When it comes to visual arts, the sky's the limit.
As I visited art galleries last week, I discovered works by artists who are soaring like eagles across the sky, and others who are making valiant efforts to get off the ground.Artists eventually find out that in order to fly like eagles, they must be expert draughtsmen, controllers of their mediums and developers of individualistic styles.
- Susan Fleming's one-woman show at the Atrium Gallery is full of surprises. She has made a dramatic move from realism to impressionism. No longer do we see handsome oil still lifes in glowing colors. Instead, we find black-and-white monotypes filled with macabre images.
Fleming conceived this new style while she was attending London's Royal College of Art in 1987 and taking frequent walks through the nearby Bunhill Fields Cemetery.
"There," she said, "I received many impressions of mossy headstones, dark foliage, death and the skeletal remains of writers and artists. These images etched themselves into my unconscious."
To record these impressions, Fleming chose monotype - a printmaking technique where one-of-a-kind prints are pulled from plates covered with ink or oil paint. She limited herself to black and white in order to keep her compositions stark and graphically simple.
Viewers will be startled by the artist's frightful imagery as she focuses on dying, death and the dance of life. These compositions effectively convey the feelings and emotions accompanying man's alienation, nightmares and fear of the unknown.
"I think of my paintings (monotypes) as a working journal: a series of records of compelling visual moments or gestures, painterly utterances, which arrest an idea and give it shape," she said.
Although plenty of skeletons cavort in her works, there are no "ghosts." A ghost in monotype refers to a second print pulled from the same inked plate. Such an image is considerably lighter than the original.
Yet, some of her most appealing works are not necessarily the stark, black-and-white prints that dot the walls. I was drawn to several of her lighter prints in the Bunhill Fields series, particularly Untitled #1 and #3.
Fleming has lived in Salt Lake City since 1971. Just prior to moving here, she studied printmaking and drawing at the University of Washington. She later received bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts at the University of Utah (in 1974 and 1976), each with an emphasis in drawing and painting.
She has exhibited widely and won several awards. Last year, she captured first prize in the Eccles Community Art Center statewide competition in Ogden.
Her works continue at the Main Library's Atrium Gallery through Feb. 28.
- The Glass Axis traveling exhibit at the Bountiful/Davis Art Center features works by glass craftsmen who have had considerable experience soaring in the sky. Not only are they experts at blowing, casting and/or fusing glass, but they have developed unique styles.
These 20 artists who have explored the diversity of glass and its power as an expressive medium are members of Glass Axis, an organization formed in Central Ohio to discover, encourage and support glass artists.
Some of the most innovative works include: "Sunkissed," a blown-glass vase in bright colors by Meg Stewart-MaGee and Thomas Kreager; "Unity," a blown and sandblasted glass work by Edgar Schmid where smoky human figures emerge; and "Chicken Little's Nightmare," a coffin-shaped creation by Thomas Kreager.
But the work that is attracting the most attention is the large, gyroscopic "Gizmo" by Richard Harned. When plugged in, this steel and neon construction rotates, resembling one of those topsy-turvy rides at Lagoon.
This impressive glass show continues at the Bountiful/Davis Art Center, 2175 S. Main, through March 11. Hours are 5-9 on Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 2-5 p.m. on Sunday.
- Kjae Leslie and Judy Taylor are two artists currently displaying their attempts at flight at the Loge gallery at Pioneer Memorial Theatre.
Their medium is watercolor. But watercolor is a difficult, challenging medium. Artists who attempt it are not always successful.
Two of Taylor's best works are her small watercolors "Daisies and Ball Jar" and "San Francisco." In the first, the artist has apparently used a paper that dried quickly. The hard edges that result are a welcome change from the soft focus found in many of her other works.
Although her "Daly Ave., Park City" is a fairly strong painting, it poses a problem. Is the dog crossing a road or walking on water? When everything else in the painting is representational, the road should be also.
Leslie's strongest works are his "Grafton Barn" and "Lone Peak."
In "Strayed," however, he has introduced a calf in the lower left-hand corner of the painting. Viewers are easily disturbed by both the diminutive size and awkward placement of the animal.
The Leslie/Taylor exhibition continues in the Loge Gallery through Feb. 25.
- Dick Tattersall hasn't had any flight lessons, but he's mastering this art on his own. He calls himself a self-taught photographer; he's learning his craft by reading, experimenting and associating with other photographers.
His photographic print exhibit at Inkley's Gallery 127 (127 S. Main) shows that a person can be both self-taught and successful. But it takes a lot of patience and determination.
Tattersall is interested in still life, landscape and portraiture. In this show, there is a smattering of all three. Also, he enjoys working in color and black-and-white photography, both of which he processes in his own darkroom.
A member of the Photographic Society of America, he is an avid exhibitor. His prints have won many awards.
Tattersall's photography show will run only through Feb. 15.