Feature -- Salt Lake City
Court Jester Builds A Castle
Slaugh and the Poor Yorick Artist Studios
by Kim Duffy
number of Salt Lake City artists call 530 West 700 South their home.
Brad Slaugh, who created the space, calls it Poor Yorick Studios.
How came the
studio to be named Poor Yorick? It’s named for King Hamlet’s jester
Yorick, whose skull is thrown up by a sexton while digging a grave.
Prince Hamlet takes the skull in his hands and says, “Alas, poor Yorick!
I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy
. . . Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of
merriment, that we were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning?”
It’s about the
skull, right? Painters will have their skulls. Or perhaps it
references artists playing the part of the jester, the fringe, the one
able to mask the truth behind clever words. Whatever Brad Slaugh
had in mindwhen he started fleshing out Poor Yorick studios, he must be pleased with his
vision made real. After sitting on Artspace’s waiting list for years,
and then subletting, sharing, and losing a space on 4th North, he must
have been feeling much on the fringe. Now he has completed the Herculean
task of converting a former manufacturing warehouse into studios by framing
it into workable spaces, updating wiring and heating, and installing lights
and skylights. After months of work, nearly a score of studios is
finished – and filled -- and Slaugh can go back to his other job: painting.
studio/office is already nearly filled, floor to ceiling, with charcoal
and pastel drawings of wobbly, energetic characters. This is how
his paintings begin – as blind drawings from life or from a photo, in order
to limit his feedback, his editor, and allow him to suspend his disbelief
while making a drawing. He likes to see it as playing a game instead
of coming in with a preconceived notion. Like a musician in a trance.
Like his daughter’s drawings, which also appear in the studio. He
not only does a blind contour drawing but does the shading blind as well,
sometimes making drawings that grow six or eight feet tall. What
comes of it is a crap shoot, but Brad has been doing this for so long that
he now has an extensive and rich cast of people and dogs waiting on his
The location of
Poor Yorick, the west side of downtown Salt Lake City, provides some unique
materials for the artists' works.
Profile -- Salt Lake City
Venus, Man of a Thousand Hats
by Donald Iarussi
Salt Lake City artist Joe Venus has
worn many hats in his life, but the ones he has most desired are the cowboy
hat and the artist’s beret. Throughout his exciting life, Joe Venus
has been a stock car racer, rattlesnake tamer, rodeo cowboy, arts organizer,
and artist, fulfilling both of his boyhood dreams. But he has not
been content just to fulfill his own dreams. Through a scholarship
he is helping others fulfill their own dreams of becoming artists.
Joe Venus was born in New Kensington,
Pa in 1936, where the Pittsburgh steel mills were his playground. Although
Joe was born a city boy, he dreamed of being a cowboy in the wild west.
In school Joe demonstrated his artistic
talents and love for the wild west. He was reprimanded by many a teacher
for his doodling of cowboys, indians and horses on his assignments. His
art drawn on math exams or spelling papers was not always appreciated by
his teachers, but it was his creative destiny that would ultimately determine
began the path that would ultimately lead him to fulfill his dreams of
becoming an artist and a cowboy in Omaha, Nebraska where he studied Taxidermy.
He graduated with his certificate in Taxidermy from the Northwestern
School of Taxidermy in 1954. After Graduation Joe’s next challenge was
joining the stock car circuit as a member of the Pittsburgh Racing Association.
Joe drove his own stock car four nights a week at racetracks throughout
Pennsylvania. His competitive spirit moved him from stock cars to the sprint
car circuit. While building a super-modified t-bird Joe met his future
wife Shirley Ann Clark, who encouraged Joe to continue his pursuit of a
career as an artist.
Review -- Springville
Brian Hoover at the Springville
by Tony Watson
For the past month, the Springville
Museum of Art’s exhibit Objects of Reverence
has presented the work of
SUU professor Brian Hoover. On exhibit until the end of October,
Hoover’s art is represented by about twenty pieces, hanging in one of the
museum's ground-floor galleries. The pieces cover various periods
or styles in the artist’s work, though all are dominated by an adept use
of the figure in a landscape setting.
Hoover can definitely paint.
He knows his way around a landscape and a figure, but he hasn’t been swallowed
up by the narcissistic thrill of a talented artist – “Gee mom look how
good I can draw.” Hoover can get his figures down, but it is what
he does around those figures that is the most fun – and, despite the title
of the show, the least reverent.
Narrative figurative art, once the
apex of western art, slowly saw its demise with the development of modernism,
the figure becoming simply one of many possibilities for pursuing formal
resolutions. With postmodernism, however, the figure has made a quick
return. The postmodern proclivity for raiding the attic of art history
to adopt, transform, mutate or even sacrilige a former style, has seen
the figure come back in full force. Ransacking art history has made
the narrative no longer naughty and has given the figure the strength to
nudge aside the flat picture plane in the postmodern pantheon.
The aesthetic crux of this postmodern raiding, however, is whether one
can make a former style one’s own, transform it and bring something new
out of it rather than simply rehashing it in a nostalgic frenzy.
Hoover’s work seems to be an attempt
to do just that. “Objects of Reverence” presents paintings done in
various styles over a number of years, dealing with formal and narrative
issues trying to make the use of the figure and the story the artist’s
own. And best of all, through it all, they’re enjoyable. Hoover
is a man of the postmodern age, but he is not some bored latte-drinking,
ironically detached postmodernist. Hoover’s works are full
of subtle qualities – wit, violence, wonder, irony -- made strong by juxtaposition.
And behind the joke and the scare, I think Hoover is, like the best of
artists, searching for the truth.
Review -- Salt Lake City
Jamie Clyde's Christ Figures
by Shawn Rossiter
Jamie Clyde’s photographs have received
rough treatment lately (see
page 6). Her photographs, which were hanging for a time in the
Angles Gallery in SLC, caused a little bit of a stir when their religious
content was claimed to be offensive.
When I saw Clyde’s works, after hearing
of the controversy, I was surprised. The photographs are striking,
even startling but I had a hard time seeing how they are offensive.
In these works, Clyde has shot images of a model portraying Christ, stretched
on a large piece of driftwood or lying on an open stretch of sand near
the Great Salt Lake. The Christ figure is bathed in a warm, caressing
light. The works are quiet, but charged with a certain energy.
Some of the compositions hark back to European religious painting, including
Mantegna and Rubens. But offensive? These works are a far cry
from a crucifix in a pitcher of urine. On the other hand, this is Utah.