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Poor Yorick Studios



While it may not look like it this weekend, Spring is back. And with it comes the open house showings at Poor Yorick Studios.

--- Only twice in the year when they open the doors and allow people to come in and see their wide array of artists, which happens this Friday and Saturday down in South Salt Lake. Its been a year since I last interviewed Brad Slaugh, so I decided to check in with him again to see what he has on tap for this event and catch up on his thoughts of the art scene.

Brad Slaugh


Gavin: Hey Brad, how have you been and what have you been up to?

Brad: Hi Gavin.  I've been good.  Super busy with a line of commissions, mostly from people who've been waiting way too long for their paintings, but I guess it takes as long as it takes.  Also started a series of small night paintings from this crazy carnival in Paris I went to a few years back.  Just returned yesterday from a trip back to the East Coast to see some killer shows in New York, Philly and DC:  Bonnard, Cezanne, Morandi.  Amazing.

Gavin: Poor Yorick is doing another open house. What has the place been up to over the past six months?

Brad: Well, we actually are finally legal over here, having jumped through every hoop South Salt Lake could find for us to jump through.  Anyway, our building permit is all closed out now and we have a brand new fire alarm, and now we're completely legit.  Lots of boring finishing touches, mostly, but we do have a brand new spray booth, so that's pretty cool.

Gavin: I know some people have left since last time. Who departed during that time?

Brad: You know, it's kinda hard to keep track.  People come, people go, and a few people have moved on since last time like they usually do.  We've got fifty artists over here and people like to move around a lot these days, it seems.  Would be hard to give you a list here as I'm in the usual pre-crunch period before the show right now, complicated by our spring break trip last week.

Gavin: Are there any new artists who took their place?

Brad: You bet.  We almost never have vacant studios over here, and every space is filled.  We have probably four or five new artists since the fall show, including photographers David DeAustin and Barrett Doran, painters Karen Fazekas, Darin Jones, Hal Hogan and environmental artist Margaret Tarampi.  Might have missed someone there.  Apologies in advance.

Gavin: Who are the featured artists you have on-hand this time?

Brad: Tony Smith is back this time as an invited artist with a bunch of new work that I can't wait to see.  We are extremely psyched to have Lenka Konopasek and Mark England joining us, as well as John Erickson and Steve Larson.  Evan Smith is back with some more of his groovy little bird paintings that are so popular, as well as Travis Tanner, Patricia Okleberry, newcomer to the Salt Lake art scene Erin Agrimson.  Hope I didn't forget anyone.

Gavin: What live acts can we expect to see this time around?

Brad: Okay, so we talked and talked about this, and it turns out that our front little space was really not working out so well for having a band, as it created this real bottleneck and made it difficult for the artists in that front area to actually hear or talk with anyone coming into their spaces, so this time we're actually not hosting a musical act for the first time, just to see how it goes.  The folks over at Studio 195 and Spectrum Studios right next door have told me they will have a band, however I don't know who it is at this point.

Gavin: You also have the website in full swing since we last chatted. What can people find on there?

Brad: Well, full swing is such a strong phrase.  Truth is that I was hoping we would have some more features on there by now but things are still developing a bit.  For now we have an up to date listing of all the artists as well as a studio map, some links to press articles about us, and contact info.  Soon there will be artist images and info that can be accessed by studio on the front page, and links to other cool studio projects in Salt Lake and elsewhere.  I want to have some studio pictures, maybe a slideshow or two or short video clip about the space and the Open Studios.

Gavin: Its been a year since the last interview we did, so I have to ask. What are your thoughts on the local art scene since then, both good and bad?

Brad: Coming back from those big East Coast art scenes, it's a bit of a readjustment of the head, though I have to say that although there is a tremendous amount of new work being exhibited in Chi Chi Chelsea and SoHo galleries, I personally find very little of it very compelling.  Of course I'm coming from a painter's perspective, but I find most of that PoMo stuff pretty tired at this point.  The truth is that there is a really strong painting scene here which if anything suffers from a bit of an inbreeding problem, as artists around here sometimes tend to quote each other (or flat out rip each other off) too much.  There's a great big old world out there to rip off ideas from; why are you imitating the artist who lives down the street?  I think we could be more plugged in to the larger scene, but it's important not to buy into the idea that what's hot in New York is the most important thing going on right now, even if everybody in New York thinks that.  What I saw in these three shows back East were three painters who were from essentially the middle of Nowhere staying true to their artistic visions over a very long period of time.  

Brad: The New York scene in its unrelenting search fro the Next Big Thing doesn't care about that type of artist today, so I say essentially the hell with 'em.  Just keep working people, but realize the world has a huge amount of really cool work to see in it.  You just have to filter out a bunch of noise to find it, just like with music, film and books.   The last thing we want to do is just pass our own provincial ideas back and forth, and believe it or not, that's what it felt like to me in New York:  everybody seeing the same shows and thinking more or less the same thoughts and creating work that just seems like it's taken this really weird detour marked out by postmodern Deconstructivist Art Critics or whatever and just kept on going and going, despite the fact that the wheels seem to have gone flat a couple of decades ago, and there's the definite sound of wolves howling around us in the woods that seem increasingly dark and confusing.  I'm sure there's folks who'll think I'm an idiot for saying this, but walking around large parts (though admittedly not all) of the MOMA and the Contemporary wing of the Smithsonian this week, as well as what little time we spent looking in the occasional gallery, it just really seemed to me like the Emperor ain't wearing anything at all.  Okay, maybe a thong, but not in a good way.

We have a new group at the helm of the Art Center now that seem very cool and really appear to be reaching out to the local artists, and I'm hopeful that there will be more of a respiration between outside and local work than there has been in the past, which is very important.  Still, we have our strengths and we shouldn't feel any sense of inferiority.  I would like there to be even more of a dialogue with other artists but we're all busy folks I guess and it's hard to fit more stuff in there.

Gavin: Any special events or artists you recommend people check out?

Brad: I think this show of Bill Lee's work at Tanner Frames looks very interesting.  Amy Caron's Waves of Mu seems to be dealing with some interesting ideas that are pretty out of the box, though I've not personally seen her perform it.  Seems to have a bit of a buzz though.

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Brad: Yes.  Thursday night before our show Bishop Allen is playing at Kilby Court.  They are extremely cool and I wish I wasn't so busy, but I hope to sneak off between hanging paintings to catch them. We'll see.