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October 2014
Utah's Art Magazine: Published by Artists of Utah
Page 2   

Photo Essay: Studio Spaces
At Home Or On The Move
Parowan's Spike Ress is always ready to paint

With his wife, artist Sue Cotter, Spike Ress has built a life immersed in art. Their home in the small Utah town of Parowan is a bedroom, kitchen and living room flanked by a studio for each artist. But with art and artifacts adorning walls and nooks throughout the house, it's hard to tell where the living quarters end and the working quarters begin. Ress's studio (look for Cotter's in a future edition) features tall north windows, which flood the space with light, multiple working stations, for watercolors, oil painting, framing and storage, and is festooned with paraphernalia picked up on the couple's many travels.

The proximity of Ress's studio to the front door — walk in the house and you're essentially in his studio — is appropriate since the artist is frequently on the road painting en plein air. His "Art Spirit" van has been transformed into a mobile studio, the envy of many plein air painters throughout the state, who suffer under the rain or from the wind and cold while Ress is comfortably painting ensconced in his warm, dry environment.

Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
Light Reflected
Brandon Cook's metal work at Finch Lane Gallery

Take a closer look. These paintings aren’t on canvas. Or linen, panels or boards. These luminous, poetically evocative works by Brandon Cook, which fill Finch Lane Gallery with a sense of hushed wonder, have been painted on sheets of metal.

With his exhibit Aeonic, a term that suggests an immeasurable or indefinitely long period of time, Cook premieres his newest body of work executed, oils on aluminum. The Ogden artist says these works are part of his continued experimentation with the painting process, something that has been so important to his work it at times eclipses the subject matter. It’s also a result of the tonalist masters that inspire his contemporary landscapes. “Nineteenth-century photography has always indirectly influenced my artwork," he says. "The idea of the ferrotype (tintype) began to work its way into my creative thought process—an emulsion over iron.” What, he thought, about the transparencies of oil paint on a similarly reflective surface? “Painting on copper has been used by artists for centuries but its color would undermine what it is I wanted to achieve—light being reflected through transparent/semi-transparent paint layers.”

So Cook tried painting on aluminum, beginning with small sheets, feeling his way through the process and the new surface. “I stuck with what was familiar to me as I began to experiment with the metal,” he says. “Some subjects were revisited to gain an understanding of how painting on the metal differed from traditional processes and effects. As I increase in this knowledge I am finding that I am using it as a springboard into different realms of painting and I am excited to see how already my way of looking at my subject is changing.”

On a surface level, Cook’s works are landscapes — trees, fields, moody skies. But they are not windows to be gazed into, not majestic tourist scenes or charming snapshots from travels. The compositions are minimal: a single tree, or a line of trees, might stand in the middle of the canvas, above a reflective pool of water.  Rather than pulling the gaze in, the works emanate outwards, making them spiritual or meditative experiences rather than traditional landscapes, celebrations of nature or scientific attempts to capture the look of changing weather.

Cook’s effects are subtle, the accumulation of numerous strokes, scrapes and smears. “Physically, working on the metal is more difficult as it takes more 'elbow grease' to build textures in order to soften and warm what is otherwise a very cold-looking material. The benefit, though, is that every mark is felt, seen and recorded. It would be easy for something of this nature to appear like a gimmick and so it has always been my intention for the end result to appear as any other traditional oil painting. I think this forces me into becoming an even better painter and I feel like I have just seen the tip of the iceberg as to where this may lead.”


15 Bytes: About Us
Our editorial contributors

Krystal K. BakerKrystal K. Baker, B.A., M.Ed., is a Language Arts teacher at Payson High School, and freelance writer. Her work has appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune, The Ogden Standard Examiner, The Daily Herald, City Weekly, BYU Magazine, Seeing the Everyday, and the Kolob Canyon Review.

Krystal K. BakerJared Christensen grew up in North Ogden, Utah and finally moved to Salt Lake at the age of 18 to go to school. He graduated from Westminster College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography. He continues to explore his art and exhibit locally, and currently works for 15 Bytes and for Tanner Frames in Salt Lake City.

Ehren ClarkEhren Clark studied art history at both the University of Utah and the University of Reading in the UK. He is now a professional writer.

Ehren ClarkSamuel Hanson's formative dance training was with Hilary Carrier and at Tanner Dance. His recent work has been seen at the New Media Wing, the Rose Wagner Center, the Mudson Performance series, in Montana, California, Tennessee, Florida, Mexico and New York. He’s recently performed in the work of Yvonne Meier.

Larry MenloveLarry Menlove is a graduate of the University of Utah. His fiction has appeared in many venues including Weber Studies, Dialogue, Irreantum and Sunstone. He lives with his wife, children and an old cat in Spring Lake.

Lynn KilpatrickLynn K. Kilpatrick first collection of short stories, In the House, was published by FC2. Her fiction has recently appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and Hotel Amerika. Her essays have been published in Creative Nonfiction, Ninth Letter, and Brevity. She earned her PhD in Fiction from the University of Utah and an MA in Poetry from Western Washington University. She teaches at Salt Lake Community College.

Ann PooreAnn Poore is a freelance writer and editor who spent most of her career at The Salt Lake Tribune. She also worked for Salt Lake City Weekly and has written for such publications as Utah Business Magazine and Salt Lake Magazine.

Shawn RossiterShawn Rossiter, a native of Boston, was raised on the East Coast. He has degrees in English, French and Italian Literature. A professional artist and writer, he founded Artists of Utah in 2001 and is editor of its magazine, 15 Bytes.

Shawn RossiterMichael Sowder writes poetry and essays that explore themes of wilderness, fatherhood, Buddhism, and spirituality. His poetry books include House Under the Moon and The Empty Boat, both from Truman. His nonfiction appears frequently in the Buddhist magazine, Shambhala Sun. A professor of English at Utah State University, in Logan, he lives at the foot of the Bear River Mountains with his wife, the writer Jennifer Sinor, and their two sons.  

Geoff WichertGeoff Wichert has degrees in critical writing and creative nonfiction. He writes about art to settle the arguments going on in his head.

15 Bytes

is published monthly by Artists of Utah, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization located in Salt Lake City Utah. The opinions expressed in these articles are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 15 Bytes or Artists of Utah. Our editions are published monthly on the first Wednesday of the month. Our deadline for submissions is the last Wednesday of the preceding month.

Writers and photographers who contribute material to 15 Bytes are members of the arts community who volunteer their time. Please contact the editor if you have an idea for an article or feature, or if you would like to volunteer your time to the organization.

Editor: Shawn Rossiter
Assistant Editor: Laura Durham
Literary Editor: David G. Pace
Dance Editor: Ashley Anderson

Mixed Media: Terrece Beesley
You can contact 15 Bytes at editor@artistsofutah.org

Artists of Utah
P.O. Box 526292
SLC, UT 84152
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