Artist Profile: Salt Lake City
Asking "What if. . ."
Stacy Phillips and the creative life
One of the most annoying questions you can ask an artist is: “How long did this take to make?” Stacy Phillips’ solo exhibit at Trove Gallery, opening Dec. 30, demonstrates the long gestation time it takes to bring creative ideas to life. In fact, it provides a glimpse into the nonlinear way an artist can, with a sideways glance at a messy shelf, ask a “what if” question and come up with a novel answer.
If there’s any one thing that ties this diverse exhibit together it’s Phillips’ lifelong drive to try something new. She admits there’s not just one, but several, bodies of work she has begun to explore here and the viewer gets to see the genesis of each.
Take, for example, "Evanescent Forever," a piece Phillips says she’s wanted to do for about 10 years. “I took one of my journals from 1991, cut pages into flowers, dipped each in wax and sewed them to canvas with pink thread.” Though you can’t read to make sense of the journal excerpts, you can catch words here and there as they overlap and form a dense pattern on the canvas. The piece “is very personal to me,” says Phillips, “because it’s taking some history that I have, and the written language that I love.” The piece is then surrounded by a steel frame in contrast with the delicate color and feminine shapes within.
Performance Review: Salt Lake City
Local performances prove the power of dance in challenging times
Attending two performances addressing themes of gender, sexuality, race, and power in Salt Lake City over the same weekend in November was disorienting. UMOCA’s When Flesh Becomes Matter: Bodies Unbounded, by choreographer Yasin (Ya-Ya) Fairley, and the University of Utah School of Dance’s Gender/Power, by Maya Ciarrocchi and Kris Grey alongside U of U students, were both curated to support LGBTQ youth. These programs and the people they support – including queer-femmes like myself - are facing disenfranchisement and overt attack by Donald Trump’s imminent presidency, notably emboldening members of the alt-right. Yet, these programs and these people are persevering, bearing the light of hope in a time of blind fear and apprehension.
The weekend was made more poignant by what was happening 2,000 miles away in New York. While writing this double review, I heard Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor who currently plays Vice President Aaron Burr in the billion-dollar Broadway hit Hamilton, address Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, who was in attendance at the show:
“We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
Fun in Public Spaces
Lewis J. Crawford and Phoebe Berrey at Library Square
The Gallery at Library Square boasts a unique perspective, allowing its audience to peer from its tidy enclosure over the fourth floor railing and into the towering abyss of the library’s atrium. Yet so quick are we to become inured to experience that this once acrophobia-inducing encounter has, for most of us, long since ceased to disturb our equilibrium as we loop through space while climbing the stairs, or ascend toward the glass ceiling in a transparent elevator. There’s a reminder here of why we have art—to renew feelings we’ve become insensitive to—and why the endless search for novel, previously unknown sensations so often misses the point. For the next month, then, the Library’s gallery, inside and out, offers a refresher course in the importance of noticing not only the architecture that universally encloses urban dwellers, but the common secrets of those who dwell therein, as encountered by the alert or curious observer.
Lewis J. Crawford’s Geometry from Public Space includes 11 large images of imaginary architectural spaces printed from photographs he has taken and manipulated to amplify their cubist possibilities. He seems to have chosen modern-style buildings, relatively un-ornamented and endowed with plentiful flat, cylindrical, and grid-like elements that respond well to being digitally folded and reflected along various axes. Scale—in this case, the relative size of the prints in relation to the viewer’s own size—is critical here; where smaller versions might suggest nothing more than the view through a kaleidoscope, the larger aspect encourages those standing before them to imagine entering them. The elaborate Roman ruins depicted by Piranesi come to mind—especially the fantasy spaces of his fabulous prisons, with their adaptations and transformations of familiar elements into oddly-sized structures. Crawford succeeds to a point in defamiliarizing the clichés of modern interior design, replacing them with the kind of visual teasing and optical exercise that earlier architects once liberally provided their buildings’ occupants and neighbors. Given the heinous crimes that many public buildings now routinely commit, from the widely denigrated ”Borg ship” of the Federal Courthouse to the 1984 stage set of the Conference Center (never mind the proliferation of soul-smothering shopping centers and corporate ego-tropes), spending some time wandering in these cerebral playgrounds might be a good start on clearing the mind of the cumulatively numbing effect of life in the modern city.
"Geometry from Public Space No. 1-1" by Lewis J. Crawford