JIMMI TORO, Becoming, Faces Project

JIMMI TORO, Becoming, Faces Project

We have definite expectations when hearing that we will see a portrait.  Do you expect the image of royal gentleman from days gone by or the image of a stiffly-posed civic leader in a public building?

Local artist, Jimmi Toro, defies our traditional concept of portraits in his Faces Project.  A song and its lyrics inspired the symbolism in the portraits and also involves a music video, a photographic documentary dealing with the video’s making, and a t-shirt design.  Each abstract portrait in this project proves unique.

Discussion Questions:

  1.  Describe the significance of the word, Becoming, as a title for this work.  Why does this title prove important for the evolution of this project?
  2. List and describe at least three formal elements that contribute to our perception of the painting.  (Remember, formal elements include use of color, shading, line, positive vs. negative space, treatment of subject, etc.)
  3. Why does it seem important that the portrait doesn’t depict a specifically recognizable person?
  4. How does this portrait differ from formal portraits in the past?  That is, what influences do you see from our modern context?  Why are these differences significant?

Welcome back, teachers and students!  I hope you had a great summer and are eager to begin the new year.  We have a lot of exciting projects and opportunities with the blog.

We begin this year with a question about art.  Is it more than mere decoration?  For those of us in the arts and humanities, the answer proves a resounding yes.  For years, art existed as a teaching tool and existed to incite change.  (We didn’t always have Twitter to voice concerns or to bring problems to light.)

JIMMI TORO, Lovetee

JIMMI TORO, Lovetee

Art’s power to incite change continues in the work of local artist, Jimmi Toro.  Toro exists as an artist with a cause and has contributed artistically to events for breast cancer awareness, Boys and Girls Club, and, most recently Fahodie for Friends, an organization that works to rescue children from human trafficking.

In talking with Toro, the reason for his affinity for causes proves simple, “I often get to experience people’s positive response to the arts and how powerful it can be. So why not push that idea in the direction of accomplishing some good in this world? Art can inspire for good, for bad, or for nothing, and an artist can choose to go down many roads that way.”

In discussing his exhibit for Fahodie for Friends, Toro revealed, “Basically I have started a series of portraits of kids who have been rescued from human trafficking and slavery. Using art to help bring awareness to this problem through this charity is an idea I have been thinking about for a while, and I have now officially started this….  These kids who are rescued from some form of slavery have a story to be told, so I thought that paintings of them would help tell this story and bring awareness to a great cause, ultimately raising money for this cause to rescue other children.”

JIMMI TORO, Edward

JIMMI TORO, Edward

Toro described public reception of these paintings.  “Viewers react in a powerful way to art that has emotion, that has a story, and that is executed well. I believe that most people have powerful stories of overcoming, enduring, and achieving a level of triumph because of this. I also believe that most people have big hearts and want to help those in need, especially children who are terribly abused at the hands of adults. So as an artist executing this type of painting, I try to show this individual’s struggle, the very human side of life that we all can relate to in some personal way. No so easy to do.”

Toro has numerous other projects and talents, as well.  In May, he had his Faces Project exhibition.  “My Faces Project Exhibit involved a series of paintings inspired by a song and its lyrics; a music video launch; a new t-shirt design; and photography documenting the making of the video. Each painting in this series is a face symbolically interpreting the music and or lyrics. I wanted to create a fine art, music, video, design, and photographic body of work that actually worked together.”

JIMMI TORO, Becoming, Faces Project

JIMMI TORO, Becoming, Faces Project

How has the artist’s focus changed in Fahodie for Friends and the Faces Project compared to past shows?  “These two projects have very specific agendas unlike many art exhibits. They are also projects that will have a long life with many more paintings to come from them.”

Music is another talent that Toro brings to his artistic repertoire.  “I am creating a new album of songs, but this time each song has a purpose to uplift, to see the good in the struggle, and to symbolically tell this through the arts as described above. I am also producing a similar project for a singer/songwriter named Kalli Therinae. Her first song will be released at the Utah Music Awards on September 12th, and will also include video, art, etc.”

