It's not every day you meet someone born and raised in Africa who ends up a leading an LDS art movement at BYU, only to be excommunicated later for his homosexuality. And that's just part of artist Trevor Southey's incredible biography.
Long-time Utahn Southey is the subject of a new career retrospective at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and his story of his African roots, religious conversion and ultimate grappling with his sexuality is told in a stunning series of paintings, etchings and sculpture's spanning a good half-century of work.
Thursday afternoon, the museum on the University of Utah campus is hosting a reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., where the public can take its first look at Trevor Southey: Reconciliation, and meet the charming man himself. Immediately following the artist reception, there will be a panel discussion at UMFA on the "Alpine Ideal," the 1970s Utah art movement that included Southey as well as fellow artists Gary E. Smith, Dennis Smith and Neil Hadlock.
I popped into a Wednesday press preview of Trevor Southey: Reconciliation, and it was eye-opening. I wasn't familiar with Southey's story, the controversy over one of his paintings that formerly resided at the Salt Lake City airport (now in the UMFA lobby), or his work in general. But listening to him discuss the inspiration for various pieces was a treat. He mentioned that his artwork doesn't really "fit in anywhere," yet his talent both as a painter and sculptor is undeniable when you look at his pieces.
"For a person raised in deepest, darkest Africa, to find myself in this situation is absolutely stunning," Southey said of having a retrospective show in Utah. And when he showed the gathered media folks the series of paintings that showed his transition from an active LDS member to an out gay man, he joked, "I'm an excommunicated Mormon. They threw me away. I don't blame them."
Tonight's reception and panel discussion are the official opening of Southey's show, which runs through Feb. 13, 2011.
Also competing for your attention Thursday night, the 4th annual Buy Local Utah fundraiser is at the Rico's Warehouse from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and includes all sorts of tasty treats.
And Willie Nelson's kid Lukas Nelson and his band Promise of the Real headline a show at The State Room. Opener Sahara Smith starts it off at 8 p.m.