art appreciation


I have recently learned of, and become excited about, two artists — both painters.  Both are BYU alumni, so of course we have a soft spot for them.  But their work is not “churchy,” and not conventional. It is thought-provoking, and at times, odd.

Some of my fellow BYU grads will recognize the above picture, as it was on the cover of our alumni magazine this month.  The artist is Emily McPhie, the daughter of the well-known and loved James Christensen, who I have written about before.  Matt and I have met Emily — we are related in a Kevin Bacon-esque way:  Matt and her husband share a common aunt and uncle, though they are not cousins — but I had never seen her work.  She is the mother of three young daughters, and all of her paintings are whimsical, with a vintage quality.  I hope you will look at all of the paintings on her website and find them as fascinating as I do.  On our recent trip to Park City (and this is one of the reasons I’d wanted to go) we stopped at the Terzian Gallery, where I was pleased to learn that her recent show was basically sold out.  I think there were three pieces left including this gem, which I wish I could afford to buy:


Alas, because she is a newer artist (professionally speaking), I had no budget-friendly means of bringing her art home with me (meaning no note cards, books, calendars, prints, etc.).  But I have high hopes for her and will continue to follow her career.

My other new favorite is Brian Kershisnik.  I saw an interview with him on our local PBS affiliate one day, and found him thoroughly engaging.  If you live in Utah, you should go to the Utah Museum of Fine Art, where he is currently having a big show (I haven’t been yet, but plan to soon).  Here is what they have to say about him:

“Kershisnik has earned a nationwide following for his moving and metaphoric paintings of people in moments of quiet transcendence. His works capture both human vulnerability and elation. Nuances in relationships, particularly marriage come through in his paintings.
Rich in color and texture Kershisnik’s paintings focus on the familiar experience of being human, depictions of self, family and relationships strike deeply resonant chords.”

We found some of his stuff at the Meyer Gallery in Park City, where he had a show in 2006.  Mercifully, they had a little booklet left over from that show, which I happily purchased for $5.  Here are a few of my favorites:


“Woman with Infant Flying”


“Dancing on a Very Small Island”


“Smile Party”

I’m sure you can figure out why I like them.  Someday, when I’m RICH, I’m going to buy one.  Lots more on his website, for your viewing pleasure.

In case you ever want to go, some other notes on the gallery stroll:

You can browse all of the galleries any time, so what’s special about the gallery stroll is that they’re open in the evening.  You don’t have to pay the admission fee — all of the galleries are open to the public that night.  The $5 is for food and music at the Kimball Art Center, which we skipped this time, but might check out next time.  Many local artists are in the galleries for the stroll, meaning don’t criticize the artwork until you check and see who’s there!  We spoke to one photographer who seemed a little miffed that we weren’t going upstairs to see more of his work (it was the end of the night and we were getting tired), so of course, we went upstairs.  I’m pretty sure he’d been drinking.  The whole evening was lots of fun and if you’re in Utah, you should go.


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