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Published monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization    
Utah artist and illustrator David Habben in his Salt Lake studio. Photo by Anne Cummings-Anderson

Artist Profile: Salt Lake
Faith and Subjectivity in Art
A discussion with David Habben
David Habben: newlywed, artist, guitar player, runner, motorcycle rider, Mormon.

David Habben doesn’t do things half way—as he reflects on his life thus far, a genuine contemplative nature emerges. He’s a unique sort of artist. His artistic designs and illustrations can be found on skateboards, graffiti walls and comic books but he also uses art as a vehicle to express his religious beliefs. This month you can see his work at both the LDS International Art Competition and Salt Lake’s Kayo Gallery, two exhibition spaces whose paths rarely cross.

Habben calls Utah home now but grew up in Oregon and Idaho. He attended Boise State for a couple of years and finished up at BYU, which is how he arrived in Utah. He graduated with a degree in Illustration and shortly after graduation took a job with Struck – a local advertising agency in SLC -- before launching Habben Ink four years ago. Working as an independent illustrator is often a solitary existence but one in which Habben has excelled. When asked about going back to college, Habben talks about how he has been ready to do so, acceptance letter in hand, on a number of occasions, “but something always came up, life has simply directed me along different paths.”
Habben is preparing to move to Logan with his wife Anna later this month, having recently accepted a position as a designer with Icon Fitness–mostly know for their gym equipment, apparel and footwear. The position offers Habben, an avid runner, the best of both worlds, merging his love of design and illustration with his passion for fitness.

Culture Conversations: Architecture & Design
Up and Down the Creek
A view from the City Creek Sky Bridge

I was downtown recently when my cell phone rang. When asked where I was, I said “City Creek,” and the caller assumed I was on a hike in the canyon, a place I love and visit often. But I was neither in City Creek Canyon nor on Main Street, but rather above it in City Creek Center’s air-conditioned connecting bridge, decorated inside with old photographs and maps of our historic downtown, a downtown with four generations of my family’s life and livelihood etched into its streets.

The call reminded me of our confusion about place, in part because of the developer’s appropriation of the historic creek’s name. That this has emerged is a surprise to no one who loves our city, our seven canyons, and our shared oasis on the edge of the desert. Just as we have buried our creeks throughout the past century and a half, we are burying our heads about the importance of authenticity.

Exhibition Preview: Salt LakeCity
The Cryptic and the Conceptual
Brian Christensen at Finch Lane Gallery
Contemporary art can be simple, starkly minimal and austerely reduced, yet still offer hidden universal truths, hosting a complexity of meaning and serving a valued purpose of relevance as an important work of art: a basis for rich conceptual art. By contrast I’ve seen plenty of art that is ugly, confrontational and purposely overdone, but that has nothing to say, no clear reason for being and having no association with the conceptual. Brian Christensen’s work, which is on display this month at Salt Lake’s Finch Lane Gallery, can be hard to approach. It is arguably not pretty. It can be coarse and crude, and even, using the artist’s own description, grotesque; yet his large-scale pieces are the groundwork and form for a symbolically complex web of conceptual thinking that invites ongoing investigation.

Christensen’s current show is a conceptual wonderland waiting to be investigated and enjoyed. This collection of installations and sculptures is tied together by a common, though not readily apparent, theme rooted in the ideological realm of the conceptual. His liberal use of a variety of media, that may or may not be visually appealing, allows the artist great freedom to work with the conceptual aspects of his sculpture. Through the play of material and symbolic constructs, Christensen works towards one of his primary aims as an artist: to articulate the vicissitudes of phenomena in contemporary existence. Like a modern-day Plato, he examines the faulty and fragmentary knowledge we use to construct our sense of reality: in Christensen’s work the image of the video camera often replaces the fire and puppet show of Plato’s allegory of the cave, where chained prisoners, unable to turn their heads, know reality only by the shadows cast on the wall before them. Plato’s allegory suggests that, in mortality, we have only so much vision, only so much truth, only so much knowledge. All we know are fragments, images of a pure reality that supersedes us. In this limited capacity we are doomed to a life of trial and error, learning through experience the nature and the truth of pure reality. Similarly, with his sculptures and installations. Christensen examines modes of contemporary living that fragment and impede our understanding of true existence.

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Brian Christensen at Finch Lane Gallery
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