City Guide 2008 | Culture: Visual Arts - Visual Cues | City Guide | Salt Lake City Weekly

City Guide 2008 | Culture: Visual Arts - Visual Cues 

Departing gallery director Kenny Riches names 25 local artists who should be on your radar.

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At the ripe age of 22, I started Kayo Gallery. Along the way, I assembled art shows at a handful of other alternative venues and galleries. While I still feel like a young pup, I am walking away from the gallery scene and back to being an artist. But before I cut outta here, let me try to give you some art advice.

First: If you save just $20 from each paycheck—that means by not going out to the bar or out to eat one Friday night of each month—after a few months you can buy yourself an original piece of artwork. Better yet, save a $100 a paycheck.

Second: Buy what you like, aesthetically speaking; buy what grabs you. You may see the most amazing piece of art that you’ve ever seen, ever. Don’t let it pass you by. If you saw it at the opening reception, it still will be amazing when you sober up the following morning. If you can’t afford it immediately, talk to the gallery owner. I promise, they will work with you. They’ll put you on a payment plan or show you more affordable work by the same artist.

Third: Do some research. Salt Lake City is increasingly seeing more art from out of state. Artists that are selling well on one coast or another understand that they must drop their prices a little for the inlanders. This is your best opportunity to collect their art. So get on that Internet and read all about it.

Four: Talk about it. Even if you are not educated in art, try to talk about it. Tell people why you feel so captivated by the piece. If it’s an artist you enjoy and know that their name will say enough, tell people all about how you now own your very own piece of work by so-and-so, the most amazing artist whom everyone should keep their eyes on. You’re helping the scene and your investment by doing so.

Five: In my wheeling and dealing in the contemporary arts of Salt Lake City, these are the artists that I feel you should watch. They are the hottest artists in the scene, and they are changing the way that Salt Lake thinks about art. They are progressive and passionate and produce amazing work. Here we go:

Leia Bell Salt Lake City poster girl
Rock posters were just the beginning for Leia Bell’s prolific career as a print artist. Her prints are both collected privately and widely used commercially throughout Salt Lake City and beyond. Her confident line and design have made her an unmistakable presence in both art galleries and music venues.

Erin Berrett Keep it real, keep it still
One of the more conservative artists on this list, Erin Berrett’s paintings are masterfully crafted and wonderfully earthy in color. Beautifully rendered with attention to markmaking, these still lifes are heavy on the paint and easily accessible to the viewer. Peaches, plums, pears—the work is as delicious as the subject matter.

Laura Besterfeldt Like a second skin
Completely topical in the deepest sense of the word, Laura Besterfeldt makes sterling silver relics of real objects. Casting from wax molds that leave and reveal every honest detail of the surface they cover, Besterfeldt constructs sculptures and jewelry that are an artistic hybrid of anatomy and adornment.

Gentry Blackburn She calls it Frosty Darling
Everything about her is pristine—her attire, her abode and her art. Old-timey, poppy and bright, Gentry Blackburn’s paintings are Western, state-fair pop that are totally singular and worth adding to any collection. They are true to heart and a seamless, extremely well-executed fusion of Johnny Cash and Andy Warhol—with an extra sprinkling of irony. Can’t afford her paintings yet? Stop in at Frosty Darling (177 E. Broadway), Blackburn’s art boutique, filled with little bits of her craft and offering a glimpse into her little world.

Sandy Brunvand Print meets paint
For such an immaculate printmaker, Sandy Brunvand makes wonderfully loose and active paintings. Elements from her prints can be found subtly tucked into her larger painted works but appear as a starting point for more tactile work. Each informs the other, and this resulting success is evident not only in her work but in her nonprofit joint-venture printing studio, Saltgrass Printmakers.

Trent Call Get your Swinj here!
No other artist in Salt Lake City is as everywhere all at once as Trent Call. His paintings, drawings and prints are in the homes of his collectors, and his stickers, books and calendars are in the homes of everyone else. You may see his Swinj-o-Matic sticker machines around town, if so; buy your own piece of the Trent Call pie.

Shalee Cooper Suspended in black and white
Shalee Cooper is finding ground after living and shooting photos in Paris before becoming the director of the Saans Gallery on East Broadway here in Salt Lake City. In Cooper’s own work, texture and content are the key to capturing her portraits of dilapidated signs and curious marquees. Even with the rise of the digital revolution, she insists upon keeping things traditional with hand-printed silver-gelatin black-and-white photography.

Dana Costello Boys and girls can play nice together
Another local artist getting national recognition, Dana Costello’s paintings have a childlike yet sophisticated quality. Playful and dark in subject but bright in palette, her work shows some influence of Japanese and Bay Area artists. I was excited to see her work in The New York Times Magazine recently. Remember her name, you’ll see it often.
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About The Author

Kenny Riches

Artist Kenny Riches was born in Toyota City, Japan, and raised in Salt Lake City. He founded Kayo Gallery (177 E. Broadway) in 2004 and founded a custom picture framing shop, The Frameshop on Sixth and L, the same year. He started contemporary arts journal ArtSpeakSLC in 2005. As Riches is embarking on a move... more

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