Sometimes artists must have expertise in several areas in order to create their artwork. That's the case with David Baddley and Andrew Krasnow, whose innovative exhibits are now on view at the Salt Lake Art Center.
Baddley's exhibition, "Great Basin Work," is an effective blending of his photography, surveying and map-reading skills. Indispensable in Krasnow's "growth" project is his knowledge of electrical and structural engineering, hydraulics, mechanics and a wide range of fabrication skills.- "Great Basin Work," a site/-action earth work by Baddley, was scheduled to open Dec. 28. However, when I stopped by Dec. 31, he was still putting the finishing touches on his show. It was completed in time for the opening reception on Friday, Jan. 3.
Funded in part by a development grant from the Salt Lake City Arts Council, Baddley's project consisted of traveling throughout the Great Basin and selecting 15 sites in Utah, Nevada, California and Oregon that appealed to him because of their natural beauty, diversity and subtlety.
When Baddley arrived at these sites, he left marks consisting of a series of lines that pointed in the direction of some of the other sites in the project - thus connecting all of the marks into a network of lines.
These lines were made using materials indigenous to each site. In the Alvord Desert, Baddley lined up rocks; at Big Smokey Valley, he dragged his foot over the soil, disturbing the dark, top layer and revealing the lighter soil underneath; and in the Tule Valley, he made impressions by walking in snow.
At White Mountain, Baddley scratched lines on the roof of an abandoned ranger station; at the Wheeler Park ice field, he cut lines into the ice; and in a Las Vegas motel room, he placed strings of Christmas lights on the floor.
"The work consists of three components - the marks, the action and the land itself," Baddley said.
The marks are sculptural creations that use the elements of their sites as their material. "They walk a strangely ironic edge between the artwork of humans becoming nature and nature taking on a human order."
By now, some of the lines are gone. Some will remain for years. But Baddley was not aiming for permanency of the project. He was more interested about "action." To him, action means performance. It's "the significance of an action itself apart from any connection with communication."
The third component is the land - and Baddley's feeling for it. The land is the material, just as paint and canvas are the material for painting. "The land also gives the work form, with its sophisticated orchestration of line, shape, texture, color, value, space, plane and time all arranged on its own terms."
Accompanying Baddley's creation of the marks was a desire to give of himself to the earth - "that by giving it my order, I was adding my voice. I was willingly paying an homage - a gift of love and respect."
"Great Basin Work" continues in the SLAC's Upstairs Gallery through Feb. 1. Art/lunch talks about the exhibit will be given at noon on Wednesdays by Baddley (Jan. 15), David Sucec (Jan. 22) and David W. Pursley (Jan. 29).
- Artists have to learn to roll with the punches. Because of some unexpected problems and modifications, Krasnow's "growth" installation did not open on Dec. 19. In fact, he was still installing it on Dec. 31 when I stopped by the SLAC's Main Gallery.
Although I didn't see the finished project, I did have an opportunity to chat for a few moments with the artist.
He explained that the installation examines the process of vertical growth. It's made up of a circular platform with seven hidden pillars surrounding it. The viewer becomes a participant by standing in the middle of the platform and pulling on a polyurethane tube containing real umbilical cords. As he pulls on the tube, the pillars gradually appear until they reach their full extension. As a result, the participant witnesses the process of growth while observing a change in patterns, materials and objects.
By twirling the tube or holding it while walking in a circle, the participant causes the pillars to move up and down. Letting go of the tube at any time sends all the pillars back into their hidden compart-ments.
To create this participatory sculptural work, Krasnow was awarded a prestigious grant of $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts Inter-Arts Program.
This is the sixth project Krasnow has exhibited in Utah. They include participation in the "Contemporary Utah Genre" group exhibit in Springville in 1985; the "Utah Media Arts Center Video Installation (three-person show) at the SLAC in 1986; "Arts Intersection Project" at the 1986 Utah Arts Festival (UAF); "Seeding the City Project - Part II" at the 1987 UAF; and "Core Texts of the Mind" at the Gayle Weyher Gallery in 1988 - a fascinating exhibition featuring human brains.
In 1989, Krasnow participated in the group exhibit "The Drowned World: Waterworks" at both the University of Cincinnati and the Institute for Contemporary Art in Long Island City, New York. Last year, he took part in the group exhibit "Mechanika" at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.
Krasnow's installation continues through Friday, Jan. 24, in the Main Gallery of the Salt Lake Art Center, 20 South West Temple, 328-4201. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday.