December Gallery Stroll: galleryUAF | Buzz Blog

Friday, December 12, 2008

December Gallery Stroll: galleryUAF

Posted By on December 12, 2008, 10:32 AM

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Back to Gallery Stroll for the last time in 2008... a tad ahead of schedule I might add!

--- Its that time of year in SLC again, when a number of things happen either early or late due to the holiday season. And one of the first events you see is Gallery Stroll in December, bumped up a whole two weeks in advance to December 5th. The time frame caught me a little off guard but I still managed to make it out and over to galleryUAF. Utilizing the main offices for the Utah Arts Festival, the gallery showcases several artists at once in a mixed display for strollers and fellow Artspace residents to come visit. I popped in to take pictures and interview some of the main artists featured this month at the gallery. All to the music of Stella By Starlight, with refreshments provided by Raw Bean.

Jason Christensen

Gavin: Hello Jason. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jason: I am a professional outdoor photographer who photographs nature and scenic landscapes with a large-format 4x5 film camera. I photograph on 4” x 5” transparency film giving me finer grained, more vivid color and better quality shots than with print film or digital imaging. I’ve been photographing seriously since about 1995 and have grown my business every year since. I participate in and show in art festivals, galleries, and numerous publications nationwide including calendars, magazines, postcards, etc. I mainly photograph here in Utah, however I am always looking for reasons to travel to new and exciting places to grow my photographic portfolio. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1973 and I still reside here in Utah where I think there is so much to offer in the outdoor photographic medium. I am married 13 years to a very patient and supportive wife who accompanies me on a lot of my photographic ventures. Being only 4 hours in either direction away from some of the most beautiful places on earth keeps me located here to do my work. I graduated high school in 1991 and went on to Salt Lake Community College where I obtained an Associate of Science Degree. I had planed on continuing my education at one of the local universities to become an Art Teacher, however life through me some curve balls and left me holding a camera as a tool for my career.

Gavin: What first got you interested in photography?

Jason: I’ve always been interested in photography since I was a kid. I remember always watching the wildlife videos on television and wanting to do that when I had grown up. In school where I took various art classes, but photography was always the most inspiring to me. Being behind the camera always felt right.

Gavin: What kind of education did you seek out for it?

Jason: I began taking photo classes in junior high school. I loved color photography, but black and white always intrigued me. I took black and white on into high school and college. I had a couple professors in college who influenced and motivated me into the photography/art profession. School was always a good teacher, however studying the masters of photography was not only inspirational but enlightening as well. Going to the library for fictional reading was not for me. I would find the photo books by different photographers with the best wildlife and nature photography, then delve into them learning everything I could from each artist and then putting that knowledge to use by taking it to the field and experimenting with my own style of shooting.

Gavin: I read that you used to do illustrations. What changed your mind to pursue photography professionally, and do you still do illustrations from time to time?

Jason: Growing up I was always drawing, painting, or taking pictures of something. In college I took numerous credit hours of art classes in which I feel has contributed immensely in my photography career. People always ask me how drawing and painting could help in taking pictures. I tell them that photography is an art where I use composition, color, design, perspective, and mix it all together to make a beautiful image that makes people feel as if they are experiencing ‘the moment in time’ the photograph was taken. I no longer work with illustrations because of the demanding work that being a professional photographer requires.

Gavin: As a photographer, do you prefer film or digital quality, and why?

