J GO Gallery will host opening reception for Bernard and Umerlik
Exhibit features abstract works
J GO Gallery is known for representing contemporary artists who find ways to reinterpret Western art motifs.
On Friday, the gallery will host an artist opening reception for two artists, Paul Vincent Bernard and Rose Umerlik, whose abstract works differ but complement each other.
The two talked with The Park Record during separate interviews last week about their backgrounds, art and technique.
Bernard combines printing knowledge with paint-filled etchings
Salt Lake City’s Paul Vincent Bernard etches dense shapes into enamel-coated aluminum panels that he then rubs with oil paint.
The idea sprouted when he participated in a fundraiser exhibit called “300 Plates” at Art Access.
The exhibit featured art that was applied to tempered panel or Plexiglass plates.
When Bernard was asked to participate in the exhibit, he reflected on is work as a printer.
“I remember taking a workshop with a printmaker and saw an image that had lines scribed in multiple directions on a piece of metal and how ink was wiped into the abrasions,” Bernard said. “It is a form of work called dry point, and I thought about using printmaking techniques on the plate.”
Shortly afterwards, J GO Gallery discovered Bernard and asked him to make bigger works.
“It was a challenge to do that because when I do my work, I put some base color down on some aluminum and then score the thing before I wipe oil paint into the incisions,” he said. “I manipulate how dense the colors will be by wiping the paints off with my hand. Then I have to let those sit for days and sometimes weeks before I can go back and do more work.”
Bernard will unveil seven new works at J GO this weekend. The centerpiece is a creation called “Liberty.”
The piece is inspired by a photograph Bernard took of the Statue of Liberty on a recent trip to New York.
“We went to the Statue of Liberty and from the bottom looking up, you can’t see the top of the statue,” he said. “But I took a photo looking up and caught that undulating, flowing topography of the statue.”
Bernard recreated the statue’s textured waviness on an aluminum panel and finished it with oil paint that accentuated the textures of the sculpture.
Bernard’s love for visual art started when he was a child growing up in Salt Lake City in the 1950s. His parents noticed he loved drawing.
“They signed me up for a few art classes at the Art Barn and my dad, who was a spendthrift, would buy the best art supplies for me,” Bernard said. “I would copy things from the newspaper comic strips and then took required art classes in school.”
In high school, an art teacher named Nate Winters mentored Bernard in high school.
“I got a scholarship at Brigham Young University, but went on a Mormon mission,” Bernard said. “When I returned, I reapplied for the scholarship and lasted one semester.”
He transferred to the University of Utah and decided he didn’t want to be an artist.
“When I turned 38, I decided I needed to do art, so I went back to the U and got my BFA and graduated in 1995,” Bernard said.
The artist began showing his works at Tanner Frames and eventually got picked up by J GO Gallery.
“By 2005, my work got more minimal and I got interested in line work and close repetition,” Bernard said. “I was drawn to artists like Richard Serra, Brice Marden and Chuck Close.”
Bernard’s works started off as black and white but gradually shifted to on the color spectrum.
“I still work with a minimal pallet,” he said. “I would rather a little color do a lot of work than a lot of color doing a little work.”
For information about Paul Vincent Bernard, visit http://www.paulvincentbernard.com.
Umerlik’s road to abstracts started with photography
Rose Umerlik’s oil works also features expressive lines, in addition to showing contrasting passages of opacity and transparency. The images are drawn from a personal and emotional vernacular.
“They are all about relationships,” Umerlik said during a phone call from New Vermont. “That means they can be relationships between two people, or three people or many people.”
The works that represent three or more people are usually about family.
“I explore how these relationships do or don’t work in these pieces,” she said.
The works that represent two people sometimes represent couples or friends.
“Sometimes I have pieces that are about me,” Umerlik said. “Like with the other larger works, some appear to be full of complications and hard, and some are beautiful.”
Umerlik, who won’t make it out to Park City for the exhibit opening, said she is excited about the new work she shipped to J GO Gallery.
“I feel like the things I always thought I wanted to do, but couldn’t, are finally being realized,” she said. “I will have seven pieces at the show. Some have multiple panels, and they are all different sizes.”
After seeing some of her work, people are surprised to learn Umerlik didn’t start her career as a painter.
“My earliest memories I have is me building sculptures,” she said. “Some of my greatest influences are sculptors, even though I don’t do any myself, which is funny.”
It wasn’t until after her mother introduced her to the works of painter Vincent van Gogh that she wanted to start creating two-dimensional art.
“I remember walking past this pickup truck that had all of this mud caked on it and my mom pointed that out to me and said, this is what Vincent’s van Gogh’s paintings were like,” Umerlik said. “From that moment, I became entranced with painters. I just wanted to learn how to be the real deal. I just didn’t want to take art lessons, I wanted serious classes to draw.”
Umerlik’s parents fostered her desire and picked a high school for her with a quality art program.
“I probably learned more about art in high school than I did in college, which is a really bad thing to say,” Umerlik said with a laugh. “The whole time I was in high school, I wanted to create art from nothing. I didn’t want to paint a still life or a model. I just wanted to create from myself.”
After she entered Syracuse University as a photography major, Umerlik took a course from Steven Zaima, who encouraged abstract work.
“He said he wanted us to make something we’ve never seen before and make something every week,” Umerlik said. “It opened up something inside of me to do abstract work.”
Upon graduation, Umerlik stopped doing photography and never thought about exhibiting her work until she was nearly 30.
“I started doing shows and from there things moved quite quickly,” she said. “Now, it’s my full-time job.”
For information about Rose Umerlik, visit http://www.roseumerlik.com.
An artist reception for Paul Vincent Bernard and Rose Umerlik will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, at J GO Gallery, 408 Main St. The event is free and open to the public. For information, visit http://www.jgogallery.com.
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