JIMMI TORO, Becoming, Faces Project

JIMMI TORO, Becoming, Faces Project

Why are creative individuals like Jimmi Toro, the artists and musicians, so important to society?  “I hope to be. I see how much music and art can move people all the time. Occasionally, I go into a home or business where there is no good art on the walls, and it is a bit lifeless. I get emotional comments from people who purchase my art, and even more comments from people who experience it but can’t afford it. Sadly there is too much art and music that is
self indulging, degrading, and disturbing, but fortunately there is great art that is just the opposite. Within great art there is something magic that comes out of it, and that magic relates to what went into it. All those years of artistic struggle, discovery, failure, and seeing the world differently than most becomes an offering that people genuinely recognize and appreciate in a very personal way. If people had to sell their possessions, their art and their personal items and memories would be the hardest to let go. They become part of the art at some level. Something symbolically speaks to then in a very personal way. When I sell art, I don’t try to sell art. I just try to expose it to people, and some pieces create a direct influence on certain people. I can never predict which pieces will resonate with certain people. I just know that when it does, the connection is very powerful.”

To experience more of Jimmi Toro’s works, refer to his website at: www.jimmitoro.com.

Utah Arts Festival 2015, photo by Amourette Bradley

Utah Arts Festival 2015, photo by Amourette Bradley

Twitchell's Booth

Paul Twitchell’s Booth, photo by Amourette Bradley

Every year in June, artists from across the country travel to Salt Lake City for the Utah Arts Festival. They set up booths, display and sell their wares, and share their passion for art with the crowds. After four days of visual art exhibits and demonstrations, musical performances, performing arts workshops, and culinary tastings, the festival concludes. With the ensuing calm comes reflection, and with every passing year, I am continually reminded of how varied, vibrant, and talented many Utah artists prove. Three of my favorite Utah artists showcased in the festival were wildlife watercolorist Paul Twitchell, jewelry designer Kali Mellus, and oil painter Santiago H. Michalek. Their work offers viewers beautiful creations that display their individual style and that highlight Utah’s unique heritage.

Paul Twitchell’s wildlife art offers viewers an opportunity to share his love of the natural world. Within his work, viewers find carefully depicted images of trout, pheasants, grouse, and pintails. Owls, elk, moose, deer, and foxes also appear throughout his oeuvre. The luminescent colors, the delicate renderings, and the careful compositions create an immediate appeal.

Detail of Pintails

PAUL TWITCHELL, Detail of Pintails, photo by Amourette Bradley

When I asked Paul about his work, he explained that he always loved art and nature. He began creating art as a child, and he would practice his drawing skills by recreating cartoon figures from the evening paper. He spent hours playing in Utah’s outdoors, and with an artist’s eye for detail, he absorbed the world around him. After high school, Paul explained, art took a “back burner.” Drafted in the Vietnam War, college, career, marriage, and family occupied his time, but art still held a special appeal. He would create beautiful scenes of nature in his free moments. He told me that when he first made prints of his watercolors, colleagues at work were amazed and quickly offered to buy them. His “hobby” of painting Utah’s wildlife soon became lucrative. After retiring from Hill Airforce Base, Paul decided to devote more time to his art. He displays his works in about seven art shows a year and sells original paintings and limited edition prints. Insisting that his work remains a hobby, his prices remain surprising low. He wants people to like his art and to be able to afford something beautiful, he explains.

KALI MELLUS, Detail of Aspen Leaves in Resin, photo by Amourette Bradley

KALI MELLUS, Detail of Aspen Leaves in Resin, photo by Amourette Bradley

Kali Mellus’ jewelry and art display her affection for detail and a love of nature. Her beautiful framed panels of aspen leaves captured in resin seem to capture the glow of Utah’s canyons. Her recycled hardware jewelry and belt buckles offer an urban edge, alluding to Salt Lake’s urban and mountain culture.

