Exhibition Reviews | Visual Arts

The Real Deal: Dennis Reynolds at Cordell Taylor

by Marti Grace Ashby

Cordell Taylor opened his new gallery space on November 13th with an exhibition of works by Dennis Reynolds. Taylor is a successful artist in his own right, is married to another successful artist, Lenka Konopasek, and has operated gallery spaces in the past. This latest iteration, in the front of what is a new studio space, is the smallest space he has had to date, so he is somewhat limited in the sizes of works he can display. That said, he utilized the space beautifully with his opening show.

Dennis Reynolds was raised in Arizona, has lived in various cities, and finally settled in Salt Lake City a few years ago. Reynolds says he remembers making art when he was five years old, and he knew when he was in junior high that he would always be involved in creating work. Shelley Turley, a Portland artist who has known Reynolds for 25 years, says, “He’s been making work for as long as I’ve known him. I’ve always admired his wit, intellect, and taste. His work never disappoints and often inspires.”

Reynolds works in various media, including charcoal and acrylic, and renders his unique images in painting and collage. His work appears esoteric at first glance: Why the outer-space imagery? What are those telephones signifying? A close study of the pieces, and a conversation with the artist, provide accessible and open answers. The telephone “could be” four men speaking to each other, or it “might be” the artist holding conversations with himself.|0| Then he confesses that the telephone is very important in his life. He is gone from home four to five days a week as a flight attendant and the phone has become his lifeline to his family and friends and keeps him connected on those lonely trips.

Reynolds comes across as a quiet, shy man, which he is … to a certain extent. One quickly notices his dry humor, which is apparent in his conversation and his work. One of the works in this exhibit depicts two men: one sleeping while the other (at first I thought it was God) reaches out to gently touch the sleeping man. When I asked Reynolds about it, he said it was himself saying “I will start the new day confident and happy.” “We all need sleep,” he explained. “I’m just helping myself get a good night’s sleep.” See, it’s as easy as that, and as approachable.

Reynolds has begun a new series — two of which were at the gallery — depicting his travels as a flight attendant. One shows an airplane flying over a portion of the western United States.|1| This was hung across from a piece that shows a semi-truck plowing over another area. This series appears to be paying homage to what he sees and doesn’t see, as well as what he imagines during his hours as a flight attendant.

His “Dirty Collages” are funny, serious, and endearing. And his journal pages depict his thinking after a day in the air. These individual charcoal pages are shown in simple black frames. They are small enough to encourage showing several in one setting.

It is the underlying spirituality and optimism in Reynolds’ work that drew me in. He has abounding faith that the Universe is available to him, and he openly embraces his sexuality. It’s the spiritual component in that embrace that delights the viewer. While the work is raw and visceral, it retains what I consider the highest compliment: This work is authentic.

Dennis Reynolds’ work can be seen at Cordell Taylor Gallery, 964 S 700 W, #2, through December 18th.


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