Artist Profile: Salt Lake City
Still Life and More
Philip Barlow at Phillips GalleryPhilip Barlow doesn’t want to be pigeonholed, boxed in as this kind of painter or that kind. The 80-years-young artist says he keeps “one foot in the box and the other outside – exploring the unexplored.”
That’s why, in his exhibit this month at Phillips Gallery, you’ll see a few moody landscapes, some narrative still lifes, and a bit of whimsy, too. Exploration makes him happy. And “When I’m happy, my art is happy,” he says.
Artist Spotlight: Salt Lake City
The Legend with the Red Marker
Tony Smith Rides Again
Legend has it . . .
Tony Smith would arrive at class with a pan of white paint and a roller, ready to cover up all the portions of a student’s paintings he didn’t like.
He would throw a student’s materials into the hallway, yelling “Get Out! I don’t want you in my class!” when he didn’t think they were working hard enough.
A student would walk in with twenty paintings they had sweated over for months and Tony's response would be, "'Well, if you want to keep working like this you can take it down to the State Fair, but I won't work with you anymore."
Teaching at one of the Helper plein air workshops, instead of the usual walk-by instructions, Tony drove by, shouting out his window, “More alizarin,” or “too much ultramarine.”
Anecdotes like these about Tony Smith usually come secondhand. They are passed around, possibly embellished, as bits of urban folklore. But what all of Smith's former students seem to agree on is that “The Shredder,” as he was known while teaching at the University of Utah, had a cutting wit and no-nonsense critique style. And they loved him for it.
Exhibition Review: Salt Lake City
Two Ways of Getting Religion
Dan Christofferson and David Habben at Kayo
The popularity of religion as a topic in art can easily conceal the true nature of its appeal. Generally speaking, large portions of the human race care about spirituality, but plenty of other things that are equally popular, if not more so, never inspire the outpouring of art that religion has. Where is the great art about money? Why are so many paintings of food sermons against indulgence? If love makes the world go ‘round, why is Mona Lisa alone on her panel, and why is she typical of so many painted beauties?
There are two reasons why religiosity, whatever its importance to humanity in other ways, has made such a great subject for art. On the one hand, its visual surface, whether it’s the opulence of the papal display, the devotional craftsmanship of Temple Square (right down to the doorknobs and hinges), or the humility of a naked holy man standing on his head beside the great River Ganges, makes for compelling visuals. The most explicit erotic image pales quickly beside the power of a crucifixion or the last judgment. And then again, religion is like an iceberg: nine-tenths of what we believe is there is invisible, hidden beneath that surface. Go ahead and compare painted or sculpted objects to ones personally experienced. Go ahead and marvel at the skill, the presence of the reproduced thing. But whatever is given material form by religious art can be seen nowhere else.
If the two devoutly-to-be-wished consummations are magnificent visuals and the ability to render visible wonders that would otherwise be invisible, the holy grail (so to speak) of religious art combines the two in works that bestride the realms of realism and imagination. This month, two very different ways to this goal face each other across the narrow central space of Shilo Jackson’s Kayo Gallery.