SANTIAGO H.MICHALEK, Round House, photo by Amourette Bradley

SANTIAGO H.MICHALEK, Round House, photo by Amourette Bradley

Santiago H. Michalek’s work, specializing in oil paintings of vintage transportation, instantly attracts the viewer. His large-scale work of engineers and trains in a round house immediately recalls Utah’s railroad history and rail yards. The work seems to offer the viewer a glimpse into the middle of a past story. Santiago explains that his paintings often evoke nostalgia and memories. He creates connections to the past through his subject matter, vintage transportation, and through his realistic depiction of textures. Santiago explains that he finds painting texture particularly challenging and rewarding. The dented metal, the rust, the shine of steel, all bring immediacy to his works. A long-time Volkswagon buff, Santiago, often paints the iconic vehicles. Everyone who owns or once owned a Volkswagon often stops to talk to him about his art, he continues. They find a connection to his works through their own fond memories and his detailed creations. They recognize the sheen of the paint, the dent in the door, the scuff of rust on the side. Beautiful in their own right, the works take on added significance when combined with the viewer’s memories.Dove Blue Bus

My memories of the Utah Arts Festival are fond, as always. I find the opportunity to attend a delightful reminder of how varied, vibrant, and talented Utah artists prove.

Article written by our guest writer, Amourette Bradley, a former Salt Lake Community College and Hillcrest High School Instructor.  Thank you for your contribution!

 

 

 

 

BRENT HALE, Garden Tile Mirror, ceramics, photo taken by Amourette Bradley

BRENT HALE, Garden Tile Mirror, ceramics, photo taken by Amourette Bradley

With summer comes thoughts of vacation. The computer screen’s lurid glare, the smell of exhaust on the freeway, and the constant buzz of cell phones demanding our attention somehow seem even more annoying when the weather becomes warm. The desire to “get away,” if only for a few hours, often lures us outside. Like many of us, I often seek respite from our fast-paced world in nature. Somehow, just spending a few moments in nature seems to rejuvenate my spirit.

Art at the Main gallery celebrates the beauty and restorative spirit of nature with the exhibit The Artist’s Garden held at Red Butte. This exhibit features Utah artists’ depictions of gardens and nature and offers viewers the opportunity to purchase works.

Stepping into Red Butte Garden’s exhibit hall, one instantly realizes the unique nature of this exhibit. It seems so appropriate for an exhibit about gardens to be held in an atrium, surrounded by windows, and looking onto the landscape. Brent Hale’s ceramic Garden Tile Mirror plays with this setting. The mirror, framed with handcrafted tiles of leaves, flowers, and moths not only reflects the theme of an artist’s garden, but it also reflects the garden outside.

BILL REED, Stainless Steel Bouquet, mixed media, photo taken by Amourette Bradley

BILL REED, Stainless Steel Bouquet, mixed media, photo taken by Amourette Bradley

Strolling through the works, one cannot help but notice the variety of mediums and styles used to explore the idea of a garden. Bill Reed’s Stainless Steel Bouquet in mixed media offers the viewer a strikingly modern approach to nature. Heavily impasted paint becomes juxtaposed to the stainless steel “blooms.” It forces the viewer to think about the role of nature in our technological and industrial society. Have we separated ourselves from the natural world, or have we simply incorporated it into our new lifestyle?

BILL REED, Botanicals #3 (Flowering Spiral Galaxy), acrylic, photo taken by Amourette Bradley

BILL REED, Botanicals #3 (Flowering Spiral Galaxy), acrylic, photo taken by Amourette Bradley

Bill Reed’s acrylic Botanicals #3 (Flowering Spiral Galaxy) again explores nature within the modern world. Bill explains that his works exist as “emotional landscapes,” and, in this case, it utilizes an abstract image of nature to convey mood. Striking blues, white, and black move across the canvas in a spiral of color. The image recalls the captivation one feels gazing into a pool or looking into a summer’s sky. The circular flow, an allusion to Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, encourages the viewer to consider nature’s cyclic power and its paradoxical transient and eternal nature.

Mary Pusey’s watercolors offer the viewer delicate images of nature. Her exquisite renderings of sunflowers nodding in the garden instantly capture the viewer’s attention. It comes as no surprise to learn that Mary especially enjoys plein air painting. The play of light and shadow within her watercolor Nodding Off seems to capture the autumn light dancing across a sunflower filled with seeds. Her watercolor Rose Garden fragments the flowers into individual blocks of color and brings to mind a stained glass window or a mosaic in its intricacy.

