Visual Art | Scene & Noted: “Notorious” portrait posters steal the show at Phil Sherburne and Leia Bell’s new venue. | Visual Art | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
Support the Free Press.
Facts matter. Truth matters. Journalism matters.
Salt Lake City Weekly has been Utah's source of independent news and in-depth journalism since 1984.
Donate today to ensure the legacy continues.

Culture » Visual Art

Visual Art | Scene & Noted: “Notorious” portrait posters steal the show at Phil Sherburne and Leia Bell’s new venue.


The people who brought you Kilby Court are back. Phil Sherburne and Leia Bell—the husband-and-wife team who created one of the biggest little music venues in the country as well as Bell’s whimsical representations of “gigs” on posters—has moved on to their next mission: seemingly to get the sounds not only in your ears but on everyone’s walls.

Their latest venture—Signed & Numbered Poster Gallery, located beneath Slowtrain—came about naturally. They realized after Sherburne sold Kilby at the beginning of this year that they had so many posters lying around their house that Sherburne says “it was a disservice to the artists.”

Bell got into doing print exchanges with Justin Diggle, head of the University of Utah’s printmaking department. A group of, say, 60 artists would produce 65 reproductions, enough for each artist to get a set and a few left over for Diggle to sell to benefit the department. Bell organized some other print exchanges through the Website before opening the store earlier this year. “Exchanges are a tradition among printmakers,” she explains.

The first print exchange at Signed & Numbered was A la Carte in June, on the theme of food. They plan to host print exchanges every other month, with solo shows in between. The idea for this month’s Notorious came to Bell “off the top of my head, as I like to see peoples’ takes on portraits,” she recalls. Next year, Bell and Sherburne hope to install another Notorious show in the fall and make it a yearly tradition. Submissions came from as far away as the U.K. and as near as employees of the shop.

The artists didn’t disappoint, with an astounding variety of styles as well as subjects, barely more than half of them depicting musicians. Bell asked artists to provide a quote and interesting fact about each person of note. Erin Potter’s “Brigham Young” chides, “Any young man who is unmarried at the age of 21 is a menace to the community.” Texan Dirk Fowler’s “Jerry Lee Lewis” proclaims, “If I’m going to hell, I’m going there playing the piano.”

Styles run the gamut from local Clare Taylor’s “Bill Murray”—with handcut work so intricate that she is still working on the set—to Pittsburgh artist Budai’s caricature-ish “Charles Nelson Reilly” to the Hero Design Studio of Buffalo, N.Y.’s “Evel Knievel,” as colorful as the daredevil himself. The proprietors learned a lot in the process: “We never knew how much Steve Albini looks like George Stephanopoulos,” laughs Sherburne.

Subjects include representatives from more scholarly endeavors. Austin, Texan Rob Jones’ “Oscar Wilde” includes epigrams from the writer’s work in the background, and Chicagoan Diana Sudyka’s “Charles Darwin” comes complete with finches. Several even stretch the limits of notoriety, like Adam Ewing’s “Ches McCartney” also known as “The Goat Man” in the mid-20th century because he traveled the Southeastern United States pulled by a team of the animals. Joey Lynch’s “Roscoe Pitts” became known as a criminal precisely for his attempts to escape notice, having a doctor graft skin from his side onto his fingertips, not realizing that becoming “the man without fingerprints” made him stand out more than anything else.

Perhaps the most unexpected submission was Patrick Phegley’s “Man on the Tapatío” salsa bottle, although as senior art director at Los Angeles ad agency Schematic, it fits his aptitude. Phegley’s photographs filtered through the medium of screen-printing will be featured in September’s show, titled Death of Field (as is his Website).

Raising three boys, Bell and Sherburne had found the nocturnal hours and atmosphere of operating an all-ages venue taxing and greeted their new vocations as more conducive to family life but also as conducive to creating and fostering art. “It’s a new stage in our evolution,” Sherburne explains. “This is all a labor of love.”

Signed & Numbered Poster Gallery, 221 E. Broadway, 596-2093
Through Sept. 5