Salon 2010, the inaugural art “opening” at SLAC, is a collection of works by 20 artists who have a variety of relationships with the company. SLAC grants coordinator Una Pett became interested in the idea of exhibiting art there during the company’s 2009 production of Master Class, about opera diva Maria Callas teaching singing in later life. Pett, an artist herself, painted portraits of some of the cast members, as well as a depiction of Callas, exhibiting them in conjunction with that show.
At the same time, SLAC Executive Director Nancy Borgenicht had been talking to local artists about starting a boutique at the theater, as well as exhibiting in the green room. The boutique took center stage, and Pett took on the task of developing the green room as an art gallery. Salon 2010 brings her efforts to fruition.
Although Pett hopes to tie in exhibits to current productions, this first salon is just a group show. “I’m quite aware that people attending Saturday’s Voyeur are more focused on being together and enjoying the food,” Pett notes. “That makes this show a challenge.” Salt Lake Tribune political cartoonist Pat Bagley’s acrylic “Sarah” does relate directly to the politician who is mentioned in Saturday’s Voyeur, however, and assemblage artist Aaron Swenson performs in the production’s company. His “Icarus Series #2: Ars Amatoria” character, constructed in a wooden box, looks almost like it could be part of a puppet theater.
The exhibit as a whole is an intriguing look at the people who make the theater what it is. Matthew Hall’s giclée prints “The Inevitable Result” and “Capable,” utilizing vintage-looking photographs and textual collage, are reminiscent of playbills he’s designed for the theater. Anne Decker, star of SLAC’s production of Master Class—says veteran Utah actor Max Robinson sketches a lot while acting in a production—his “Untitled Monkey Sketch,” which Decker owns, will be on display. Sometimes, several creative outlets can be synergistic.
The three panels of Kathy Johnson Moffat’s painting “Missed Opportunity” suggest the three acts of a play. Thom Gourley takes a lot of production photos for the company, and his “Old Man Billboard,” documenting the silhouette of a figure opening a door from a weathered billboard, offers suspense and drama—with barely a hint of the sinister—to make it one of the most fascinating images in the show.
Pett’s brother, illustrator Mark Pett, submitted two political sketches that, while not directly relating to material in the play, capture the flavor of the satire: “Killpack Premonition” features Utah’s former Senate majority leader who resigned after a drunken-driving arrest. Nancy Borgenicht’s grandsons Eli and Jonah and daughter-in-law Melanie have works in the show, and that, in a way, emphasizes how the local acting community is like a family.
Other images have very little to do with the theater, such as those of painter and SLAC board member Connie Borup, who recently began working on printmaking in her Sugar House studio with Marian Dunn. Her etchings of natural objects such as onions and pods are as exquisite as her acrylics. JP Jesperson’s painting “Mt. Olympus Light By the Full Moon” and board member Brett Johnson’s photos taken on the roller coaster at Lagoon add local flavor to the show.
Upcoming exhibits are in the development stages, but Una Pett hopes to tie them in with SLAC productions. A children’s theatrical production, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, is slated for December, and she plans to exhibit students from her art classes at the Visual Art Institute. SLAC is producing Angels In America in October to kick off its 40th season, and it’s tantalizing to contemplate what art might be shown in conjunction with that production. One of the other productions this season is a world premiere for a local playwright, and entering the company’s 40th season is an occasion that will lend itself to celebration.
Visual and performance art have always made beautiful music together. “Having a call for artists will be a good way to get new visions on our walls and also build new relationships with the company,” Pett notes.
Salt Lake Acting Company
168 W. 500 North
Through Sept. 5