2017 Little Bloomsbury Pioneer Fall Festival Featured Artist Steve Wagner

Steve Wagner

Cache Valley - A First-Rate Place

The lovely Cache Valley in northern Utah and southern Idaho is often identified as a great place to raise a family. Core values, anchored in a Shoshone, trapper, pioneer, farming, ranching, academic, outdoorsman, and religious heritage have combined to create a very special place. It is a place where individuals and families generally thrive. This display seeks to connect the viewer with some of the experiences and insights of those who made Cache Valley a great place to develop individuals. They tell their stories in first person, with the intent of helping engender a conversation about how one might recreate such a value within the space and context of contemporary living situations. All of the original oil paintings and stories are fictional and are created from the imagination of the author.

Creating a first-rate place

It is desirable that families and society develop children who conform their life and conduct to moral and ethical principles, who walk in an authentic and upright manner, and who do good for others. In the 1870s Brigham Young was worried about ideological beliefs and practices that would come west with the rapidly moving railroad. Current leaders worry more about ideas and practices that travel the speed of electrons over the Internet. Today's secular society, which believes in moral relativism, is largely fueled by ideas that are rapidly dispersed via social media. Formal education generally emphasizes humanistic thinking and largely deemphasizes or denies God. Can such a humanistic secular society and culture be a first-rate place? Is it still possible to raise good families when the contextual framework, societal behaviors, and cultural beliefs do not teach or reinforce such a collective aspiration? The answer to these questions can be found in the approach and plan you generate in open discussion with your family and as Brother Brigham stated, by “hard labor and by battling and fighting against the elements”.

2017 Little Bloomsbury Spring Festival Featured Artist
Kaylie Gage

Kaylie Gage

I am interested in the vivacity of inanimate objects and have found that cities illustrate this idea most effectively because their liveliness can be found in not just their inhabitants, but in the compositional form of the city itself. The combination of buildings, corners, streetlamps, billboards and window shapes make every city unique.

I have been influenced by Fairfield Porter and Richard Diebenkorn, as well as Wassily Kandinsky’s early work, and the cityscapes of Egon Schiele. I wish to replicate the looseness of these artists while emphasizing the specificity of individual shapes. I do not want my stylistic choices to feel forced, so I use large brushes which force me to react to each mark. My paintings become a series of responses rather than a carefully planned image. By giving up a measure of control these paintings seem to grow of their own volition.

These cityscapes are animated by eliminating rigid boundaries like right angles and straight lines. I do not make sketches before starting a painting, preferring to work directly on the canvas, so that proportions become skewed and buildings are squished. My paintings depict the city as a living thing that is described using an organic and disorderly language. "

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