MARY PUSEY, Nodding Off, watercolor, photo taken by Amourette Bradley

MARY PUSEY, Nodding Off, watercolor, photo taken by Amourette Bradley

A garden’s bright and restorative nature becomes expressed with swirled, fused, and slumped glass in Linda Kalmar’s work Blue Fescue. The bright blue and yellow instantly recalls a summer’s sky or a pool or blue surrounded by yellow buttercups. Christine Kende’s cast glasswork Evergreen further illustrates the delicate beauty of pine boughs through the glass medium. The iridescent nature of the glass seems to allude to the many seasons of the garden and the play of light on the branches.

LINDA KALMAR, Blue Fescue, photo taken by Amourette Bradley

LINDA KALMAR, Blue Fescue, photo taken by Amourette Bradley

As one travels through the exhibit, the joy and beauty that the artists convey through their various depictions of gardens lifts the spirit. It acts as a mini “get away” and offers the viewer the opportunity to take home one of the “gardens” to preserve the memory. The exhibit continues through June 21, 2015, at Red Butte, and interested parties may also visit the Art at the Main gallery to view more examples of highlighted artists’ works.

This article was written by our guest writer Amourette Bradley, a former Salt Lake Community College Instructor and Instructor at Hillcrest High School.

Hanson Music Works & Goods, Cigar Box Ukelele, $200. From https://www.facebook.com/HansonMusicWorksandGoods/app_259525164100619?ref=page_internal

Hanson Music Works & Goods, Cigar Box Ukelele, $200. From Hanson Music Works & Goods Facebook page

Have you ever made a guitar with a shoe box and rubber bands?  As a kid, art and music combine in simple craft projects.  But as we get older, the skill set required to create art and music becomes more intense, and we either choose sides or give up all together.  Local artist and musician Bret Hanson seems to have bridged this gap with his multifaceted talent.

Bret Hanson is a busy man. He handcrafts musical instruments from reclaimed objects, composes and performs music under the name Lowlander, and is a master printmaker.

BRET HANSON, from Hanson Music Works and Goods Facebook page

BRET HANSON, from Hanson Music Works and Goods Facebook page

Growing up, Bret felt fascinated by art and by music. He explains that his love of art began at birth and that he would draw and build models from a very young age. At sixteen, when his father surprised him with an electric guitar and amp purchased at a yard sale, his passion for music commenced. From that time on, he was never without at least a few musical instruments in his life.

This fascination with art and with music continued in college. At the University of New Mexico, Bret earned a MFA in printmaking. All the while his prints appeared in numerous exhibitions and shows, Bret continued with his other love of music, playing the guitar and writing his own songs. In 2012, Bret started writing music under the name Lowlander. As he continued writing and recording more music, he also began searching for more instruments to include within his songs. Research led him to discover an international community of artists creating their own musical instruments. Intrigued, he built his first electric cigar box guitar, and he became instantly captivated by the process and the sound.

Hanson Music Works & Goods, Custom Jameson Acoustic Guitar, $180. From Hanson Music Works & Goods Facebook page

Hanson Music Works & Goods, Custom Jameson Acoustic Guitar, $180. From Hanson Music Works & Goods Facebook page

Following his dream of combining his art and music, Bret began the company Hanson Music Works & Goods.   He handcrafts and sells guitars, ukuleles, banjos, and amplifiers. Bret finds the materials to make his instruments in cigar shops, thrift stores, dumpsters, craft stores, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and curbsides. He combines these found and reclaimed objects in the creation of something totally new: a musical instrument.

The challenges involved in arranging unrelated objects in a pleasing composition and in arranging them as functional objects fascinates Bret. He spends ten to fifteen hours creating each instrument. The time consuming nature of his projects and his printmaker’s attention to detail becomes apparent when one looks at one of his cigar box guitars. The copper rivets inlaid in the fret, the juxtaposition of metal bolts with the warmth of a cigar box, and the delicate paintwork on the front show the hand of a master artist.