Jason: This is a very touchy subject for me. I deeply feel that film and digital are two totally separate mediums and should be treated as such. I classify film photography as ‘photography’, and digital photography as ‘digital imaging’. Growing up on film has giving me a unique perspective on photography that will never change. Don’t get me wrong, digital imaging definitely has it’s place in the industry and is an art of it’s own creation. The everyday family camera, tourist, casual amateur, commercial, weddings, portraits, abstract design, sports, and news all have a high demand in quick turnaround work, which is great for digital. Professional fine-art scenic photography is not this way. There is something to be said about photographers who patiently wait for the right light, setting up his/her camera, feeling the moment and squeezing the shutter on their one piece of film, knowing from experience of how this image will develop when processed. Developing that 4x5 piece of film and being able to physically hold up to a light box is like having Christmas morning every time you get a batch of film back, knowing you nailed the shot and have a piece of history that can be produced as art for the world to experience. This is compared to digitally taking 100 pictures of one scene on a digital chip and then deleting the pictures that didn’t turn out because of not knowing the basic tools of a camera. This to me is a convenient, easy way of photographing that still has yet to surpass the quality of film. I always tell people that ask opinions of me to start out learning film photography first, learn the basics before starting into digital. This is the best way to understand photography, to manually use the camera and not rely on a view screen to tell you if it’s properly exposed or not. For me, in my opinion, the magic gets lost in digital imaging, and that’s why I choose film over digital. Anytime I have a discussion about photography, and I mean every time, I find myself defending the traditional way of photography, film. I grew up on film, I studied film, it’s what I experienced and made a career out of, overall it’s a passion in my life that I wouldn’t want to ever trade in. Drawing was not lost to painting, painting was not lost to photography, black and white was not lost to color. Film photography is an art that shouldn’t be lost to digital imaging. Unfortunately, film is an expression of art that stands on the verge of extinction.

Gavin: What got you interested in doing nature and landscapes?

Jason: I’ve always been an avid hiker growing up, and I love the wilderness and what it has to offer as an escape from the everyday chaos we call life. I started out wanting to shoot wildlife photography, but realized quickly that scenic photography would better suit me at the time. Watching the sunset or sunrise ‘magic light’ as we photographers like to call it, hit a mountain peak or a cloudy sky and bounce that magic light onto a field of flowers or beautiful mirror lake captures my inner spirit in motivating me to capture those moments in time that needs to be shared with the rest of the world.

Gavin: How did you go about starting True Art Photography?

Jason: True Art Photography in my opinion is photographing what I see at that very moment using no enhancing filters, digital enhancements or artificial effects to take away the true nature of the photograph. I have my original transparencies blown up to life size photographic prints still done in a traditional photo lab darkroom. In this way I preserve the quality and sharpness of my photograph. This process is sadly disappearing with only a handful of photo labs still practicing these time-honored techniques.

Gavin: Was it difficult to get set up or did things move along smoothly? And how is business doing today?

Jason: Starting out in photography was only a hobby to me at the time. Once I started selling my work and realizing the potential to make a career out of doing something I love is when I knew I had a difficult journey ahead of me. It is a learning process from the very start and continues to be a learning process. It seems to get more and more difficult as I get more involved in my work. Photographing our beautiful scenery in this world is the fun and easy part of this field of work. It was learning how to sell and market my work that is difficult and a constant business. The photography business is good when it’s good, but in down economies like we are having now it can be very discouraging. Fine art is a luxury to most and not a necessity item, so it gets hit hard in a recession. I just keep plugging away hopeful for good news around the corner.

Gavin: Tell us about the works you're showing at galleryUAF.

Jason: The work I am showing at Utah Arts Festival Gallery I have titled ‘Desert Visions’. They are a powerful piece of my portfolio of the desert areas in Southern Utah that have a surreal and emotional effect when viewed by the gallery strollers. My work at the gallery has a very deep meaning for me, showing my true connections with art and nature combined, painted with the natural light in becoming ‘the final product’ to be appreciated by the artistic viewer.

Gavin: How did the opportunity come up for you to be a part of this showing?

Jason: I was mailed a submission letter back in the early summer in which I realized that being part of the Utah Arts Festival Gallery Stroll would be a great opportunity for me to share my work. I was very excited to learn of my acceptance to the show and I will definitely apply for next years showing.

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local art scene, both good and bad?

Jason: The local art scene is a work in progress I believe. I think it is slowly but surely getting more open to new ideas. People are starting to realize that there is a lot of talented artist located here in Utah and they have great artwork to offer. The only bad thing I can think of is that I know galleries and artists alike survive on tourism here in Utah. I wish we had more local buyers of fine art.

