Visual Arts

On Poetry and Art

An affinity has always existed between art and poetry. Many who call one their primary vocation have been known to dally with the other: Michelangelo wrote sonnets: Elizabeth Bishop was a talented watercolorist. Poets have frequently made great art critics. Charles Baudelaire and Guillaume Appollinaire were both influential critics during the rise of modernism. In our own time, poets like John Ashberry and Derke Walcott have written influential art criticism.

Utah has been no stranger to the cross pollinization of the muses. Early Utah artist Alfred Lambourne eventually gave up painting for poetry. His fellow artist and friend H.L.A. Culmer was a dramatist and tried his hand at literary criticism. Look at today’s publications and you’ll find that Salt Lake Weekly art critic Brian Staker writes poetry, and Melissa Bond, the visual arts editor for the Wasatch Journal, is an accomplished poet.

Even when one is strictly loyal to their muse they may still find inspiration in the works of those faithful to another. For instance, Utah County poet, Lance Larsen, and his wife, artist Jacqui Larsen, have been exploring a collaborative project in which each uses a poem or painting by the other as a launching point for their own creative endeavors. Something similar, on a grander if less intimate scale, is happening this month at the Bountiful Davis Art Center.

The 9 Muses, an interdisciplinary exhibit featuring the art and poetry of 18 Utah poets and artists, opens Friday, Jan. 9, 2009, from 7 – –9 p.m. at the Bountiful/Davis Art Center (BDAC). The exhibit brings a contemporary interpretation to the age-old theme of the muses, the nine Greek goddesses presiding over the arts and sciences. The poets began the project, each writing nine poems, one per muse. Each artist then received nine poems — one from each poet and one on each muse — with the assignment to create a visual response to each of the poems. The classical has become contemporary as each of the poets and artists interpreted the theme of each muse on a personal level. The interpretations run the gamut, from traditional to non-objective. The final exhibit consists of the 81 poems and 81 corresponding artworks.

The above video clip contains readings of some of the poems by the poets, with the accompanying art work. Poets participating in the project are Lynne Benson, Brian Gray, Lisa Gustavson, Ethan Higbee, Darlene Johnson, David Knowlton, Eileen MacCabe, Shawn Stradley and Ashley Walton. Artists are Tom Aaron, Namon Bills, Linnie Brown, Sandy Brunvand, Chad Crane, Denise Gasser, Steph Johnsen, Steven Stradley and Justin Wheatley.

Categories: Visual Arts

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