Jann Haworth | POP! Art in a Changing Britain


Drawn from the Pallant House Gallery's significant collection of British Pop Art, this exhibition explores how artists in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s responded to rapid social change, as Pop Art emerged as a means of addressing the rise of mass media, the cult of celebrity, questions of identity and prevalent political concerns, issues that still resonate today.

A vivid exploration of how artists in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s responded to rapid social change, as Pop Art emerged as a means of addressing the rise of mass media, the cult of celebrity, questions of identity and prevalent political concerns, issues that still resonate today.

A generation of artists including MWFA represented artist Jann Haworth radically challenged thinking about art and mass media, democratizing art by questioning the traditional division between high and low art. They took their cue from advertising, comics, science fiction and contemporary music, embracing non-traditional materials and techniques.


The exhibition celebrates Pallant House Gallery’s significant collection of British Pop Art, including major paintings, sculpture and its extensive holding of Pop prints. It includes seminal works such as Peter Blake’s ‘The Beatles, 1962’ (1963-68), Richard Hamilton’s ‘Swingeing London’ (1968), Jann Haworth’s ‘Cowboy’ (1964) and an early example of Pop printmaking, Eduardo Paolozzi’s ‘As Is When’ (1965).


The exhibition celebrates Pallant House Gallery’s significant collection of British Pop Art, including major paintings, sculpture and its extensive holding of Pop prints. It includes seminal works such as Peter Blake’s ‘The Beatles, 1962’ (1963-68), Richard Hamilton’s ‘Swingeing London’ (1968), Jann Haworth’s ‘Cowboy’ (1964) and an early example of Pop printmaking, Eduardo Paolozzi’s ‘As Is When’ (1965).


Pallant House Gallery holds one of the largest public collections of British Pop Art internationally. This richly illustrated publication celebrates the extensive collection of painting, sculpture and print acquired by Professor Sir Colin St John Wilson in the decades that followed the Second World War. Written by Claudia Milburn (Senior Curator) and Louise Weller (Curator) the book features an overview of how the Pop collection at Pallant House Gallery developed, an introduction to British Pop Art, alongside an essay that explores the key themes of the movement.

The exhibition will be on display from February 24 - May 7 2018 at the Pallant House Gallery

15 Bytes: Artist Profile | Tom Judd by Ann Poore

We would like to thank 15 Bytes and Ann Poore for the wonderful spotlight featuring represented artist Tom Judd. To learn more about his process and his exhibition, "Don't Fence Me In," continue reading...

 Tom Judd, photo by Nicholas Kelsh

Tom Judd, photo by Nicholas Kelsh

“Go West, young man” was the catchphrase for generations of young Americans, urged to throw themselves into the rush of America’s Manifest Destiny. A century later, Tom Judd decided to go East, but the myth of the West was never left far behind, and this month the Salt Lake City “expatriate” brings to Modern West Fine Art a new collection of work focusing on when (and how) the West was settled.

 Sitting Bull Standing: collage with oil on panel, 14 x 11 inches

Sitting Bull Standing: collage with oil on panel, 14 x 11 inches

 Frontier Life: collage with oil on panel, 10.75 x 13.5 inches

Frontier Life: collage with oil on panel, 10.75 x 13.5 inches

Don’t Fence Me In is filled with a number of small, collage-based works, and some larger ones, too. While Judd works in both acrylic and oil (doing the backgrounds of his large paintings with acrylic, the foregrounds in oil), on his collage works (he has always incorporated a lot of collage) he uses only acrylic “because I want to work fast. Those small pieces are dependent on my striking while the iron is hot – not going in and refining them. They are the lynchpin of the show. They are slightly subversive: out to deconstruct the [Hollywood] myth, to turn it on its head – the noble thing about our national character while we were wiping out the Indians. This manifest destiny shit; the whole macho Marlboro man stuff. I want them fresh.”

Judd allows, however, that he loves the myth itself “as long as it stays a myth and is not sold to us as the truth.

Judd’s roots in Utah are deep. He did not grow up in a Mormon household, but his great-grandfather was LDS Church President Heber J. Grant (who served for nearly 30 years), something that has always “fascinated me and is very much part of my artwork and, indeed, my life,” says the artist.

Judd, 64, knew he was an artist at age 7 when his family moved him from the hillside of Mount Olympus to a suburb of Chicago for a year. “It was traumatic and I remember that my escape was obsessively drawing battleships. And I decided that my only option in surviving life was to be an artist.” He says he always took the artwork seriously.

