I don’t usually think much of exclusionary shows, unless it’s by medium or genre, but it was just International Women’s Day and I trust that the curators at and for Adobe took that into account when they organized this exhibition of strictly female Utah artists. (Did you, Andrew Ehninger?)
Except that in this instance there were 136 judges – all women working at Adobe – who voted on the initial selections that, as always, were based first on the dimensions of the entries. (I know.)
But most of the paintings, mixed-media works, and photographs are hung in a stairwell at Adobe — a very nice space, actually; and given the 30,000 or so visitors that pass through the building each year and the fact that the corporation takes no commission on sales, it’s a pretty good gig. They likely will cut these usually open-to-all-Utah-artists shows from several to just two each year, our tour guide said.
It was a remarkably large turnout Thursday night by artists, the public and employees alike for the opening reception, hosted by Adobe, with food and drink and a dozen paintings on display in a superb setting. The room, aptly called The Hangar, was entirely too large for the small grouping of easels but the magnificent backdrop of mountains and sunset easily compensated. The Adobe complex was only constructed, said building manager Jeremy Macdonald, after a tour of the Utah Museum of Natural History and the influence is evident.
There’s no question these 12 women deserve inclusion. There is noted filmmaker and abstract painter Claudia Sisemore (profiled in 2015), whose deep, thought-provoking, untitled 32” x 32” Color Field work (acrylic on untreated canvas) is the only not-for-sale piece in the show; the ever-surprising Trent Alvey, one of our Utah’s 15 and the subject of one of our podcasts last fall, who entered a 48” x 48” latex with concrete work titled “Primal Body #2” that portrays human bodies in/as pods – one of a series of three, she said; and Susan Makov, owner of Green Cat Press and recently retired from 38 years teaching art at Weber State University whose show at A Gallery we reviewed in 2016, is showing “Mountain Sunlight,” an oil on canvas, 24″ x 30,” of the entwined branches of a tree with an almost stained-glass effect to the colors in the branches and background.
It was a first show for photographers Julie van der Wekken and Brandi Dawson. The effective 30” x 36” black-and-white photo “Garden Portrait” by van der Wekken shows shadows of two children superimposed over wire-covered hoops protecting garden plants. Dawson’s colorful 24” x 36” “Fire Top Mountains” was shot up a canyon and left quite an impression.
Jenedy Paige, wife of an Adobe employee, was quite a find. Her hyper-realistic 18 x 24” oil on wood panel titled “Our Time” of a blonde-locked young girl with a clock halo holding a book with a partially visible title “Americans” is simply lovely and wonderfully executed.
Two viewer favorites were “The Living Room,” 48” x 48” oil on canvas by Megan Gibbons, depicting a relaxed woman resting her weight on a hip and one arm. It’s the richly abstracted background that makes this painting pop. Amy DiMare’s layered ink jet print “Trees & Stones are Only What They Are; All the Rest is Silent & Interchangeable,” 24” x 30”, was perhaps the most intriguing work in the show – one I kept going back to. Trees, a courting couple on a bridge, an old Main Street-type standing clock; a banner; a psychedelically painted VW hippie bus; an old iron-sided ship and — wait for it — a funky old metal liquor store sign. It’s the stuff that dreams are made on. Mine, anyway.
Kate Jensen entered a nice 40” x 60” abstract drip painting (latex enamel on muslin) of wildflowers; Jamie Webb’s 24 x 24” acrylic on canvas “Hearth” was reminiscent of a mandala; Jennifer Handel submitted “Blue Lake,” a 30 x 48” acrylic on canvas of a mountain ridge reflected in water; and Wren Ross’s pleasing 22 x 30” “Hammering Vessels” was a mixed-media work on paper of teepees, birds in trees, a moon and so forth, primitive, childlike and very interesting.
A graduate of the University of Utah, Ann Poore is a freelance writer and editor who spent most of her career at The Salt Lake Tribune. She was the 2018 recipient of the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Artist Award in the Literary Arts.