Art has long provided a way for us to examine, process and try to make sense of the world around us. Since our first cave paintings, humans have created art as expression, as well as documentation, leaving important clues about what life was like when they created it.
It’s easy to find historical examples demonstrating how the role of art, after a culture experiences great hardship or change, increases dramatically. We can look to DaVinci and painters of the Renaissance era, Picasso’s masterpieces after the Great Depression or the modern art revolution of Jackson Pollock and Abstract Expressionists after WWII, just to name a few. Today is no different. Art is presenting itself in new and abundant ways.
What insights will be found in our images a hundred years from now? Will they tell a story of a world wedged within a pandemic crisis, battling division and injustices, or tales of longing to protect an environment they hold so dear?
ART CONNECTS US
In its ability to bring both individuals and even diverse societies together, art can deliver a valuable universal experience. Beginning mainly in New York City, but occurring across our nation, there’s been a monumental surge in public art seen on murals, banners and billboards displaying messages of caution, hope, thanks and support during our current social unrest and pandemic.
“The arts serve to connect human beings to each other while opening pathways for us to recognize our own personal essence. We need that connection today more than ever. Typically, during uncertain times, ‘luxury’ purchases aren’t a priority for anyone,” describes Susan Meyer, owner of Meyer Gallery. “The gallery has never been busier selling art than it has during the current pandemic. This took me by surprise. This pandemic has validated that living at home with original art feels more like an ‘essential’ purchase.”
JULIE NESTER GALLERY
Using a stunning combination of her dramatic landscape photography with wistful, flowing drapery fabric makes Rebecca Reeve’s art feel like a personal window into her creations. Drawing inspiration from a 17th century Dutch ritual, she explains, “During the wake of the deceased, it was customary to cover all mirrors, landscape paintings and portraits in the home with cloths. It was believed this would make it easier for the soul to leave the body and subdue any temptations for it to stay in this world.” To Reeve, the drapes can serve as “visual connectors to the familiar.”
ART EXPRESSES HUMANITY
Creating, as well as viewing art, helps us process and interpret our world. It offers a way to remember and reimagine life.
“During this crazy time we have been humbled to be a part of a community that is so dedicated to supporting the arts. We are craving connection now more than ever and art is such a great avenue for that. When COVID-19 first hit Park City, it left Main Street looking and feeling a bit like a ghost town. There was a lot of fear and uncertainty in those first weeks. One of the most remarkable things I have witnessed through all of the chaos is the resilience of our community. I feel that we have all learned to adapt, to reimagine, to reach out and help each other in creative ways. Art is and always has been a thread that connects humanity,” states Megan McIntire, owner of Summit Gallery.
Artist James Talbot explains, “When we gaze into the face of an ancient bronze in a museum, what reaches out across the millennia of time is not how different, but how like us they were.” Collaborating with the dancers of The Royal Ballet, as well as the Royal Opera House, his figurative sculpture is best known for its exquisite detail and anatomical precision. Add his graceful passion of movement, energizing tension and balance of form, and his sculptures appear ready to dance right off their platforms. The work of this distinguished British sculptor has been aptly described as “an object of pure spirit.”
ART HELPS US HEAL
Art’s language has never needed the words that can so often fail to truly reflect our shared experiences.
THOMAS ANTHONY GALLERY
Thomas Anthony, owner of Thomas Anthony Gallery, states “I found that the beauty and the aesthetic of a work of art has had wonderful emotional benefits in a time when the human psyche has been traumatized by fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Artwork seems to be the one constant throughout time that has provided an understanding of the human spirit, the ability to create, achieve and overcome, a documentation of the artistic and intellectual accomplishments of civilization. Artwork in the home can have a cathartic healing to the human experience that reminds people of the beauty in the world that is available to them.”
Jenna Von Benedikt explains, “I believe the arts in general—music, art, literature—cultivate the spirit to give us further light, knowledge, and joy…If it makes you think, feel, and live better for having experienced it, then the art has succeeded, be it a comic strip, portrait, landscape, or an engaging abstract.” It’s not hard to imagine her pure joy in creating these uplifting, yet pensive oil paintings she describes as “inspired by man’s connection and stewardship of the earth.” This English-born artist spent many childhood weekends venturing the British countryside on horseback, then her family moved to Utah’s Rocky Mountains where her love of art and earth continued and flourished.
