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     January 2011
Published monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization    

Artist Profile: Salt Lake
Jan Andrews: Speaking with Images
An interview with the Utah filmmaker

As has happened with many before her, Jan Andrews' epiphany came in the desert. She was in the Sinai studying the Bedouin for an anthropological project when she became convinced that her future lay in images rather than words. She returned to her home in Utah, began learning the craft of filmmaking, and has pursued the artform for the past three decades. True to her conversion Andrews she has always searched to put the visuals first, whether creating video art or documentaries. She has received numerous awards in both categories. Her most recent documentary, on poet Joseph Brodsky, was an official selection of the 2010 Venice Film Festival, and a 2010 Visual Arts Fellowship was awarded to her from the Utah Division of Museums & Arts for her video art.

In this video interview Andrews discusses both forms, including two of the works submitted for the Fellowship application.

The Arts: Dance
Is Dance Dead?

The art of ballet is at the point of death. Or it’s moribund, awaiting transformation. Such are the points of discussion between two of its foremost critics, Jennifer Homans and Robert Gottlieb. Homans is the dance critic for The New Republic and the author of the recently published Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet (one of the New York Times top ten books of 2010), in which she argues that the art she has devoted her life to is coming to an end:
After years of trying to convince myself otherwise, I now feel sure that ballet is dying. The occasional glimmer of a good performance or a fine dancer is not a ray of future hope but the last glow of a dying ember, and our intense preoccupation with re-creating history is more than a momentary diversion: we are watching ballet go, documenting its past and its passing before it fades altogether.

Gottlieb, dance critic for the New York Observer, former editor of The New Yorker, and present editor of The New York Review of Books, reviewing Homans’ book in the NYRB, argues not for a revival but for evolution, like the way dinosaurs are said to be still among us, transformed into birds:

I would like to believe that even if no new master comes along, the long-running love/hate relationship between (ballet) and modern dance . . . may yet lead to a fusion that will both preserve and reinvigorate classicism.
He goes on to suggest that ballet may take a new form in a new place, say Brazil or Asia, as it once did in Russia. Or harking back to the impact of “Italian exhibitionistic tricks on point” in the 1820s, argues that “social dances like hip-hop may infuse ballet with a new approach and energy.” So maybe it’s not over yet: not until the fat lady . . . dances?

Exhibition Review: Provo
Deepening the Canon
Old Master works lend substance and authenticity to LDS Canon

Painted representations of Jesus Christ have been a primary subject of Western art, morphing in style and content according to individual artistic style but also the role of commissioning patrons: Roman Catholic imagery can contrast heavily with the art of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, each having a distinctive cultural and historical flavor. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has its own artistic canon, albeit less historic and less defined. Because of its nascent state the LDS canon is open to many popular contemporary trends, ones often wanting in the profundity and sublimity expected of depictions of the Messiah, the savior of the world and redeemer of all mankind. One result of this is the unfortunate amount of contemporary LDS art, ubiquitous in places like Deseret Books, that uses generalized, blue-eyed, blond, youthful muscular types with winning smiles – what some I know have dubbed “Cool Uncle Jesus” art – placed in generic or empty settings. On the other hand, in places like the Brigham Young University Museum of Art, there are thankfully some from the same faith promoting a visual canon with a deeper sensibility, through the use of historical “old master” paintings of Jesus Christ. These timeless masterpieces speak universally through suggestions of heightened spirituality, relying more on narrative moments than superficial physical charms.

The LDS community has always borrowed from outside its own body to create an artistic canon, featuring works in exhibitions and reproducing images as illustrations in its many publications. The Brigham Young University Museum of Art has had much to do with the popularity of old master paintings to portray qualities of Jesus Christ. Their current exhibit, In the Master's Hand, features paintings by Danish artist Carl Heinrich Bloch, whose works the Museum has purchased and the LDS church has widely reproduced. Since June the Museum has also been showing the religious work of Bloch's contemporary, James Tissot, deepening the community's appreciation for the narrative power of these historical paintings.

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