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        March 2010
Published monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization    
Paul Reynolds with his work at Finch Lane Gallery

Artist Profile: Salt Lake City
Visual Cues
Paul Reynolds at Finch Lane Gallery
| photos by Shalee Cooper

Paul Reynolds returns to the Finch Lane Gallery for the first time since 2004 with a majestic exhibition of abstract and nonrepresentational paintings rich in color and content. Reynolds’ new body of works, created since his 2007 solo exhibition at The Gallery at Library Square, explores dynamic tensions made visible as autobiography, investigated through a new visual vocabulary. Seemingly disparate elements work together, binding each work into a cohesive whole, giving the exhibition a voice that speaks to the viewer. Reynolds singular style finds influence from Abstract Expressionism as overall gestures are imbued not only with marks, scratches, and stencils, but with personal meaning that yearns to reach the surface.

All the paintings are oil and graphite on birch wood panels; within the body of work there are subgroups dependant on framing technique, color palette, and subject matter. Frames are an integral part of the whole to Reynolds, who chooses a frame for its character, cuts and places the birch wood panel into the frame, then treats the frame as yet another surface in the overall work. One loose group of works is placed in window frames that have been gathered from annual garbage pick up or were donated by friends. The window frames are scraped then sized with a birch panel. These frames are raw, lending the work a feeling of originality.

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Exhibition Review: Park City
In and Out of Context
Jamex and Einar De la Torre at Kimball Art Center


To be effective, satirical artworks must closely resemble the objects of their satire. Doing so successfully is both a weakness and a strength. The same flaws that mar the original and inspire criticism must inevitably appear in the mocking version. But then recognition comes quickly to the audience. For better or worse, we know vastly more about a good satire on first viewing than we would about a more entirely original work. Examples abound in the main gallery of the Kimball Art Center in Park City, where a spectacular collection of extraordinarily large, representational glass sculptures by the brothers Jamex and Einar de la Torre is on view through April 18.

Most of the works, numbering about twenty depending on how one counts, fit into recognizable formats. Here are figures, ornamental vessels, and architectural bas reliefs from archeological sites throughout Latin America. In each case the familiar conventions have been subverted by the addition of found objects, materials, and references that are both contemporary to the audience and recognizably out of context. The results may be autobiographical, recording the artists’ world-wide journey in pursuit of the opportunities to work in an art form notoriously profligate in its appetite for expensive materials, exorbitant amounts of energy, and large crews of skilled assistants. They may realign the audience’s geopolitical polarities, severing illusory political ties in favor of common humanitarian interests. Or they may speculate about the underlying human conditions that are masked by frenetic global activity, regardless of whether it’s political, economic, or something else.

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Exhibition Spotlight: Salt Lake City
Minimalist Abstraction
Carolyn Coalson and Francesc Burgos at Phillips Gallery


When we learned that Phillips Gallery was exhibiting an abstract expressionist painter with an abstract ceramist, we were interested in their stories. When we learned that gallery director Meri DeCaria had hoped to put these same artists together previously, we wanted to know why.

DeCaria says she selected Carolyn Coalson and Francesc Burgos because both artists are minimalists. “I didn’t want to pair either of them with anyone who would overpower the other. Since . . . neither wanted the burden of filling the entire [gallery] space on their own, the choice seemed a harmonious one.”

She adds that each artist brings particular strengths to the show. “The uniformity of Francesc’s understated palette and gentle shapes will be a great complement to Carolyn’s ‘dive right in’ pools of color,” she says. “When you look at Francesc’s forms you get the impression that they are derived from ancient cultures; they truly are a combination of primitive and modern. Carolyn’s work is pure abstract expressionism, firmly set in the contemporary, yet contains a depth with which one can commune.”

DeCaria believes these artists support one another in a strong commitment to simplicity in form and color. And those really are the elements of abstraction.

An abstract work also reflects an immediate experience – don’t look for a story there. It is a process that creates its own reality, a process that can be unsettling even for the artist. Coalson once said, “There’s something very scary about being untethered, about not having something concrete in front of you. I’m in and out of hot water all the time trying to balance what I know formally and what I feel emotionally. Sometimes I’d rather just paint a bowl of fruit.” Something, often music, will move Burgos to draw, but then his architectural background takes over as he tries to determine whether his sketch will hold up in three dimensions, will withstand the heat of the kiln.

So practicality intrudes on even the most imaginative of nonrepresentational artists.

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Am by Carolyn Coalson at Phillips Gallery