Judd attended Olympus High where he started a folk group called the Louisville Burglars (he played the autoharp) and dated a girl for about six months who was a year behind him: the delightfully quirky local artist Susan Kirby who recently relocated to Mexico. They always have remained close friends.

His childhood buddies included Phillips Gallery artist Mark Knudsen. Both ended up at The Salt Lake Tribune when Judd was at the University of Utah in the early ‘70s, Knudsen in the art department. “I was just a copy boy,” Judd recalls. He is remembered to this day by longtime staffers for his role in starting a series of cartoons called “The East Side of Mexico,” where donkeys stood around contemplating life in a deviant manner, as donkeys are wont to do. The entire newsroom made contributions.

He left the U in 1973 to go to the Philadelphia College of Art. Upon graduation he knew two things: he didn’t want to teach and he “wanted to do his artwork and was going to make it work.”

He couldn’t find a gallery to take his stuff and, three years out of school, Judd made an incredibly audacious move: he called the curator of Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Anne d’Harnoncourt, cold, with no introduction (he thinks the gatekeepers thought he said Don Judd instead of Tom Judd), and talked her into looking at his portfolio, such as it was. (Daughter of MoMA director Rene d’Harnoncourt, Anne would become – a female! — director and CEO of the Philadelphia MOA for 25 years.) Six months later, after a studio visit by some high muckety-mucks, Judd was not only included in a show but, at 25, had a piece purchased for the permanent collection of that prestigious museum.

However, that didn’t resolve day-to-day needs. So, first, he tended bar. Then, because he had always painted houses, he started his own house-painting company and did that for 15 years. “It really worked great in that I could design it and set it up and I’d get the crew going and then go to the studio.” He also sold a lot of art to his house-painting clients. By 1994, Judd was making half his earnings off his art sales and decided that if he put all the energy he was putting into the house-painting company into his own painting he could make it as a full-time artist. So he did.

 The Relic of Farewell: collage with oil on panel, 36 x 40 inches

The Relic of Farewell: collage with oil on panel, 36 x 40 inches

 On the Road Home: collage with oil on panel

On the Road Home: collage with oil on panel

Now he has a huge studio where he works as a 9-to-5 artist. Well, actually he has breakfast, takes 9-year-old daughter Astrid to school, hits the studio by 8:20, makes a fire in the wood-burning stove in winter, and picks up his daughter at 2 or so, when his painting day comes to an end. Still, he says, that’s a pretty good day of painting.

He has shown frequently in Utah, though for the past 40 years he has been in Philadelphia. His wife, Kiki Gaffney, also an excellent artist, shows mostly in Philadelphia, but, like Judd, has had several exhibits at Park City’s Julie Nester Gallery. Astrid is an artist, too, though she hasn’t shown anywhere yet. Judd’s son Will, 27, studied international business at Drexel University, about as far from the tree as one can fall. (This happens in the best of families, of course.)
Judd lives by words of Chuck Close: “Inspiration is for amateurs,” adding that the quote continues: “the rest of us just need to show up and go to work.” Which, for some reason, immediately reminds him of the oil on canvas he terms “the star of the show” at Modern West: “’Mount Shasta’ – 6-foot square and the largest work there.”

 Mt. Shasta: collage with oil on canvas, 72 x 72 inches

Mt. Shasta: collage with oil on canvas, 72 x 72 inches

He invariably works on a series, “never, ever” on just one piece. “It’s always an idea I go at by doing a lot of different things within an idea. I work on several different paintings, often in several different media, at once.”
The artist’s early work reflects an interest in the billboards and other imagery along American highways back when he went on family vacations as a child. “Man’s Head” (1985) has been included in two museum shows and is now in the permanent collection of the Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia. Another, from 1994, called “The Billboard Project” (subtitled “The Lost Vacation”), was in fact a 20’ X 60’ billboard installed on an interstate highway in Philadelphia.

By 1996, Judd was beginning to incorporate what he terms “recycled imagery” into his paintings: collaged found photos made their first appearance, mounted inside a series of found frames or, using pictures from his senior class yearbook, comprising the background of a piece called “Graduation.” He explains that “there is often the sense of things being painted over other things in a very haphazard way, again imitating the way billboards get painted over with little thought or intention . . . I wanted to capture that same essence of a chance association of images which brings about a sort of visual poetry.” “Attribute” is one example.

