Gallery Stroll: Oasis of Art

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Audrey Patten’s “Home Is Where The Hive Is.” Check out more of her work at Craft Lake City.

Arts and crafts, like peanut butter and jelly, go so well together that once you marry them, they’re nearly impossible to separate. But why would you? Instead, let’s throw them a big party, call it Craft Lake City and invite 147 of Utah’s best examples of ingenuity, creativity and mad skills. Now in its fourth year, Craft Lake City has made me less aware of the difference between “art” and “craft.” The DIY fest will take place Aug. 11 from noon to 10 p.m. at the Gallivan Center and will feature much of the artistic talent Utah has to offer through various mediums. To get you primed for the main event, I offer you two of CLC’s not-to-miss artists.

She calls it “Midwest Meets West”––it reminds me of decor from a Wes Anderson film, the way “sweet” and “edgy” are merged beautifully in Audrey Patten’s paintings, drawings and textiles. I imagine finding this type of artwork tucked away in an elegant farmhouse attic, a mesh of mother’s kitchen knickknacks and father’s old hunting trophies. There’s something familiar about these images, yet they remain wacky and unexpected. Patten credits pop culture, children’s books and her pets in influencing her work, but says, “I have always loved drawing. When I was little, I would draw the cartoons I watched, the pictures in the books I read and whatever I could dream up.” Fairly new to Salt Lake, Patten is excited to be involved in the festival. “It’s tough having been a relatively established artist in one city and then to move to a new one to start fresh. I figured Craft Lake City would be a good way to introduce myself,” she says. A transplant from Indianapolis, this Midwestern girl is as endearing and authentic as her work. If you love animals and are looking for prints, paintings, totes or purses, stop by her booth.

Yes, I know smoking is bad for me, yet there was a point when I thought of smoking as a friend––a sentiment I know many of you share with me. Artist Eleanor Scholz creates the tangible version of the friendly smoke monster, made from used cigarette boxes. Scholz says, “I like the discord between the negative, kind of lethal connotations surrounding smoking, and the endearing, sleepy, lovable nature these animals have developed. My addition of arms, legs, bug eyes and little teeth just add more personality and life … but the outcome changes people’s feelings about the boxes significantly.” Something she did not anticipate was how popular they are with the young ones. Moms, the packs are empty, and I’m sure there is a lesson to be taught using the smoke monster. For me, they put a smile on my face, and that’s always good for your health.

Scholz is also one of the 12 artists selected to participate in Craft Lake City’s Celebration Of The Hand, a walkable outdoor, exhibit utilizing the steel frames known as plakats that the Temporary Museum of Permanent Change installed in 2007. The plakats run adjacent to the sidewalks in downtown Salt Lake City on Broadway between 200 West and 200 East. “I am so excited to be participating in this collaboration. I think it’s an awesome idea, and it’s a great opportunity to get my artwork out there. I’m also just excited to have an excuse to make a 9-foot-by-4-foot painting,” says Scholz. Her painting is a commentary on mankind’s ability to construct our own surroundings. In Utah, we have chosen to surround ourselves with creative minds. Now we just need to see it for what it is: an oasis of art.

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