Vying for attention with the mammoth Olympic banners covering buildings in Salt Lake City, the official glass blowings of Dale Chihuly and, oh yes, the games themselves, Utah’s visual arts community, in all its varied forms, has blanketed Salt Lake City and Utah alike Galleries from Provo to Ogden are featuring hundreds of Utah artists in a variety of group shows easily accessible to the huge influx of Olympic visitors. The far corners of the state are not to be forgotten, however. Visual art activity is blossoming as far away as Springdale and Logan.
In February’s Olympic edition of 15 BYTES you’ll find articles on a wide variety of exhibitions, events, and initiatives all making Utah a great place to be visual.
UNOFFICIAL GOLD: Utah Art 2002
Artists of Utah’s gold medal goes to Utah Art 2002, the “unofficial” exhibition of Utah artists in the heart of Salt Lake City. When Utah County’s Springville Museum of Art was announced as the site for the Olympics official exhibition of Utah art, many local artists were upset that what they felt as world class work would be relegated to a venue far from the center of activity.
Local artists and art enthusiasts took matters into their own hands, creating UtahArt2002, a juried exhibition of Utah artists which opened February 1 in Salt Lake City.
In the fall of 2001, a call for entries for the exhibition was sent to Utah artists. Michael Quick, former curator of American Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, jurored the show. Quick noticed representational art as a dominant theme in the entries submitted. As he writes in the exhibition catalog, “I was impressed by the considerable variety of images and range of expression that these artists had achieved within this framework of representational art. The work in the exhibition ranges from the almost literally realistic tot he wildly fanciful, and from the tightly painted to the boldly executed.”
The exhibit features better known artists like Randall Lake, Frank Anthony Smith and Lee Deffebach. A number of younger artists are also shown, including Ani Heinig and Anthony Siciliano, both of whom have been featured in our pages in recent months.
The success of the exhibition has been due in large part to thousands of hours of dedicated volunteer help. Throughout the first week of the show, an exhausted Michael Hullett could be seen daily scurrying around the building continuing to make improvements. His and others’ efforts on the exhibition space have been well rewarded. The Norman building, named for Norman Lamph and Norman Van Wagenen who worked in the building for over forty years, has been transformed from a machine shop into a beautiful exhibition space, filled with architectural delights and bathed in light. After the UtahArt2002 exhibition, the building will be used for another exhibit, featuring one of the largest private art collections from the turn of the century.
One interesting aspect of the exhibit to note is that of the fifty-seven artists exhibited only sixteen are actually Utah natives. A number of the artists come from surrounding Western states, the others from all over the United States and as far away as Poland, France, Russia, Spain and Germany. Which proves that the world has been coming to Utah long before the arrival of the Winter Olympics. The directors says that Utah’s “location between both coast has somewhat buffered its artists, allowing them to develop apart from the constraints of the compulsively-driven contemporary art world.” Though the mountains may seclude us, a steady stream of immigrants has kept our art world strong.
So, for its high scores both in grassroots community effort and professional execution, UtahArt2002 receives Artists of Utah’s gold medal.
Would you please stand for the national anthem …
photos by Steve Coray
Utah Art 2002 is open daily February 1 -28 at the Norman Building 780 South 300 West, SLC. For more information and samples of work visit their website: www.utahart2002.org
This article appeared in the February 2002 edition of 15 Bytes.