Gallery Stroll: Where Art Is Born

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Poor Yorick artist Grant Fuhst’s baby-faced sculpture, “Videns.”

Gallery Stroll has two sides: that of the formal gallery setting with hardwood floors, track lighting and beautifully polished, hand-selected bodies of work; the other takes us down a dimly lit alleyway to a door with no sign. Inside, you find an artist hard at work—paint splattered on the floor, a faint smell of turpentine, sweat and whiskey lingering—even after the humble incense’s valiant effort to cover it up. The latter is where art is born, the first is where art goes to die. I mean no disrespect to gallery owners and operators, and many art careers have been launched by a gallery, but the art itself is conceived many months, if not years before it ever makes it into a gallery. This creation process is very personal to the artist. It’s rarely formulaic, often messy, and doesn’t always come out looking or smelling pretty. An art piece begins its slow death at the gallery. Art patrons scrutinize––they critique and either accept the work and take it home to live out its days on a wall, or it is rejected and goes back to the studio to sit in the canvas graveyard, piled up like reference material in the corner of the studio, or worse, the garage. That is precisely why I like to see artists at work­­––the paint is fresh and so are the ideas. Creative energy bounces like light around the room, where anything and everything is possible.

It’s not often you get to see an artist’s workplace, mostly due to the aforementioned sights and smells, but Salt Lake is fortunate to have a few artist studios/warehouses that understand the public need to meet the artists and see the so-called method behind the madness.

Poor Yorick Studios’ semiannual open house takes place on Sept. 28 from 6 to 10 p.m. Located at 126 W. Crystal Avenue (2590 S.), these studios house over 50 artists, making this a breeding ground for creativity. Emerging artists, established artists, fine art, printmaking, woodworking, photography––it’s all housed in the maze of studios that make up Poor Yorick. This rare glimpse into an artist’s workshop not only divulges the process by which they make art, but reveals mediums you might not otherwise associate with this artist. A great example is artist Grant Fuhst and his gargoyles. The mechanics are so detailed, futuristic yet antique, with fat, baby heads—fabulous components for a coffee table centerpiece. Yet, I had no idea he had such a collection of illustrations, or that he and his wife have a whole series of photographs featuring historical places and architecture in Utah.

Hopefully, you’ve been enjoying Issac Hastings’ Celebration of the Hand exhibit as part of the Museum of Permanent Change––those plakat installations all down Broadway. Hastings is also known as IHSquared, and is an amazing wood worker, creating “knot art” and handcrafted belt buckles.

Over the last 10 years, visitors to the open house have been treated to a gamut of liveliness––everything from authors, films and live bands to light shows, fire dancers, and, my favorite, the Burning Man transport vehicles––which are more like interactive parade floats. What will you see when you stop by Poor Yorick’s open studio this year? I can’t tell you—it’s still being created.