by Kent Rigby
A Gallery is big – on sculpture. The new group sculpture show at A Gallery features many of the area’s finest sculptors. Represented in this knock-out exhibit are artists David Adams, Brian Berman, Laurie Burns, Brian Christensen, Anne Gregerson, John Haley III, Deborah Jong, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Ed Pogue, Trevor Southey, Cordell Taylor, Darl Thomas, Dahrl Thomson, Craig Varner and Myron Willson.
The 15 artists have contributed more than 75 pieces of sculpture for the exhibit. If you are a sculpture fan, A Gallery is the place to visit. Virtually every media and genre are represented, from found object assemblages, mixed media pieces, cast bronze figures, carved stone images, and abstract fabricated aluminum, steel and stainless steel pieces, from large to small.
The sculptures are on exhibit amongst the vast selection of paintings, except for the fabulous sculpture garden area of course. This makes for a very vibrant atmosphere in the gallery. The various exhibit areas are virtually oozing art. It’s so “alive” and colorful as to be almost “kinetic.”
Exhibit standouts include:
Anne Gregerson’s “#1, Peace Like A River,” |2| is a modeled ceramic figure. This piece is as peaceful and serene as the title suggests, and is very emotionally expressive. Gregerson is a great technician. She not only handles ceramic media very well but also is an excellent sculptor.
Myron Willson’s “Curve,” |3| is another fine ceramic piece. It is non-representational, and also well crafted with a speckled glaze that contrasts nicely with the curvilinear form, giving the piece a decidedly contemporary feel.
Ed Pogue’s “Sweep Column” |4| is a smaller — 20 inches tall — but expertly made cast bronze piece with a strong vertical emphasis and well-done patina.
David Adams has contributed a larger scale piece, “Orchid Garden with Thoughts Turning,” |5| a fabricated bronze piece with granite. This is an abstract figurative piece with what appears to be a found piece of granite for the head, bronze ‘halo’ and textured bronze torso. This bronze also has a great patina.
Trevor Southey is perhaps better known for his figurative paintings and lithographs. However, he is a very accomplished sculptor as well. His bronze, “Brothers Keeper” shows his excellent modeling skills and ability to translate human emotion into cold metal.|6|
Vortex,” by Kraig Varner, a BYU sculpture program graduate, is a strong figurative piece and, like Southey’s, exhibits a strong emotional content. |1| The male figure is posed in a modified fetal position and looks to be in the throws of some great inner trauma. Varner and Southey are continuing the strong figurative tradition established long ago by the BYU art school.
Dahrl Thompson just keeps continuing to amaze. Her work progressively gets better and better. One really has to admire, if not envy, her moxie. She handles and carves stone — and recently stainless steel — with an expertise and surety that only comes from countless hours of working with the media. She understands stone and exploits all of its myriad qualities to maximum effect. “Skimming the Surface’ is no exception. |7| It is apparent she determined to carve a fish form from this piece of Honeycomb Calcite because of the ‘scale’ like appearance of the stone’s inherent structure. Fracture lines through the stone depict the lines of the water surface the fish breaks through. The dorsal fin and tail are left unpolished which helps to delineate the bony structure of those parts.
Darl Thomas, not to be confused with Dahrl Thompson, although they are both talented and dedicated artists and beautiful people, is the master metal technician and craftsman. Darl studied under Richard Johnston and Steve Connell at the U of U and then earned a Master of Fine Art from Cranbrook. Darl is a machinist by trade, which vocation is carried through to his art. His piece, “Two Circle,s” fabricated aluminum, continues his longstanding tradition of immaculately crafted and finished metalwork, expertly joined with concealed fasteners.|8| One might think it was milled from a solid aluminum billet. However, it is comprised of at least ten separate parts. Like Johnston, Thomas believes strongly in the sculptor as inventor tenet. He has been heard to say, “I keep producing art to see what the next big surprise is going to be”.
What’s a Salt Lake sculpture show without Cordell Taylor? Incomplete. Luckily, Taylor has contributed several pieces to this show. Talk about a welder, this guy could run a straight bead in his sleep. His piece, “Untitled Totem 98,” is a smaller scale fabricated steel sculpture with a strong vertical emphasis. |9| Taylor, like Thomas, is a fabricator. This work is comprised of many steel rods, built-up and joined together with small unobtrusive spot welds. It sits on a Mahogany base and has a very nice finish.
Shadow,” a bronze figure by Nnamdi Okonkwo, another BYU graduate, is a fine example of Okonkwo’s ‘rotund’ figurative style.|10| This piece is well modeled, has nice textural contrasts, and a great patina and finish. While not sculpted with a lot of detail, it nonetheless has a strong sense of gesture and emotion. The bronze is also well cast and chased with no indication of mold or sprue marks. It is easy to see why Okonkwo is one of Utah’s new rising art stars.
David Adams, another excellent metal fabricator, exhibits several strong wall pieces. “Pond Goddess Whitecaps #3, Skyrocket” is expertly constructed from stainless steel and showcases his minimalist approach.|11| Comprised of multi-textured and faceted planes with various sized and shaped ‘spikes’ protruding from the top, the piece is reminiscent of a playful, mono-wing shape.
One of the more unusual pieces in the show is Brian Christensen’s, “Spline,” fabricated steel and bronze.|12| This piece stands on it’s own legs, literally. It is abstract but has a definite animalistic look about it, perhaps an alien animal. This is definitely a sculptural “invention”.
Deborah Jong’s “Scaredy Cat” is an interesting mixed media assemblage made from found objects. |13| The body consists of an old Underwood typewriter. The tail is some kind of a lever, the legs are made with metal pipes and chains, the neck is some kind of insulated refrigeration pipe, and the head looks like some kind of farming implement part. Very fun and playful.
The final two pieces included in this review are fused glass “Shamans” by Laurie Burns. |14| These are large (for glass), freestanding, abstract figures. The colors, textures and shapes work well together and the pieces are seemingly well constructed. They look very good displayed together, as if meant to be a pair. They are nice, attractive and decorative pieces.
All in all, this is a well-rounded and professional body of work. Many thanks to Brent Godfrey and Greg Rogler at A Gallery for displaying this many sculptures at one time.
This article originally appeared in the October 2005 edition of 15 Bytes
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