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February 2015
Utah's Art Magazine: Published by Artists of Utah
Page 2   

Photo Essay
City, County, Crooks & Columbia
Touring the City & County Building from top to bottom

When I was a little kid in the late 1950s and early 1960s, I was enamored of the City and County Building on Washington Square. My father, Carleton Caine Alder, worked there for years as the chief deputy county treasurer and when I visited Dad, I wandered around the building, noticing the original designs and surprised at the dilapidated state of the walls and floors (I also was shocked to see inmates in handcuffs sitting on benches in the halls, waiting to face the judges in city court). Shortly before my dad was transferred to the State Treasurer's office, the office staff was cleaning out various old records, including ledgers of assessments, audits, and treasurer items. My dad gave me two of the items slated for removal, one a ledger from 1856, which listed tax assessments on local residents, including Brigham Young. I still have the books. 

Later, during my mortgage banking career, and while I was in the art history master's program at the U, I had to write about art in Utah. I selected writing about Richardsonian Romanesque, particularly the Salt Lake City and County Building (CCB). When it was completed in 1894, CCB had cost six times more than the original bid (partly because of increasing costs and economic depression) and took three times longer than estimated. The building originally housed various entities including city and county offices, courts and, before the Capitol Building was constructed, the Utah House of Representatives (which means this is where Alice Merrill Horne helped to create the first state arts council in the country). Now, of course, the building holds only part of the city offices, including the mayor’s and city council’s. 

An earthquake in 1934 damaged certain statues, the clock, and other areas of the building. In 1986, the CCB was required to be restored, like many buildings requiring protection against earthquakes. The restoration took years, and included structural improvements, and many of the interior areas, including all of the floor tiles, were replaced. I was on one of the tours the Utah Heritage Foundation conducted at the time (they continue to do so). But I’ve always wanted to observe several of the areas not on the standard tours, and Rob Eckman, one of the top tour guides, recently obliged.


Inside the Vault: Works from Public Art Collections
From Myth to Belief
Joseph Ostraff's "Fanongo Kia Hiko"

Joseph Ostraf Fanongo Kia Hiko

Brigham Young University professor Joseph Ostraff has made many trips to Tonga. This piece, made in response to an experience he had while visiting the island of Foa, was created in 1999 and accessioned into the State of Utah Fine Art Collection in 2002. Ostraff says painting is his way of developing a personal sense of pattern and order in response to what he sees.

“While living on the island of Foa in Tonga, my family and I met Hiko, a nobleman from the neighboring island of Kau Vai” recalls Ostraff. “He was the living heir from a family line with the ability to call in schools of skipjack tuna. While we were there, Hiko went out into the bay and called in the fish. Both our villages ate tuna for weeks to come. There were several ‘tapu’ associated with the event. The most significant condition being that all the fish caught must be shared among the people and not sold for profit. This painting is about the movement from myth to belief founded in shared experience. Going abroad has enabled me to return to Utah and to appreciate the diversity found in my own backyard.”

Ostraff's mother has been quoted as saying, "What happened to my boy? He used to be so good at art." Allan Fern, curator at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC and juror for the 1993 Utah Arts Council Fellowship Competition, is quoted as saying upon his selection of Ostraff to be one of the fellowship recipients: "Joseph seems to have some pent up anger and uses nature as a metaphor to address social concerns." Ostraff's response to these two statements is, "When you're doing something you feel is really important many people and especially your mother may not understand you." Secondly, "I consider myself to be a friendly, easy-going artist, but my work does express a frustration towards the way we treat nature and each other. Hopefully the things I do as an artist will have some positive impact on the people within my community."

Joseph Ostraff has received the Utah Visual Arts Fellowship twice during his career. This piece was recently removed from the vault to be on temporary display at the Alice Gallery as part of the exhibition “Utah Artists Elsewhere”. The exhibit explores artwork by Utah artists exploring outside of Utah. The exhibition is up through March 6, 2015.


15 Bytes: About Us
Our editorial contributors

Ehren ClarkTom Alder left a 30-year mortgage banking career to operate Alderwood Fine Art. He received his MA from the University of Utah in art history and wrote his thesis about Henri Moser. He serves various boards in the cultural community.

Jared ChristensenJared 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.

Duncan HiltonDuncan Hilton, a Utah native, is a professional artist who lives in Salt Lake City. For the past nine years he has served as a trustee of the Francis H. Zimbeaux Trust.

Sue MartinSue Martin holds an M.A. in Theatre and has worked in public relations. As an artist, she works in watercolor, oil, and acrylic to capture Utah landscapes or the beauty of everyday objects in still life.

Nathaniel TaggartNathaniel Taggart ("Nano") is a co-founding editor of the poetry magazine Sugar House Review. You can see some of his poetry in places like Diagram, Weber—The Contemporary West, specs, and Kolob Canyon Review. He is the annual fund manager at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, and serves on the board of directors of the Cedar City Arts Council

J. Michael ReddJ. Michael Redd is a polymath, fluent in the sciences and the arts. He has over twenty years experience as a technical, business and creative writer with an above-average ability to make that which is complex, simple.

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.

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

Copy Editor: Ann Poore
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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