Museums, Fantasy, and the Redemption of Naked Ladies: a review of the SMA’s Spring Salon

Many of the famous artists that made their way into history books first broke into the the public consciousness when they were featured the Paris Salon, an annual exhibition of the French government’s Académie des Beaux-Arts. The Salon functioned as the official sanction of the art world and could make or break a painter’s career.

Edouard Dantan's Un Coin du Salon en 1880

The strength of the Salon’s influence is perhaps most evident in the drama that ultimately tore down its authority ““ the  Salon de Refusés of 1863 in which many “refused” artists, among them the radical impressionists like Manet and Whistler, exhibited work that the Academy had sneered at. The Salon eventually splintered and waned in importance, but the concept of the juried show lives on. Each year, the Springville Museum of Art holds a Spring Salon, which is not exclusively Mormon art, but is definitely Utah art, and it is my personal belief that the Spring Salon is where Mormonism’s burgeoning Manets and Davids may well first show up.

I’m going to end the analogy there, though, because I don’t want to speculate about what on earth a Utah Salon de Refusés would look like.

The 85th annual Utah Spring Salon is on display in Springville until July 5th and I hereby exhort you with all the feeling of a tender stranger from the internet to get yourself there and take it in. It’s a wonderful exhibition every year, but this year it’s particularly grand.

Continue reading “Museums, Fantasy, and the Redemption of Naked Ladies: a review of the SMA’s Spring Salon”

Doubting Thomas

I probably shot myself in the foot, socially speaking, when I let my inner art snob accompany me on a recent date.

We were looking at board games for sale and my date, a nice sciency fellow who knew I was into art and was probably trying to be congenial, pointed to a jigsaw puzzle for sale and said “You know, I’ve always really liked these Thomas Kinkade paintings.”

“That seals it,” I said grimly. “You and I will never be friends.”

As uncharitable as it may come across, and as much as it may have sealed my spinsterly fate for a while longer, I feel it an obligation for those of us in the know to educate our friends. Yes, Thomas Kinkade really is that bad. Continue reading “Doubting Thomas”

Dynasty of the Holy Grail; a tome for the daring knight errant

The world today is too big; too full of sheer human inertia. I don’t think any of us can comprehend the magnitude of cultural currents as we drop pebbles just to watch the water ripple. We think ourselves educated, well-read, perhaps a little hungry for exploration but for the most part masters of our own little worlds and the way things are. And every once in a while we are lucky enough to get enough of a peek out of our own paradigms to realize that we don’t know anything. This happens culturally; this happens spiritually. And when it happens, the results are usually exhilarating and terrifying.

As missionaries in Japan, we didn’t meet many Christians. But we met a lot of savvy, educated people. And a lot of them had seen The DaVinci Code. It was an odd development halfway through my mission when casual street contacts evolved from “Oh, you’re Christians! My daughters go to Christian school!” into “Oh, you’re Christians! I know all about Christianity. I watched The DaVinci Code.”

Continue reading “Dynasty of the Holy Grail; a tome for the daring knight errant”