The Place This Is 

Through June 1 @ Salt Lake Art Center

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Ever since people have been inspired to settle in this territory, people have been changed by it. Since their arrival, those who have lived here have in turn changed the place and made it their own. Robert Fontenot addresses these issues using the unlikely artistic medium of bread dough, rendering over 100 iconic local landmarks and symbols in the substance, in addition to watercolor depictions of Utah politicians and celebrities, and texts from American historical voices in embroidery.

If the medium is the message, then the bread sculptures might be seen as a metaphor for the way the place, and its edifices, provide sustenance—social, political and spiritual. This Los Angeles artist who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design presents another view in the pull this state has had on people from elsewhere, not the least of which is pondering its idiosyncrasies.

“Fontenot’s beautifully crafted artworks fuse beauty and cynicism to question how and why certain items become memorialized in our culture and history. The exhibition seeks to create a portrait of Utah from the perspective of an outsider researching the symbols, myths, landmarks and complex political and religious ideologies that help define this complicated state,” says Micol Hebron, senior curator of exhibitions at the Salt Lake Art Center.

The art center also will present Fontenot’s new book, An Introduction to the Glorious State of Utah, with an introduction by local cartoonist and humorist Pat Bagley, a proper foil to Fontenot’s astute, and at times humorous, observations.

The Place This Is @ Salt Lake Art Center, 20 S. West Temple, 801-328-4201, free. April 1-June 1.

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