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Home / Articles / Guides / City Guide /  25 Utah Artists to Watch
City Guide

25 Utah Artists to Watch

Salt Lake City’s art community is truly exceptional.

By Cara Despain
 Jared Lindsay Clark
Posted // January 4,2010 - It’s exciting to see a number of Utah artists push the state’s contemporary image. As I myself am an artist as well as an art writer and curator, I’ve spent a year traveling and living in two art hubs (Berlin and Miami). I’m now re-examining our local art scene in relation to what’s going on in the art world at large as well as what sets Utah artists apart. I’ve also met with a few collectors and viewed their private collections.

In compiling this list of “25 Artists to Watch,” I want to call attention to artists who are making great work here and are actively pursuing their careers. Plus, I want to introduce artists who are doing exciting new things that you may not be familiar with. Some are my longtime favorites. Others are new discoveries that I am excited to track locally, nationally and internationally.

And rest assured, there are many more than the 25 mentioned here deserving of your attention. Salt Lake City’s art community is truly exceptional—here, you’ll find a tenor of camaraderie and support as well as a communal spirit that’s difficult to find in other cities. Get out to the area’s gallery strolls and art centers to see how this environment drives artists to continually raise the bar.

Jared Lindsay Clark
Clark’s work (pictured above) encompasses sculpture and installation, and utilizes a found-object approach that borders on obsession. Soap, kitschy ceramic figurines, furniture and appliances are remixed, often in tremendous numbers (one soap installation included 10,000 bars!), to form meticulously considered arrangements. Catch him if you can—though he’s originally from Utah, he bounces around quite a bit and shows here rarely.

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Jared Steffensen
I’m new to Steffensen’s work, and I’m pretty excited about it. Although he shows across the country and internationally, there is something very Western about much of his work. His paper constructions and drawings involve mountainscapes and, in one case, includes one of our favorite Utah colloquialisms: “’Preciate cha!” (I appreciate you). Of course, the work’s professionalism and clean design goes beyond just regional pride. I look forward to seeing more.

John Andrews
Andrews’ work incorporates several different media—textile, print, drawing and painting—and a line can be drawn between his works in all media. Pattern in his fabric works inform his prints, and both involve drawing and painting. His aesthetic is all his own—the kaleidoscope, intimate quality of the tiny figures, craft, and geometric form is unlike anything I’ve seen in Salt Lake City.

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Zane Lancaster
Funny, pained and full of commentary, his work tackles glib politics and awkward moments through the lens of unabashed greed. His materials—encaustic, oil and gold leaf—give Lancaster’s work a gritty scratched-line quality, with a smooth-surface finish. The figures are as awkward and whimsical as the subject matter, and in some ways, resemble Gary Larson’s The Far Side comics.

Allison Baar
The first time I saw Baar’s work at the Pickle Co. in the We Are Woven exhibition, it struck me as honest, extremely thoughtful and interesting—just as it does now. Her re-creation of her childhood bedroom was amazing and is generationally spot-on. Also occasionally working in production design, she is acutely conscious of the minor details that make a major difference. For her art installations, she not only creates the staging and interior of a setting, but also a moment that has passed—often decades ago—with incredible effect.

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Sri Whipple
Technically amazing from the get-go, Whipple’s work continues to get better, more mature and more refined as the years pass. Never without sex, gloss and undulating movement—his work is unmistakable. His line quality and ability to manipulate paint and choose palette configurations is unlike any other painter here—and in all my travels, holds its own in my eyes against contemporary painting at large.

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Stephanie Leitch
Leitch’s work almost always directly responds to context and location. This dictates everything from materials and approach to concept and placement. After seeing her construction process, I realized just how much consideration goes into every single aspect of her architectural, symmetrical installations. She is constantly grappling with new materials and has thus developed quite the repertoire—her work has grown and tightened up significantly over the last few years due to her ever-expanding knowledge of and experimentation with media.

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Dan Christofferson
Illustrative and clean, Christofferson’s work is the best of its kind in town. Working often on panel, he creates altar-like works that combine dogma and icons to relay a message of the bizarre history of his home state. His work has been well-executed from the very beginning.

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Jan Andrews
A local documentarian and film artist, and one of the recipients of 2009’s Utah Arts Council Fellowship, Andrews has worked on projects here and all over the world—both documenting political topics and making experimental/video art pieces. She weaves vintage stock footage with her own to make very on-point impacting works. The results are thorough and concise, sardonic, revelatory yet funny, and always informative.

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Benjamin Wiemeyer
If you get an opportunity to talk to this guy about art, take it. His energy and persona are an inextricable part of his soaring, loud, huge-scale work. Wiemeyer comes from a graffiti background and has successfully ventured into portrait and abstract linear works, as well as large paintings of, well, guts. His un-ending high energy means quick and constant production—which will likely prove to be one of his greatest assets.

