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Published monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization    
Utah artist Steven Larson in his Salt Lake Studio. Photo by Laura and Matt Chiodo.

Artist Profile: Salt Lake
Some Kind of Improvisation
The Life and Art of Steven Larson
The ability to express that which is internal through external creative means is a gift that comes naturally to Utah artist Steven Larson -- it is very much a part of who he is and affects almost everything about him. Yet, even though Larson is one of the most successful young artists in Salt Lake City, he hesitates to allow this designation to define just who he is. “I am a dedicated father, who cares for his 10 year old son, who also takes up similar interests: playing musical instruments, drawing and creative writing.” He does describe his art as a form of abstract expressionism and it is apparent that expressive qualities are animate many facets of his persona. “I want to evoke ideas that are open to flexibility, not rigid or one-dimensional in concept,” says the artist, who has much to say and many ways of saying it.

Architecture & Design: Salt Lake
A Makeover Is For The Birds
The Tracy Aviary's new visitor's center

Editor's Note: It’s been nearly a year since Liberty Park reopened after that nasty 2010 oil spill. And the image of that incredible mess and sea of orange vests has been nearly wiped clean for me by the stunning new makeover recently completed by Big D Construction and ajc Architects at the Tracy Aviary.

The Aviary is located on 8 acres at the southwest corner of Liberty Park in Salt Lake City and currently maintains a collection of approximately 400 birds representing about 135 species.

It all began in 1938 when banker Russell Lord Tracy donated his private bird collection to Salt Lake City and its children. The city took over management in 1982 and in 1990 the facility was accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, a standing it would later lose as the Aviary fell into disrepair. In 2008 the residents of Salt Lake County approved a $19.6 million bond for improvements. Along with funds generated by Friends of Tracy Aviary, which took over management in 1993, a master plan was developed to improve infrastructure, landscaping, exhibits and facilities and accreditation was restored in 2009.

The plan included constructing a new entry, visitor center, office and multipurpose space. Six contractor/architect teams submitted proposals in 2010 and, following public input, the team headed by Big D Construction with ajc Architects was selected. After collaboration with Aviary staff, board members and resident Landscape Architect Peter Beeton (with Atlas Architects) the new Visitors Center opened in mid-December.

Exhibition Review: Park City
In Search of Form
Brian Usher and Teresa Kalnoskas at Julie Nester
From loose sketching in search of form to the final cartoon filled in with paint, from the ornament engraved in metal to the print made by inking the cut and pressing it against paper, from the preparatory profile drawn on a block of stone to a length of wire fashioned into a three-dimensional model, the art of drawing has formed the foundation of the visual arts for so long that we may be excused for thinking that drawing first is the natural way, or even the only way, for images to come about. Two strong counter-examples are on display at Julie Nester Gallery in Park City through March, and while each artist takes an entirely personal view of the relation between line and mass, the opportunity to see them together marks a rare and exquisite opportunity to see the interconnection between these two protean components of art not just made cognitively apparent, but aesthetically illuminated.

Cast glass sculptor Brian Usher begins with a diagrammatic demonstration of the classical process. Each of his calligraphic ‘Lissils’ begins with a line drawing made on a flat surface. Take a pencil and a piece of paper, mark a continuous line that loops about three times before smoothly joining its end to its beginning. There you have the start of a potential Usher. Of course major works often begin in the simplest of ideas; it’s the hard work of getting from the idea to the realization that proves the artist. In a step familiar everywhere from sign painting to computer graphics, Usher first projects a copy of his line out parallel to it in space, giving it an implied third dimension. Then he thickens the original line, shrinking the spaces between the lines as they gain in bulk. Once this shape is reproduced in three real dimensions, cast in a single, intense color of glass, he may manipulate and finish it in a variety of ways. He may reheat the glass until it slumps, thus replacing the original plane of the line with a hemisphere or an arc, or twist it until the original pattern all but disappears. Some surfaces are then polished to transparency, while others are brought to a matte condition and still others retain the marks created during modeling and molding. He may close off some of the window-like openings between line segments, leaving what an architect would call blind passages.

Brian Usher at Julie Nester Gallery


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