When walking down Park City’s beautiful Main Street, amongst the colorful historic buildings one might not notice the caliber of contemporary artwork collected and displayed by local fine art galleries. Many local gallery owners and curators travel nationally and internationally to meet with emerging and established artists and attend some of the most cutting edge art shows in the world. This allows them to bring to Park City selections of art that are often only seen in larger cities.
Many art collectors are drawn to specific genres such as abstract, landscape or figurative an often are not in touch with what is happening in other areas of contemporary art. Today many contemporary artists are pushing the boundaries of conventionally held standards, working to escape historic art constructs. These artists continue to explore silos within the art world’s varying fi elds of study. Th e exploration can result in a subject or object that is rendered representationally amidst an abstracted amalgam of texture, color, mood and form. Th e artwork created in this new genre seems to bend traditional rules of abstract and representational painting, conceptual in nature the works do not reveal the thoughts of the artist but instead require the viewer to delve deeper into its meaning and even bring their own narrative to the piece.
Piggyback, a mixed-media painting by Pamela Murphy implies a narrative that starts with a well-rendered depiction of a woman and child in swimsuits and caps at the pool. Th e realistic angle of the sun is indicated in the cast shadow of the child’s cap against her face while the woman figure merges into the abstracted pool. The artist replaces the traditional background that is expected in a representational painting, with a textile design motif inspired by her graduate studies in Pakistan. Th e painting challenges our sensibilities with the combination of realistically rendered figures in the foreground and the two-dimensional background. Th e background eventually merges into the water at the bottom third of the painting. Th e neutral tones throughout create a hazy feel that alludes to the idea of a cherished family photograph that has faded over time. The artist collects vintage photographs and references them in her paintings hoping that we each fi nd a little bit of ourselves in them. In most cases, the subjects are strangers to her but serve as archetypes intended to remind us of our own families and experiences.
“Murphy’s subjects have been disconnected from their original context and are recreated as icons for the viewer’s personal connection.”
Pamela Murphy is represented by Gallery MAR 436 Main Street, Park City
When you first see local photographic artist David Beavis’ Salt Ponds series, it appears to be an abstract work rendered in a palette of soft hues. Th is body of work merges the boundaries of landscape and abstract art. Th e artist photographed this series from an airplane over the salt ponds of Australia. How Beavis chose to frame the image and what he decided to keep in and out of the shots were decisions he made in a split second as the plane flew over the ponds. Aft er realizing his work is a landscape depicted from a unique vantage point, you may find yourself inching closer to fi nd a recognizable object in the geometric shapes.
The Salt Pond Series can be seen at DB Fine Art Photography, 314 Main Street, Park City
Artist Philip Buller is known for working with figurative and representational imagery that uses photography and painted layers of transparent and opaque color. Buller’s series Images of Ourselves includes large scale pieces on aluminum and paper. Vintage photographs are incorporated into his work and recontextualized with a dot pattern. The dots in the photographs create an open texture that works with the layers of paint while the representational or figurative imagery is either obscured or revealed in the deeper layers. In the 60” x 60” piece titled Gitana, a figure emerges from a dark background surrounded by layers of color implying that one is viewing a fleeting moment with a sense of impermanence. Buller’s use of light and shadow with the ethereal representation of the figure leads one to believe that the artist is asking the viewer to bring their own interpretation to the piece.
“I apply paint, remove paint – creating and obscuring forms. A form must be fully realized before it can be obscured. Th e ambiguity of a blurred image oft en encourages me to reach below a literal interpretation of form.” —Philip Buller
Philip Buller is represented by Julie Nester Gallery, 1280 Iron Horse Drive, Park City
The brush strokes and purposeful distortions in the work of Britt Snyder create a sense of abstraction and movement. In Photos, Snyder depicts two figures in what appears to be an unstable landscape. Th e child standing to the left is unaware of the shifting landscape and is focused on taking a photo with her phone. Th e other child looks toward a space outside of the painting that the viewer is not invited to share. Th e incomplete light and dark background, quick brush strokes and blurred edges imply a fleeting moment in time perhaps from the artists own past.
“Mixing abstraction, impressionist brushwork and realism, I create paintings where the viewer is encouraged to fill in the blanks and participate equally to bring their own meaning to the work…The figures are abstracted because I wanted the focus to be on the feeling and mood rather than a specific subject.” —Britt Snyder
Britt Snyder is represented by Meyer Gallery, 305 Main Street, Park City
By Pamela Beverly-Quigley