every artist can recall an early, transformative encounter with art or art-making. Often it emerges from the mist of childhood sensations as the first clear memory. In Seoul, South Korea, it was the tail end of the 1960s when Kathryn Stedham was born to a Korean mother and an American father, a G.I. stationed there after the hot war turned cold. When they soon moved to Georgia, though, and later to Virginia, the U.S. was still in the middle of the time warp of cultural upheaval we remember as the Sixties. At four, an age when most children are likely to eat their crayons or scribble on a wall, while national attention was focused on the Watergate scandal, Stedham remembers her grandfather giving her a piece of paper the size of a rug, on which she sat, absorbed in drawing his portrait. Someone pointed out that she’d omitted his glasses, and she quickly drew them in. “Aren’t you a good little artist,” he praised her, and although the words were new to her and she wasn’t sure what they meant, that moment forged an indelible connection between the world’s appearance, her response, and an audience. She never forgot how that felt, or deciding right then to be an artist.

If the broad outlines of this story of self-discovery are familiar, other memories hint of something darker about becoming an artist. In Korea, Stedham’s mother had been part of an affluent and influential family. In Georgia, she was isolated, struggling to adapt her traditional lifestyle to alien circumstances. Stedham recalls watching her hang fresh fish from a clothesline to dry, an experiment that failed in the humid air. The solitude and self-reliance she endured probably prepared her daughter for the life she lives today, where in spite of their common interests she and her partner, the popular landscape painter Gregory Stocks, spend their working hours as artists must, apart in their separate studios.
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Alder's Account
Creative Curmudgeon
The art of David Howell Rosenbaum

The course my art history research takes often leaves me emotional. I cannot comprehend the sacrifice that artists must make in order to put their talent and message out there. Maybe I’m too much of a New Age-Sensitive Guy, but learning about the struggles of now deceased Utah artists causes me to be grateful that I have no talent. I can cook, but if I fail at it, I can just dial “The Pie” and soon get their version of cooking -- delivered. I receive zero criticism for my own efforts, just lovely pizza that helps me know that I always have a back-up.

One of my first exposures to David Howell Rosenbaum [1908-1982] was in my attorney’s office, where I viewed two well-balanced oil paintings hanging on his wall. Shane Topham told me some of Rosenbaum’s background as I stared at these two fine examples that capture Utah’s magnificent landscape. Rosenbaum carried my attention and as I have learned more about him in the past decade or so, I have become more sensitive to the far-too many plights of artists. A morose, withdrawn man, who shunned radio, televisions and cars, he was one of Utah's more accomplished landscape painters as well as being a talented portrait painter; he also liked to express his caustic personality in expressionist narrative paintings, throwing paint at Adolph Hitler as well as Pablo Picasso, and taking swipes at Modern Art in general.

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Autumn Prelude by David Howell Rosenbaum, courtesy Shane Topham