Monthly Archives: July 2015

Page Turner: A Stitch in Time Saves Nine


Page Turner is a fascinating artist, but hard to describe. ‘Mixed-media’ might be an understatement. Her series A Stitch in Time Saves Nine is full of history, symbolism, spirituality, and Walter Wick-quality components. She and her husband, Zephren, live in rural Virginia.


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A Stitch in Time is based on women in your life. Why did you choose each of these women and how do they relate to their totems? I was raised in a devout Mormon family inside a rural Appalachian community during the fourth wave of feminism. My family’s homestead in on what is lovingly referred to as Mormon Mountain. The sisters in my ward were from pioneer families that did not go west to Zion. While I was growing up, I not only served these sisters, but spent time learning the domestic skills and our traditions. I have always been intrigued by their hand, their own dance while snapping beans, or zipping needlepoint. The personal signature each of them had with their skills and their practiced hand. I was equally as intrigued by these sister’s tools. The worn wooden spoon and kitchen towels, delicately stitched or adorned, their sewing notions and everyday objects of personal value. The history and the stories that these sisters shared with me roll around in my head even still. I loved to hear about their lives and their perspectives.

As early as I can remember, I would write about these women in my journals. I made lists character traits of these sisters, very honest observations. I started with these pioneer sisters who ensured my proper upbringing and continued to write my friends, roommates, and other sisters. The genesis of the series comes from my time studying at BYU-I. I came upon a journal from an unknown sister who was part of a handcart company during the Mormon Exodus in search of Zion. As I read her words, I grew to know her and I derived strength from her words and from her drawings. During her turmoil over the death of one of her children and her husband, she finds comfort in the new landscape that inspires her to draw tatting patterns that look like wheat berries. Her world was full of struggle, sadness and doubt; yet she found strength and focus by being creative and not falling completely into one’s suffering. The last entry of her journal was pattern pieces of the gown she intended to make once she reached Zion. I do not know the rest of her story. All those years ago, I copied her pattern pieces into my own journal. At the time I had no intention but to preserve her in my life.

A decade later I came across these pattern pieces and felt compelled to finish her journey and to make her dress. I did not know what the gown would look like, but followed her skilled pattern sketches one stitch at a time (Sugar Sack Gown). From this experience, I recognized the importance of making things and the honor in the domestic skills and traditions as fine art. I had journals filled with lists about the women in my life and felt again compelled to give these sisters life so that they may remain with me. While I was hand stitching this series, I reflected on these sisters and read over my journals to spiritually charge the objects I created. I understand now that I was attempting to figure out my identity as a woman and as a Mormon woman. Each totem in this sculpture series relates to a specific woman in my life, each garment is made to reflect that sister’s personality and relationship with me.

How have you evolved as an artist? I feel that my visual language and vocabulary is ever refining. I am much more decisive about taking objects apart and deconstructing these precious objects. The fear of “messing something up” has nearly vanished. I find that I listen more to my instinct about creating.

You and your husband are both artists. Art has always been a major component to our 15 year relationship. Since we were teenagers, we have been encouraging and supporting each other. Zephren and I are both fine artists, we each make our own work, and also collaborate on projects through our business, Page Turner Studios. We talk all the time about what we are working on, so there is definitely some cross pollination that occurs. Zephren is my favorite person to work with. We get stuff done. For the last two years we have been building our house on the mountain. While digging out part of the hillside for our foundation, it really made me happy to literally be carving out our home with him. We live simply so that we may have the time to make our work. The pursuit of happiness takes us both to the same place.

It seems that you are so attached to even the materials used in your sculptures, is it hard for you to consider selling the items? The way these materials find me, my work finds their owners. My patrons connect so deeply to my work that each piece finds the right owner. The custodial duty to these precious materials transfers. For me, the action of giving these objects new life is quite freeing.

Visit Page Turner’s website.

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Page Turner

All images copyright Page Turner.

Waldo Midgley: Empire State Painter


Waldo Midgley was a watercolor and oil painter from Utah that spent most of life working in New York City. Born in 1888, he studied under Mahonri Young in Utah, attended the New York School of Art, and later studied under Robert Henri. Art historian Donna Poulton wrote that Midgley, “rejected the constrained conservatism of the National Academy of Design in favor of art that expressed forceful themes and rich subject matter, and that captured the excitement of New York scenes and people.” He painted the newly completed Empire State Building before its communication tower was erected (above). He passed away in 1986.


Christopher Thornock: Illustration


Christopher Thornock is a freelance illustrator and active gallery artist from Utah. He received a BFA from Art Center College of Design and an MFA from Brigham Young University. He also teaches art as an adjunct professor.


Tell us a little about your career as an artist. When I graduated in 1996 from Art Center I started working freelance in just about any gig I could. I did exhibit design, tv storyboards, ad comping, adjunct teaching and illustration. I even worked for a short while as an in-house graphic designer before taking the leap and focusing on a studio career. Most of my experience between then and attending grad school was selling paintings as a gallery painter. I focused on traditional figure and landscape oil painting. After receiving my MFA I returned to the gallery work and taught.

