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City Guide 2008 | Culture: Visual Arts - Visual Cues Page all

Departing gallery director Kenny Riches names 25 local artists who should be on your radar.

By Kenny Riches
Posted // February 1,2008 - At the ripe age of 22, I started Kayo Gallery. Along the way, I assembled art shows at a handful of other alternative venues and galleries. While I still feel like a young pup, I am walking away from the gallery scene and back to being an artist. But before I cut outta here, let me try to give you some art advice.

First: If you save just $20 from each paycheck—that means by not going out to the bar or out to eat one Friday night of each month—after a few months you can buy yourself an original piece of artwork. Better yet, save a $100 a paycheck.

Second: Buy what you like, aesthetically speaking; buy what grabs you. You may see the most amazing piece of art that you’ve ever seen, ever. Don’t let it pass you by. If you saw it at the opening reception, it still will be amazing when you sober up the following morning. If you can’t afford it immediately, talk to the gallery owner. I promise, they will work with you. They’ll put you on a payment plan or show you more affordable work by the same artist.

Third: Do some research. Salt Lake City is increasingly seeing more art from out of state. Artists that are selling well on one coast or another understand that they must drop their prices a little for the inlanders. This is your best opportunity to collect their art. So get on that Internet and read all about it.

Four: Talk about it. Even if you are not educated in art, try to talk about it. Tell people why you feel so captivated by the piece. If it’s an artist you enjoy and know that their name will say enough, tell people all about how you now own your very own piece of work by so-and-so, the most amazing artist whom everyone should keep their eyes on. You’re helping the scene and your investment by doing so.

Five: In my wheeling and dealing in the contemporary arts of Salt Lake City, these are the artists that I feel you should watch. They are the hottest artists in the scene, and they are changing the way that Salt Lake thinks about art. They are progressive and passionate and produce amazing work. Here we go:

Leia Bell Salt Lake City poster girl
Rock posters were just the beginning for Leia Bell’s prolific career as a print artist. Her prints are both collected privately and widely used commercially throughout Salt Lake City and beyond. Her confident line and design have made her an unmistakable presence in both art galleries and music venues.

Erin Berrett Keep it real, keep it still
One of the more conservative artists on this list, Erin Berrett’s paintings are masterfully crafted and wonderfully earthy in color. Beautifully rendered with attention to markmaking, these still lifes are heavy on the paint and easily accessible to the viewer. Peaches, plums, pears—the work is as delicious as the subject matter.

Laura Besterfeldt Like a second skin
Completely topical in the deepest sense of the word, Laura Besterfeldt makes sterling silver relics of real objects. Casting from wax molds that leave and reveal every honest detail of the surface they cover, Besterfeldt constructs sculptures and jewelry that are an artistic hybrid of anatomy and adornment.

Gentry Blackburn She calls it Frosty Darling
Everything about her is pristine—her attire, her abode and her art. Old-timey, poppy and bright, Gentry Blackburn’s paintings are Western, state-fair pop that are totally singular and worth adding to any collection. They are true to heart and a seamless, extremely well-executed fusion of Johnny Cash and Andy Warhol—with an extra sprinkling of irony. Can’t afford her paintings yet? Stop in at Frosty Darling (177 E. Broadway), Blackburn’s art boutique, filled with little bits of her craft and offering a glimpse into her little world.

Sandy Brunvand Print meets paint
For such an immaculate printmaker, Sandy Brunvand makes wonderfully loose and active paintings. Elements from her prints can be found subtly tucked into her larger painted works but appear as a starting point for more tactile work. Each informs the other, and this resulting success is evident not only in her work but in her nonprofit joint-venture printing studio, Saltgrass Printmakers.

Trent Call Get your Swinj here!
No other artist in Salt Lake City is as everywhere all at once as Trent Call. His paintings, drawings and prints are in the homes of his collectors, and his stickers, books and calendars are in the homes of everyone else. You may see his Swinj-o-Matic sticker machines around town, if so; buy your own piece of the Trent Call pie.

Shalee Cooper Suspended in black and white
Shalee Cooper is finding ground after living and shooting photos in Paris before becoming the director of the Saans Gallery on East Broadway here in Salt Lake City. In Cooper’s own work, texture and content are the key to capturing her portraits of dilapidated signs and curious marquees. Even with the rise of the digital revolution, she insists upon keeping things traditional with hand-printed silver-gelatin black-and-white photography.

Dana Costello Boys and girls can play nice together
Another local artist getting national recognition, Dana Costello’s paintings have a childlike yet sophisticated quality. Playful and dark in subject but bright in palette, her work shows some influence of Japanese and Bay Area artists. I was excited to see her work in The New York Times Magazine recently. Remember her name, you’ll see it often.


Tyrone Davies
The brave and the few
The contemporary art scene here in Salt Lake City is led by a small army of progressive artists, one of whom is Tyrone Davies. His dedication to experimental film goes far beyond just the work he produces. He also organizes a monthly showcase of experimental films called “Out/Ex,” screening every third Saturday at Nobrow Coffee.

Cara Despain Dinosaurs vs. The Entire Universe
Cara Despain, who writes occasionally for City Weekly, makes paintings as adventurous as her life. Climbing trees and watching evening skies spill out of her reality and into her artwork. Self-portraits as jackalopes, dinosaurs and goats are often in the foreground of these illustrative narratives.

