Ogden Art Beat–October’s Featured Artist

Well, after a quiet summer and a group show in September to kick the fall off, artwise, starting this Friday night, the art scene will be in full bloom in Ogden at the monthly First Friday Art Stroll.  In anticipation for that, I interviewed the local artist who will be featured at the Crowley-Wilkerson Gallery I am attached to.  Below is my interview write-up on David Jackson.  He’s a friendly, neat guy, and easy to talk to; you can tell he is a former educator.  His artwork is very pleasing and easy to look at.  Check him out at www.davidjacksonstudio.com.

           David Jackson: Morgan County Artist of Many Talents   
                                                                              by Susan H. Warren   

Autumn: The time of year we all look at the fiery fall foliage and always comment, “WOW! Wouldn’t that make a great painting?”  

Well, David Jackson, October’s featured artist at the Crowley-Wilkerson Fine Arts Gallery in Ogden, Utah has done exactly that, and more. A painter of multiple talents, he especially revels in the glories of nature and his seasonal landscapes and wildlife oil paintings reflect his enthusiasm, respect, and love for nature. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Jackson in his studio/gallery of his Mountain Green home about his art, his philosophy, and his take on the art world today.    
To fully understand the artist, let me describe the surroundings in which he works: a lovely home in the foothills just past Weber Canyon, a gallery studio which presents his work appropriately on pine and log walls, surrounded by mounted heads of trophy animals–elk, deer, moose, sheep, pheasants, ducks–he hunted in the past. I kidded him that this was the ultimate “man cave.” In reality, the mix of wildlife and landscape paintings and hunting trophies create the perfect ambiance for a Utah artist with a passion for the natural world. I could easily understand how these beautifully mounted heads would also serve as reference points for his paintings. On shelves and in corners were bronzes, again of the wildlife he loves so much. Obviously, Jackson is a master of many genres of art.    
Realizing from the age of 12 that art was his calling–a childhood art correspondence course sealed the deal–he never looked back. Holding a B.S. degree from Weber State University and a M.F.A. from Utah State University, Jackson taught locally on the high school level for 27 years while maintaining the life of a dedicated professional, working artist as a parallel occupation. He found this an invaluable teaching technique (his art students were enthralled watching him work) and even managed to incorporate lessons learned from that earlier correspondance course: valuable feedback, discipline, and good use of time. He proudly offers that more than a few professional artists were once his students.    
Now painting mostly in oil, his early paintings were in water color.  His paintings fall into the school of realism, but actually often start out as abstract forms to lay down shapes and colors. Jackson also works mostly from photographs: regional and from Europe, where, he notes, not surprisingly, the light is vastly different from the southwest.  He admittedly frets over the fact that one of his frustrations is there just isn’t enough time to get to all the photographs and ideas he has for works of art. Often he is torn between finishing a clay sculpture to ready it for transfer to the foundry to be cast in bronze and starting a new canvas before his idea flits away from him.  But wait, he needs to pack and address a painting for shipment; the new owner would like to receive the painting!    
Another frustration for him is when people buy art for the wrong reasons: it goes with the room, it matches the couch, the professional decorator liked it….  Jackson argues that art should speak to you and it should be an affair of the heart; you’ll never tire of a piece you fall in love with.    
For several months in winter, Utah relinquishes Jackson to Scottsdale, Arizona, where the professed snowbird joins the artist community there and participates in the Scottsdale Celebration of Fine Arts, a three-month long art show. The clientele of this show are not only US patrons, but international ones, as well, and success there equals knowing what the foreign visitors want when it comes to art purchases.    
For me, it’s always interesting to discover what art, other than their own work, artists collect; for Jackson it’s a variety of work from other artist friends: cubism, abstract, and landscapes.  As for his own subject matter, landscapes, wildlife, barns and houses, florals, and people all seem to catch his eye. No matter the subject, Jackson’s oils use a vibrant color palette and a painterly style of lovely, loose brush strokes.    
People who enjoy art and the beauty and wonder of the world around us are his natural audience. What’s not to like about a painting one can get lost in and be transported to another time and place?  David Jackson is passionate about painting and enjoys discussing art and its place in our lives. Join him on the first Friday gallery stroll on October 1, 2010, 6-9:00pm at the Crowley-Wilkerson Fine Art Gallery and meet the man and his work.    
Partners Tami Crowley and Kris Wilkerson invite you to stop by and get excited about the many facets of art right here in Ogden. The Crowley-Wilkerson Fine Art Gallery is located at 115 Historic 25th St., Ogden, UT and hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 11:00am-6:00pm or by appointment. Please call 801/339-0606 for additional information or visit them at www.UtahFineArt.com.    
(Susan H. Warren holds a M.A. degree in English from Villanova University.  Prior to retiring to Utah in 2009 from the Philadelphia area, she was on the English faculty of Widener University, Chester, PA. She is an avid collector of art.)