Hanson Music Works & Goods, Electric Cigar Box Guitar, $200. From https://www.facebook.com/HansonMusicWorksandGoods/app_259525164100619?ref=page_internal

Hanson Music Works & Goods, Electric Cigar Box Guitar, $200. From Hanson Music Works & Goods Facebook page

It seems an ideal fit for Bret. He explains that in creating an instrument he feels his mind and creativity engaged, but he can also put the project down and leave it for a few hours or days when necessary. Being a parent, he explains, necessitated a more flexible type of work than printmaking that requires a dedicated “safe space” in which to work for an extended time.

Bret feels that his instruments bridge the gap between visual design and music. He explains that he can’t categorize his music or art and that he often changes directions swiftly and dramatically in his work. Creating his own musical instruments allows him to explore various musical and artistic traditions and styles all while combining aesthetic beauty and functionality. It seems that he’s found the perfect profession!

Bret Hanson, instruments for sale at Craft Lake City, taken form Hanson Music Works and Goods Facebook page

Bret Hanson, instruments for sale at Craft Lake City, taken form Hanson Music Works and Goods Facebook page

To experience more of Bret’s works and music, refer to his Facebook page and Etsy page at: https://www.facebook.com/HansonMusicWorksandGoods/timeline?ref=page_internal

Interview written by guest writer and former Hillcrest High School Instructor, Amourette Bradley.

Bret Hanson, instruments for sale at Craft Lake City, taken form Hanson Music Works and Goods Facebook page

BRET HANSON, instruments for sale at Craft Lake City, taken form Hanson Music Works and Goods Facebook page

In looking at guitars created at Hanson Music Works and Goods, the question arises, “Are they art forms or simply functional musical instruments?”  What further complicates this notion is the fact that Hanson’s instruments are designed from old cigar boxes and other reclaimed and repurposed materials.  The artist complicates these found objects’ original intentions.  Each work proves unique and is designed with simple hand-tools, a rarity in our modern age of mass production.

Local artist Bret Hanson creates these pieces and seems to resolve the old conflict of form versus function.  According to Hanson, “As an artist with an MFA, I consider these instruments functional works of art. I have designed them in hopes of achieving a balance of beauty and functionality.”

While the artist’s intention becomes evident in our modern time, what about past issues of form versus function?

BRET HANSON, from Hanson Music Works and Goods Facebook page

BRET HANSON, from Hanson Music Works and Goods Facebook page

Discussion Questions:

1.  Native American beading and design decorate clothing, baskets, and other seemingly functional items.  Despite the beauty of their work and level of their skill, these objects most often appear in natural history museums as opposed to fine art museums.  What does this scenario reveal about past views of form and function?

2.  List and describe three items that prove functional but could also exist as works of art.  Why?

To further explore the work of Bret Hanson, refer to Hanson Music Works and Goods’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HansonMusicWorksandGoods/timeline?ref=page_internal

On February 12th, local potter, Blaine Atwood, guest lectured ceramics students at Granger High School and led them in a project.  Now, several weeks later, we can see the finished products after they’ve emerged from the kiln!

With only two weeks into the new semester, these beginning ceramics’ students had the chance to learn from a former college professor of ceramics.  He now works as a full-time potter.  Students learned many methods to create wheel-thrown pottery.  They also learned techniques to make pinched pots, hollow vessels, and even elephant sculptures.  The results proved impressive.

In talking about her experience with the artist connect, instructor Andrea Heidinger said it provided “extraordinary experiences.”  She continued, “This was many students’ first time meeting a full-time artist, let alone having them available in the classroom.”

Students agreed and praised the chance to have hands-on experience.  Students commented on the confidence that Atwood gave them through sharing his experience and advice.  According to a member of Heidinger’s class, “It is valuable because someone is taking their time to teach something they love and have as a career.”

The praise was mutual.  In communicating with Atwood, he admired the fact that “The classes were exited and attentive. It is obvious that [Heidinger] has a way of inspiring the kids to create great things. I personally had a great time.”

Thank you to Ms. Heidinger and her class and, especially to artist, Blaine Atwood!  We wish to thank our sponsors for making this event possible.  We appreciate your support.

For more information about our visiting artist opportunities, please email our staff at: fosterartprogramblog@gmail.com.

Andrea Heidinger provided the photos, and Juliette Bradley prepared the slideshow.  The featured song comes from Nine Inch Nails 7 Ghosts I.