Daily Bytes

Long Live UMFA: Christine Baczek


Roger Matsumoto, Saltarello 2 , palladium print, gift of the artist, UMFA1988.019.

Thinking about my favorite piece in the UMFA collection, I am overwhelmed with memories. I was the collection photographer for the museum from 2006-2014, and I saw every piece in the 20,000+ collection—from a giant stained-glass dragon sculpture with interior lights and incense burners in the nostrils, to precious jewels that are so valuable and small that they are kept in a safety deposit box. One object I miss being able to access whenever I need inspiration is an 11×14 piece of paper with a delicate and quiet image: “Saltarello 2” by Roger Matsumoto.

 Matsumoto is a photographer currently based in Delaware. He uses hand-applied light-sensitive emulsion, in this case incorporating palladium metal, and large-format negatives to create photographic paintings. The emulsion is applied with a large brush for “Saltarello 2.” The title refers to a medieval folk dance from Italy, and, to me, it describes this brushstroke: a beautiful, practiced, and meaningful gesture made precious through materials and purpose. The image printed on the emulsion is that of a simple plant with multiple seed pods hanging from a stalk. This plant seems to be mirrored—as if reflected in a pool of water—within the rich blacks of the palladium metal at the bottom of the paper. However, this is an illusion. The “reflection” is a different plant printed and composed to mimic the first.

This sophisticated, complex, and incredibly subtle image has never been on exhibition as far as I know. It has inspired me to create my own photographic paintings and explore new avenues in how I print in my artistic practice. In fact, my position at the UMFA proved to be a great instigator of many different pursuits in my personal practice. I was given great responsibility and trust with every object in the collection, and more than one—maybe even 20,000—has inspired me to examine how I see, what I believe, and what makes something interesting.

– Christine Baczek

On January 18th, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will be closing its galleries to upgrade the vapor barrier system in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building on the University of Utah campus. The project is expected to take a year, with the galleries expected to be reopened, with a new installation of the museum’s permanent galleries, in Spring of 2017 .In anticipation of the museum’s closing, we’ve asked some local artists, art lovers and art professionals to tell us which piece from the museum’s permanent collection they will miss most over this next year. You can see the posts at http://artistsofutah.org/15Bytes/index.php/tag/long-live-umfa/

The UMFA will kick off its remodeling and reinstallation project with a celebratory weekend of free admission to the galleries and the Museum’s most popular art experiences. The Long Live Art! Kickoff Party on Saturday, January 16, and Sunday, January 17, is the public’s last opportunity to visit the UMFA before the Museum pauses its exhibition program (for more information visit http://www.umfa.utah.edu).

Categories: Daily Bytes

1 reply »

  1. Christine,
    Beautifully expressed.
    I got a strong sense of your appreciation and connection with this piece,
    and your intimacy with it as you describe your close familiarity.
    I am happy your experience at the UMFA was as formative as it was…
    to lead you in new and exciting personal directions
    inspired by this learning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.