Valentine’s Day seems to find its way into all fields of interest throughout the month of February: the themes of love and relationships, with their symbols of bright red and pink hearts and flowers, decorate homes, stores, and offices, in celebration of the season. Becoming a part of these festivities is HERE: Provo’s February gallery Crea+ive Couples: Rela+tionships.
Situated on Center Street in Provo, HERE Provo features locally themed gifts and a monthly-cycled gallery of area artists. Capitalizing on the month of love, this month’s exhibit features works from 10 artist couples, showcasing relationships through art in the small and intimate setting. Each of the artists is successful in their own right, but also has collaborated as part of a couple in art. The choice to exhibit these artists solely with regard to their position as “artist couples” for a Valentine’s Day theme may at first seem to diminish the individual identity of each artist, however this perspective creates a unique environment to see how these artistic relationships function in art.
The exhibit boasts an impressive list of contributors, displaying works from notable artists from across Utah, and in a variety of mediums including paintings, stained glass, and relief work. Each couple focuses on their own specific subject, from the heartfelt depiction of motherhood from J. Kirk and Amy Tolk Richards to the abstract colors works of Steve and Tonya Vistaunet, leaving the unifying force throughout the gallery to be the couples’ relationships.
The works are grouped together by couple, with individual works from each artist, as well as one collaborative effort. This grouping allows for a dialogue of how artists can work together both professionally and personally. Each couple’s works, though unique and individual, are cohesive together and are able to merge seamlessly in their collaborative efforts. Just as art imitates life, these couples’ works imitate relationships, maintaining individualism while also finding compromise and partnership.
Each couple finds their own way of navigating this type of collaboration. Some, like Laura and Havoc Hendricks, have almost used the equation A + B = C to create their collaborative work, using his piece “Moon Arch” and her piece “Magic Mountain” to create “Magic Moon.” The piece is a perfect balance of each artist, taking his subject and form, mixed with her gray and metallic tones to reach equilibrium.
Couples like Cassandra and Dan Barney share very different styles as individuals, thus leading to a more indirect approach to the collaboration. Cassandra’s whimsical, stylized figure in “She had everything She Needed” next to Dan’s abstract knots “Slip” and “Grip” don’t seem to be the obvious connection. And yet it is this combination of her whimsical figures and his deep color palette that blend seamlessly in their ethereal depictions of Adam and Eve.
Other couples, such as Emily Larsen and Eric Boothe, work in such similar styles that there is almost no disconnect. The two artists’ use of mixed media and poignant humor in “Dancing with Chaos and Voicemail,” lead its audience to study and search not for the collaborative efforts, but rather for the unique characteristics of each artist.
The gallery’s title stays true to its word, creating a show not just about art, but also about relationships, presenting a visual representation of how two people can work together to create. Though this gallery could easily be categorized with the rest of the overdone Valentine-themed events this month, HERE has managed to find something more substantial. Behind the kitschy hearts and themed candy lies a group of artists that has managed to create visual representations of human connections. This ability to find such substance in the theme and create a truly meaningful experience makes Crea+ive Couples quite the special find in downtown Provo amongst this chaotic month of love.
“Crea+ive Couples,” features Dan and Cassandra Barney, Eric and Emily Larsen Boothe, Jethro and Robyn Gillespie, David and Jeanne Gomm, Ben and Kerri Hammond, Havoc and Laura Hendricks, Howard and Shari Lyon, J. Kirk and Amy Tolk Richards, Steve and Tonya Vistaunet, and Justin and Camille Wheatley, HERE PROVO, 26 W. Center St., Provo.
Carly is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University with a BA in Interdisciplinary Humanities and a minor in Art History. During her time at BYU she studied history and museum work in London and Paris and is currently interning at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City.