-This time of year, our lovely Deseret feels more like a desert. And many of us are reluctant to leave air-conditioned offices during the lunch hour to frequent downtown art galleries.
But there are some refreshing exhibitions just waiting to be viewed. And the route to these oases is bearable. Just travel light- and wend your way through malls and the shade of buildings and awnings.-The Main Gallery at the Salt lake Art Center is currently featuring a fascinating exhibit, "Pierpont Tapestries."
Of course, these aren't real tapestries, but a documentary of the urban revitalization that has taken place on Pierpont Avenue --starting with Artspace, then Cafe Pierpont, and then the Pierpont and Courtyard Galleries.
In 1983, the Eccles-Browning warehouse at 325 W. Pierpont Avenue was renovated to provide affordable studio and living spaces for aspiring artists. In 1985, Gastronomy Inc. purchased the old Salt Lake High School at 122 W. Pierpont Avenue and transformed it into office and restaurant space. And last year, Denis and Bonnie Phillips purchased the old General Engineering Building at 159 Pierpont Avenue and supervised its remodeling for the Pierpont and Courtyard Galleries.
Before these projects began, the buildings were an eyesore. They had fallen into disrepair and threatened to become a blot on the landscape of the city.
But the threat no longer exists. And that amazing transformation is documented in the SLAC exhibit-- recording the successful collaboration of architects, contractors and artists in the renovation of these buildings.
The greatest attention, of course, is focused on the most recent project- the creation of the new Pierpont and Courtyard Galleries.
On hand to photograph the transformation were top Utah photographers Richard Burton, Paul Dougan, Craig Law, Rodger Newbold, Mark Reid, and Barbara Richards. Colleen Katz, Ann E. Waters and Mary K. Watson wrote essays. Barbara Richards and Lorette Bayle provided video essays.
The entire project is considered a work of art created by the combined efforts of artists, construction crew, craftsmen, engineers and electricians.
At first, architect Max Smith had concerns about this kind of collaboration. He was afraid artists would be in the way and time would be wasted.
However, after the project was completed, he wrote, "The General Engineering experience is proof to me that artists, architects, and builders can engage on equal terms in the design process and produce something that is greater than the sum of its parts."
Upon seeing the renovated buildings, Mayor Palmer DePaulis said, "These projects add to the vitality of the downtown area-- an area which is rapidly becoming a cultural hub of the community."
A series of panel discussions accompany the exhibit. "The History of Pierpont Avenue" was held on July 6. Coming up are six more: July 13- the Collaborative Process; Juloy 14-- An Evening with the Contemportary Arts Group; Jly 20- Builders as Artisans; July 27-- An Evening with the Urban Design Coalition; and August 17-- Challenges for the Future. Each panel discussion will take place at the Salt Lake Art Center at 7 p.m. Admission is free.
The show remains at the Salt Lake Art Center through Aug. 21. Art Center hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
-Traveling to Exchange Place, I spotted another oasis --the Marble House Gallery. Upon entering, I got a cool reception by the air conditioner and a warm one by gallery owners Reuel and Dolores Kohler.
Works by a number of artists fill this two-floor gallery. However, several of the rooms spotlight "Summer Six," a new show featuring works by six local and out-of-state artists.
There are oil paintings by Rick Davis (Nashville), Harold Hopkinson (Wyoming), and Mark Gudmundson (California); and paintings by local artists Grant Romney Clawson, Gary Knapp and Pilar Pobil-Smith.
Pobil-Smith not only displays her oils and watercolors, but a new technique in which she combines her painting and sculpture expertise. This bas-relief work has definite appeal.
A look in other rooms reveals works by other gallery regulars. I was particularly drawn to watercolors by local artists Thelma Parsons, Linda Kohler Barnes, and Suzanne Garff Reynolds.
"Summer Six" remains at the Marble House Gallery (44 Exchange Place) through August 30. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and by appointment (532-7332).
-Only a few steps away is the next oasis-- the Eubanks Gallery at 63 Exchange Place. It is currently filled with an impressive collection of some 28 works by Jean Krille. On loan from the Marcia and John Price Collcetion, these works are outstanding examples of Krille's energetic, abstract style.
Local gallerygoers were first introduced to Krille's joyful landscapes last year when they brightened the walls of the Salt Lake Art Center. Now viewers can get even better acquainted with them.
Every artist should have the freedom to paint the world as he perceives it, and Krille wastes no time doing just that. His brush strokes are swift, loose, decisive, loose, decisive and spontaneous.
After studying the collection, C.E. Evers of "American Art Critique" wrote "The viewer is drawn in and delightfully stimulated by the intensity of the bold expressiveness, vibrant color, juggled rhythms and disciplined energy through which the artist aspires to penetrate the invisible world of emotion by means of the visible."
Krille was born in 1923 into a family who were patrons of art. In 1939, he went to the Colleg of Fine Art in Zurich, to the Colleg of Arts and Crafts in Vevey, and then to the University of Berne.
In addition to painting, he has illustrated various books and designed commercial and political posters. An intrepid traveler, he has been around the world several times.
The Eubanks Gallery will continue to display Jean Krille's works through July 26. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12 noon to 8 p.m. Saturday.