The Springville Museum of Art’s Spring Salon is the largest annual exhibition of work by Utah artists in the state. More than 1000 works are entered for consideration each year. From these, the museum manages to hang several hundred on their ground floor galleries. The Salon is too large, too heterogeneous a show to try to make sense of as an exhibition. So, taking inspiration from something Bob Olpin wrote for us years ago, we invited our writers to choose a few pieces that struck them, for whatever reason, and write about them.
Characteristic of the Spring Salon is a variety of paintings and photographs celebrating Utah’s diverse landscapes. Alexandra Mercedes’ “Fragment no. 1” stands out amongst these because the medium she has chosen – tintype photography – renders monochromatic the usually vivid Southern Utah redrock. By removing color, Mercedes allows the viewer to focus on contrast and visually experience the remarkable texture of the weathered rock. Arranged in a 5 x 7 grid to form a composite vista, Mercedes’ tintypes draw the eye in and down. By the time your eye drops to the winding road that cuts through the scene, you’re overtaken by a wish to be on that road yourself, overwhelmed by the scene before you.
Another beloved staple of the Spring Salon are the tender portraits of artists’ children and grandchildren. One that stands out among many of this year’s exceptional works is Renée Foutz’s small roundel. Painted from Foutz’s perspective looking down at her son perched on her hip, his arm reaching out of the frame as if to rest securely on his mother’s elbow, the work is achingly gentle. Loose, evocative brushstrokes create a soft setting in which the boy, and the viewer, can rest. His red cheek and placid gaze suggest he is still coming awake after a sound nap. Studying the boy’s light-soaked face from the eyes of his mother, we are invited to feel, if only for a moment, the all-consuming power of a parent’s love.
Candace Brown received her BA in Art History and Curatorial Studies from BYU. Raised in Utah, she is proud of the state’s extraordinary artistic community.