What images trigger artists' creativity and allow it to flow? With Bruce Smith, it's often a pear; with Barbara Madsen, an architectural blueprint; with Mark England, a discarded box.
With Glen Hopkinson, it's a man on horseback; with Jonathan Bronson, an eagle in flight; and with Lily Havey, a flower glistening in the sunlight.With other artists, it's not an image but the medium that seems to attract them. James Stewart's is inspired by lump of clay; and Karen Wolkoff can't wait to sew when she spots a bolt of fabric.
Whatever the motivation, these artists focus on preferred images and mediums to come up with some pretty exciting exhibits.
- BRUCE SMITH, Barbara Madsen and Mark England are exhibiting at the Dolores Chase Gallery.
Perhaps Smith's theme song could be, "Come on'a my house, my house - I'm going to give you a peach, and a pear - and I love your hair." Common images in his works include pears, apples, oranges, onions, fruit jars, cups, saucers, ribbons, drapery - and attractive female models.
Smith's mature painting techniques allow him to create the illusion of three-dimensional forms on two-dimensional surfaces; this can be seen in a drapery fold, a carefully modeled head, and in a row of pears.
Visitors to the gallery will be greeted with one of his large, new works as they enter the gallery. Titled "Subsumptions XIV," it shows a model who has been painted twice. Repeating the figure transforms a rather conventional composition into a strikingly unique one.
The two large works by Smith that hang on the main level are just a prelude to what gallerygoers will find downstairs. In addition to other fine works by Smith are etchings and oil-on-paper by Barbara Madsen, boxed wall hangings by Mark England, and work by other gallery regulars.
Madsen excels in creating textures. Backgrounds are often a subtle mixture of colors, and the method of obtaining them eludes the viewer. She delights in introducing small areas of bright color. And the skillful use of these warm colors often determines where the center of interest will be.
Give England an empty Kentucky Fried Chicken box, and I guarantee he'll use it creatively. He might fill it with hens, eggs and a small statue of Colonel Sanders. Then he might paint red spots on the figure's face and hands and title the work "The Colonel Covered with Chicken Box."
- JAMES STEWART'S STYLE has not been difficult to spot over the years. But viewers who stop by the Utah Designer Craftsman Gallery will be surprised at his recent stylistic departure.
Stewart says that pieces in this exhibit represent a preoccupation with surface and texture.
"Although there are forms, designs and images," he said, "the excitement for me is making a surface that invites a close examination, like cut and polished stone or weathered wood."
And these works do just that. A close look at the images on the side of his pottery reveals scenes that range from Pre-Columbian dancers to astronauts landing on the moon.
Some of the most striking pieces are "Modern Dance," "The Forest Fauve" and "Masquerade."
One or two of the pieces, however, are visually disturbing. "The Immaculate Billboard," for example, not only lacks contrast but is covered with excessive spatter painting.
- KAREN WOLKOFF calls her quilted wall pieces "imaginary landscapes and atmospheric impressions." Although she often includes only fragments of scenes, she says that they are based on an actual time and place in nature.
The artist initially dyes and/or paints fabrics, as well as uses a cyanotype process in which the sun is used to develop the image on the cloth. She then cuts these fabrics into smaller pieces and assembles them to create exciting designs.
Often the stitchery moves across the design in straight lines, reinforcing the geometric shapes. One exciting exception is "Undertow." Here, graceful "waves" flow across the surface, providing an exciting departure from the rectangular patches.
- AT THE KIMBALL ART CENTER in Park City, oil painter Glen Hopkinson and bronze sculptor Jonathan Bronson fill the main gallery with their Western-oriented art.
Hopkinson enjoys telling stories in his paintings, whether it is a scene of a pioneer family crossing the plains or a vignette of a group of Indians on their winter trek.
Among his variety of styles are some fine works. Perhaps the best in his painting "Whistle Creek," although his acrylic "Navajo Girl" has a lot going for it. And "Low Pressure" reads well from the distance.
But some of his other works reflect some technical problems, the most obvious being inaccurate human proportions. Heads are often too large and facial features too detailed.
Sculptor Jonathan Bronson has altered his style over the years. He still captures that fleeting moment and a sense of weightlessness, but the sculptor has fragmented his figures to allow the viewer to focus only on essential elements. He has also integrated real guns into some of his compositions.
His most imposing work in the show is his huge, fragmented bronze of a bird entitled "Land of the Cheyenne." But, after all was said and done, I was still drawn to an early bronze, "Cheeta and Gazelle."
Perhaps the most exciting, innovative exhibit at KAC is Lily Ha-vey's glass work in the lower gallery.
Highly inventive, Havey has explored the characteristics of glass to the point where she has expanded its boundaries. She has learned how to effectively combine pastel with sandblasted surfaces, manipulate glass into slumped and draped shapes, and integrate gold leaf into her work.
Some efforts are extremely successful, including "River Noon," "Kimonos" and "Inner Curve."
For more information about the above shows, check the gallery listings.