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South Valley Journal

Riverton’s Utah Artists Exhibition Open House spotlights four local artists

Feb 09, 2022 01:00PM ● By Dylan Wilcox

David “Oz” Osterczy’s landscape art is displayed in the Riverton Old Dome Meeting Hall on Friday, Jan. 28. (Brook Bowen/Riverton City)

By Dylan Wilcox | [email protected]

Artists Brian Baity, Anika Ferguson, Gunter Radinger, and David “Oz” Osterczy greeted guests at an open house for the Utah Artists Exhibition held at the Old Dome Meeting Hall in Riverton.

From still-nature macrophotography to delicately carved eggshells, Baity’s art spans several mediums. He learned art in high school but is otherwise self-taught. He refers to Utah dentist, Lou Jensen, as a mentor who also invented the paragraver which is an air-driven drill. Baity relies on the paragraver to transform an impressive array of ostrich, emu, rhea, goose, and chicken eggs into intricately lattice-designed pieces. Baity explains the emu eggs have three layers to their shell, each with their own unique color: black, gray and white. After experimenting, he discovered how to carve the eggshells revealing each layer in different colors with pronounced designed. 

One such notable piece was a carved emu egg commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Hogle Zoo featuring a giraffe and zebra. In conjunction with the American Egg Board, Baity has also carved two chicken eggs for First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Melania Trump. The former’s egg, which was presented in 2013, was inspired by Obama’s campaign, “Be Healthy! Be Active! Be You!” to encourage youth to lead healthier lives. The latter’s egg was inspired by Mrs. Trump’s “Be Better” anti-bullying campaign and was presented in 2020. Both pieces are on display at the White House.

Baity also has an assortment of carved gourds with unique inlays of precious stone and pieces of carved eggshell. After creating jewelry for a couple of years, Baity began inlaying turquoise stones into the gourd without cutting deeply into the gourd, which requires a meticulous attention to detail. The gourds he creates are Native American-inspired designs with subtle yellows, blues, reds and blacks. The rim of the gourd is lined with weaved pine needles to add an even earthier touch.

Upon completing high school, Baity joined the Air Force where he met a Dr. Martin whose mantra made quite an impact on the impressionable young artist: “It’s okay to break your crayons,” Baity recalled. “If you think about it, he just wanted me to be creative and think. It’s okay to break your crayons.” 

Allowing room for error and the space to create enabled Baity to dabble in the many mediums he utilizes. Although Baity’s figurative crayons takes the form of hundreds of eggshells and gourds, his art is a testament to dedication and impressive attention to detail. Baity’s art is featured on his website www.brianbaity.com

Arizona-native Anika Ferguson displays her “Music and Movement” series which highlights the bond between music and art. Ferguson drew upon her love of music and art to create larger-than-life canvases featuring bold colors and figures playing various instruments that seem to move to the sound of its inspired genre of music. 

“I’ve always been an artist,” Ferguson said. “I knew that’s what I was in kindergarten. It was just who I was. It was what I do. That has never changed.” 

While the seed for art was planted during her formative years, her skills took root while studying art at the University of Calgary’s Developmental Arts Program in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Following her formal art studies in Canada, Ferguson transferred to Utah where she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a focus on education.

“I wanted to try to share with the viewer a sound through colors, movement, and textures,” Ferguson said. “As this idea progressed, I found myself explaining my series to professors [and] I was taught about the neurological condition called synesthesia in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses.” 

She explains her art is a great example of synesthesia, or the ability to perceive sounds and colors together. One such example is her rocking piece, “The Drummer” recreates the energy one could feel exuded by a drummer banging away at his cymbals: strong, fast-paced, adrenaline-filled. Ferguson’s choice of colors and focus on the drummer’s face reflect those feelings, and if there is enough focus on the painting, one could even begin to hear an intense percussionist beat. She cites Mike Mangini, lead drummer for the progressive metal band, Dream Theater, as inspiration for this piece.

Paul Ferguson, Anika’s husband, is a musician who has been a model for a few of Anika’s paintings, said that his love for music and her affinity for art creates a great combination. “Obviously what brought us together was things we had in common: music, bands, art. She decided to be an artist and I decided to be a musician, and we kind of diverted, but through this series, we came back together again.” 

Another eye-catching piece is “Cello Player” which features a young woman playing a cello, whose body seems to move along with her bow. Anika describes how even though the core of the cello is hollow, the music created from it also radiates from the heart of the cellist. This dissonance is demonstrated from each note of the cello which creates its own voice yet harmonizes together to create one perfect song. Similarly, the colors and shapes in the art itself each have their own dimension, hue, and shape but they harmonize to create one representation of the cellist.