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Gentry Blackburn
Although she is now best known as the adorable, craft-magic owner of Frosty Darling boutique on Broadway, Blackburn is first and foremost an artist. Drawing from pop-culture, her immaculate paintings and knickknacks are funny, flawlessly crafted and flat-out awesome. I would collect her—she nails 1950s-to-modern day Western American culture with just a hint of sarcasm.

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Patrick Munger
Munger is one of my favorite art newcomers. His drawings and collage pieces are fresh and wonderful, and he deals with multiples, fluorescents and line in a very contemporary way. His Lake Of Salt image—Brigham Young’s head atop the Morton Salt girl’s body, is brilliant, as are many of his combos. I can’t wait to see where he’s at in another few years.

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Claire Taylor
Claire Taylor is a long-standing fave. She continues to woo with her magic creatures in her impeccable works on paper. Whether it’s letterpress or any other print method (all of which she seems to have mastered) or just drawings, the quality of her work is among the best I’ve seen. Whimsical and strange in perfect balance, her work is always subtly clever.

Brian Patterson
Patterson’s work is brooding and temporal—his video works are both delicate and bold in a sort of alternating rhythm; they elude and admit to the medium in equal parts. Both his video works and paintings exhibit professionalism on par with nationally acclaimed artists.

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Trent Call
It would be difficult not to include Call as an artist to watch. He is one of the most celebrated artists in Salt Lake City and has garnered national recognition for his projects. Most are already familiar with his art. What I want to point to is Call’s complete dedication to his work. The guy is an art factory, and this is perhaps the most admirable and necessary quality of any successful artist.

Mary Toscano
Toscano’s works on paper—usually lithograph or drawing, and recently, letterpress—are often large-scale pieces with simple, yet sophisticated, structural line work. Her vague, fantasized family narratives are boldly minimal in terms of both negative space and material. Despite the fluidity and organic drawing quality, they are meticulously finished. The drafted, skeletal forms show her skill and study.

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Amber Heaton
Internal organs are not that different from sea creatures, really. Theyare just as lovely, glassine, and strange—and certainly involve a discerning sense of line when it comes to depicting them two-dimensionally. I was blown away when I learned that Heaton’s large-scale print work at Kayo several months back, with all its delicacies and tiny lines, was relief print. I’m excited for what’s next.

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Shawn Porter
He’s more than just the sticks-and-balls guy. His works are an elegant feat of tension—both in terms of material, construction and result. And when you consider that all of those sticks and balls are hand-fabricated individually, it really is quite impressive. Adding value to materials, instead of that value being intrinsically present, is a conceptual component of his work that adds an additional layer to his process.

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Jason Metcalf
Former co-director of the Sego Art Center, Metcalf has his finger on the pulse of contemporary art—and it reflects in the work he makes. Performance, painting and works on stretched paper—and digital drawings—reflect a very young visual aesthetic, and reference important modern artists.

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Tessa Lindsey
Due to a thorough knowledge of lime and fresco painting, and years in her own high-end decorative painting business that entails restoration and much research, Lindsey’s work is inevitably classy—no matter what her focus is at any given time. It’s Old World meets the New—pattern, leaf and traditional pigments meet fluorescents, skulls and Spiro-graph, always lovely.

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Jenevieve Hubbard
Hubbard’s paintings—that also employ dirt, tea and ink—are milky, abstract visceral works that deal with the dichotomy between her early years among traditional Alaskan Natives and her life in Salt Lake City. They deftly tread the thin line between tension and calm and have really become her own—she has been painting like crazy this past year.

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Brady Gunnell
Currently, an architecture student at Rhode Island School of Design, Gunnell’s works, past and present, are inevitably geometric and drafted, yet maintain an organic quality through material and angles. His sculpture/installations, works on paper and photos are strong and minimal and have maintained a nice consistency over the years.

Wren Ross
Since seeing her works on paper at Nobrow Coffee & Tea Co. several months back, I’ve been anxious to see more. They are lovely, loose and drippy, yet full of well-thought expanses of negative space. The mini-narratives they weave, with Darger-esque figures, are charming and intriguing.

Salt Lakers who’ve moved on but are well-worth collecting and/or following:

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Jenny Morgan
Morgan moved to New York City to go to grad school at the School of Visual Arts, and has since been experiencing success with her photo-realistic, large-scale figurative works. They are more exciting than the term may imply—emotional and intense, they are fastidiously painted and consistently collected. She visits Salt Lake City often—get to know her work.

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Bryson Gill
Gill has been living in San Francisco for several years and in Berlin this past year. He shows occasionally at Kayo, and has shown consistently at Triple Base Gallery in the Bay area as well as around the world. His paintings are thickly laid and layered, and they call to mind the Leipzig School of painters. His works on paper are peculiar excellent works that incorporate created monuments and austere busts beneath many strata of shadows and values.

Cara Despain is an artist, freelance art writer and curator. She is co-curator of GARFO Art Center and faculty at the Visual Art Institute.

 
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