Todd Oberndorfer is a proud Ogdenite. A graduate of Weber State University (BFA, 2D Design), he holds the Visual Arts Chair on the Ogden City Arts Advisory Committee and sits on the Ogden Contemporary Arts Advisory Committee. In 2010, he co-founded The Banyan Collective, a media company working out of The Monarch, in Ogden’s Nine Rails Creative District ,that specializes in arts and adventure podcasting. He co-hosts the Ogden Arts & Adventure podcast, as well as Van Sessions, a popular live audience podcast & music series. Oberndorfer also has an MA in Arts Administration from Southern Utah University and during the weekdays you’ll find hm in Salt Lake City, where he works as the Visual Arts Program Coordinator for the Arts Council and manages Finch Lane Gallery. In his printmaking and design work, he combines social activism and art by addressing issues such as clean air, population growth, and income inequality in his printmaking and graphic design work. He is also part of the Visual Arts Jury for the 2023 Utah Arts Festival.
What are you reading lately?
I buy a lot of books, but I’m notorious for not starting and/or finishing them. (I read somewhere that the average person spends over fifty hours each year choosing what to watch next on tv. My best friend teases me – understandably – about my endless Now Watching list on Netflix. I usually get about 15-20 minutes into a movie or tv show before I switch to something else). Growing up, all I read was science fiction, fantasy, and comic books. These days, its non-fiction: mostly biographies, social issues, and art books. Looking at the books on my nightstand, I’m closest to finishing Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste, Studio KO’s Yves Saint Laurent Museum Marrakech, and Matthew Desmond’s Evicted.
Is there a piece of art in your house growing up that sticks in your mind?
Growing up, my brother and I were obsessed with Ed Emberley’s instructional children’s drawing books. His step-by-step instructions gave everyone (even my sister) the opportunity to become world-building artists. We especially loved his “Big Color” books, and every available surface of the house was covered with drawings of skyscrapers, aliens, monsters, pirates, haunted houses, hippopotamuses, race cars, and skeletons. I somehow managed to hold onto most of those books from the early/mid ’80s, and added a coffee table book, Ed Emberley, that Todd Oldham and Caleb Neelon wrote about ten years ago.
What is the most memorable exhibit you’ve seen recently?
On a recent trip to New York and DC, my artist/art professor brother, Cory Oberndorfer, took me to Glenstone, a see-it-to-believe-it, “spared-no-expense” Contemporary Art Museum set on 300 acres of rolling hills in Potomac, Maryland. We spent an afternoon looking at work by On Kawara, Kara Walker, and Robert Gober (to name a few), but a highlight was Ellsworth Kelly at 100, a survey of the hard-edge/Color Field/minimalist painter who would have turned 100 this month. I was also inspired by Andy Goldsworthy’s Clay Houses and Richard Serra’s monumental Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure. The trip culminated with a bucket list “pinch me” event, an artist talk at the Hirshhorn with renowned French photographer, urban activist, and artist, JR. He gave a talk on the power of public art and discussed his humanistic approach to community and social issues.
This is our chance to check in with members of Utah’s art community to see what they’ve been reading, seeing, doing.