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Published monthly by Artists of Utah, a non-profit organization   

Artist Profile: Salt Lake City
The Letter and the Press
David Wolske invigorates the art of letterpress

At a time when "new media" is all the rage, Salt Lake City artist David Wolske uses a centuries-old printing technique that has disappeared from its once-ubiquitous place in the commercial world but which lives on in small studios like Wolske's and at book art centers, like the University of Utah's Red Butte Press.

The former graphic designer turned to letterpress because he yearned for a more tactile experience in making art. He collects antique wood type, singly or in full collections, and by rotating, masking and layering them, creates dynamic abstract work he calls "isotype prints."

His efforts garnered him a Utah Division of Arts & Museums visual arts fellowship in 2014. He'll be part of an exhibit honoring recent fellows at Rio Gallery this month, and in March will exhibit at the Salt Lake City Main Library. In this video profile, Wolske lets us into his studio to talk about the development of his work and shows us how he develops his unique prints.

Culture Conversations: Music
An Improvised Beat
Jesse Quebbeman-Turley drums his way to composition

Jesse Quebbeman-Turley is a drummer — when he enrolled in college and began his jazz studies major, his stated goal was “to play drums professionally.” What he didn’t expect was to become a composer. “Drummers don’t write songs” he laughs. “Composers are serious people, and I’m a drummer.” But since embracing his desire for composing, he hasn’t stopped.

Quebbeman-Turley has been drumming since he was 10 years old, when he began playing around on the set in his sister’s punk band. Then, after years of his begging, his parents bought him a drum set and signed him up for formal lessons. With a mother who studied music education and a father who studied piano performance, music was naturally a big part of his upbringing. “I’ve known I wanted to study music since I was 16,” says the drummer.” He played in concert band and jazz band at Timpview High School and also played in rock bands on the side. When he enrolled at BYU he was very focused on jazz drumming. He thought that was going to be his life. But somewhere deep in his subconscious was a dream to compose. “I knew a little bit about music theory, but I was intimidated by it,” he admits. “The idealization of the composer scared me.” He learned some basic skills for composition through his required courses and started writing some nonsensical jazz tunes. When he began private composition lessons with his professor, Christian Asplund, he started to realize maybe he could do this. Five months later, he wrote his first opera.

Exhibitions Preview: Salt Lake City
Don't Read This
A generation of Utah artists considers the invasion of art by text at the City Library

Language, the search for the perfect expression or the correct interpretation, cannot only fail to convey precise meaning, but can actually camouflage sense and prevent communication. Yet as a society we learn to focus on the message and not to trust the messenger: to decode a sequence of symbols while filtering out the medium that carries them. Then the text itself may prove difficult, forcing us to bypass those words in favor of an abstract, of words even further removed. We do this in spite of experience that teaches that content and form are equally important to full and authentic understanding. Children perceive that love delivered with a slap is not love at all, and yet what follows is often the visual equivalent of “do what I say, not what I do.” 

Clearly, the right people to address this dilemma are artists: people who hold onto and develop skills drilled out of their peers. Their resistance begins with the prohibition on looking too closely, staring even, and goes on to include a preference for vision over cognition: in the words of Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, seeing over knowing. The eight artists participating in Don't Read This (at the City Library from the end of January till mid-March) are drawn from the latest generation of Utah artists and their teachers, practiced in observing and copying nature creatively, anchoring their contemporary visions in something more solid than mere imagination. All work to some degree in multimedia techniques like collage and assemblage, incorporating the found world into their drawings, paintings, installations, and performances. Most are too young to be household names yet, but all have shown locally, individually and at times together in elaborately-mounted installations curated by Namon Bills.

In Don’t Read This, these eight artists will attempt to explore incorporating the verbal content of a message into the way it’s presented without allowing text to hijack the image. Trying to anticipate how an artist will address a thematic issue is a fool’s errand, but those who go see the show can expect to see the artists’ characteristic voices. Here are some individual mannerisms to watch for.

creativ by Namon Bills.

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