Art can present a powerful catalyst for change.
“Self-isolating is necessary for an artist. You are mining the human psyche and as an artist your job entails going in there and finding out all of these things: the dark and the light. The wonderful and the scary things. We put all of that together on the canvas—our hopes, desires, fears. It all gets in there.” Michael Kessler’s inspiring paintings reveal a profound meditative connection to the inherent beauty found within nature. Numerous translucent and transparent acrylic layers combine to form an amazing array of textures and colors described as a painterly “tai-chi,” shaping lines of energy and transformation.
MONTGOMERY-LEE FINE ART
A great many years spent in the mountains photographing and sketching is evident in the emotion Greg Wilson captures in his paintings. Setting himself apart with only the mountains and animals as companions, with his camera and sketchbook in tow, makes possible the private moments viewers of his artwork have the privilege to share. His skill as both a photographer and a painter gives Wilson a unique perspective into the lives of the animals he portrays. As the eyes of the moose in his painting “Tough Guy” appear to look straight back through us, they seem to speak in a language reserved only for talk among old friends.
ART ALLOWS US TO SEE
It holds the ability to foster understanding, new perspectives and diverse interpretations.
With bold lines and interesting shapes, Susan Makov seems to convey secret lives in the trees she depicts. Her paintings often feature an array of interwoven, twisting vines wrapping around trunks and branches, as if to relate a story of great disappointment and loss. She explains her passion, “My interests concern making the details of the shrinking forests visible. My work explores unexpected discoveries. The smallest elements of the forest reflect drastic changes in climate. Increasing fires and insect damage, floods and droughts devastate acres of forests. All are detectable with the visible eye.” Her paintings ask viewers to look and listen closely to the almost audible conversations of the forest.
“In my work, paint echoes geologic processes…deposition and erosion,” explains Anne Kaferle, comparing the way her oil pigment particles naturally reassemble themselves in the active process of painting, to the continually changing landscapes of the desert. Contrasting comforting palettes of color with both smooth and rugged lines and shapes found in the Utah desert, she gives viewers a front row seat to the peaceful, yet powerful landscapes she paints. “The central Utah desert offers constant reminders of the power of water and deep geologic time. Surrounding cliffs display the history of a periodically advancing and receding interior seaway over the course of millions of years.”
MOUNTAIN TRAILS GALLERY
With a style that undoubtedly reveals his deep love and respect for the wildlife he portrays, Edward Aldrich’s paintings bring life to his canvas. He combines astounding realism with painterly brushstrokes in all the right places. Viewers are treated to incredibly realistic details in the form and features of his animals, while also soaking in his beautiful background landscapes. He makes it easy to feel and imagine the awe he experiences in his painting process.
ART TRANSPORTS US
With the intensity of cabin fever courtesy of the quarantine blues, it couldn’t arrive a moment too soon.
Combining photographs, paint, concrete, pastels and other materials, Timothy White creates powerfully expressive mixed media images. Describing his series “American Prosperity” featuring stumbled-upon abandoned places he said, “When I am passing through a place and happen upon an interesting building without knowing its history, questions occur to me about its past: Who lived or worked here? Why did they leave? Is this a sad story, or one of better opportunity…? The buildings I find are representations of the extension of ourselves we create with our places.” These pieces convey a sense of mystery and intrigue as viewers sense the memories and mood of the places he captures.
J GO GALLERY
Even as art transports us to another time and place, it also gives us a sense of place in the spot at which we’ve already arrived. By documenting both the small and life-changing details, art connects us to the places and people who have traveled a similar journey before. Will Armstrong’s work has been described as “the soundtrack to a road trip”. He draws with an oil-based pen on an absorbing collage of vintage maps and sheet music. Next, he adds an acrylic wash on top of the drawing providing such an alluring painterly finesse you’re tempted to join the journey.
Now is a fantastic time to follow the incredible trail of art Park City artists are busy blazing. Take time to enjoy the galleries hosting these artists’ unique interpretations of life as they know it, and perhaps find new common ground in the process.