About this time, on a river-rafting trip on the Salmon River in Idaho, Judd found a hermit shack where a man named Sylvan “Buckskin Bill” Hart had lived for 40 years. His sleeping quarters had old wallpaper samples glued to the inside walls and the setup reminded Judd of exploring similar places as a kid in Utah and imagining who had lived there and what their lives were like. Along with some paintings, Hart’s shack inspired Judd to create his own “Hermit House” which was first exhibited in 2005 at the Stremmel Gallery in Reno and later displayed for six months at the Nevada Museum of Contemporary Art. It eventually was purchased for a corporate collection. Another installation piece, “Tijuana Weekend,” included a shack similar to those Judd had seen people living in in that largely poverty-stricken Mexican border town.

“The work from this period was a series of collages and fragmentations of surfaces and imagery,” says Judd. “It speaks about memory and metaphor. I combined landscape, still life, patterns and figures in an effort to imitate the eclectic nature of our memories.” He used wallpaper, old recipes, found photos, and ephemera in such works as “Peach Pudding.”

 Southern Utah: oil on collage on panel, 9 x 12 inches

Southern Utah: oil on collage on panel, 9 x 12 inches

 Pacific: collage with oil on panel, 9.5 x 13.5 inches

Pacific: collage with oil on panel, 9.5 x 13.5 inches

Influences (or “fellow travelers”) are Walker Evans and Joseph Cornell. “[“Village,” for example,] suggests the finding of an artifact from another time . . . [imparting] a contradictory sense of loss and discovery on the viewer.”

His next series, beginning in about 2009, drew upon the pink cinder block “modern house” his father had built in 1958 with large windows and a rock garden and carport influenced by the ideas of early modern architecture. Judd’s love of early modern architecture led to “portraits” of such buildings: “They are homage to a time of great ideas, from a distance. Beautiful things . . . left out in the rain.”

Finally, prior to the works he did for his most recent shows, Judd created paintings in a limited palette that he terms his “Manifest Destiny” series, “hymns for a mysterious American landscape that we have steadfastly conquered and depleted.” He explains that most of the “melancholy” images, like “The Central Flaw,” come from 19th-century photographs from artists like Carleton Watkins and Timothy O’Sullivan and that his paintings “conjure up a longing for the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains that I played in as a child. An imagined wilderness that was the West that was. Perhaps a fantasy, cooked up by a man living in Philadelphia, many miles and years away from his childhood. I have always considered myself a sort of expatriate, living far from my home.”

 Skier #5: oil with collage on panel, 39 x 28 inches

Skier #5: oil with collage on panel, 39 x 28 inches

 Skier #7: oil with collage on panel, 39 x 28 inches

Skier #7: oil with collage on panel, 39 x 28 inches

(Some readers may recall a 2011 Judd installation at the Dixie State College museum entitled “The World is Flat,” a 12’ high X 25’ wide piece constructed of cardboard boxes with a painting of a map of the world.)

Before signing him to her gallery, Diane Stewart flew to New York to see Judd’s show there, titled Myth of the Frontier. “More of the same,” he says. But she obviously was impressed. As was Judd with her:  “I walked into her gallery and she was showing some artists from New York, and she has an apartment there.  And to me Salt Lake has been a disconnected kind of place. And I think it’s important that she is connected with and interested in other art markets,” he says.

“She is looking at all kinds of stuff that expands on the physical gallery,” he continues. “The art fairs, Facebook, Instagram. That’s really where it’s going on right now. If you’re not into that stuff you’re really not in the game. She is always looking for what’s next and I felt like I was part of what’s next.”
Just recently, Judd gave a lecture on what they don’t teach you in art school:
“It’s about creating a world that supports what you’re up to. What most artists don’t do is create that world. The house painting worked because I was never tempted to be a house painter. You don’t want [what you do to support yourself] to be horrible but you don’t want it to be too good either, because you will never be an artist. . . .

“You’ve got to collect ‘nos’ and not take it personally. You get no until you get yes, and that yes changes everything. When you are in this game you have to be pushing it all the time in terms of taking risks.

“The other part is that it’s not that people don’t like your work it’s that they don’t even know who you are. That’s why Facebook and Instagram are so great: you can get your work in front of people. That’s a huge thing, it’s changing the way an artist can approach a career.

“You literally can reach people all over the world, instead of just taking a portfolio to a gallery.”

Or even to the curator of a major museum.

