Artist Profile: Salt Lake City
Tony Rasmussen and the Truth of Nature
Just about anyone who has traveled to Utah knows his work. He's the artist who created the large, hyperrealist murals depicting scenes of southern Utah for the Salt Lake City airport. Fewer, however, know that Anton (Tony) Rasmussen began his career as an abstract artist, from the action painting of his graduate work (depicted in a film by Claudia Sisemore) to large-scale depictions of microscopic cancer cells.
After a debilitating struggle with his own cancer, Rasmussen is now back behind the easel, and his work is the subject of a 50-year retrospective this month at the Springville Museum of Art. In this video profile, we visited Rasmussen in his Salt Lake City home, where he discussed the underlying vision that has driven all aspects of his work.
Exhibition Spotlight: Salt Lake City
Her Best Foot Forward
New works by Wynter Jones at A Gallery
“Everything is driven by emotion and struggle,” says Salt Lake artist Wynter Jones. Her painting has always been personal, an automatic expression of her inner being, a primal instinct, even a survival method. Her long journey of self-conflict, and the conflict of that self with its environment, began ten years ago in what were initially disturbing self-portraits. As this energy became more aggressive, her work became grotesque until completely amorphous; Jones morphed and tore herself open literally and figuratively in what she calls an act of “purging.” So, as she prepares for a new solo exhibit at Salt Lake’s A Gallery, it is refreshing to hear her frankly say, “I’m not as pissed off as I used to be.”
More than anything else, Wynter Jones has proven to be an artist without fear. She has not been afraid to use her art, in a very personal and very public way, towards self-mastery as an artist, and more importantly as a human being. With these new works she’s taking an exciting turn that reveals her to be the kind of individual she fought to be for 10 years in public battles of personal conflict revealed through her painting. Jones, who has felt driven by beliefs in “essentials of humanity, depth and honesty,” has not resolved her war with the inner self and her culture by giving up on her struggles but by assuring herself of her sense of self and her sense of authenticity, as her new works beautifully show. An eye-opening trip to Africa, and the birth of her son two years ago, were pivotal moments that helped Jones get outside of herself to win this war.
Exhibition Review: Salt Lake
The Tip of the Iceberg
A look at four video works at UMOCA
Not since the construction of City Creek Center has there been such a racket on West Temple. Eight videos in UMOCA’s summer exhibition Cantastoria are creating quite a ruckus in the usually hushed galleries, as a cacophony of chanting, giggling and clicking converges in the subterranean galleries. For those accustomed to more traditional media, video can be bewildering, if not outright alienating. This, I suspect, has something to do with the old adage “familiarity breeds contempt.” As the preeminent mode of communication for most folks, the video stream looms so large in the American psyche that anything other than the status quo is often unwelcome. Luckily, the works in Cantastoria tread gently. They don’t project agitprop onto building facades (see Krzysztof Wodiczko), or onto tormented little effigies (Tony Oursler). We are not required to deconstruct the baroque gesticulations of Bill Viola, or the primal chants of Bruce Nauman. No, the works on view at UMOCA are enough to get our feet wet, but not crack our brains. In fact, most works employ a static, documentary-style shot that projects an ‘invisible window’ onto the world, much like TV. Unlike TV, there is no staging, and editing is kept to a minimum.
Indeed, most of the videos in Cantastoria are married to the performance they document, rather than the specificities of the medium. “Exercise” by Lucia Nimcova (2007) showcases senior citizens in Slovakia who re-enact daily exercise routines that had been introduced as a national health program by the State. As such, the works present a concept of the body that is inscribed by political ideology, while offering a window into communist life. No attempt is made to idealize the protagonists’ bodies -- their shapes contrast those of American sport icons. Nor do they exercise in high-tech studios or gyms, but in modest homes, offices and churches. A train conductor does arm lifts from a baggage rail, a woman does sit-ups on her couch, housewives in headscarves and smocks touch their toes. Clearly the act of revisiting these movements triggers happy memories. As they giggle and chuckle, their pleasure is contagious (to the viewer) and forms an instant connection which transcends our demonized view of communism. This stands in sharp contrast to the highly regimented nature of our own form of exercise, and presents new connections between the body and freedom, health and happiness.