Art patrons enjoy the refreshments while browsing the gallery.
On Wednesday, August 31 at the Salt Lake Art Center, art lovers were treated to a triple-opening featuring some incredible artists of different mediums: a sculptured instillation by Jared Clark, a lovely retrospect of the life and work of abstract painter Douglas Snow and the video art of Nikolaj Larsen and Jamie McMurry.
The Locals Only Gallery space belonged to Jared Clark, a Salt Lake native and graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. His “Bild” project is a sculpture of scavenged material constructed to be site-specific. On its face, his project reads very much like a flat, abstract painting, until the viewer takes a stroll around the sides of the work. Clark’s choice to describe his material as “scavenged” rather than “found” tells a lot about the feel of this piece. When walking behind Bild’s 2D-esque façade, the viewer is suddenly struck with a compact but sharp explosion of material, almost a rocket-ship exhaust of lost humanity. The simple details scattered throughout, which Clark has painted but not removed, cause a whimsical remembering: bent nails, dishwasher buttons, the rear of some old cable box with all its sockets and plugs, details which only add to that sense of something lost and forgotten. “Bild” is an intriguing project, plugged into its own socket at the SLAC until December 17.
Opening in the Street Level Gallery was the touching retrospect of internationally known but home-grown abstract landscapist Douglas Snow. In addition to the pieces that were debuting at SLAC that night, pieces also hung at the Utah Museum of Fine Art. Snow was a highly respected painter who appeared on the cover of Life Magazine in 1957, and whose art graces the collections of many galleries and collectors nationwide. While the desert frontier calls to many artists with its striking colors and haunting landscapes, Snow expressed the beauty of this land in a much different way, choosing a more abstract vision of the west that looks like a collision of broken physics and cowboy dreams. Sometimes his work is dark and primal, like “After Midnight,” which with its blacks and reds feels like the beacon of a long-dead witch doctor; sometimes they are bold and hopeful, as in “After The Storm,” a landscape of a foothill with lighting perfectly emotive, and thick, sweeping colors to build the world. Early work by Snow is also featured, giving the viewer a wonderful insight into the progression of his vision from his early days in New York, when colors were far less natural, contrasts were louder and thick brushstrokes were utilized to create chaotic accents. Even pieces depicting unconscious life, like the deep darkness of “Thorn Bush,” have such life in their strokes and atmosphere as to be almost anthropomorphized. The show’s titular work, “Final Light,” seems to capture more of the artist than his usual landscape subjects: what appears at first to be a plain horizon and empty gray sky, upon closer inspection, is infused with tiny dry strokes that look as though they could be veins, or neurons; the viewer seems to sense a pulsing from the red land and gray sky, as if Snow has shown us a body-as-world, or world-as-body. His landscapes look as if they came from some dreamy, parallel world where edges are not quite as sharp, a vastness that swallows and yet has rich detail and color for the viewer to become lost in. Fellow local artist and longtime friend Frank McEntire brought this collection together, and provided insightful and heartfelt commentary about art and artist. “Final Light” will be on display at SLAC and UMFA until October 22.
Gallery “Looped” included videos by Jamie McMurry, which catalogue “365 Performances” of varying performance action every day for a year, and the “County Fair Series,” a multichannel video installation showing the moment of impact of three actions––a dunk tank, a demolition derby and hitting the bell on carnival game hi-striker that the artist participated in. It also included a video by Nikolaj Larsen, “My Cat And I,” in which the artist attempts to create a motionless portrait featuring him and his cat. Any cat owner could have expected the results, but next to Larsen’s determined, royal scowl, the cat’s wiggling and fighting takes on a charming and hilarious light. The cat is as serious about leaving as the man is about doing this as long as it takes to get the perfect picture. Larsen’s creative video, aside from the always-welcome laughter it brings, asks some compelling questions about human norms and comfort levels. This video gallery will be open until November 3.
The opening celebration was lively, and included a delicious buffet of cheese, bread, vegetables and desserts provided by the Salt Lake Art Center, and art lovers even had the chance to speak with the gallery’s curators who provided further insight on the exhibits. If you didn’t make opening night, don’t worry, these exhibits will be up for a few months. Admission is always free, which is the real treat SLAC provides: access for all to the world of art. Don’t miss this chance to see some of Utah’s greatest artists on display.