Return to Artists of Utah

"Giving everyone their fifteen bytes of fame."
In This Issue
Poor Yorick Artist Studios/Gallery 24 -P2
Joe Venus/ Caffe Molise -P3
Four Things Collectors Should Know -P4
Distance & Space -- Kate Starling -P4
Creating an Artist Website/ Brian Hoover-P5
Letter From the Editor, Misc. Art News -P6
October 2002
Published Every Six Weeks by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization
Art Feature -- Salt Lake City
The Court Jester Builds A Castle
Brad Slaugh and the Poor Yorick Artist Studios
by Kim Duffy
photos by Jamie Clyde

A 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.

Slaugh’s large 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 walls.

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The location of Poor Yorick, the west side of downtown Salt Lake City, provides some unique materials for the artists' works. 

Artist Profile -- Salt Lake City
Joe 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 his future.

Joe 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.

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Exhibition Review -- Springville 
Irreverently Symbolic
Brian Hoover at the Springville Museum
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.

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Exhibition 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.

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