Artist Profile: Salt Lake City
The Beauty of Present-day Life
Karen Horne, Painter of Salt Lake City
In his 1863 essay “The Painter of Modern Life,” Charles Baudelaire stated that ‘modernity’ required, “above all a man of the world to fulfill. He has every-where sought after the fugitive, fleeting beauty of present-day life, the distinguishing character of that quality which, with the reader’s kind permission, we have called ‘modernity’. Often weird, violent and excessive, he has contrived to concentrate in his drawings the acrid or heady bouquet of the wine of life.” If we are to seek for such a representation of ‘modernity’ in Salt Lake City, of that which captures the “fugitive, fleeting beauty of present-day life,” we need look no further than the art of Karen Horne, painter of Salt Lake City.
Though she was born in New York City, and studied art at Yale and abroad, Karen Horne has deep roots in Utah, and has lived much of her life here. She is a great-granddaughter to Alice Merrill Horne, the early Utah painter and patron of the arts. Her mother, Phyllis Horne, studied fashion illustration and couture design in New York and went on to become a noted Utah painter; her father studied at Cornell Medical School, and moved the family first to California and later to Bountiful, Utah, to practice medicine. Horne followed a similar pattern, returning to Utah after years in Manhattan. It was there she met husband Michael Rowley on Madison Avenue, where he was director of a master print gallery while Horne was working at The Frick Collection. They returned to Salt Lake City in 1996 to live in Sugar House where Karen would continue her practice of doing what she had been doing in Manhattan, which was “painting plein air in the parks and working on street scenes.”
Horne studied abroad in 1984 in Italy and she says, “I think my summer living in Florence and visiting Rome, Venice and other Italian cities sold me on the ‘piazza.’ I loved seeing the street life in Roman piazze, and enjoying the spectacle of Italians doing their early morning marketing in open air fruit and fish markets, then their evening promenade, and later enjoying al fresco dining. It seemed that their cities were designed to encourage gathering and mingling. Many public spaces! A constant parade!” This early encounter with Italian ‘modernity’ would be a preparation for the canvases that would come out of Manhattan, and then the work that would evolve in Salt Lake City to become what we see today in Night and Day, a retrospective exhibit at the Gallery at Library Square, hung as a complement to the 2014 Utah Arts Festival.
Exhibitions Review: Park City
Breaking and Repairing
Brenda Mallory at Julie Nester Gallery
Driving back from Park City, where Brenda Mallory’s second exhibition at Julie Nester opened July 5th, the familiar but still disturbing sight of an elk lying dead on the median strip of I-80 brought into sharp focus the universal significance of the artworks just seen. Once broken, nothing in this world can ever be made whole again: never be put back together exactly as was. Cracked, bent, torn-and-repaired, objects whether naturally occurring or man-made, even our ideas and opinions, and especially including ourselves, gradually give way to experience, until the patina of use and abuse marks the departure into old age and dissolution. On the other hand, everything that exists has been reassembled from previously-used fragments arranged and—in the jargon of our age—repurposed from shards. What Brenda Mallory’s quiet-spoken, eloquently accumulated constructs demonstrate, as they explore the narrow zone between two-dimensional designs and three-dimensional structures, are the only way anything can become new again.
Mallory’s preferred materials are handmade papers, cloth, wax, fiber, strings, and ink, with which she produces lines and surfaces for them to articulate. Her most characteristic objects are clusters of vessels that aggregate ambiguously on a wall—part natural populations, part fabricated clusters. In much of her earlier work, these often evoked winged creatures or pollen-producing plants. Even in the presence of metal screws and rods holding them together, these flocks and bouquets, with their vivid veins and segmentations, overwhelmingly suggest organic matter, structure, and process: tubes, leaves, membranes, and what might be constructed with them.