You studied at the Art Center College of Design and then BYU. Contrast the two experiences. I started my higher ed at BYU back in the 80’s as an illustration major. After my junior year I transferred to Art Center where I received my BFA in Fine Art with a minor in illustration. I came back to BYU and graduated in 2007 with my MFA. They are very different experiences. Art Center is a more focused ‘art and design’ school and doesn’t really give you a rounded liberal art education. I rarely recycled faculty and most were working professionals. Going to school in the Los Angeles area offered great opportunities for expanding experiences. The greatest motivator there were the other students. Imagine taking all the most driven art minded kids and putting them together. Competition was fierce. Everyone had immense talent and it made me want to push hard with my work. There is a price to pay for this kind of experience. Art Center was, at the time, 5X the cost per semester. Now it costs much much more.

BYU has an excellent undergraduate program. When I was in illustration, I always felt like they really were trying to help us succeed. There is a strong focus on drawing and a lot of effort was made into bringing outside talent to Provo to inspire. The faculty demanded good work and helped you if you wanted to succeed. As far as my BYU graduate experience. I enjoyed working with the faculty. At the time Bob Marshall and Bruce Smith were there, and they were the ones I wanted to study with. Unfortunately Bruce retired halfway through my time. Bob was my graduate committee chairman. The MFA program was pretty open, allowing me to explore whatever path mattered to me. Much like most graduate programs, it is not about taking ‘classes’ per se, much more like getting feedback on whatever you might be doing. They have a good visiting artist program which allowed us to hear from divergent opinions and that made it interesting. As with most grad students I put on hold most of what I had been doing and really tried to make changes to my direction. That can be a tough road. I always felt a little upended. Not that that is bad, you just have to learn to push through it.

You seem to have moved from fine art to illustration. What do you like most about each? Yeah, a little backwards. Most illustrators move the opposite direction. I think of it as getting back to illustration. I joke that I am a bit ADD when it comes to art. I always want to be doing something new. My return came about when I was asked by BYU to be a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Illustration program. As I gave assignments, I would drive home thinking that I wanted to do the projects as well. So I did. Pretty soon I had a portfolio of works just sitting in the studio and decided to approach a rep and see if I could get work again as an illustrator. I was lucky, I got picked up by a New York agency and am now balancing time between illustration and my studio work. The two bodies of work are very different. I like the calm quiet of my studio. The slow process of building a painting, working through my ideas. I like the handcrafting of objects, building the supports, smelling the turps, etc. The illustration gives me a challenge to paint under constraints not of my making. It allows me to be much more playful and not have to worry about the perceived serious nature of ‘fine art’. And the variety of assignments makes if fun as well.

Visit Christopher Thornock’s website.

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Mark Owens: Celebrity Photography


Mark Owens is a commercial photographer who has done extensive work with celebrities. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and studied photography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Owens lives in San Diego, California.

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Talk about your commercial career. Variety is nice. Whether it’s a catalog shoot, a landscape assignment, a celebrity portrait or a performance, altering subjects keeps your skills fresh and your mind sharp. It’s also a luxury. Sometimes your subjects or clients aren’t ideal, but that’s common in every profession. I’m just happy to have work.

You did an internship with famed Rolling Stone photographer Mark Seliger. Seliger is a phenomenal talent and was my photographic hero when I was starting out, so swindling them into giving me an internship when I had no photographic training (I have a degree in English) and was out of college for years was a miracle. But it was also a reality check as my one on one time with Seliger was minimal and there was no promise of work / connections after the summer was over. Everything I learned was by observation or by proactively seeking advice from his team. I was a bit disillusioned by him but consider the experience critical as it cemented my desire to make photography a career.

What is your best celebrity photo shoot story? That’s a tough one. Some are scary–Jamie Foxx gave me approximately 6 minutes to shoot. Some are difficult AND scary. My first shoot with Snoop he was late two hours because his custom “Snoop Deville” broke down. He was not happy when he arrived. But luckily he liked the photos so all is well that ends well. Some are surprising: James Hetfield – singer of Metallica – was a extremely well-mannered and mellow. Also, his garage is bigger than my home).

But I would say the best shoot just happened (above). I was in Ibiza with Kaskade and we were cliff jumping into the Mediterranean. The sun was at the right spot and I shot a photo of him on the cliff from the water. It was just a moment but turned into one my favorite photos of him and we’ve been shooting together for almost 10 years. Hard to beat a shoot in Ibiza, the beach, cliff jumping, crystal clear water, and a great artist as my subject.

Visit Mark Owens’ website.

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All photos copyright Mark Owens.

Miranda Meeks: The Strange and the Beautiful


Miranda Meeks is an illustrator living in Utah with her husband and daughter. She graduated from BYU.

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Tell us how you became an artist. I grew up in California and have been drawing since I was little. I decided to study illustration at BYU after my family moved to Utah, and I’ve been freelancing since my senior year ever since.

Your work has been called dark, mysterious, and abstract. The underlying theme in my artwork connects beauty with strangeness. I find the juxtaposition of combining darkness with beauty very intriguing, and I hope to create a similar experience for my viewers. I also appreciate when there’s a narrative behind an image, which encourages the viewer to ask questions and to maybe even create a story in their head about the image.

What tools–both traditional and digital–do you use regularly? I use mostly digital tools at the moment, and am experimenting with more traditional techniques currently. I use a combination of my Wacom Intuos Pro tablet at home and my Cintiq Companion 2 when I need to be mobile.

What are you working on next? Besides being a part of the upcoming 1001 Knights Project, I am also part of a group gallery show in San Francisco coming up in a few months. You can see the new paintings unveiled then!

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