Ragland is a renaissance man
While skiing takes a prominent place in Park City’s winter, other things are going on too. Such is the Kimball Art Center. This February, while two exhibitions of ski photography fill the Kimball’s first floor, a local artist has taken a prominent place downstairs.
There, in the art center’s Badami Gallery, Park City artist Greg Ragland’s work is featured in a new exhibition, "Movement Within Spaces."
The installation includes Ragland’s mixed media paintings composed from a combination of acrylics, drawings and paper embedded in resin and his sculptures, some made from bronze and some created from a bronze and resin mix.
"I’ve been working on this show for about six months, and there are about 45 pieces there," said Ragland.
He organized the show around a theme, and worked from there.
"I have this idea about containers," he said, "that we as human beings place ourselves in containers."
Those containers, he continued, can either be physical like towns, buildings or rooms or mental mirroring the way in which a person compartmentalizes his or her life into different sections and parts.
"The show has to do with the human figure," said Ragland, "everything that has a body in it."
The paintings feature figures, mostly without clothes, sitting or lying in fetal positions, often in boxes. Each work has its own color scheme, with richly colored and shaded figures surrounded by lighter backgrounds and containers. The colors are layered, monotones, but with hints of other hues. Shadows on the figures and in the background complete the composition in some, while with others, resin provides a reflective quality.
Meanwhile, the sculptures feature subjects similar to the paintings, forms in fetal positions that are occasionally just beginning to stretch. Some are covered in a patina, while others, like the paintings, feature the reflective resin.
"To be able to deal with society, you have to be able to put different parts of your life in different areas," said Ragland.
The exhibit, he said, was designed to make people question the roles of the containers in which they place themselves or others.
Ragland noted the importance of color in the paintings, with warm hues making many more accessible to viewers and the shadows adding depth and movement to the pieces. The reflectivity of some of the paintings, he added, is intentional so a viewer can see himself or herself inside the painting.
He also noted the importance of viewing the sculptures and the paintings together.
"For the show, there’s really a combination of paintings and sculptures," he said.
He creates both the sculptures and the paintings together, working on several at the same time, using his computer to make the image from which he starts, or working another piece. But each of his creations is an original.
"I don’t use references," he said. "If I do use a reference, it’s usually from a sculpture or another painting [of mine]."
In that way, Ragland noted, his works feed off each other.
"I always work in series, because I can never solve a problem with just one [piece]," he said.
Typically, there are between five and seven works in a series, although occasionally there are more.
As his affinity for both painting and sculpture might suggest, Ragland maintains a degree of versatility. At one time he studied architecture at Arizona State University, and he graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.
In addition to his work in the fine arts, Ragland has also produced graphic designs and illustrations for several major magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Newsweek and GQ.
Recently, he also earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Utah and worked as a projection director for the stage production of, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" at the Plan B Theatre Company.
"I think of myself as a renaissance kind of guy," said Ragland. "I don’t just do one thing."
His versatility, he said, sets him apart from many other artists.
"I think there’s a lot of artists who do art shows and then work at a restaurant or wait tables I’ve really chosen to solely support myself through the arts."
The different mediums in which he works influence each other, he said, adding new facets to both his design work and his work in the fine arts. The latter work will, of course, be on display at the Kimball.
A 15-year resident of Park Meadows, with works in the Phoenix Gallery and other galleries outside of the state, he said he was grateful for the local showcase at the art center.
"I would really love for people to go out and see it," said Ragland. "I think that my art is a lot different from most of the artists [available] in Park City."
Greg Ragland’s exhibit, "Movement Within Spaces" is on display in the Kimball Art Center’s Badami Gallery through March 5. The show is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.gregragland.com, http://www.kimball-art.org or call 649-8882.
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