Artist Profile: Salt Lake City
Mixing Chemicals, Blurring Lines
The life and art of Shalee CooperWhen an entire roll of film taken at the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands came out blurry, Shalee Cooper decided it was time to study photography. After returning from her study abroad, she enrolled in the foundation program at the University of Utah, and has made Salt Lake City her home base ever since. Working out of a downtown loft, Cooper has built a local and international reputation as a photographer, curater and art professional. Her varied body of work -- which includes high contrast silver prints, polaroids, Holga prints and color work -- is influenced, she says, by the different tools of her trade. They are tools she has learned to use well. Now when her work is out of focus, as it was for an exhibition at the Rose Wagner in 2010, it's on purpose. In this video interview, the former 15 Bytes image editor and current Gallery Director at Alpine Art allowed us to visit her live/work space, where she discussed mixing chemicals, blurring lines and the struggle to get her first camera.
Exhibition and Film Review: Salt Lake City & Park City
Cutie and the Boxer
Noriko and Ushio Shinohara jostle for attention
Ushio Shinohara, goggled, bare-chested and sporting a pair of paint-splattered shorts, hams it up for his audience: lifting his foam-topped boxing gloves, he grins broadly and prances about the gallery floor, allowing a dozen and more phone-wielding photographers to snap their fill. At 81, he’s a charming, infectious figure and as he dips his gloves in buckets of thin paint and prepares to pummel a large piece of gessoed canvas, his audience is enthusiastic and encouraging. Beginning at the far right, throwing first a black-dipped right and then a neon-pink left, he weaves along the canvas, landing jabs and swipes that become large vivid “brushstrokes.” Approaching the end, he lags momentarily. But regains his wind long enough to finish off the last blows and complete his newest work. Reminded to “sign it,” he dips a bare foot into a bucket of paint and with it kicks the canvas. Switches feet and repeats.
Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
The first Lenka Konopasek I remember encountering was among the most unforgettable works of art I’ve ever seen. Set out on a table, and swirling up towards the giant wooden beams that support the old granary building that housed the Central Utah Art Center in Ephraim, it depicted in exact detail the destruction of an American suburb by a tornado. Row on row of precisely rendered, nearly identical houses, economically graduated by size and architectural features, were being torn apart, revealing their domestic interiors and spilling their contents. Furnishings, roofs, even family cars were spun in a whirlwind that ascended into celestial dissipation. What made this miniature maelstrom more remarkable still was that everything in it was cut and assembled from sheets of ordinary white paper. Thus structures that seemed solid—safe as houses, as they say—were revealed to owe their strength to mutual reinforcement and a cellular structure built from materials that, pulled apart, were seen to be individually flimsy. It recalled photos of the then-recently-attacked Twin Towers, spitting out gouts of office paper that cascaded through space into the streets below, where they blew among the ashes and ruins like 21st-century tumbleweeds. Konopasek captured in one instant the lifespan of human enterprise, turning an entire civilization back into the sheets of paper on which it had been conceived, designed, regulated, and its history told.
The Strangely Beautiful
Lenka Konopasek at the Gallery at Library Square
Many of Konopasek’s contemporaries share her interest in destruction, in the many threats to humanity not prevented by, often even caused by, our technology. But most of them, believing that art should proselytize, end up producing visual sermons: warnings about the dangers of environmental depredation, greed, and incivility that require volumes of text to explicate. Konopasek, who has more of an Old Testament sensitivity to hubris, modestly lets her images speak for themselves.