Artist Profile: Salt Lake City
Lay of the Land
The art and life of Wayne Geary
Wayne Geary is a big fan of Salt Lake City’s Main Library. He’s a frequent patron, and holds a Friends’ annual membership, which has allowed him to buy hundreds of CDs from the bi-annual library sales a day before most everyone else can. ”That’s when you get the really good stuff,” he says. A year ago, however, the library was the scene of a life-threatening, not to mention career-ending, scare for the Salt Lake City artist: he fell in the underground library garage and broke his neck. Following surgery and a long recovery, though, he’s back in his studio painting, listening to everything from the Stones to Mahler, while anticipating an important exhibit, Topographies, opening at the Gallery at Library Square on January 14.
Geary does representational work, but approaches it more as an abstractionist. “Because I did abstract work for so many years and I think the difference between representation and so-called abstraction is kind of arbitrary. I approach the landscapes more like I would do an abstract painting, but sometimes I will do something that is almost all abstract even though there are fragments of recognizable images in them. They are kind of landscapes, too, in that sometimes there are elements of maps in them and then they are kind of like aerial landscapes too, which fascinates me,” the artist observes.
Exhibition Review: Provo
A Second Coming
Neglected during her lifetime, Minerva Teichert's illustrations for the Book of Mormon find a warm embrace from a new generation
Over the past decade, Minerva Teichert’s work has surged in popularity, receiving from the Mormon community the sort of enthusiastic embrace the artist dreamed about for much of her life — 40 years after her death, reproductions of her work can be found in meetinghouses belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world, and her originals are displayed in prominent locations on the campus of church-owned Brigham Young University. Contrast this with her own lifetime, when mural designs she created for three different LDS temples were rejected, and her most ambitious project, a suite of 42 paintings intended to illustrate the religion’s foundational scripture, the Book of Mormon, went unpublished. In A Visual Testimony: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings, Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art brings these paintings together — with a handful of related works — in an exhibit that celebrates the Mormon modernist’s vibrant talent and begs the question: why did it take so long for these works to become part of the Mormon community’s visual consciousness?
Teichert grew up on a ranch in Idaho, at the turn of the 20th century, with no formal education. At age 14, she visited her first art museum in San Francisco, an experience which inspired her to pursue a career in art. She traveled east to study, first in Chicago and then in New York, where at the Art Students League she was mentored by noted modernist Robert Henri. He encouraged Teichert to paint the “great Mormon story,” which she did, in relative isolation, creating hundreds of scenes in oil depicting Western life and the stories of the Mormon people out of her home in Cokerville, Wyoming. Though she painted constantly and prolifically, working at night while her children slept, her desires for official church recognition went unsatisfied until 1947, when she took first prize in the LDS Church’s centennial art competition, and was subsequently invited to paint a mural in the Manti Temple. Flush with excitement from these successes, in 1949 Teichert embarked on her most ambitious project, the Book of Mormon illustrations.
Exhibition Review: Park City
Russell Wrankle brings together an impressive roster of ceramic artists in Meyer Gallery’s Epics, Myths & Fables
Now on display in Park City, Epics, Myths and Fables transforms Meyer Gallery’s mezzanine into a vision of three-dimensional folklore fantasy. Forty ceramic sculptures emit the curious intellect and imagination of their creators, who range from mid-career to established artists from all over the country. Not only does the exhibition present an array of allegorical journeys and mythic tales as told by 16 different artists, it also weaves together a telling narrative around the field of contemporary ceramics by placing side-by-side some of its most notable contributors. The result may be the finest exhibition of the medium ever to be held in the state of Utah.
“The ceramic world has always been pretty insular,” says renowned ceramic artist and guest curator Russell Wrankle. “We’ve always sort of felt like the unrecognized stepchild, but that’s changing as ceramics begin to take a leading role in major exhibitions and as artists, such as myself, devote their lives to the medium.”
When gallery owner Susan Meyer presented the opportunity to curate the show two years ago, Wrankle immediately began contacting notable Americans, selecting artists who are connected by their figurative subject matter — whether animal, human, or an anthropomorphic combination of both — and as storytellers who narrate the human condition through a mythological framework.
The inspiration for the show’s theme stems from Wrankle's own artistic vision that plays with the idea of materializing literary parables. An art professor at Southern Utah University, Wrankle has gained a respectable reputation in his field as a national exhibiting artist, guest lecturer and instructor, and he now can add curator to his list of professional achievements. He’s earning considerable recognition from his contemporaries for the show, but he’s quick to credit Susan Meyer, the gallery staff and the participating artists for its success. “It was easy,” says Wrankle of his first stab at curating, “If you ask good artists to send work to an amazing space, then it’s going to be great.”
"Fox Hunter" by Lisa Clague