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Gavin's Underground

November Gallery Stroll: Sara Edgar & Mark England

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2010-11-22 -

Cold and crappy weather aside, Gallery Stroll went off without a hitch this week. The crowds still out but slightly thinned due to the fear of snow. Instead we got wind, wind and more wind. Now that the weather report is done, the actual event was pretty good this month. Wide array of artists as we see some of what will be displayed at the December event, while others put on very specific showcases for this month alone. NoBrow even had a band playing throughout the night. Sucks for those of you who didn't come to the last snow-free version of the year.

This month we went back and visited our friends over at Kayo Gallery for a dual showcase. From what I could tell, probably the most visited gallery of the evening. This month's features included woodbox paintings from Sara Edgar and landscape paintings from Mark England. I got a chance to chat with both about their work and local art, plus some pictures from the exhibition for you to check out over here.

Sara Edgar


Gavin: Hey Sara, first thing, tell us a bit about yourself.

Sara: Besides being married with children, I am an artist.

Gavin: What first got you interested in painting, and what were some of your early inspirations?

Sara: I had small children and wasn't working with metal at the time which is what I specialized in. My sister-in-law paints and I admired her work. I was looking for a creative endeavor and decided to try painting.

Gavin: You received a BFA from the University of Washington. What made you choose Washington for your college, and what was their program like for you?

Sara: I am from Seattle. I originally started at the University of Washington with a gymnastics scholarship. After deciding that wasn't my path, quitting school, and flailing around a while I decided to go back and do something I had always loved to do. Art.

Gavin: I read you got your professional start making jewelery. Why that specific medium as opposed to going into painting immediately?

Sara: I had always leaned toward 3-dimensional art. I loved making objects. It was my "comfort zone". Ironically, I was intimidated by drawing and painting and avoided those classes in college.

Gavin: How was it for you making those kinds of designs and doing exhibitions over the years?

Sara: I enjoyed making jewelry scale sculpture. While in college studying metalsmithing, I found my own language of how I liked to work. Telling stories through the use of symbols, creating little vignettes. Being able to exhibit my work is always thrilling.

Gavin: What eventually made you go back into painting? And do you still do jewelery or have you passed on doing that now?

Sara: It is necessary for me to have a creative outlet. When I had two young children and gave up working with metal for that period, everything I did turned into a project... The Christmas card, the driftwood I picked up on the beach became animals, holiday decorations were handmade. As the kids got older I wanted to do something more, but low tech so I could work at home. I saw that my sister-in-law painted and she was good at it. I decided that I would ask her to get me the stuff I would need to get started, give me a few tips, and I would give it a go. If I was bad at it, that would be the end of it, if I wasn't, well, I hadn't thought that far ahead. So far I've found just enough time for painting. My current work has become more involved with the addition of collage. At this point, I am just focusing on that.

Gavin: What's the process like for you when creating a new painting, from concept to final product? And do you have an idea of how things will turn out or is it more on-the-fly with your pieces?

Sara: I get inspired by the "everyday". I am able to work in painting like I did in metalsmithing, narratively. I have a story or vignette in my head and I figure out how to symbolize it. I might work it out on paper, just make a note of a working title to remind myself, but definitely think about it a lot before I start. Sometimes a painting in progress tells me things that I just have to go with. Squeak Carnwath wrote a list about painting in her book My Name's Not Tina. I love her list, especially number five. "Paintings are about: paint, observation, and thought." For me, that's really true.

Gavin: How has it been for you taking these works out and hearing people's reactions to them?

Sara: It's scary! I've been pretty lucky with the feedback I've heard so far. I've taken it slowly, only committing to things I know I can finish.

Gavin: Tell us about the works you have on display for this Stroll.

Sara: The new works I'm showing at Kayo are multi-layered. They start with a collage consisting of lists I've saved. I like the voyeuristic quality it adds. There are what I call "the characters" in the series. There's also a house in all of the paintings. The characters are put in different situations in relation to the house. I use carnival rides as analogies in some of the paintings. I love circus and carnival imagery. Isn't life a circus?

Gavin: What's your take on being displayed at Kayo Gallery along with Mark England this month?

Sara: I am new to the Salt Lake art scene and haven't formed an opinion yet. I am excited to show a new series of work in Salt Lake at Kayo gallery. The few times I've had work in Salt Lake it's only been a couple of pieces.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of this year and going into next?

Sara: My work is shown year round at Terzian Gallery in Park City and I'm looking forward to a solo show there in 2011.


Mark England

http://www.markenglandart.com


Gavin: Hey Mark! First off, tell us a bit about yourself.

Mark: I grew up in California and Minnesota. Living on an abandoned dairy farm in Minnesota left a deep impression on my love for landscape, which is the theme of everything I do. I have four children, all of which are very creative and artistically inclined. My wife and I run a gelato shop on 9th & 9th.

Gavin: What first got you interested in painting, and what were some of your early inspirations?

Mark: I have always been interested in art. I do not remember ever wondering what I study in college or do in life. When I was sixteen I was already anticipating being an artist like the impressionists. Early inspiration was Turner, impressionism, a forest and stream by my house in Minnesota.

Gavin: You got your MFA in Painting from BYU. What made you choose the Y for your education, and what was their program like for you while you were there?

Mark: I had free tuition. I was lazy. BYU was very good and teaching the fundamentals of art, drawing, painting, which is the most important thing you can learn in college. If anything, they were too nice and patient with me.