“I was happy to find that my series can bring something new to the viewer. I can share with [the viewer] an experience that I have regularly. It’s a lot of fun now to share my vision of certain sounds with others,” Anika said. Anika can be followed on Instagram @flowerstone_art and online at www.fineartamerica.com

Gunter Radinger, a German-born artist, focuses his brush on the rustic and rural life of the American west. 

“I am a totally self-taught artist,” Radinger said. “I have studied many types of art and have honed my skills through practice and observation of both other artists and many styles and subjects. I challenge myself to try new projects. My travels throughout my life have made it possible to see many venues, this has given me a decided international viewpoint.”

A bulk of Radinger’s art are inspired by landscapes, people and the lifestyle of the western United States. A close-up of a muzzle of a white horse equipped with a bridle, with golden trees in the background. A sketched headshot of an old desert-weathered cowboy with an impressive mustache donning a wide-brimmed hat. A row of trees lined up in a neat row at the edge of a lake named “Morning Formation” which alludes to his experience in the military. Each piece focuses on nature in a near-pristine state.

A handful of abstract pieces can be found in the mix of impressive acrylic-painted landscapes and pencil sketches of cowboys. One piece entitled “Bavarian Village” was based on a photo Radinger took of a city in Germany while stationed there 50 years ago. He stumbled upon the photo while cleaning through his home. He figured the photo was lost but was pleasantly surprised to have found it and decided to paint the image. 

Radinger became a U.S. citizen at the age of 19. Upon relocating to Utah, he graduated from the University of Utah with a master's degree in Spanish. Following a stint with the U.S. Military in the early 1970s, he began to pursue art full-time while managing a couple businesses with his wife, Carol. His art has been exhibited in many countries, namely the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan, Argentina, Germany, France, and the United States.

Radinger’s art is featured online on the Saatchi Art website, www.saatchiart.com/grradinger.  

David “Oz” Osterczy is a multi-award winning abstract visual artist. He attended the City University of New York-Herbert H. Lehman College. The New York native left the hustle and bustle of the Bronx, to find greater inspiration in the Wasatch mountains of Utah. While Osterczy’s artistic arsenal includes striking landscapes, his forte lies in creating abstract vortexes with intense psychedelic colors.

Displaying his art from New York to Los Angeles, Osterczy has brough joy and creativity to the masses for over a decade. His unique visual interpretations of nature stand out and elicit questions and curiosity from patrons and clients. Osterczy’s credo is “I am of service to mankind, and I serve with my creations.” This credo is evidenced from his selfless desire to help others during natural disasters, like hurricanes, to more sinister disasters created by human trafficking.

Osterczy has won several awards for his service to mankind, which are not related to his art. He volunteered his weekends for 20 straight months to help rebuild hundreds of homes in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Five years later, Osterczy found himself in the middle of storm-torn Texas helping communities to rebuild after the destruction of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

One of Osterczy’s most widely known artistic campaigns took on human trafficking. His “Vorrtex” series helped to raise thousands of dollars through non-fungible tokens or NFTs, donations made by various clients helped to support the cause. He took pieces from his “Implosion” series by superimposing a vortex in the middle of mountains. The vortex represented human traffickers for stealing the souls and lives of youth, and the mountains, echoing youthfulness, represented the victims of human trafficking.

In 2020, Osterczy said the COVID-19 pandemic “destroyed me.” He continued, “If I didn’t go online and learn how to sell online, I would be in a homeless shelter.” He lost roughly $150,000 in unsold art because of closures to planned exhibitions that year. 

“I had friends who when bankrupt, but I didn’t go that route. I had the wherewithal to have enough in the bank to survive almost an entire year of no income,” Osterczy said. After draining a significant amount of his savings, he had to survive by selling thousands of rocks and precious stones he found in southern Utah to make ends-meet. “That’s part of the way I survived 2020,” he said. Despite the rough patch, Osterczy is optimistic things will start to smooth over. Ozsterczy’s art can be found on his website, www.ozfineartstudio.com

Although the pandemic did place a prolonged pause on art exhibitions, Anika opened an art studio in April 2021. She felt it was the right move for community members, mostly school kids, to have a space where they could learn and appreciate art. Anika would set up virtual art lessons and create take home art kits. Despite the daunting realities of COVID, paint brushes will still grace canvases and eggshells will continue to be carved, Baity, Ferguson, Ratinger, and Osterczy along with other artists are hopeful for a strong rebound to the art industry.

The Utah Artists Exhibition is a free event open to the public on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from noon to 5 p.m. until Feb. 16. The exhibition is located at 1425 W. 12600 South, Riverton, Utah. Visit www.rivertonutah.gov/exhibits for more information.