JEFF HEIN Portrait of a Man as a Young Artist
autumn weather finally crept into Utah at the end of October, young Utah
artist Jeff Hein
allowed Artists of Utah to sneak into his Salt Lake City home and studio:
The smell of linseed oil mixes
with that of the Heins' pet rabbit, which scurries through the home during
our interview. In the front room a few works are hanging.
A handful of small works are also in the studio, and a painting, just begun,
hangs on the wall. Otherwise, the place seems sparse, even for a well-ordered
artist like Hein. Most of Jeff's works are currently hanging in the Magpie
Gallery, a few blocks from his home.
Prior to the interview, we stopped
by to see the show, which features a number of large portraits. While there,
Annette Dunford, co-owner of Magpie Gallery, tells us that one landscape
in the show was sold while it was still being hung. We are discussing Jeff's
work when a customer asks after one of the portraits. She's flustered for
a moment and has to explain that she's not sure what the price is. Jeff
had not bothered to establish prices for portraits. After all, who would
want to buy a painting of someone they did not know?
When, a few minutes later, we
stop in at Jeff's home, he is pleased with the news. Not only for the opportunity
for a sale, but because, as we learn in our interview, one of his primary
goals right now is to paint pictures of people that go beyond portraiture
and have a broader appeal.
Jeff Hein is an energetic individual,
an evident excitement for what he does animates his body and his conversation.
In his last year of studies at the University of Utah, he is a bit older
than the average college senior. Hein, a New York native, first headed west
in 1992 to attend Ricks College in Idaho. He returned to New York for a
year to work before returning to the West -- this time to Salt Lake City,
where he served as a missionary for the LDS Church.
Hein's mission met a premature
end, however, when he developed cancer. He recounts rather nonchalantly how
he battled cancer for a year and a half and, due to "complications," ended
up losing most of his digestive tract. "After that I dated my wife for about
six months in New York while I got ready for school and to come out here
to do who knows what. I knew I wanted to do art; but I had no money so it
was kind of, what next? So I got married and moved out here. Utah offered
me really good funding because of my illness . . .so I decided to go to
That was in 1998. Hein is currently
finishing his senior year at the University of Utah, but, as we learned, he
rarely sees the inside of a classroom.
AOU: Now, you mentioned
that you're doing independent study right now.
HEIN: Yeah, I’m in my senior
year right now. My teachers know that I work hard, and I just feel like
it slows me down to go to school because they’re teaching me stuff that I’ve
learned already. They recognize that too.
AOU: So they're giving you
HEIN: Oh yeah; it’s great.
They say, “Oh we’ll come check your stuff out at the end of the year.” I’ve
never gotten more work done, and they know it, so that’s pretty much why
it’s working out.
AOU: So what, overall, was
your educational experience like at the University?
HEIN: I learned a lot there,
but I have to say that my biggest advantage was going to Ricks, my first
year at Ricks. Maybe that’s because I never took any art classes in High
School. So Rick's was my first year really studying and it was this huge
jump. Maybe that’s why. But I feel like the U has been tugging me back
AOU: In what way?
HEIN: I want to paint a
certain way, and my tendency is to paint a certain way. Even though it’s
good to experiment with different things, they’ve come and gone, and I don’t
know how much they have helped me. Maybe a little. The thing is, it’s always
been the same direction for me. I had the same direction when I started
as when I finished. So, it had to be done, it’s been an educational experience,
but I’m done with it now
AOU: So what would you say
your direction is?
HEIN: I guess what I’m talking
about basically is that the U is really loose, abstract; they’re . . . especially
now – the staff has changed -- they’re really concerned about your art making
some kind of
political statement. I’m interested in concept in my paintings but not to
the point where I’m making some kind of statement about the world. It’s really
not my interest. I just want to paint people.
If you’re an artist and also have
the talent to really get involved in those issues and really get passionate
about it that’s great, but I don’t see how it's possible to be a really good
artist, devote all your time to art, and devote an equal amount of time to
understanding the world and making an educated statement about it. I don’t
see how it’s possible. Maybe someone could do it, but for me, as an artist,
I think my job is to make beautiful paintings. But that wasn't my experience
at the U.
I’ve even had people tell me I’m
not an artist because I just paint things. The funny thing is they’ll use
the word concept, and there are concepts in all my paintings, maybe more
maybe less, but there’s concept.
AOU: Maybe you've got 70%
art and 30% concept while they’ve got 70% concept and 30% art?
HEIN: Yeah, maybe. My concepts
are about the art. It’s about creating emotion with light and color and
trying to create certain moods. That’s concept in my mind.
also in this edition:
Anthony Siciliano's Layers of Memory
The Ventilator: My Little Brother Could Do It
March of Dimes Fund Raiser
THE ABSTRACTING INFLUENCE OF PAPER
Every year the Utah Arts Council sponsors a Statewide Competition/Exhibition.
The themes of the exhibition rotate among Painting and Sculpture, Crafts and
Photography, and Mixed Media and Works on Paper.
year, the Bountiful/Davis Art Center held the Mixed Media and Works on Paper
exhibition. This particular theme tends to draw more experimental artists
and encourages more traditional artists to explore beyond their usual mediums.
artists submitted close to 400 works and 64 pieces by 47 artists were chosen
to hang in the show. The jurors for this exhibit were Christine Giles, Associate
Curator of Art at the Palm Springs Desert Museum, and Bruce Guenther, Curator
of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Portland Art Museum. Both jurors were
surprised at the amount of abstract art submitted, and the 47 artists who
were juried in to the show seem to share that common thread of abstraction
in at least one of their pieces.
Into the Garden
Brian D. Christensen
Mary M. Nelson
and Guenther carried out a collaborative jury process, including the awards
for the cash prizes. The subject matter did not reveal a quality representative
of Utah as one might expect from regional shows. Abstraction created from
found objects seems to be an overriding theme that generates a contemporary
feeling of mystery. Bruce Guenther revealed his criteria when he stated,
“Materials and process, form and intention were the foundation and criteria
upon which I made my choices for inclusion in this year’s exhibition. . .
out works that might involve the viewer in the mysterious power of simply
seen things. I chose artworks that for me are concentrated and clear in their
intention and resolution formally, and suggest something beyond their making.”
Curtz, director of the Bountiful/Davis Art Center, was pleased to host this
year’s exhibition which ran from September 7th through October 5th. He was
thrilled at the amount of new visitors the exhibition brought to the art
center in Bountiful.
prizes were awarded to the following artists:
England Lou Ann Heller
Steven K Sheffield
of the exhibit will travel throughout Utah during the year.
Exhibition Program Awards:
George Mark England
Blanche Wilson Trent Alvey Karl Pace
Bruce D Robertson
Gary Barton Brett Bolander
Steven K Sheffield Summer Borla
Lou Ann Heller