Gavin: A lot of your work are fictional landscapes with very intricate designs placed throughout. What made you want to draw and paint these unique works?

Mark: Actually, all of them are a specific location. I don't do fictional or fantasy art. I have very specific ideas and locations in mind in all my art. Yes, they incorporate a lot of odd objects and distortions, but they are meant to be grounded in place and experience.

Gavin: For a time you also did various box and glass dome sculptures. How did you get into doing that and what made you halt from doing those?

Mark: It is easier to do collage boxes than it is to draw or paint. It was a process of learning to understand and control the elements of art. They can address certain things I can't in painting. I still enjoy doing them, I just don't have the time to do both, although I do have elements of them in my store.

Gavin: In recent years you switched from simple black and white drawings into fully colored paintings. What persuaded you to make that change, and what was the transition like for you personally?

Mark: Drawing is the most difficult skill to learn in art. I needed to learn it before I could do painting. While I still enjoy drawing and anticipate doing more of it, I had pushed it to the point where I needed to use color and the qualities of oil to take it further than I had. It was a difficult transition. It is like learning to juggle five balls instead of three.

Gavin: What's the process like for you when creating a new painting, from deciding the topic, onto design and then final product?

Mark: My ideas come to me when I have my mind in default art mode and I am thinking of nothing else. I carry my sketchbook with me all the time. My most creative moments have come to me during church or when I am looking at other art. I will draw a picture about three inches big, then put that on a canvas.

Gavin: Do you usually know how they'll turn out or do you tend to change things up or scrap ideas as you go?

Mark: It always looks very similar to the drawing. I will work six hours a day on one piece until it is 90% done. This may take weeks. Then I put it away for a month or two, bring it out again and rework it with a new perspective, and then it is done.

Gavin: Whats the general reaction you get from people when they see your work, and how is it for you hearing the various thoughts?

Mark: I am always curious to know what people think about my work. Unfortunately, I only hear the positive remarks, which are kind and helpful, but also feed my ego, which is like poison to an artist. The last thing an artist needs is too much praise. So, I have to be my worst critic. Generally, people are drawn to the details and trying to figure out what is going on. I appreciate the people who give it the time and effort to do that. Some manage to go beyond the "I spy" reaction and try to figure out the story I am trying to define. I want to make it worth peoples time to make the effort.

Gavin: Considering some of your work, where you yourself say you question cultural and visual expectations, do you ever feel people take it as a political statement or misrepresenting specific places? Or do you just view that as part of people's interpretations?

Mark: People will always bring their own interpretation to images I use, that is the nature and power of collage. I can't control that, but I can send them in a certain narrative direction or road map. I want you to go in a certain direction with a certain amount of wandering. I am not trying to make some big political statement or value judgment about life. I am recording my observations, both positive and negative. The only judgment I am making is that peoples perceptions are almost always wrong and devoid of truth or fact.

Gavin: You've had a pretty lengthy career in the Utah art scene, most of it residing in Utah County over the years. How has it been showcasing your work over the years and seeing changes in the audiences?

Mark: I always appreciate being able to show in various galleries, which I think are basically doing a public service and should be defined as a not for profit charity. Unfortunately, most people cannot afford fine art, nor do we have a cultural tradition of collecting or valuing fine art.

Gavin: Tell us about the works you have on display for this Stroll.

Mark: A mix of older and newer works. Some have never been seen in public. I included some very cheap boxes as well as some very large pieces. One of them is the most powerful, personal piece I have ever created.

Gavin: What's your take on being displayed at Kayo Gallery along with Sara Edgar this month?

Mark: It is a great space, especially with Sara's work and Frosty Darling. If you are too cheap to spend $15,000 on one of my paintings, then you have no excuse for not doing all your Christmas shopping on Sara's work, or at Frosty Darling.

Gavin: Going local for a bit, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?

Mark: Every time I go to new York or LA, it is mostly overpriced, self indulgent, deconstructionist crap devoid of talent or heart. I don't care what anyone says, Salt Lake City has an incredible amount of great artists with a great art scene. But it won't last because people don't buy it. So artists leave or sell elsewhere, which will ultimately hurt us.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?

Mark: Patience. Education. You can't force art, or subsidize it. A little bit of help here and there, especially artist grants, go a long way towards keeping hope alive. We should be grateful for the adversity and challenges we have because most good art comes from struggle. My biggest fear is getting rich and comfortable which is not a big threat these days. My other biggest fear is being overwhelmed with the necessities of life that keep you from making art.

Gavin: What's your take on Gallery Stroll as a whole and how its doing today?

Mark: It is a great cheap date with free food. Now stop being so cheap and buy some art. This isn't a charity, or shouldn't be.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of this year and going into next?

Mark: Work work work. I need to take out the garbage, weed the garden, finish my zombie proof fence, scoop a lot of gelato. I have a lot of ideas for paintings that have been percolating so I am looking forward to getting back in the studio.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Mark: The book Biocentrism, The Walking Dead (I am totally into zombies), the Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA, Frosty Darling, and my gelato store. Not only do we make the best gelato in town, we also have espresso, Belgian waffles, gift chocolates, pastries, free wifi, and evening movies. That, and Frosty Darling, are the only places you should do your Christmas shopping if you want to impress your friends with your superior taste.


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