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.
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’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.
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.
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.