The venue has the vibe of a Zen retreat, seasoned with a pinch of the speakeasy. It’s downstairs at the split level, mid-century modern building across H Street from the Glendinning Mansion. Once home to Alderwood Fine Art, it’s now the headquarters of real estate and interior design firm cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, which has been sponsoring exhibitions in what they call cityhomeUNDERGROUND.
Opening night, lights are low, candles on the floor provide a warm, intimate glow, which works well with the art — porcelain sculptures by Colour Maisch and oil paintings by Emily Plewe. The latter has come out of a long exhibition hiatus with a series of abstract works featuring symbols and light toned spaces floating on dark earth backgrounds. Ethereal, yet grounded. Maisch’s porcelains, which have been seen recently at Kimball Art Center and Current Work, are elemental, earthy — flat and hard, or intricate and delicate, all at the same time.
The artists disappear from the exhibition space and you wonder where they went. Wander down a hall, pass through a utility room, and you enter a large, dimly lit salon — like stumbling into an open chamber at the end of a long narrow cave tunnel. Here there are couches and food and libations.Guests and artists, brought together by curators Kelly Carper and Samuel Johnson, make their way between the two spaces (the exhibition room can only hold a dozen people).
It’s a chthonic experience, a world of dark and candlelight. The white spaces of Plewes’s paintings are illuminations, like casts of sunlight poking through a crack in the wall. Maisch’s sculptures are revelations, both micro and macro, cousins to stalagmites and stalactites.
In the cold light of day – the gallery is open during office hours (Mon-Fri, 9-5pm) — it won’t be the same; the space won’t be the same earthly womb, the experience the same initiatory rite. Nevertheless, the works are not likely to disappoint. New nuances of texture and color are sure to emerge.
EARTH / ETHER, curated by Kelly Carper and Samuel Johnson, cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, Salt Lake City, through Apr. 17
The founder of Artists of Utah and editor of its online magazine, 15 Bytes, Shawn Rossiter has undergraduate degrees in English, French and Italian Literature and studied Comparative Literature in graduate school before pursuing a career in art.