Crafts and photography have long been considered second-class visual art forms behind painting, in no small measure because the two are haunted with that curse of the utilitarian: If an object actually serves a useful purpose besides hanging on the wall and looking cool, it can’t be that “fine” of a work of art, can it? Rio Gallery’s current exhibit begs to differ.
Utahns have craft, that’s for certain. From weavings by Ann Edington Adams to Erik Brown’s ceramics to Suzanne Conine’s clay works; from Ellza Coyle’s tapestry weaving to Elizabeth Crowe’s porcelain; from Michele Dieterich’s sterling silver and paua shells to Nolan Baumgartner’s soda-fired porcelain, locals not only make use of all media but stretch the boundaries of what the materials can do, with eye-opening results.
Even the photographic art isn’t limited to just one approach, but it reveals a dazzling array of techniques and technologies. Photographers and styles on display include: silver gelatin prints by Bruce Burningham and Julie Edwards; a photo pigment print by Van Thieu Chu; Lewis Crawford’s cyanotype; Carl Oelrich (detail of “Vinales, Cuba” is pictured); a metallic print by Brian McIntyre; Lisa Trent’s digital photography; Kent Miles’, Nancy Elizabeth Rivera’s, Jelisa Peterson’s and Alan Patteson’s digital pigment prints; JP Hughes; photos of cliff jumpers by Mark Hedengren; Craig Law’s digital print; and hand-colored photography by Cynthia Heath.
Utah 2009: Crafts & Photography @ Rio Gallery, 300 S. 455 West, 801-236-7555. Oct. 16-Nov. 25.