Stefanie Dykes Fantastic fancy
The other hand, in Salt Lake City’s sweetest print studio, Saltgrass, Stefanie Dykes makes prints as bold and deliberate as she is. They read almost like fairytale fragments—delicately gothic and whimsical. Mostly black and white, the prints are clean, concise and classical.

Wynter Jones The skeleton of memory
Complex in subject and execution, Wynter Jones makes paintings to explore a past and present self. Her thoughts on religion and feminism are expressed through her work in a beautifully obscure and dark way giving her work an edge that has garnered much attention in a conservative climate.

Lenka Konopasek Captive moments
There’s a fine line, a particular moment of calm beauty between action and impending destruction. Lenka Konopasek successfully captures these moments and suspends them—trapping them in paint and leaving viewers hooked on what happens next. From bull riders to airstrikes, the works are brushed, blurry and affective.

Steve Larson Not my rooftop
Best known for his cityscape paintings from rooftops to buildings below, Steve Larson’s work is drawing, splashing, scraping, brushing and maybe even screaming. The first work of his I was introduced to was a series of monotype prints made not with a press but by running over the plate and paper with his car. Enough said, enjoy.

Tessa Lindsey With elegance
From fresco painting to delicate watercolors, Tessa Lindsey is a well of knowledge from materials to technique. Decadent interiors with Victorian wallpaper and furniture speak not only of her recent interests but also of the quality of the glamorous materials she employs.

Jason Metcalf Honeycomb to the beehive state
Jason Metcalf is young and eager. His work has repetitive elements, such as honeycombs and medical crosses combined to make wasteland landscapes. Upon returning from his adventures in Boston and New York, Metcalf is already booking exhibits for the next year. This motivation, coupled with strong work, should bring worthy attention from Salt Lake City patrons.

Jayne-Anne Mulholland Some chemistry involved
Giant, shiny, pocked and blistering, Jayne-Anne Muholland’s paintings much resemble a science experiment conducted with paint. Color, glazes, and puckering reactionary patterns cover her canvasses like lichen. They are lovely, organic and selling like hotcakes.

Brian Patterson Dissolving reality
Influenced by German painters and video art, Brian Patterson constructs strange disintegrating scenes that appear much like painted collages of figures disappearing. Tense and intriguing, his work has a certain professionalism that sets him apart from the crowd. I anticipate increased collection of his work in the next few years and foresee great progression for Patterson as well.

David Ruhlman An audience worth watching
With a folky outsider art style, David Ruhlman’s paintings are often characters in repetition. Whether it be as crowded as an ant pile or as simple as a mirrored image of Jesus, his work seems eerily personal and wonderfully magical. Beyond his paintings, Ruhlman has proved himself further as an exceptional artist with his installation work, giving an even more in-depth look into this talented artist.

Claire Taylor Moxy Mosos
Claire Taylor is a young master of printmaking and an emerging artist. Her prints are charming and always on point. Look out for owls, foxes, penguins and letterpress. Her works are shy and magical narratives with dainty, silly animals as characters. Love them as I do.

Cordell Taylor the Cordell Taylor
An example for many sculptors and also many gallerists, Cordell Taylor has been around the contemporary art world for many years. His sculptures are big, heavy, metal and everywhere. He’s not only an exceptional artist, he once owned a gallery in downtown Salt Lake City. He has had a hand in creating a gallery in Denver; and his thumbprint is on many of the public art projects in Salt Lake City, most notably the 2007 337 Project in which many on this list were involved. Kudos.

Mary Toscano Draw the drawing, print the drawing
Mary Toscano holds many things precious. Some of those things include deer, boar, bison and her beloved chanticleer. These are some of the things that she reproduces in her delicate drawings and prints. With the cleanest line quality and a twist of folk art, they are unique and popping up everywhere from gallery walls to music album covers and posters.

Cein Watson Organically mechanical
I first met Cein Watson at the beginning of Kayo Gallery. He asked me, “You make stuff?” And then quickly answered his own question with, “I make stuff.” That was the beginning of a great artist/curator relationship. He is one of the great art producers in the valley and always eager to show it. During his senior year at the University of Utah, Cein Watson was working on his thesis show and about eight other gallery shows. Get it while it’s hot and before you can’t afford it.

Brenda Wattleworth Stripping the layers
Beyond being one of the most stylistically defined painters in Salt Lake City, Brenda Wattleworth’s installations and quilted works are equally as recognizable. Sometimes haunting and other times playful, her artwork will catch your eye and hold your interest.

Sri Whipple Delicious sex pop
Sri Whipple is the master of his craft. A painter through and through, his poppy, glossy, often hypersexual masterworks would taste like ginger cookies if you could eat them. His drawings also have become quite the collector’s treasure these days. They hold many similarities to his paintings: fluid, bold, confident and that same sweet sugary taste. When you’ve seen his work, I know you’ll understand.

... For More
The third Friday of every month from 6-9 p.m., the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll, sponsored by the Salt Lake Gallery Association [gallerystroll.org] and its member galleries, provides a great way to meet artists and see art.

Artist Kenny Riches was born in Toyota City, Japan, and raised in Salt Lake City. He founded Kayo Gallery (177 E. Broadway) in 2004 and founded a custom picture framing shop, The Frameshop on Sixth and L, the same year. He started contemporary arts journal ArtSpeakSLC in 2005. As Riches is embarking on a move to New York City, he himself is an artist to watch.
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