Colour Maisch says she loves artists “who are able to distill an idea down to a primary form or space and allow some breathing room.” It’s the kind of art that provides a break “from a constant barrage of meaningless chatter.”
Martin Puryear is just such an artist. “I am struck by the beauty of his forms and his ingenious use of symbols, his attention to detail, the craft, the way he approaches ideas. He reduces an idea to its essence and creates a doorway into a world that is both simple and immensely powerful. He is able to do this with painful topics that Americans are quick to sweep under the rug but somehow avoids being overly reductionist. While I don’t usually work symbolically like Puryear, I am almost always trying to get down to something unspoken that lies beneath the surface of a material, form or idea.”
Maisch recently left her catering business, The Blended Table. “I am regrouping and working on art and being a mom,” she says. “It’s been really nice to simplify life in a lot of ways and it’s also hard not knowing how things are going to unfold. I guess we never really know that anyway. On the art front it’s been great to have more time to build on ideas that i have only been able to investigate superficially the last few years. I think that’s all my work is at the end of the day, one long investigation into what happens when …”
You may have seen Maisch’s work last year at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, where she has been an Artist in Residence. Her collaborative work with Gary Vlasic, featured in two galleries, utilized raw found objects, made of plaster, steel, wood, rubber, foam, salt, and graphite. The artists spoke of their recontextualization of materials as a form of alchemy.
Maisch feels a kinship to Puryear’s use of materials, especially his juxtaposition of hard and soft elements, evoking the masculine and the feminine. “On a physical level, Puryear seems to have a reverence for materials and the process of craft. The hand of the maker always seems to be present even though his forms are clean and precise — perhaps this is a product of the stories the forms tell — very human stories.”
During the month of February we ask Utah artists about a specific piece of art or artist, living or not, local or global, that has sparked their curiosity or influenced their work. We run their responses throughout the month.