Gavin: Anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Jason: The only thing to make it bigger and better is to get every gallery involved in Gallery Stroll. I believe that advertising Gallery Stroll to the local public would help out greatly. Getting it out on the news, radio and paper I think would help improve numbers to Gallery Stroll.

Gavin: What are your thoughts on the Stroll itself and how its evolved over the years?

Jason: I’m fairly new to the Gallery Stroll scene, I have seen it grow in the short time I’ve been participating but definitely see the potential of being a great tradition every month. Gallery Stroll gives not only the galleries good exposure but it also gives the struggling artist an opportunity to grow and display their work.

Gavin: What can we expect from you this upcoming year?

Jason: I’m continuously growing my portfolio in photography. I will continue to shoot with my large format 4x5 film camera of nature and landscapes, hopefully going to new and exciting places.

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

Jason: My website and Toyo film cameras.

Patricia Street

Gavin: Hi Patty. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Patty: I was born and raised in Salt Lake City. My family hailed from Park City and Heber. My ancestors worked the silver mines in Park City, and farmed in the beautiful Heber Valley. I attended Olympus High School and Utah State University, where I studied Illustration and Advertising Design. I have raised a daughter here. My whole family with the exception of one sister is here. I am a local product, through and through. I have illustrated three books, that for one reason or another, never made it to a publisher. I worked in Advertising Design for many years. After our little ad house closed for business, I studied hard and became a massage therapist, specializing in Neuromuscular Therapy. For thirteen years, I have worked at local resorts and have a small private practice. I am now at The Grand America Spa. All the while, I was creating jewelry for family and friends, and collecting unusual gemstone beads and components. About two years ago, I made a move to get more involved in the artistic community in which I had previously hovered in the background. I feel right at home here, I am finally feeling I have a good, balanced life.

Gavin: What first got you interested in jewelry?

Patty: I have always been fascinated with personal adornment. I was always rummaging through my mom’s jewelry boxes, and my friend’s mom’s jewelry boxes! I have always admired baubles and beads and have had a fascination for gemstones. I love wearing art. I have always loved the feeling of bangles on my wrist, and precious metals dangling from my ears.

Gavin: Was there any education or training you took to learn the craft?

Patty: I have no formal training in jewelry design or fabrication, other than classes at the Beaded Puma. I started out making pieces from gemstones and silver wire, then added precious metal clay, copper, bronze, ceramic and lamp work bead making to my tool box. I took two classes from Carol Avery to get acquainted with Precious Metal Clay. I was immediately hooked on the clay. Carol is a fun instructor and she continues to provide me with advice on working with the clay. She also provided me with firing services until I could afford my own kiln. From then on, I have learned from books, forums, trial and many errors. The clay has potential to produce almost any design that I can conceive. I have been working with metal clay for about five years. I also took a lamp work bead making class taught by Margo at Beaded Puma. At first, I found lampworking to be very difficult. I was very disappointed with the beads I made in that first class. I was impatient and intimidated by the torch and the fuel and oxygen canisters. I put the idea of creating my own lamp work beads on the back burner, so to speak.

Patty: At a local jewelry show, I was lucky to have my booth sandwiched between Sarinda Jones and Anne Timpson. They have been very generous with their knowledge. I was fascinated with Anne’s amazing lamp work beads. Anne was intrigued with my metal clay pieces. We formed an educational alliance. Anne introduced me to Bernice Miera at a Glass Art Guild Of Utah meeting. Bernice creates beautiful stained glass work, and is also a lamp worker. She offered her teaching studio, to bring us together to exchange ideas and creative energy. I spent many hours in her studio burning glass. They were amused at my impatience and frustration with lamp working. “Practice, practice, practice!” was the mantra…and still is. I am in the infant stage of glass lampworking. I have much to learn. I have these women to thank, along with my very supportive husband and friends, especially Kay Wankier, for their time, knowledge, encouragement, patience, and use of their studio space, equipment and materials.

