Why is Kayo Gallery hosting a show exclusively featuring artists from Captain Captain studios? It’s almost more appropriate to ask Kayo Gallery owner Shilo Jackson why it’s taken so long to do it. Jackson and CC artist Sri Whipple found themselves asking each other the same thing. “That’s why we decided it was high time to get an exhibit together,” Jackson says. “They have their open studios, sure. But they’ve never had a gallery show under one roof. So I’m thrilled that Kayo gets to host it.
“I think Captain Captain is extremely important to the SLC art scene,” Jackson adds. “It encourages and fosters such a great art community. The artists in Salt Lake are so strong right now, I think on par or better than anything in New York, San Francisco or L.A.”
The Oyster Pirates, an artist collective of which Whipple is a member, has shown its work as far as San Francisco and Berlin. At press time, Jackson hadn’t seen all of the selected works, so she didn’t know how they’d flow together, but says about this iconoclastic group, “I do expect it to be very eclectic. I think that’s the only thing that will make it cohesive.”
Captain Captain has an open house several times a year, in which the public can view the artworks—and sometimes the artists at work—in their natural setting, where their works are formulated, shaped and polished. But taking their paintings, drawings, mixed media and photographs into a gallery setting sets them apart and lets the viewer experience each piece on its own terms, so it doesn’t blur into the artistic background.
Not that there isn’t a high “signal to noise” ratio in any Captain Captain show. Each of these artists has a strong aesthetic vision that states itself assertively, and that doesn’t always make for the most harmonious show when you get a bunch of their works together. Meg Charlier’s nudes, combining anatomical elements from animals and misplaced human hands, conveys psychological revelation within its surrealism. Chase Leslie’s abstracts express the artist’s personality through surface texture. Andy Cvar’s photography combines disparate compositional elements into a gestalt. Trent Alvey’s Buddhist-influenced art is one of the more serene elements of the group.
Several new members of the Captain Captain roster are introduced at this show. Moey Carruth—whose husband, Justin Carruth, is working on a project for Finch Lane gallery—uses a loom to create scarves and clothing, and weaves her own fabric. Trevor Dopp, a painter formerly at the Guthrie Building, utilizes a childlike primitivism. Tyler Densley, brother of musician Gentry Densley of local band Eagle Twin, is a professional tattoo artist who works in the media of paintings, comics and zines.
“The difference between the Oyster Pirates and this show is that the Oyster Pirates are a collaborative project,” notes Jackson. And there’s nothing quite as visually arresting as combining Whipple’s sometimes elephantine shapes with the ornithological proclivities of a Justin Wheatley. But this show might come close, as loudly as these artistic voices clamor to be heard. Whipple downplays his role in helping Jackson coordinate the show, joking that he just “wrangled everybody together to send something in.”
In the past, there was always a certain amount of discord among artists at Captain Captain, but Whipple notes that there’s an element of synergy there lately. “Right now, there’s a big contrast in styles, but also a similarity,” he explains. “Everyone takes into account what’s going on around them, the common symbology.”
Part of that symbology is The Mystical Men of Action, a zine Whipple is working on with four other artists at Captain Captain. “We are putting our mystical symbology out into the universe,” he relates. Actually it’s just random images from their works—in his case, utilizing undulating, pseudo-sexual shapes that combine into something that’s not quite a “thing,” but is something much larger, always in a state of movement or flux. He adds “The Mystical Men of Action is part of the Men’s Art Center, a meeting of like minds that anyone can join, kind of like a secret society but out in the open. It includes women, as part of its charter.”
The MMA zine will feature the collaborative work in comic book format as the precursor to a book, in the style of Captain Captain artist Trent Call’s Swinj zines. Like Captain Captain itself, the Men’s Art Center has a rotating cast, notes Whipple: “Once you’re in it, you’re in it. Unless you don’t want to be anymore.”
177 E. 300 South
Jan. 21-Feb. 12
Tuesday-Saturday, 12-6 p.m.
Gallery Stroll Jan. 21, 6-9 p.m.