Francis Bacon and the Screaming Pope

"Study After Velasquez" - 1950
"Study for a Portrait of Van Gogh"

Well, here it is the first Sunday in October. Seems like it might be good to welcome this most frightening of months in with a post about Francis Bacon. Love his artwork or hate it, it is hard to ignore once you’ve seen it.

There was a time in my life, when the world seemed much more horrible than it really is, that my eyes sought out and devoured Francis Bacon’s work. Don’t get me wrong, even though I still think the world is pretty damn horrible, there is a lot of beauty here too. But that’s not what Bacon painted, we aren’t meant to feel at ease or comfortable when looking at his work.

"Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion" - 1944
"Self Portrait"

Throughout his career, Francis Bacon painted an interesting mix of abstract and representational form. The subject was often hanging sides of beef, screaming Popes and monkeys, and crime scene splatter. It was Bacon’s 1944 painting called “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion” that made him well known and would lay the foundation for the rest of his paintings and career. He would go back and explore the crucifixion time and again, saying it is a fine example of how people tend to treat one another.

"Three Studies for a Crucifixion" - 1962
"Self Portrait"

Bacon went on to do a number of self portraits and portraits of his friends, and these are some of my favorite pieces by him. He also did some paintings of Van Gogh that I am very fond of.

Bacon’s work is meant to be troubling. Like it or hate it, the artwork acomplishes just that, treating the world as a violent and brutal place, and human beings as meat. That isn’t a comforting world view. But sometimes, all too often in fact, that is exactly what this world is like.

“I enjoy life but I have absolutely no belief in anything, I don’t say that anguish doesn’t play a part in my work. The very fact that you exist, that you see what’s going on around you, that must create anguish in anybody. I have a feeling of mortality all the time because if life excites you, its opposite, death, like a shadow, must excite you.” – Francis Bacon

"Triptych in Memory of George Dyer"

Affordable Westside Farmhouse

For this month’s architecture post, ArtDuh visited the affordable west side of Salt Lake City, where urban farming and agriculture is growing like crazy.

We fell in love with a huge (looking) white shingle home. It needs a paint job, but with 3 stories, a quarter-acre yard and a great location, directly across the street from the International Peace Gardens park and skate park, this 1907 home seems like a keeper.

According to Zillow, the home is only 1,480 square feet, but from the outside it looks double that size. It boasts 4 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. Zillow estimates the monthly cost for a 20-year mortgage for the home at $600, at least half the price the home would be if it were on 900 east instead of 900 west.

I’m a little unsure how to describe the architecture of the property, which just looks like an awesome old farmhouse to me. If you know more about the style of the home, please drop me a note or a comment, I’d love to pick your brains.

Next To Normal

Saturday is the last chance to see “Next to Normal” at Pioneer Theater. This musical is amazing, and has a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony to its credit. It’s a rock (and I would add country, gospel and metal) musical about mental illness, family dysfunction and unresolved grief in America. I was lucky enough to be invited by my friend, Lynette to see it and I loved every minute of it! For more info, visit

Paul Klee’s Early Prints

Two Men Meet, Each Supposing The Other To Be Of Higher Rank - 1903

Human behavior and social interaction can be a troubling thing. Often, what I find most bothersome is presumed authority. When I see people trying to throw unearned authority around, it makes me chuckle, and my mind’s eye will sometimes flash to Paul Klee‘s print titled “Two Men Meet, Each Supposing The Other To Be Of Higher Rank”. The print is funny, honest, but also sad as hell.

Woman In A tree

I’ve always been a big fan of Klee’s work, especially his prints from around 1900. It has been a couple of years ago now, but Anna and I were able to see a collection of 20 or so prints from that time in San Francisco. It was completely unexpected, but so very beautiful. This series of prints wasn’t shown as a whole until the early 1940s, the exhibit Anna and I saw was a recreation of their first appearance. I had no idea that the show was even going down at the SFMOMA, but I am so glad we were able to spend some time with the artwork. These prints are incredible.

Winged Hero

The prints are somewhat unique in style and subject when compared to the rest of Klee’s career. The majority of these pieces were made after Klee visited Italy and first saw Renaissance art. Most are nightmare critiques of bourgeois society. Social criticism is something you just don’t see that often in his later work. Or, it is just not as obvious.