Gavin: How do you decide what kind of piece you're going to work on?

Patty: Many times, ideas pop into my head when I am doing something unrelated. I jot them down, and take them to the drawing board. Other times I just sit down and start playing. Sometimes the end result is fabulous, and sometimes it is not. I have a huge “bad bead” jar, and many silver clay goofs that I will re-fabricate in the future. I pull from my Illustration and design background to create my pieces.

Gavin: What's the process behind making one from idea to final product?

Patty: For the metal clay, designs are constructed with the moist clay. It can be cut, stamped, sculpted, or carved. After drying, it is sanded and refined. I then fire at 1650 degrees for two hours. The pieces are then polished, patina is added, and assembled. A lot of my work is making components for pieces that will be assembled later. I make my own ear wires, and some of the metal beads in my lamp work bracelet designs. Along with my own silver and lamp work, I incorporate fair trade silver from Bali and Thailand, and ceramics from Greece. With lamp working, colored glass rods from Italy, Germany or the U.S. are melted in front of a torch, and wound around a steel mandrel. Colors are added until I am happy with the design. From there, the beads are properly annealed in a digitally controlled kiln for strength. Many times, I don’t know what I am getting until it emerges from the kiln.

Gavin: Do you usually go for a specific look, what appeals to you, or just randomly decide at some point?

Patty: It really is a combination of those things. Sometimes I have an idea for a design, and as I spend time working on it, it evolves into something quite different than what I originally had in mind. With lamp work, I am usually working at mastering a new technique. I will sit at the torch and make bead after bead until I feel like I can comfortably and efficiently produce the new technique. This can take many days, or even weeks. There are countless techniques to learn. I have my work cut out for me.

Gavin: Does it ever feel like jewelry isn't considered art in many cases, or do you feel more like it's an unappreciated art form?

Patty: I’m assuming you are touching on the argument that jewelry making is a “craft” and not “art”. Craft is a learned skill. Painters learn the craft of painting, Sculptors learn the craft of sculpting. Jewelry designers learn the craft of creating jewelry. Great artists master their craft and use of the materials. Art is an expression or execution of a thought, idea, emotion or intent. Art is a connection between artist and viewer. Art and craft are not entities themselves. They are specific components of all creative work. There is “art jewelry” and there is mass produced, cookie cutter jewelry. I do suppose that “ jewelry as art” may be an idea that some find hard to wrap their minds around. It sometimes seems that throughout history, a male dominated medium has been labeled art, whereas a female dominated medium has been considered a craft.

Gavin: Tell us about the works you're showing at galleryUAF.

Patty: These pieces are the culmination of everything I have been working on the past 2 years. Of course, I am working on mastering my craft, and will be for quite some time, I am sure until the end of my days.

Gavin: How did the opportunity come up for you to be a part of this showing?

Patty: I have volunteered with the Utah Arts Festival for 18 years, and have developed some great relationships. I have had great opportunities afforded me. Matt Jacobson and Lisa Sewell have viewed my work and invited me to participate in this show as well as in the 2008 Utah Arts Festival. I am very grateful to them.

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local art scene, both good and bad?

Patty: When I was young, I was always grumbling about the lack of art venues in Salt Lake City, and the rest of the state. I can no longer do that, can I? But there is always room for improvement.

Gavin: Anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Patty: I would like to see more galleries and studios participate in the Stroll. I would like to see more involvement from galleries in the south and west ends of the valley, and the small studios and galleries out in the suburbs. They are out there! Maybe a weekly stroll for designated galleries on a rotating basis so all can attend and something is always going on and always being promoted.

Gavin: What can we expect from you this upcoming year?

Patty: I have some new ideas. I want to move into hollow glass forms. I will be becoming more expressive with the metal clay. Also, reclaiming and recycling is important to me.

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

Patty: Any event and gallery that promotes art and local artists. Art Provides What Life Does Not!