Nathan Florence | Toward Home

In preparation to Nathan Florence's solo show "Toward Home," we spent some time with him asking what inspired this body of work and his approach to this new series...

"I have never had the opportunity to work with a gallery that has taken so much interest in the work I am making and how a show is coming together than I have with Modern West. It’s hard to explain the combination of freedom and pressure that I have felt in creating this body of work. I suppose with a sense of freedom there is a natural sense of pressure do something great with it. From the beginning Diane was very clear, at the outset, that she didn’t want me to feel like I had to stick with anything that I had done before, such as painting on fabric, or painting people. This group of paintings is the result of a couple of years of work that has been a remarkable artistic journey.


"My first instinct was to react, artistically, to my political dismay and frustration at the ugliness spewed at each other from all directions in much of current public discourse. I look to Woody Guthrie’s guitar, where he wrote “This machine kills fascists.” believing that a folk music movement could help foment change. I believe that art can, and sometimes should, play this role. I also believe that art can evoke contemplation and healing and dialogue that is positive and made the intentional choice to have this work go in that direction.

The pieces that became the body of work for this show are all focused around Mt. Olympus and the human figure; often together in the painting, but not always. For a long time I have set up challenges for myself in my art to make it more interesting or fulfilling. I work with brushes that are hard to control, I create unpredictable, chaotic surfaces or fabric surfaces, and so on. I began this work by pushing out into different directions; leaving more of the original surfaces exposed or juxtoposing figures and landscapes in different ways. This is what I can do, for myself, and as an artist, to bring a sense of wholeness and beauty out of chaos. The abstract, rough canvases, balanced and tempered by the order on top of them. There is a gentleness to the creation and a sort of coaxing of an image out of wildness.

In preparing for most previous exhibitions I have not worked with a preconceived unifying theme, but simply followed my interest in a variety of subjects, which is how I set out on this work. At a certain point, I decided to pursue a much narrower focus. I would focus on the mountain that has been my recurring view from childhood, Mt. Olympus, which towers over the eastern side of the Salt Lake Valley.

My view of the mountain has shifted, physically, and philosophically.

I’m hard pressed to think of a time when I haven’t looked up at Mt. Olympus without a sense of awe. I love the way the light plays across the craggy slabs and always thought that Mt. Olympus, more than Timpanogos, looked more like a reclining figure. I have painted it many times in the past, but never set out to make it a focus. As I have now lived in various views of the mountain it occurs to me that part of my wonder with that process of discovering the beauty of the mountain mirrors the process of discovery with any great idea. It bears—demands even—a continually shifting view and examination.

In a conversation about this show, a fellow artist used the term, “anatomy of a landscape,” which rings true to me. They are often inseparable in my mind and have much in common. We refer to both bodies and mountains as temples, a spiritual notion. We name them for each other and compare them to each other. We take them for granted and forget, too often, that they are fragile."

Join us to view Nathan Florence's exhbition "Toward Home" through March 10th, 2018

Jann Haworth | Work In Progress Work Shop: Utah State University 

Modern West Fine Art's represented artist Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake co-hosted a "Work In Progress" workshop at Utah State University this January. Participants choose from a selection of woman who have been a catalyst for change throughout history. They are then taught how to create a stencil with the help of Haworth and Blake.

Jann Haworth work in progress
jann haworth work in progress

At the conclusion of the workshop the images produced are then complied and placed onto a panel that will travel with the project. The mural collaged by Liberty Blake with faces of more than 250 women, inspires awareness, connection and engagement with over 200 collaborators and thousands of viewers. It grows with every community stop, expanding the mural from 28 feet to now over 56 feet, and has shown in numerous museums and venues. Haworth hopes that "Work In Progress" will help inspire women to make a positive change in the world.  If you are interested in hosting a workshop please reach out for more information and visit the projects website https://workinprogressmural.org/

jann haworth work in progress
Jann haworth work in progress liberty blake
jann haworth work in progress sgt pepper beatles

The Legendary West | Billy Schenck, Ed Mell, and Gary Ernest Smith

The Legendary West showcases three of Modern West Fine Art's longest practicing artists, including Billy Shenck, Ed Mell, and Gary Ernest Smith, each making their own distinct, interpretive mark on the established narrative of the West. During gallery stroll, we were privileged to hear from Schenck and Smith as they gave us more insight into their processes and practices.


Pictured below, Billy Schenck stands in front of Taos Descanso [middle], which he revealed was one of his favorite pieces.


