“In a sense I have become myself . . . .”
Trevor Southey in person at U.M.F.A.
by Geoff Wichert
Trevor Southey, one-time Bad Boy of Utah art, has turned out to be indispensible for anyone wishing to understand why there is—and why there isn’t—a distinctly ‘Mormon’ art. It was Southey, arriving here a convert in 1965 in pursuit of a closer encounter with his faith, who was startled to discover that artistically speaking there was no there, there. Or rather, the vital, indigenous energy of Mormon art in the late nineteenth century was seemingly no longer in play. Southey was only one of many who set out to rectify this predicament, but it was he who found the fracture that revealed the affinity of modern art for a fundamentally religious view of life, and yet also uncovered the cleavage that separates the two. While considered anachronistic by the standards of twentieth century art, two of his major works were proved ultimately unsuited to the audience for which they were conscientiously conceived. Both the Salt Lake City Airport and B.Y.U. felt forced ultimately to reject works executed for their walls.
Trevor Southey survived these setbacks, and several worse, to become a revered figure among California artists. But his thoughts return frequently to Utah, as they do to his home in Africa, and so he’s returned to Salt Lake for a major retrospective of his paintings, etchings, and sculptures. Not only will we have a chance to see samples of every period of his artistic production between now and February 13th, but for several hours on Thursday the aging enfant terrible—in reality a sweet, unpresumptuous gentleman—will make himself available to answer questions, accept compliments, and bravely take his punishment. For those who find the one-way nature of artistic conversation frustrating, this is a chance to talk back to a figure who has yet to retire into a marble effigy.
Artist Reception: October 21, 4:30–6:30
Meet artist Trevor Southey, enjoy light refreshments, watch a performance by the Salt Lake Men’s Choir, and experience the Trevor Southey: Reconciliation exhibition on opening night at an artist reception. This event is supported in part by the University of Utah Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center (LGBT) as part of Pride Week. For a full list of Pride Week events, please visit http://www.sa.utah.edu./lgbt/events/Uprideweek.html.
Panel Discussion: “Alpine Ideal” – October 21, 6:30–8:00
The UMFA is pleased to present a panel discussion with artists Trevor Southey, Gary E. Smith, Dennis Smith, and Neil Hadlock. These gentlemen will discuss their lives and artwork, focusing on a movement in the 1970s known as the Alpine Ideal.
For more information, please visit http://www.umfa.utah.edu/TrevorSouthey_Reconciliation or http://www.trevorsouthey.com.
Geoff Wichert has degrees in critical writing and creative nonfiction. He writes about art to settle the arguments going on in his head.