|Kathleen Royster stands in her gallery in Helper with two of her beautiful works, "Teapot with Leaves" and "Cup with Leaves." Her gallery will begin an important local artist show this Friday.|
Kathleen Royster has spent much of her life doing things many dream of. Her life of adventure includes climbing mountains, skiing, and working for years on an Alaskan fishing boat.
And now she makes art.
"The strongest work for me embodies contradiction, which allows for emotional tension and the ability to contain opposed ideas," she has written in her artists statement. "My use of thorns, leaves, and pears are images from different life experiences. Individually they speak of pain, vulnerability and pleasure. They also overlap in such a way that one is the other and visa versa."
After being raised in the mid-west and attending high school and college in Oregon, she went on to her life of extreme adventure.
Then one day she decided to change her life, go back to school and get a master in fine arts and teach.
And teach she did at the University of Utah and then at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif. for three years.
"I'm a teacher," she stated sitting on the window sill in her new gallery and studio in Helper. "When I make and show art I am interested in the informative aspect of it."
Royster's store front in the historic section of the old mining community denotes a large departure from what had been the phantom gallery for the past few years. She is not only interested in showing what she does but what many artists do, and not just locally either.
"It's my intention to show the finest art in this area," she states, "But I also want to bring regional art as well, from a large area."
The gallery she has created in the front of the building had already started to fill up on Tuesday morning for the beginning of a Friday exhibition that begins with the Helper Art Festival weekend and will run through Sept. 15. A movable wall at the back of the gallery allows her to expand and shrink the gallery as needed.
The show will feature well known artists from the local area including Cliff Bergera, Brian Blackham, Doug Braithwaite, Lindsey Frei, David Johnson, Jason Jones, Brad Slaugh, Karen Jobe Templeton, Thomas Williams, David Dornan, Marilou Kundmueller, Sandy Wisecup and Royster. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Royster, whose work appears in dozens of museums and displays across the United States including the Renwick Gallery in the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California and the Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah, amongst many others, sees Helper as the coming thing in Utah art; a place where big things are going to happen.
"When I moved back to Salt Lake after three years of teaching at Scripps College I was looking for a place to be," she says. "A friend of mine had bought a house here in Helper and I came down and started meeting lots of people. I liked everyone I met and a year ago I bought a house here."
Royster needed a new studio and she found the building she is now and decided a gallery was also in order.
"My clay studio is in back," she pointed out. "I think the gallery is just a natural progression of what I want to do."
Royster sees Helper becoming a mecca for the arts and mentioned that a lot of the press the town has been getting lately in the Wasatch Front will help a great deal.
"What we are starting Friday in the gallery is a blue chip lineup as far as I am concerned," she says referring to artists that will be represented.
The gallery and the work she displays of others reminds one of galleries in resort cities around the country.
If Royster has her way, Helper's name will soon be on that list.