The recession has been particularly hard on downtown Provo. Despite the quaint charm of the city’s historic architecture, an alarming number of spaces remain empty. Sadly, the recession has taken an especially heavy toll on businesses participating in the local arts community and Provo’s recently thriving gallery stroll has lately appeared to be in its death throes.
However, gallery stroll may be down, but it isn’t completely out. This Friday, long-time arts supporter but first time stroll participant Velour Live Music Gallery will be hosting Byron Stout’s new exhibit, “Truck Meet Truck.” Along with the reopening of the F Stop Cafe, Stout’s Velour show will pump some much needed new blood into a community recently pummeled by gallery closings. It will also take place simultaneously with Velour’s vintage flea market, which means that admission to the venue — usually six or seven dollars for a weekend concert — will be free and include the opportunity to riffle through old school threads while checking out the paintings.
If you’ve ever been to Velour in the past, you’re probably familiar with Stout’s work though you may not realize it. Near the entrance, Stout’s painting “Snake Death” has hung since Velour opened. The painting depicts a car with Utah license plates and a mural of a snake and a skull on its hood. Velour owner Corey Fox felt that the painting fit the venue’s vibe and, like some of Stout’s subsequent work, portrayed a world that “wasn’t quite normal, but that’s what made it appealing.”
For “Truck Meet Truck,” Stout will add a handful of new paintings to the several that already hang in Velour. Like those you may already have seen, the new paintings continue Stout’s interest in material possessions and the pride that people achieve by working for and owning things. They’re also uniquely local. Some feature landscapes and many depict vehicles but, according to Stout, they typically portray a “regionalist, realistic view of Provo, Utah.”
Appropriately, then, Stout’s work offers a poetic statement for a beleaguered downtown. According to Stout, it depicts the “personal affection you have with a personal object. It’s important to be proud of the things you worked hard to get money to buy.” It’s also about an “innocent kind of love. It’s basically about someone being proud of their achievements. For me it’s completing a painting or having a car that I paid for and paint a mural on, and then do a painting of the car.” Not surprisingly, the paintings also tend to have a broad appeal. While they fit well in a hip music venue, the artist has felt especially proud when his work has appealed to children as well.
“Truck Meet Truck” will be up at Velour throughout the month, though the gallery stroll will be one of the few times to see the entire exhibit free of charge. The paintings will also be for sale as part of a silent auction. To learn more about Stout’s work, visit his Web site at byronstout.blogspot.com.
Jim Dalrymple is a culture correspondent for Rhombus. Follow him on Twitter @jimmycdii.
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