When I visit an art gallery or museum, I become irritated with people who rush through exhibits with lightning speed. "Now you see 'em; now you don't" can be said of both the people and the way they see the show. Little can be gained when rushing through an art exhibit, except misconceptions and erroneous conclusions.
Like parables, the real messages in the artworks are reserved for those viewers who "take time to smell the roses," for those who linger to savor an exhibit. They are the ones who become spiritually in tune not only with the works of art, but become acquainted with the personalities and philosophies of the artists.- For example, a person who walks rapidly through Kimball Art Center's new exhibit featuring two- and three-dimensional works by members of The Society of Animal Artists might conclude that the society is made up of animals who are artists. That's the same person who thinks that the Society of Miniature Artists is an organization open only to artists under 5 feet tall.
What the casual observer won't discover, however, is that The Society of Animal Artists is made up of live people from four continents. It is the oldest and most prestigious association of animal and wildlife painters and sculptors in the world. It is devoted to promoting excellence in portraying this subject matter.
Here is more significant information the person on the run will miss:
- The show was juried in New York before it was sent to KAC.
- It includes works by Utah painters Farrell Collett and Jim Morgan.
- A variety of styles and a wide range of media application can be seen in the 50 drawings, paintings and sculptures.
- Some works are almost photographic, yet still manage to capture each artist's style. Notable are works by Joseph Vance, Avian Gold and Jay Johnson. From a distance, Janet Heaton's pastel of a herd of elephants looks like a photograph. But take a closer look. You'll notice that she has only suggested surface textures rather than going overboard drawing all of them.
- A more relaxed approach to painting is evident in paintings by Patricia Bott, Mel Fillerup and Scott Zuckerman and sculpture by Rosetta and D.H.S. Wehle. Les Osborne's wood sculpture "Feigning" is impressive in its understatement, and Rosetta's "Cheetah" is a perfect example of stylization.
When you visit the exhibit, don't be satisfied with walking through only one time. A second look will undoubtedly reveal that first impressions are not lasting ones. The second time around, you'll be drawn to some works that escaped your approval the first time around.
- Before you leave KAC, take time to visit the downstairs Badami Gallery. Here you'll find a visual treat in stark contrast to the one upstairs.
Rebecca Nielsen, known for her large paintings on consumerism, has both surprised and delighted viewers with sculpture. Titled "Consumer Fetishes," the exhibit is filled with soft-sculpture creations made up of costume jewelry, matte and glossy fabrics, shiny foil, gold thread, glitter and other found objects.
One puffy white rectangle is encircled with "baubles, bangles and beads." It's title "Prime Time" gives us a clue as to what it is. The rabbit ears projecting from the rectangle remove all doubt.
Nielsen has placed a number of these fanciful sculptures in plastic bags - and they are to be displayed that way. This a great way of keeping the sculpture dust free.
Both the Nielsen and the Society of Animal Artists exhibits will remain at Park City's Kimball Art Center (649-8882) through Feb. 13. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
- Another exhibit requiring time to absorb and appreciate can now be seen in the Upstairs Gallery at the Salt Lake Art Center.
What kind of an observer are you? See the show and then try to answer these questions?
Who is the artist? Who old is she? How old was she when she took up art? What is contour drawing? What bits of wisdom did you glean from her artwork and philosophy of life?
The sprinter who dashes through the show won't discover the answers. He doesn't realize how much he is missing.
Briefly, the drawings were made by 81-year-old Elizabeth Layton of Wellsville, Kan. At age 68 and in an effort to combat depression, she enrolled in her first drawing class.
Her first assignment was to make contour drawings - a technique she latched on to and can be seen in all of her work. The expressive lines in this technique result from the artist looking at the object while he draws, and not at his paper.
But it's not only Layton's lines that makes her work so meaningful and intriguing; it's also her realistic look at old age with all its wrinkles, age spots and sags.
In her work, Layton doesn't hesitate to reveal her own weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. "Thanksgiving" shows the artist with her favorite Thanksgiving meal - Kentucky fried chicken and Oreo cookies. She admits, "I hate to cook." Seen through the window is a live turkey strutting it up.
In her drawing "Pandora's Box," an elderly Pandora is clinging to the hair of No Hope. Although she has allowed other ills to escape from the box, she's determined not to release this one. "You got to have some hope; otherwise you give up and die," Layton says.
That hope is represented by a tiny ray of sun shining through the window. As it hits the "hope" diamond, it explodes into rainbows.
After enjoying the exhibit, take time to watch the video. It lasts 22 minutes but is a key to getting to know the artist and providing an in-depth understanding of her work.
This traveling exhibit continues through Jan. 22. A free art-lunch tour of this exhibit by Cathy A. Malchiodi will be held Wednesday, Jan. 16. The center is located at 20 S. West Temple (328-4201). Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday.