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South Valley Journal

Riverton’s Fine Art Exhibition open house highlights local painters, photographers

Oct 01, 2022 08:13PM ● By Dylan Wilcox

By Dylan Wilcox | [email protected]

Artists Dave Argyle, Brook Bowen and Nathan Brimhall, among others, greeted guests at an open house for the Utah Artists Exhibition held at the Old Dome Meeting Hall in Riverton on Friday, Aug. 29.

Dave Argyle is a professional photographer based in Salt Lake City, whose specialty, according to his website,  “is sports and other action-filled events, particularly those with difficult lighting conditions such as night games, gyms, indoor arenas, and stages. [Argyle] uses state-of-the-art professional cameras and software, as well as specialized lights” to capture moving images of basketball teams to soccer teams.

Another photographer who shares the same passion for capturing the moment as Argyle is Riverton City photographer Brook Bowen. Bowen and Argyle attended a rodeo where they took the same picture of a cowboy being bucked off a steer. “I took the photo from the front and Dave took the same photo from the back, one second before I did,” Bowen said.

Bowen’s photos highlight various images of Riverton City from city events, such as aerial shots of Fourth of July rodeos to iconic images of Old Dome Meeting Hall. Bowen focuses on hidden gems of the community. His passion for photography has served him well in his current job as the city’s marketing specialist. He redesigned Riverton’s image by recreating logos for the police department and the city insignia. His work earned him the Outstanding City Employee Award this year.

Nathan Brimhall, a sculptor, focuses his art on tactile images combined with simple words with simple meaning. One such piece called “…and then” takes the grammatical mark, the semicolon, and gives it greater meaning. “The semicolon is used as a symbol for suicide awareness. It indicates a pause with more to the story. Not the end,” Brimhall explains. “For me, “…and then” represents so many facets of my life. I was successful and then I got divorced and then…etcetara. However, none are more poignant than knowing those who have come to believe the best option is to no longer be,” he added. He dedicated this piece to those who have taken their own lives.

Brimhall also created another piece titled “Fragile,” which was a “way for me to process the war in Ukraine,” he said. “It began to mean more to me as mass shootings seemed to be increasing exponentially, the divisiveness of politics, religions, social media, news and opinions becoming overwhelming,” Brimhall added. The title of the piece was inspired by a song from Sting.

Tamara Ward Burnside, a Salt Lake City native who now resides in Riverton, showcases lesser-known landmarks and historical buildings in the Riverton area, such as the Domed Church, which is now the Old Dome Meeting Hall. Burnside is an art educator who taught for Granite School District at Taylorsville High School, Olympus Junior High and as an elementary school teacher. She received her bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Westminster and her Master of Fine Art degree from Brigham Young University. After working in the Granite School District for over a decade as the K-12 Fine Arts Coordinator, Burnside took a position with the Utah State Board of Education as an Art Education Specialist at the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program.

“My art depicts a quieter side to life. It shows the quiet stillness of nature, the fresh snowfall, houses, churches and inviting scenes which calm the senses,” Burnside said. “My art seeks to give a personal side to an impersonal world. It strips the world of its confrontational nature. During the last 30 years I have worked primarily in watercolor. It is a medium which I enjoy and fits my needs. I love its transparent nature and how it causes me to think of both positive and negative space. Lately, I have been experimenting with acrylic paints, creating abstracts and realistic works of art,” Burnside added.

Jimmi Toro, an American contemporary painter, has dabbled in several creative fields including music, songwriting and instrumentals. His art attempts to add balance between control and chaos, struggle and victory, primarily focusing on the human element and the emotional connection between individuals. His art is inspired by surrealist artist Joan Miro, Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, and Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh.

“As an artist, I am always encountering the unknown when creating, and contending with the unknown when putting my work out there,” Toro said. “Trying all the while to make sense of it. When someone purchases or even views a piece of art, they can invite beauty into their lives, and in effect, open their eyes to something transcendent, making a lasting connection to, and establishing a relationship with, beauty. This relationship can expand out into the world and into other elements of their life as they progress on their path toward a better life,” he added.

Toro’s piece “Vines” depicts a green, leafy vine plant in a dark fuchsia vase. The striking part of this piece, upon closer inspection, is that the sections that seem to be cracked like an old canvas are intentional drips and trails of paint.

Local Riverton artist Shelly Cluff focuses on nature for her paintings, creating life-like images of flowers and vibrant foliage. The self-taught artist has been painting for nearly 10 years and was recently featured in the 2021 Salt Lake Community College President’s Art Show. She teaches watercolor classes locally at Flowerstone Art and Frame.

“I am constantly inspired by the shapes and colors of nature. I love capturing the joy that comes from

looking at a beautiful flower or a blue sky and green trees. I love to paint with loose and intuitive brush

strokes to keep my art practice a place of freedom and rejuvenation,” Cluff said.

The display features an impressive array of wildlife photography from photographer Eric Peterson. Peterson’s interest in wildlife photography began as a kid, growing up in the Redwoods of Northern California. He eventually moved to Utah where he was employed at Hogle Zoo. While there, he would support and bring attention to wildlife of all sizes, even moving to India to help rescue elephants from the streets, and supporting birds of prey in Utah. A camera, gifted to him by his mother, would shift his focus to capturing images of the animals that so enticed him. His work shows the importance of wildlife conservation for the next generation of wildlife admirers.

“Wildlife has played a major role in my life, so wildlife conservation was an easy concept for me to embrace. Wildlife photography is as much about showcasing the beauty of nature as getting a great shot. If one of my photos encourages someone to want to save and preserve wildlife, then my photo has done its job. After seeing my images, I would encourage everyone to step outside, open their eyes and ears to the world around you. It will change your life forever,” Peterson said.

Similar to Peterson’s photography, wildlife artist P. Craig Ellertson has used the mediums of colored pencils, pan pastels, scratchboards and acrylic paintings for his art. After a quick stint in design and commercial art in the advertising industry, Ellertson decided that didn’t satisfy his passion for fine art.

Originally starting with colored pencils, Ellertson began drawing cartoon characters at a young age and wildlife pictures from art books. He then experimented with several different mediums and found his preferred medium is professional-grade colored pencils.

Dustin Smith, a 19-year-old artist from Riverton graduated with an enhanced high school diploma from Riverton High School in fine arts in 2021. His work has been featured in several art shows during the past couple of years. Smith considers himself to be an American Realist artist who experiments in different styles, techniques and mediums.

“My art reflects America, both present and past. I like to bring new life into old and new subjects in my art,” Smith said. He credits his inspiration for art to his great-grandmother, Marilyn Rose Riddle and his great-great grandmother, Joy Slater.

“As for motivation I would have to say my family, my grandmothers particularly, unknowingly had an incredible effect on me. I believe with my whole heart that without either of their influences, I would not be an artist myself. If I had to define what art truly was to me, I’d say that art is a way to make sense of a world that doesn’t make sense,” Smith added.

The Riverton Fine Art Exhibition is a free event open to the public on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from noon to 5 p.m. until Sept. 30. The exhibition is located at 1425 W. 12600 South, Riverton, Utah. Visit for more information.