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

“The Chicken Chronicles”–Part VII

After a recent newspaper article about a local couple and a Saturday visit this past weekend to the downtown Salt Lake City Farmers’ Market, I find myself back on the chicken saga beat: call it a chicken in every plot!

On a delightful day with daughter Lara, grandson Ethan, and one over-stimulated Corgi (first visit to the big city and lots to smell!)  amidst all the fruits, vegetables, cheeses, jams and jellies, art,  jewelry, etc, there was one booth presenting a line of chicken coops–on wheels, no less–for home use.  Called Chickoopy (what else?), the company’s business card features a loopy looking chicken roosting on a city skyline with a subtitle of “Your urban chicken outfitter.”  They tout fresh organic eggs produced by you!  If you want more info, do visit their website, it’s pretty entertaining!  www.chickoopy.com  There you’ll find their ready to buy coops and informative videos.  Also there are links to local city ordinances in regards to backyard chickens.

Now for the local couple, the Snows of Kaysville, about 10 minutes from Syracuse.  It all started when Mrs. Snow realized something was missing from her life; she had a huband, kids, plenty of love.  She needed…chickens.  So instead of requesting a cruise or jewelry from her hubby, Trent, Michelle wanted about $24.00 worth of chickens, which equals 4 birds.  (Hint: She grew up on a farm with the usual assortment of farm animals, so she was no stranger to poultry.)  She finds them soothing; they are relaxing to watch and listen to.  “They have unique sounds,” she maintains.

The “coop de ville” was designed by Trent (he’s a civilian engineer at nearby Hill Air Force Base) and features a hinged roof for easy egg gathering and a hinged wall to allow easy access to a drawer that catches the droppings.  In winter, there is artificial light and a heating element to keep the water from freezing.  He claims they have care down to a science and spend only an hour per week actually fussing with the hens.  In case you’re wondering, each hen lays an egg once every 25 hours which you have to collect daily.  If you forget and the hen gets a clutch of eggs, she gets broody and won’t get off the nest.  I guess the maternal instinct kicks in and she wants to hatch the eggs!

Michelle advises not to have a rooster as it might bother the neighbors (I still hear the one near us every morning, but I’m used to it now) and not to name the chickens if you think you’ll have a hard time eating them once egg production slows and you replace them with a younger “chick.”

Like traditional pets, chickens like to be held and stroked and they often make noises when they’re content.  They also have entertainment value: children like to “hypntoze” them. 

  1. Place chicken gently on the ground
  2. Rest your hand on its back
  3. With other hand and make an imaginary line in front of its beak
  4. Repeat #3 several time
  5. Raise your hand from its back and the chicken will lie there for about a minute, then hop right up

Michelle thinks everyone should have chickens; you get more than affection, you get eggs (and the occasional Sunday roast chicken)!

Published in: on September 20, 2010 at 7:55 pm  Comments (1)  

Trip Notes–Part 4-B (heading home)

I believe I was in western North Dakota when I left off, and the next state, if you look at a map, is Montana.  Eastern Montana, resembles much of the flatness of the prairie states.  But my real reason for taking this northern route home is I wanted to take a short detour and make a stop at the well-known site of the somewhat infamous Battle of the Little Bighorn, aka Custer’s Last Stand.  The location of the national park, in the south central part of the state, originally must have been in the middle of nowhere.  Before roads and the encroachment of modern civilization this was wide-open rolling prairie, perfect for hunting buffalo.  Now, the park site sits on the Crow Indian Reservation and the impacts are noticeable.  The access road off the state highway, well off the Interstate has mobile home parks, a huge service station plaza, and the Crow-owned casino.  This was not what I was envisioning…. 

Also, the day I stopped by–about 3 days after the anniversary of the battle (June 25, 1876), the air temperature was hotter than Hades and the day was windless.  A Hell’s Angels motorcycle outfit also decided to drop by that day, so there were hogs and intimidating men everywhere.  Set that all aside and even in the dead of winter the place would be creepy.   There is a main monument atop Last Stand Hill that lists all the names of the soldiers who died there.  

Last Stand Hill Marker

 Here is where Custer and 40 of his 240+ soldiers shot their horses to form a breastwork in a last ditch attempt to win the unwinnable battle.  Granite markers are scattered down the hillside to indicate where men fell.  Similarly, red granite markers show where Indians fell and there is a mass burial site for the horses.  There is also a memorial area for the Indians, to help make the site and story more balanced.  In case you’re curious, Custer was eventually interred at his alma mater, the US Military Academy at West Point.  

