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April 2014
Utah's Art Magazine: Published by Artists of Utah
Page 6    

Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City

Into the Dark
Cary Griffiths Black Paintings at Art at the Main

Vulnerability will be on tap when the Art at the Main exhibits Cary Griffiths' new show April 14th – May 10th, with an artist’s reception April 18th 6-9pm. While Griffiths is well known for dissonant mood work (read: expressionist abstract), Light in a Dark Place is a risk for him.

“I’ve never told people about this dark side,” he says.

The collection started with a piece Griffiths worked on for three years because he wasn’t satisfied. In frustration, he painted it black.

“This is what I’ve been searching for,” he remembers feeling, watching light hit the black grooves and shift the color.  

Black nuanced the work. In his living room, the painting changed depending on the height of the sun, and his next seven paintings came within two years. While some have color—an undercurrent of blue or orange—Griffiths craves minimalism, what he calls “creating mood and rhythm with less and less color, with less and less detail.”

“I want to push the paint,” he says, but he’s also afraid.

“I’m really putting myself out there and taking a gamble. People might look at me and say, oh—you’ve finally lost your marbles.

And response to this show, how people resonate with his work, feels particularly important. “These are the culmination of my life’s experiences—everything I’ve learned to date. I struggle to keep this blackness out of myself, and there are times I just let it come, and the paint painting itself is alive, and I go with what’s happened: create grooves and deep pockets to reflect how I’m feeling.”  

“One composition evokes a massive wave of black which, when it crashes, scatters itself,” writes Katharine English, Vice President of the Writers at Work Board and art enthusiast. “But even as we watch the destruction, the light changes, moves the moment forward.” 

While Griffiths usually refuses to define paintings by adding titles, he has a rare piece in this show named “Shadow Dancing.” “I worked on it for a long time,” he says, “and it especially has a rhythm; I tried to capture the shadows, the soul coming forward and back in depression and sadness.”
Painter Terrece Beesley watches a Griffiths canvas move from tar black to blue highlight, from rushing downpour to rising optimism. In a brightly lit room she sees yellows and ochers, strong contrasts, a tumult of variety in Griffiths’ clusters, valleys, and ridges.

In the negative of light, there is such color.

The gallery will provide seating for Griffiths’ light watchers and a book for comments.

Artists of Utah News

Salt Lake City Mayor's Artist Awards

We were pleased to learn this month that Artists of Utah has been honored with a Mayor's Artist Awards for Service to the Arts by an Organization. The award will be presented at the Utah Arts Festival in June, where we will once again present ColLABorART with the Leonardo. We look forward to celebrating with you then. The full list of this year's honorees is below.






Hints 'n' Tips
Appreciating the Dirty Arts
What will the coming generation of collectors want?

Remember the old problem many of us pondered in elementary school science class? The question went something like this: If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to witness the event, is there any sound? The same might be asked about the future of art: If a masterpiece is painted and no one has the ability to appreciate it, is it still a masterpiece? I think the answers to both questions are: 1: Sound waves are still created, but if there are no receptors available in the form of ears to be acted upon, the occurrence of the tree falling would be very quiet.  2: I think it’s a definite yes, it would still be a masterpiece, but also a tragedy at the same time, since there would be no emotional receptors available to appreciate it.

This leads me to my topic . . . I have often wondered how the current crop of young people, with all of their high-tech immersion from birth to adulthood, will respond to the “dirty arts” in the future. By dirty arts, I use a phrase passed on to me by fellow artist Tom Howard, who is a fine painter and instructor at Salt lake Community College. Simply put, the dirty arts are not produced at a keyboard and have no high-tech roots whatsoever. I’m talking about the old fashioned method of putting paint down on a canvas, charcoal or other drawing media to paper and sculpture in all of its forms — the dirty arts, perpetrated by those “dirty artists” who are in the physical trenches of the art world applying their medium in the time-tested arena of physical, emotional and spiritual toil. Nothing high-tech about that, and perhaps even a throwback to a bygone age.

The question I ask is not rhetorical in nature, but actually one to which I’d like to get a satisfactory answer. I suppose my desire to know is sparked not only by curiosity, but also by a somewhat selfish desire to know what the art market will be like in a few more years. Will the collector base start to shrink as the older collectors die off and the high-tech generation grows up, or will there possibly be a backlash desire for things that are not from the realm of computers, smartphones, iPads, smart glasses and whatever else the technological future has in store for us? (Let’s hope so!) Will the new generation crave nature and landscape art as a respite from their everyday life, or will their collective sensitivity to nature and quiet beauty be lost on them due to the different paradigm they grew up in?

Add to the mix all of the special effects in movies these days and the constant need to be plugged into ear buds for a continuous flow of music so seemingly necessary to their entertainment and emotional survival.  As a corollary to that, what about shrinking budgets and the new emphasis on testing, testing and more testing in core academic areas in the schools and less emphasis on the arts? 

If any of my readers have thoughts on this I would love to hear from you. If I get enough responses I might even include your comments in the next issue of Hints ‘n’ Tips due to publish in June. Please keep in mind, I am not attempting to indict a whole generation of people, just simply asking a question. I don’t know what the future holds, but my curiosity is difficult to ignore.

It’s interesting how I even came to think about this subject in the first place. One day, about ten or twelve years ago, I was painting on location down off the canal road near my home when I was suddenly caught off guard by a young couple who were pushing a stroller. They stopped and started applauding as though something wonderful was taking place. I looked around to see what had caught their attention and realized it was me, standing at my easel. They told me it was “sooooo good to see someone actually doing something real for a change instead of some mindless entertainment on a computer."  OK…? I thought. I had no idea at the time that this was even an issue; I was barely into my first cell phone and just learning to text! Having grown up in an earlier technological decade, I guess I just didn’t give much thought to the amount of time some people spend in the world of technology, but that started me thinking . . . Of course now, with the amount of technology out there, I get it, but that still doesn’t answer the question about the future. People are dependent on their devices a lot, but has this changed their ability to appreciate the subtle beauties of nature and art?

Whatever the outcome of this whole shift to a hyper- technological society, I certainly hope people will recognize the benefits of art in their life and specifically the “dirty arts.” The opposite is a sad scenario to contemplate. I haven’t come to any conclusions on the issue and again, would love to hear from you. Whatever your conclusions though, please state them along with some possible solutions, if they happen to be negative. I look forward to satisfying my curiosity some more. 


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