Gail Piccoli

Gavin: Hey Gail. First off, what first got you interested in art, and what were some of your first inspirations?

Gail: I got involved with the arts through the back door. It was always something I enjoyed and was encouraged to pursue in school but did not really have the confidence in my ability.

Gavin: I've read you earned a degree in fine arts, but things didn't work out the way you had hoped. Can you elaborate a little?

Gail: Even the art degree I studied was based on selling, preserving and engaging other people into art appreciation. Art History is not exactly a fine arts degree but it was my side ward step to be closer to the arts in the managerial, promotional, conservation position then the more elusive creative one. I obviously did not become an independent artist right away it took a few years of honing my skills and developing my own style but it was pure chance because honestly I was never really crazy enough about stained glass before to want to pursue it personally.

Gavin: What got you interested in going to Luna Bella?

Gail: I moved to Salt Lake City with my now husband after college and basically needed a job that would get me through until I got a "real" job. My parents encouraged me to go to this local stained glass shop to say hello to a lady who worked in the studio and was a friend of my brothers in college. I think they were hoping she may have some local advice for me and perhaps lead me to a potential job and/or knowledge about the area. Unbeknown st to them she did not even work there any more however this chance encounter with stained glass was the beginning of my career as an artist. See what happens when you listen to your parents. I did get a job at the glass studio in their retail store and eventually taught classes. This was my spring board.

Gavin: Do you feel like stained glass doesn't get the attention as an art for it should, or that it's just overlooked?

Gail: Stained glass gets overlooked by so many people because they feel it is predictable. I guess I am speaking more to the modernist because if you like Victorian, Art Deco, Art Noveau, Prairie style to name a few they are readily available. The more contemporary affordable work is not. Hopefully that will change but just from my little bubble of art shows, galleries and retail I don't see much out there right now which is unfortunate because i believe the medium can successfully be pushed much more in that direction.

Gavin: What's the usual process and work that goes into a piece?

Gail: The technique for doing stained glass (copper foil) is pretty straight forward and something anyone can do well with enough practice. The art of it comes in when you can envision and produce a piece of work that feels fresh and original with in the constrains of the technique. I try to always follow that path when I have the opportunity to sell my work. Weather or not I succeed at that is subjective but it keeps me alway pursuing and pushing for the next successful design. Not all original pieces are successful I have a box of misfits but many times what evolves out of a mistake can be something I am very happy with. I don't want to give the wrong impression about any of the above styles I mentioned earlier. I have come to enjoy them all and have made many spins on reproduction pieces for people. It really is all about finding something you can relate to, that is when people will make the investment in your art.

Gavin: Going local, what are your thoughts on the Utah art scene, both good and bad?

Gail: Salt Lake has a lot of great opportunities to exhibit and sell your art. Starting at the Farmers markets, Holiday and House shows is a really great way to get you feet wet. There are a number of galleries and boutique shops that carry local art work. Many of the local restaurants and coffee shops are also hanging and displaying artist and crafters work form all over the valley and state. The venues are there for us it is just a matter of the customers wanting local art enough right now to open their wallets. I don't doubt the community's commitment to buying local but there is also the reality of the financial times.

Gavin: Anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Gail: Venues like the Utah Arts Gallery and the Festival are especially important to local artist right now. The infamous four day 10-hour a day festival is a great opportunity for exposure and sales. The collaboration of venue and artist is an important one, be it Gallery or Farmers Market. Having local venues willing to help me sell my work is invaluable to my motivation. Artists should not discount all the work that goes into pulling together a festival/farmers market/craft show and running a gallery/store. I have been on both side organizer, gallery sales, retail and artist so I believe I can say that objectively. Times are tough right now no doubt but I am motivated even more and always pursuing the next new design.

Gavin: What can we expect from you this upcoming year?

Gail: I am currently displaying in Local Colors of Utah, UAF Gallery Holiday show, Kimball Art Center Holiday show, the Chicago Art Institute museum shop Catalog along with a few other boutique shops nationally.


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