Klee is an amazing artist, and among the most important and influential on the direction of modern art. He heavily influenced Dada and Surrealism, Russian Constructivism, and Abstract Expressionism. Not to mention many of the artists who came out of the Bauhaus school, where Paul Klee taught until the Nazi’s shut the school down.

Threatening Head

Glass Sculptures Express the 99 Most Beautiful Names of God from the Qur’an in Unique Art Exhibit

The Utah Cultural Celebration Center is pleased to present a new exhibit featuring the glass artwork of BYU art instructor Andrew Kosorok.  The intricately designed sculptures are full of symbolism, each of which represents the “most beautiful” names of God in the Qur’an, will be on display with other art, including paintings, fabrics and other items reflecting the Muslim faith.

 Utah Cultural Celebration Center
1355 West 3100 South
West Valley City, UT 84119

The show closes October 11 and the gallery is open Mon – Thurs from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and by arrangement.

Self Defense

Lady Derringer
Lady Derringer

The last few weeks have been an emotional struggle for me. At least three members of our gay community have been assaulted. Several other friends let me know they were recently harassed for their sexual orientation.

Salt Lake City is supposed to be an oasis. It was recently ranked third among mid-sized cities for the prevalence of gay couples. In that regard, our city is a gay-friendly diamond in the sage-brush of the Great American West.

I was raised as a hick. And when a hick feels threatened, we turn to one simple solution. We pack heat. Following the attacks, my instincts told me that I need to get a bunch of sawed off shotguns and organize a little class on shooting from the hip. I expect the well-known pump action sound would be a very satisfying way to send any homophobic asshole running. And, since shotguns aren’t particularly portable, the Lady Derringer would be my first choice for a conceal piece, based more on style than function, of course. (As an aside, the Lady Derringer was originally called a “muff pistol” because the gentle ladies carried them in their hand-warming fashion accessories.) Sure, most Lady Derringers only have 2 shots before you reload, but as a friend points out, one warning shot in the air and then one, if needed, in the offender’s gut will take care of business pretty efficiently.

BUT WAIT! Sure, I was raised a hick but haven’t I grown beyond that? Ghandi and yoga and the Dali Llama and vegetarianism and saving the whales are MUCH more a part of my lifestyle today than red dot rifle scopes. I’m struggling to find peace between my inner cowgirl and my inner hippy. There is a war inside me. . . and I might have a solution.

A few years ago I began making an art/fashion line I called “Self Defense.” The concept was to design garments (not that kind of garments) that could double as a weapon. The idea is to look sexy and dangerous, but be able deliver on the promise, if needed, by backhanding someone with a bad ass glove or body slamming with a bra version of brass knuckles. I made the clothing from a wide variety of spent ammunition cartridges, washers, paint, glue, thread and industrial materials. I’ve also done a lot of research into the history of weapons. Even more than the weapons themselves, the different options for armor, holstering and concealing weapons grab my attention.

As I fight with my feelings about Utah’s recent outburst of homophobia, I’ve returned to making “Self Defense” fashion. I don’t want to give away my designs, because I plan to unveil my pieces at a show in January, but I’m making items that are easier to wear and a little more old fashioned and old west than the bullet bras, belts and gloves you may have seen around town.

Human-Eagle-Lion-Bull Hybrid. Attack!

Imagine walking through a great hall. A giant chamber lit by fire and torches, filled with sculptures of strange and powerful animals, flanked on all sides by menacing guards and soldiers. Before you finally make it to your king, you are forced to walk between two strange giant stone animals with bodies of a bull, the wings of an eagle, one with the feet of a lion and the other’s are hooves. Both of these giants wear the face of your king.

I have stood next to the nine or ten foot tall sculptures pictured above and, even though the only guards on duty now are old and out of shape, the towering sculptures remain intimidating. They are also very incredible to look at. These sculptures are an interesting mix of realism and stylized pattern. It is easy to get lost in the geometry and decoration of the beard and wings, while at the same time you might find yourself appreciating the artist’s understanding of natural form.

These beautiful Assyrian pieces of art are currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but I want to place them in front of my house as soon as possible. | Human Headed Winged Bull and Winged Lion Lamassu