Wendy Chidester will show new works at Coda Gallery
Ryan Summerlin July 22, 2014
When people visit Coda Gallery during the Park City Gallery Association’s gallery stroll on Friday, July 25, they will be visually transported back into time through Wendy Chidester’s paintings.
The Salt Lake City-based artist is known for her works depicting antique machinery, appliances and toys and Coda will show a total of 20 works, 12 of which are new, that are of cue balls, toy cars, watches, typewriters, telephones and roller skates.
"My works kind of bring back to life things that have been lost," Chidester said during an interview with The Park Record. "So it’s important to me that I capture the accuracy in the machine or object I paint, because I feel like I’m kind of recording history in a way."
The paintings are somewhat abstract when seen from up close, because Chidester utilizes a lot of flicking and scratching in her pieces.
"However, if you look at the images from far away, they look pretty realistic," she said.
Chidester began painting antique items a few years ago while she was involved in art workshops in Helper.
Before that, she had done many landscapes and portraits.
"There isn’t a lot to do in Helper, but paint and follow your passion, and there aren’t a lot of distractions, which is nice," she said. "I remember one day, it was raining, so I wasn’t going to go and paint a landscape, so I went into this antique shop that was across the street from the studios."
During her visit, Chidester found an old camera.
"I bought it, thinking that I would just paint it," she said.
Something happened when she was studying the object at the studio.
"I fell in love with the history behind the camera," Chidester said. "I thought about all the places the camera could have been and began thinking about all those other relics that are in the shop."
She went back to find more cameras and found typewriters and an old movie projector.
"I began thinking about what kinds of pictures were taken with the camera and I thought about who may have typed on the typewriter and what stories they created," Chidester said. "I also began to imagine what kinds of movies were shown through the projector."
Chidester said oil on canvas is the perfect medium to capture these objects.
"With oil, you can do a lot of glazing, and my paintings have 12 to 15 coats of paint by the time they are finished," she said. "I try to get that aged look by going over and over the image again and again. And when you put on layer after layer, the painting gets a kind of depth to it."
Although some of Chidester’s new works, such as the watch gears, have a lot of detail, the most challenging works for her to paint are commissions, regardless of the subject.
"They are the most difficult for me, because when I do them, I’m always thinking about what do the people who asked me to paint really want," she said.
Another challenge is painting from photographs.
"I remember painting an old steam engine and I’m not familiar with old trains," she said. "So I took a photo of this train and that was hard because I wasn’t able to see all the things that I would have otherwise saw if I was working with a real train.
"I couldn’t get up close to see all the mechanical workings," Chidester said. "So the challenge was to keep the painting from looking flat."
Still, the artist welcomes these challenges.
"They have expanded my horizons," she said. "For example, I just did a beach painting and haven’t done those often. So it took time to gather things from a beach and learn about them. These experiences gets me out of my comfort zone and helped me as an artist, because I don’t find myself in a rut."
Chidester is on a continuous mission to find "new" old items to paint.
"I went to an antique store yesterday and found some old laundry wringers and I have never painted that before," she said. "I have found when I paint, I always find something that I haven’t painted before. It has opened more opportunities for me."
Coda Gallery, 804 Main St., will welcome painter Wendy Chidester on Friday, July 25, during the Park City Gallery Association’s monthly gallery stroll from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Chidester is known for paintings of vintage machines, toys and tools. For more information, visit www.codaparkcity.com . For more information about Wendy Chidester, visit www.wendychidester.com .