Visual Arts

February PasteUps

Wallace Stegnar, by Trent Call

The recent and mysterious death of two zebras at Hogle Zoo has brought attention to the compact but well-loved facility hugging the entrance to Emigration Canyon. The Zoo would prefer to get attention for its new additions — like baby elephant, Zuri — and exhibits, like the Asian Highlands. One of its lesser-known events (we hadn’t heard of it) is its annual art exhibit, “World of the Wild.”In its 17th year, the juried exhibit features works in all possible media dealing with the subject of wild life or wild nature. This year the Zoo received 314 submissions – their largest turnout to date — from amateur and professional artists. Juror Robin Rankin, Executive Director of the Kimball Art Center, selected 101 pieces for the 2010 show. Among the award winners, who share a total purse of $1000, are Carel Brest van Kempen, Ron Russon and Juule DeHaan. When the exhibit ends on March 14 the Utah Arts Council will travel selected work across the state as part of their Traveling Exhibition Program.

Hogle’s loss of two zebras fascinates us because everyone is intrigued by a mystery. Last year Utah’s art and literary world had thought one of its most enduring mysteries — the disappearance of Everett Ruess — had been solved, only to learn that the mystery continues. Had he not disappeared into the canyons near Escalante, Ruess would not be nearly as well known today: though both writer and artist, he was by no means the most accomplished in either field to be connected to our state. But had he lived he might have gone on to great things. He might even have made Ken Sanders’ list of Uconoclasts.

The Uconoclasts is a project concerning writers, artists and performers, from the arcane to the famous, who have had associations with Utah. Sanders, a rare book dealer, says the project began years ago when he discovered that an important literary figure of the Harlem Renaissance, Wallace Thurman, had been born in Salt Lake City and had attended the University of Utah, prior to co-founding FIRE!! with Langston Hughes and writing three novels before his premature death at age 34; yet seemingly no one in the state had ever heard of him. In Sanders’ Uconoclats project Thurman is joined by thirty-five other individuals, all of whom have, in one way or another, gone against the grain. Sanders intends to bring attention to these mavericks through a series of exhibitions, the first of which opens this month.

Wallace Thurman

Suite One will be on display at the Rose Wagner Art Center February 19 – March 14, and will feature word and visual portraits, done by Sanders and visual artist Trent Call, of a dozen literary figures in Utah’s past: Edward Abbey, Fawn Brodie, Juanita Brooks, Neal Cassady, Bernard DeVoto, Raymond F. Jones, Charles Kelly, Dale Morgan, Wallace Stegner, May Swenson, Wallace Thurman and Maurine Whipple. The exhibit is organized in conjunction with Plan B Theatre’s world premiere of WALLACE (March 4-14). In this play the lives of Wallace Stegner, the dean of Western letters, and Wallace Thurman, a young gay black man at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance, intertwine in a rumination on the power of place and the meaning of home.

Struggling writers in Utah have had as hard a time getting recognition as struggling artists. Finding a publisher can be as hard as finding a gallery. But with the advent of on-demand and self-publishing companies like Lulu and Blurb, things may be changing: it’s now easier and cheaper than ever to publish your own book. Local artist and poet Chad Crane recently published a new chapbook. Visual artists are also taking advantage of the new publishing formats to market their work. Last year Salt Lake artist Dave Hall published Moving Water, which combines reproductions of the artist’s landscape with reflections on fly-fishing and friendship. At the end of 2009 Jean Arnold published a 120 page, full-color bookcovering ten years of her art, with an essay by former Salt Lake Art Center Director Heather Farrell.

While publishing a book is easier than ever, marketing it is still a bitch. Getting the word out about anything can be difficult and individuals and organizations must always come up with the new ideas to spread their message (see our own idea on page 6). Terry Hurst, co-founder of Mestizo Institute of Culture & Arts, has embarked on a unique campaign to raise funds for a West-side art center. Going without purse or script, the amateur cyclist is biking his way across the country, vowing to not return until he has spread his message about community building and raised 5.2 million dollars for the construction of an art institute west of the tracks. Supporters can help by buying pixels for a dollar each at the Five Million Dollar Fund web page. At the end of September patrons of Mestizo sent Hurst off with a celebratory event, and have continued to organize fundraisers in his absence. Hurst has been bicycling across the West and was recently in San Francisco. You can follow his adventures on his blog. To see what other activities Mestizo is up to, check outthis video on Youtube. 

UTAH’S ART MAGAZINE SINCE 2001, 15 Bytes is published by Artists of Utah, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Categories: Visual Arts

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