February 28, 2015
Beer with a Painter: Gregory Botts
Hyperallergic, 02/28/2015
Jennifer Samet

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Beer with a Painter: Gregory Botts
Hyperallergic, 02/28/2015
Jennifer Samet

I have known Gregory Botts for about twenty years. Early on, I remember being captivated by the guerilla action he and his wife, fellow painter Jenny Hankwitz, took in the early 1990s: planting sunflowers in the meridian of Houston Street in SoHo. Botts divides his time between New York City and Abiquiu, New Mexico. On his cross-country road trips, he paints landscapes outdoors, and in the studio he incorporates the landscape vocabulary and motifs into larger-scaled, more abstract work. Two of the important writers on Botts’s work are literary critic Harold Bloom and poet David Shapiro. An interest in poetry runs through Botts’s practice, as evidenced in the titles of his paintings and in the volume of his own poetry, which he published as a companion to his visual work, Clouds, Leaves, Waves (1996).

Around 2001 my husband and I visited Botts in New Mexico, where he lives in the middle of an empty desert field, and he showed us his paintings, all lined up on the studio floor. He took us on a hike through Ghost Ranch, where I felt sun-struck and dazed by the harsh light and altitude. Botts, however, was very much in his element, leading us around in a straw hat, and talking animatedly about Georgia O’Keeffe.

Botts has an exuberant but economic way with paint, marking the curve of a flower stem, the form of a mesa, and a cloud sitting in the sky with accuracy and poetic bravado. The landscapes are punctuated by geometric interruptions: squares of saturated color and black, jagged outlines that symbolize a break between the natural forms in the paintings and a studio or painting wall. They are the checks and balances in the middle of a relentless pursuit of adventure and the sublime, where motifs and geometry are constantly recycled and re-imagined. Gregory Botts was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1952. He studied at the School of Visual Arts and the Skowhegan School under the mentorship of Peter Heinemann, Fairfield Porter, and Paul Georges. He has taught at the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara; the New York Studio School; the National Academy School; and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center and Telluride Painting Academy in Colorado.

In the 1980s and 1990s his work was shown at Anne Plumb Gallery and Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York. In Santa Fe, it has been exhibited with Gerald Peters Gallery and David Richard Gallery. He is currently the subject of a solo exhibition at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee. A group of fourteen paintings entitled “Stations Project” is installed at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan, through April 2015.

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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