Chris Coleman and the Magic of Art
What makes art good? It’s a deceptively simple question. Art is supposed to be subjective. The value lies in the eyes of the beholder. On the other hand, it seems there should be some way to measure it, some kind of standards. Pondering this question, I found a couple of responses that ring true to me:
“Good art is timeless”, says Robert Shimshak, Chair of Collections for the Berkeley Art Museum. “It has a simple and rigorous beauty that commands your gaze and thought whenever you look at it. You know it when you see it. It’s personal. You will not have to be convinced to acquire it. It will be something you simply must have.”
Alan Bamberger, an artist from San Francisco says, “At its most fundamental level, good art is an effective combination of concept, vision, and mastery of the medium. Good art is also uncompromisingly honest, unselfconscious, bold, ambitious, enlightening, original, challenging, and a feast for the senses.”
If you take these definitions of “good art” and add a pinch of magic, you’ll know how I felt as I delved into Chris Coleman’s art this week. It is exhilarating, courageous, aspiring and intriguing. I felt moved by its beauty and originality.
Chris doesn’t have the typical artist’s background. He grew up at the base of the Wasatch Mountains and says, “I’ve always loved Utah’s mountains and deserts as well as its remarkably rich art culture.” He spent his youth pursuing athletic endeavors as a professional snowboarder, avid rock climber, and biker.
He graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning in 1993. Surprisingly, however, immediately after graduating he launched his art career, incorporating those disciplines into the meaning of his art and sculptures.
For several years he had his studio in downtown Salt Lake City, which doubled as a shared workspace and creative hub for local artists. Today he has relocated to Marysvale in the mountains of Central Utah, where he works on “inclusive, visionary projects to invigorate art in our rural communities”.
Chris works in a variety of media, with cast metal and welded metal being his most prolific sculpture medium. His art tends towards the large scale and draws inspiration from nature’s sublime shapes and lines, rendered in an industrial or mechanical way affecting a unique juxtaposition and harmony. He also builds exhibits that inspire viewers to interact within and respond to them, becoming a part of the art themselves. His artwork often features flowing, natural aspects of light, wind, water, or fire so there are perpetually changing viewing possibilities.
His piece, The Tilled Field, can be seen in front of Wells Fargo Bank on the corner of Tabernacle and Main. This piece manifests natural curves in polished, stainless steel. Its reflective surfaces change with the environment and encourages viewers to see themselves in the art. You can see more of Chris’ art at chriscolemanstudio.com
Art Around the Corner is a non-profit foundation working to enhance downtown St. George with captivating outdoor art. The Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit is the foundation’s flagship project, which each year selects around two dozen sculptures for a temporary installation. Organizations and individuals can buy pieces for public or private installation. The foundation retains a portion of the proceeds, which in turn funds expansion of the city’s permanent sculpture collection.
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