"I first started my career in New York City without a lot of access to the West," Billy said. In thinking, then, about how to approach the iconography of the West, someone suggested to him, "Why don't you use movie stills?"

It's from this romantic and cinematic point of entry that Billy Schenck first engaged formally with Western tropes in order to problematize them. 


"So, I started using black and white movie stills," Billy said, "and eventually gravitated to images of Southern Utah. Almost everything here tonight is from Monument Valley or the surrounding areas of Canyon Lands into Northern Arizona."


"For quite a few of these, I use photographs to put together my skies and my landscapes. It's sort of a collage of images that I build."

This technique of Schenck's is obvious in the photographic flattening of the scenes he paints. His signature, reductivist style also mimics the stylization of printmaking and Pop Art.


"I like to set up situations," Billy continued, "It's sort of like being on a movie set with all your actors, waiting for your light to be right. But instead of using moving images with sound, I’m just shooting film to make stills."

"This is a cowboy [above left] friend of mine who actually appears in a lot of Westerns and we rodeo together. We have a cattle-broker who got us these longhorns, and I photographed them."

Schenck's captioned-pieces [above] were inspired by a series of black and white photographs [below] he made which are also captioned with excerpts of narrative fragments that he terms "revisionist history." These are made-up histories that Schenck reinserts into Western mythology to reinforce and highlight the fictive and invented nature of the Western, American myth.

"I'm interested in exploring Western mythology, and diving into something that goes beyond the more traditional imagery. I wanted to make a war against this legacy," Schenck said.

01_Billy Schenck_Murder Ford_archival inkjet print_38x43in.jpg
john ford billy schenck photo modern west fine art

While Ed Mell was unable to join us for the opening reception, we were thrilled to showcase three new works that are emblematic of his iconic, signature-minimalist and angular-style. Mell was inspired as a child by automobiles and the futuristic designs of the late '40s and '50s and began his career in advertising and illustration. These influences are evident in his approach to the  landscape of the West.


Pictured below, Gary Ernest Smith stands in front of a few of his works at the opening of The Legendary West.


No doubt a product of living here and having deep connections to the West, all of Gary Ernest Smith's paintings in this show highlight Utah landscapes.

"The field pieces are paintings that I have painted locally in fields that are in the process of becoming housing projects," Gary said. "Some are very near my home. This is happening so quickly that I said to myself, 'I’m going to do what I can to preserve a little bit of what this used to look like.'"

It's this act of preservation and celebration of natural land that inspired these beautiful field and desert pieces.


Of course, this preservation is metaphoric. Smith attempts to engage the viewer in completing the image, and essentially, its meaning.

"I like to emphasize form and structure," he says, "and I delete details of things I consider unnecessary. I put in shapes where your eye [and your mind] can complete the rest of the form."

Using this technique of exaggerating basic, generic form, the end result is quite breathtaking, as Smith relies on color and shape to evoke the simplest memories and emotions.

"This field, [pictured blow], is a soybean field." Speaking of his experience there, Smith recounted the vibrancy of the deep purples and reds. "When the soybeans ripen," he said, "they turn all shades of brilliant oranges."


Smith talked about how enamored he was with the beautiful textures and colors in nature. It was on this vein that he revealed a bit of his practice that helps him remain true to natural textures.

"My paintings are all done with palette knife," he said. It looks like a brush, but it’s not. Sometimes I shape my knives to give me the specific shape and texture I want."

Smith likes to remain true to natural colors, as well. Speaking of the rich hues of canyons and mountain ranges he said...

"I never exaggerated these colors."


It's clear that Smith's works are all imbued with memories and contact, evidence of his relationship to the land he paints. Speaking of his experience in Snow Canyon, [pictured above], Smith told of his encounter with a rattle snake as he was painting. Although an alarming moment, all that remains is a fond memory that this painting evokes for him. "I didn't bother him and he didn't bother me," he said.


There is definitely an abstracted quality to his work. Speaking of his painting, Gateway [below], he said, "I saw this as one of the great symbols of the American West. You have this abstracted fence with different meanings depending on which side of the fence you're standing on. This became a symbol of interest to me."


"One side looking back represented the old West of the past, and standing on the other side was a paved road going up to a gate, looking into the future. For me," he said, "this was a portal that captured time," and no doubt the sentimental feeling of capturing this changing, Western landscape.


The Legendary West is on display now through November 13, 2017