“Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.”
Henry Ford is quoted on the announcement
card for Synergetics, featuring
photographer and artist Cat
Palmer and her husband Blake,
who works in mixed media. A
rarely seen tandem show by
artists married to each other
uses their relationship for creative
The two artists found working
together provided some unexpected
their working methods are
almost completely different.
“Part of my process is a lot of
give-and-take,” explains Blake
about his mixed-media works
using acrylic, Xerox transfers
of photographs on wood or
metal surfaces. “Mine are controlled
chaos.” Cat is much more
methodical, planning out every
element of her photographs, from
setting to models and wardrobe,
long before the shutter snaps.”
“I found I was really protective of my work,” Cat confides. “I was afraid of Blake working on them and ruining them. I’m really happy with the results—except one.” She points out a tiny white speck on a model’s nose, which Blake had sandpapered by accident.
On the other hand, she likes the streaks
created by creases in some of his Xerox
impressions on his own work through his
Their works together really do create an artistic synergy. Blake uses the outlines of some of Cat’s photographic subjects to paint silhouettes, while her subjects are framed by the lines of his painting, sometimes translucent lines or dots that are only visible from a certain angle.
Besides “synergy,” Cat notes that their
neologism also suggests “energetic.” The
pieces in this show are energetic compositions,
but without the social commentary in
her solo work.
It’s not like they haven’t been busy with
other projects either, Cat preparing new
work for a booth at the Utah Arts Festival
and both of them starting an art class for
teenagers at Art Access the week of the
fest. It’s her third year at the Arts Festival,
and she’s done well enough, building up a
fan base, that she feels she has to show new
work each time.
They like to say their best collaboration
is their 9-month old son Jack. “We put a
T-shirt on him that reads ‘Cat & Blake’s
Best Collaboration—For Display Purposes
Only,” she laughs.
Blake’s background is in graphic design,
though he studied painting as well. He
stopped creating artwork when they got
married 11 years ago. Cat, also a wedding
and portrait photographer, started exhibiting
her fine-art photography in 2004. Blake
says, “I asked [myself] why I’m not doing
this too.” He studied with Trent Call at Art
Access’ Partners Program and, he says, “I
finally figured out how to get the images in
my head out onto the surface.”
So when it came to working together, each of them had a definite process. “Some of her steps, I couldn’t do,” he recalls. Cat adds, “He likes to jump in; I like to test the water first.” After planning, her actual shooting and printing time is quick, while he takes more time once he does jump into his work, reacting to chance occurrences, building up layers and sanding them down. So, to some degree they had to work separately, then come together to confer on the overall direction and shape they were taking.
They both are pleased with the final
results, and compared to their solo works—several of which by each of the artists are
also featured in the show—these are more
than the sum of their parts. The show
taught them about their relationship: “We
found out how important it is to trust each
other, and how greatly we do.”
Blake adds, “We learned about artwork
as well as ourselves.”