Marker showing where Custer fell

The view out from the top of the hill looking south is forlorn and vacant to this day, as it must have been in 1876.  It would have been painfully obvious that no reinforcements were on the way and the outcome looked bleak.  Actually, one can’t blame the Native Americans as they were fighting to preserve their traditional way of life as nomadic hunters and reservation life held no charm for them.  The US Army was carrying out Pres. Grant’s wishes to remove the Lakota Souix and Cheyennes to reservation life in North Dakota.  The great Lakota leader Sitting Bull was fighting against Custer’s force and this time, won.  And I guess with a nearby casino, one could argue they won again.

Markers of fallen soldiers; casino hidden by trees

Following a quick tour of the visitor center and the top of the hill, I stayed only a half an hour. For me, personally, the whole set-up was uncomfortable and, well, creepy.
Back on the road I had only to finish driving through Montana, some of Idaho and then drop south into Utah.  After Bighorn, I had lost my taste for historic spots and tourist stops.  However, unbeknownst to me a delightful surprise lay ahead, unmarked and on a state road I decided to take to break up the monotony of Interstate driving.  Just outside Dillon, MT I saw a sign which indicated a historic marker ahead.  Seeing a wide apron, on a whim I decided to pull off.  Boy, am I glad I did.  There in full view was Beaverhead Rock.

Beaverhead Rock, near Dillon, MT

If this doesn’t ring a bell, let me help.  On the Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery trek to explore the Louisiana Purchase and get to the Pacific coast, this is the huge rock outcropping that their guide, Sacagawea, recognized and then knew where they were; as a child, her tribe had camped under the cliff and along the river in summers.  I had the view to myself: no motorcycles, no screaming children, not many cars, and just the loud sound of silence.  It was thrilling to see what they did and it’s still untouched! 

Renewed and my faith in history restored, I continued on and in another day, I was pulling into my street, 30 days and 7,084 miles, 20 states and Canada behind me.  What an odyssey!

An additional gallery of photographs from the journey home that took my breath away:

Devil's Backbone, MT

Rolling hills and storm clouds, near the Idaho-MT border

Big Sky Country

Mist and brooding storm clouds in mountains, MT

Lava Rocks, Sagebrush and tree, Idaho

Published in: on September 14, 2010 at 8:36 pm  Comments (1)  

The Tomatos That [Nearly] Ate Syracuse

I’ll admit it: it’s all my fault.  I’m the one who impulsively purchased a carton of 4 Lemon Boy (yellow slicing) tomatoes in May and literally tossed them in the ground before I drove back east for June.  Since we continued to get chilly nights, even in late May, and frost was still a possibility, I figured if one managed to survive it would be a nice change of pace from sliced red tomatoes for our summer salads. 

The prolific Lemon Boy

You guessed it; all four plants lived and thrived!  Boy are they prolific!  We are harvesting large bowls of yellow tomatoes every several days.  We can’t give them away fast enough and just how many tomatoes can one eat in a week?  Our red Beefsteaks and Early Girls are producing, as well as the red and orange cherry tomatoes.  What to do?  Well, usually one makes and freezes tomato sauce for pasta dishes, BUT how appealing will bright yellow tomato sauce be?  It’s just the wrong color! 

The question then became, what’s the ratio of yellow tomatoes to red tomatoes to make an appetizing looking tomato sauce?  I parboiled and  peeled 8 Lemon Boys, deseeded and pulped them and ran them through the food processor.  Then I did the same thing to red tomatoes and it took about a 3 to 1 ratio to kill the bright yellow color.  That’s a lot of red tomatoes, and our garden is not quite coming through with that many red tomatoes (remember, the Lemon Boy vines are on over-drive). 

On Labor Day, Lara, Ethan, and I piled in the car and headed for the local pick-your-own farm and after 2 hours of back-breaking picking (and seeing heart-breaking numbers of rotting tomatoes in the field), we ended up with two large cartons of tomatoes and another box of peppers: green, red and yellow.  All this for $30.00.  I have a new appreciation for migrant workers–legal, illegal, or otherwise–and the day was pleasant and breezy, not killer heat.  Do you know how expensive red and yellow peppers are in the store?!  When we got home we weighed the tomato boxes and each was about 40 lbs.  So, 2 boxes, plus our yellow tomatoes and some reds, we estimated that we were facing 100 +/- lbs of tomatoes.  For our kitchen, this is processing food on a commercial scale! 

Two hours later, in and around dinner, we had parboiled all the tomatoes and peeled them.  Two soup pots of spaghetti sauce were simmering on the stove (of course, chopped onions, peppers, and herbs had been prepared as well).  All in all, we ended up with 5 gals. of chopped tomatoes to freeze for future use and 20 qt. bags of frozen spaghetti sauce for the winter.

And all because, on a lark, I bought 4 yellow tomato plants….

Published in: on September 7, 2010 at 8:18 pm  Comments (2)