Kimball Art Center taps into the concept of place
May 26, 2015
Since the Kimball Art Center plans to move from its present location at 638 Park Ave., into a temporary place while a new facility is being designed and built elsewhere, Exhibitions Director Christine Baczek has thought about the concept of place.
So, this summer, the center will present three simultaneous exhibits that are featured under the umbrella title, You Are Here.
These exhibits — Posterity and Parks, You Are Here, and NewLand — will be shown in the Garage, Main and Badami galleries, respectively, according to Baczek.
"You Are Here is this idea of space and what space actually is," Baczek told The Park Record. "Place is something that you often don’t see because you’re so familiar with it, and you have perceptions, conceptions and even misconceptions, and that’s what these exhibitions show."
Doug Leen’s Posterity and Parks opened last Friday and will be on display through Aug. 30.
"Posterity and Parks is about our National Parks and how these places work with our memories," Baczek explained. "Most people who end up going to these national places remember their trips and the people who they were with when they visited these areas."
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Leen, who woks with a graphic designer named Brian Maebius, was a park ranger for most of his career.
"When he was working at Teton National Park, he discovered this [serigraph] poster that represented the park," Baczek said. "He hung it up on his wall, and after seeing it day after day, decided to find out more about it."
Leen dived into the National Park Service archives where he found a black and white negative documenting a series of same-styled posters about the national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park and Yellowstone, which were made in the 1930s.
"When he went through the archives, he found the history of these areas and how the Work Progress Administration (WPA), which was on of the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agencies that employed millions of unemployed people to
carry out public works projects during the Great Depression, hired artists to make advertisements for national parks," Baczek said. "He discovered all of these pictures that people had forgotten about and took it upon himself to recreate these posters and bring them back to life."
Leen’s new posters became so popular that the National Parks Service asked him to make more posters in that vintage style.
"So, he and Brian have been making new ones since the mid-1990s, and he has since found collectors who have some of the original posters and he also makes recreations of these original posters," Baczek said. "We have 18 of these in the gallery."
While Posterity and Parks has been open for a few days, the other two exhibits, You Are Here and NewLand, will open this Friday and run through Aug. 23, according to Baczek.
"You Are Here is the flagship show and it was created by two artists, Iceland’s Svavar Jonatansson and Utah’s Jared Steffensen.
Svavar is a photographer, videographer and a radio host and was part of the team that made the documentary "Chasing Ice," which utilized time-lapse photography to show the demise of glaciers around the world, Baczek said.
"He decided to do a project about Utah and drove around the state and took time-lapse videos that would become the exhibit," she said.
The videos are played to music, which was written and played by two Utah-based composers, Matthew Durrant and Devin Maxwell.
"They got involved when Svavar contacted the University of Utah’s music department to find someone who would want to score the videos," Baczek said. "They ended up making a remarkable score for four videos."
When visitors walk into the Main Gallery, these videos will be shown on the left side of the hall.
"Highlighting these videos will be three, large, panoramic photos from the Utah desert," Baczek said.
On the other side of the hall, Steffensen’s installation will be shown.
Steffensen, who is the curator of outreach and public programs for the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA), has taken clips from various movies that were shot in Utah and edited them together, Baczek said.
"When people watch this video, they can see how Utah has been treated as a pop-culture landscape and how it has represented places including Arizona, New Mexico, and even Mars," she said.
This exhibit also has an interactive component.
"When you walk into the gallery, you will see benches that Jared has made out of wood," Baczek said. "They look like mountains, but you can sit on them and watch the TV monitor, where his videos will be shown."
In addition to creating the exhibit, Steffensen will host a teen art workshop about abstract landscape sculpture on Friday at the Kimball Art Center at 2 p.m. Registration can be made by visiting http://www.kimballartcenter.org .
Like You Are Here, NewLand, by Faith Hagenhofer, will open Friday and be on display in the Badami Gallery through Aug. 23, Baczek said.
"Faith is an artist from Olympia, Washington, and she will take over the whole gallery for her installation," Baczek explained.
The exhibit will include handmade wool quilts that depict life and places that are specific to her, but not known to anyone else.
"She also made a series of buckets that will have water inside of them, which will be placed in the gallery next to a big, crumbling wall," Baczek said. "Her objective is to have the viewers become archaeologists who will interpret what these objects are. So this exhibit is conceptual and emotive."
Like Steffensen, Hagenhofer will host a workshop on Friday.
"This will be a three-dimensional felt-making class for adults," Baczek said. "Registration can be done by visiting http://www.kimballartcenter.org ."
These three exhibits all have an interactive element, which Baczek enjoys showing.
"One of the things I have always wanted to do at the Kimball is to show more immersive and interactive exhibits," she said. "It’s hard to do sometimes, because we do get a lot of children who visit and we don’t want an exhibit that will be damaged. So there is a balancing act, which is something these exhibits can do. So they should be a lot of fun."
The Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave., will host a free exhibit opening for You Are Here on Friday, May 29. A member preview will run from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. and the exhibit will open to the public at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org.