I made it to the stroll this month. I raced home from work (in a shower), showered (in my shower), donned the appropriate black garb, and raced back downtown. And found . . .
Willamarie Huelskamp and Pilar Pobil hanging at the Utah Arts Council’s Rio Gallery. These two hang well together — both artists works are informed by a bright use of color and a simplified, almost childlike use of line.
Huelskamp’s work employs a variety of surface-creating techniques, including water- color and acrylic washes. A form — whether a dancing horse or playful child figure — is blocked out by sur- rounding a lower layer with another wash and then the figure is enclosed by a dark line. The result is a brillance of color and playful line. The figures are purposely drawn in an almost cartoonish form, and like the prancing horse of one of her figures, seem to skate a fine line between art and illustration. The child-like aspects of her paintings remind one most immediately of the floating figures of Chagall, but overall Huelskamp’s images seem to lack the depth or “gravitas” of Chagall’s best works. For my tastse they seem more like fabulous illustrations for a children’s book rather than statements of fine art.
Pobil’s work has a wide following in Salt Lake City. This Spanish native creates colorful, flat compositions of various subjects, often village scenes involving fishermen or peasant women. Her colors are pure, but never too bright or pastel. They have a darker quality despite their vividness. They have the feel of the warm Mediterranean spirit mixed with a fascination for death that is characteristically Spanish. Pobil’s works run some of the same risks as Huelskamp’s, the simplified drawing making one think they are possibly childish rather than childlike. Pobil seems too sophisticated a woman to appreciate her art as “folk” or “naïve.” What I found most enjoyable in this exhibition were her woodcarvings, which she does beautifully and which seem to have more life than her two-dimensional work.
Women seem to have been “in” this month. The Artspace Forum gallery features the work of five area women painters: Jossy Lownes, Carole Evans, Marian Dunn, Woody Renzetti and Sue Valentine. Each of these mature artists has forged their own style, though there seem to be some similiarities that tie them together. Most employ a flat, 2-dimensional plane of drawing, filled with washings of color. Little attention is paid to building up a sense of form. I did not leave the exhibit awed, but there were a few paintings worth the visit. My favorite was a smaller vertical painting by Carole Evans, tucked away on a side wall. Entitled “Blue Eyes” it is an almost monochromatic work in maroons and reds with a subtle touch of blue for the eyes of the painting. The rendering of mood is skillful without being heavy-handed.
The most interesting of the women painters on display this month may be the youngest among them. Jamie Wayman, a recent student at the University, fills the front room of the Art Barn with a series of underwater works. The paintings, in oil and acrylic, all show scenes of pool-art – views from underwater, looking up through the distorting medium of water. I can just see it in my head — the artist in front of her easel at the bottom of the pool. Plein-eau painting! A self-portrait of the sort would have been the best piece in the show. Some of these experiments in distortion and vision allow the artist to enjoy her paint and I think this is when the works are at their best. The most poignant for me were a couple of small ones, one called “Visiting,” which show a couple of legs sticking in the water, seen from the bottom of the pool.
The sheer number of the works, though, makes one wonder if an interesting idea might not become a gimmick. Can you paint underwater scenes your whole life? Next, pictures of whales and dolphins? I think Wayman shows some promise, at least a searching eye. I look forward to her next exhibition where I hope she will show us the breadth of her vision and not just its watery depth.
Wayman’s youth at the Art Barn makes for an interesting comparison to Phillips Gallery’s exhibition of new works by Tony Smith. Youth may not be as accomplished but it tends to be more interesting than age.
It just may be that I’ve been in Utah too long and seen too much of his work, but Tony Smith tends to bore me. His recent works on display show a variety of flowers and garden scenes, painted in a dull, hazy light. There is something about them that remind me of soft porn – a tired subject, in tired poses with a glistening light about them. They don’t seem much different than photographs, but these works have none of the interest of, say, the photorealists. The images are banal images, even from a photorgrapher’s standpoint.
The disappointing exhibit upstairs does not mean that Phillips gallery isn’t worth a stop this month. Their downstairs Dibble Gallery contains some interesting works, including the monotypes of Tom Bettin.
All in all there are a couple of things worth seeing in Salt Lake the next week before new shows go up for May gallery stroll. You’ve already missed the hors-d’ouevres, but at least you’ll be able to look at the art and not the people.
Kasey Boone is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has been living in Utah since 1990. He has a BA in French and Cultural Studies. He is a self-described “orphaned post-modernist.”
SLC GALLERY STROLL PREVIEW MAY 2003
by Mariah Mann
By now you should be familiar with the local Gallery Stroll. On the third Friday of every month, the local galleries stay open late from 6pm to 9pm (for us working folk). Here are some of the shows taking place this Gallery Stroll May 16th.
Phillips Gallery, located at 444 East 200 South, presents Dale Bryner and his 175 paintings and drawings. Bryner is quoted saying “Many things happen without a plan, innocent and unbidden, at times with serendipitous and surprising results”. Dale entered the hospital for a simple knee surgery and the doctors found cancer – he departed this world two months later. Bryner left behind a studio full of paintings and drawings. So many paintings that one would think that this man spent every waking moment in the studio producing art. The pieces are small but so finely executed that you will want to look closely to examine the fine subtleties. The work ranges from figurative objects to still life. Showing concurrently in the downstairs Dibble Gallery will be the Botanical paintings by Barbara Eiswerth. Barbara paints up-close magnified views of flowers, with board brush stokes on wood and paper. The lush colors create a tropical hothouse. Both shows will run from May 16th (Gallery Stroll evening) until June 13th.
Hidden Splendor Gallery, located at 1760 South 1100 East is still hosting artist Michael Godard. His show, DON’T DRINK AND DRAW, is an uplifting, fun art show featuring playful fruit. Check it out before it ends May 31st.
Art Access, located at 339 West Pierpont, presents its first annual fundraiser and art exhibit. 300 PLATES features 35 of Utah’s most exciting artists. The artists were invited to create art work on recycled metal printer’s plates. The fundraiser takes place May 15th and includes music, good company and antipasto from Tony Caputo’s. If you are interested in attending this fundraiser, please contact Art Access at 328-0703. If fundraisers are not your cup of tea, you can view the 300 plates exhibit on May 16th during Gallery Stroll from 6pm to 9pm. The 300 plates exhibit is set to run until June 13th if all the plates haven’t sold by then. This is a great opportunity to begin or add to your personal art collection.
Williams Fine Art and the University of Utah want to recognize two University graduates for their outstanding work. The recipients of the Howard S. Clark annual art scholarship, Steven Larsen and Jimmy Lucero, will have their works displayed from May 1st through May 15th at the Williams Fine Arts Gallery, located at 60 East South Temple, in the Main Lobby.
The Utah Museum of Fine Arts, located on the University of Utah campus, presents URBAN REALISM, by Edward Hopper and several other American modern masters. The show opens Gallery Stroll evening May 16th.
Gallery Stroll is a wonderful time to familiarize yourself with other local artists and gallery owners. Get out there and support local art !!!!!!!