Locals + Culture

Emily Plewe | Artist

1/30/2014 | Darby Doyle
Darby Doyle/Emily Plewe

I’ve been flat-out fascinated by Emily Plewe’s work since viewing some of her paintings at a gallery here in SLC a few years ago. Abstract forms and color filled each canvas’s space, like competing beats in a just-slightly-off syncopation drum circle. One painting, “Accession,” appeared to faintly vibrate; extending, but restrained, like a slow-motion video of a startled bird crashing out of the underbrush and then flying free. It’s art with some serious fucking scale, and it's gobsmacked full of soul.

It’s easy to be smitten with work like this, and even more so with the artist once you meet her. In addition to having obvious mad talent, she’s wicked smart [studied art and literature at Wellesley College, and finished her MFA shortly thereafter], an amazing mom to three boys—trust me, you want your kids to take her fun and engaging art classes for little ones in the summer—and has a peaceful energy and ethereal beauty more often found in Renaissance paintings than in real life. Emily’s dad is a sculptor and landscape architect, and mom a doctoral-level educator and arts advocate, so she grew up in Clearfield, UT surrounded by intellectuals, art, artists, and landscape installations of impressive scale and variety. She’s inspired by nature, astronomy, quantum mechanics, and particle physics, and can as engagingly and breezily talk about any of these topics as most folks would describe what they had for lunch.

And THEN, she paints. Holy shit, does she paint.

Emily generously loaned my family that dynamic and faintly fluttering piece, “Accession” (2005) for a couple of months a while back [it’s in another private collection now, lucky bastards]. Explained in faint pencil tracery, bold brush strokes, and a crazy smash of thick textured paint, you sense more than see the momentum growing through –rather than on top of—the paint. This is a mass of restrained emotion, the artist adding and manipulating basic elements to achieve a sense of simultaneous motion and gravity. Hanging in the living room of our 1940s cottage, it dramatically filled almost the entire wall. One artist friend joked that Emily would probably be appalled at how well her paintings unintentionally fit with mid-mod decorating: dark floors, earth tones, chrome lines, stark white accents, a Plewe painting.

Nailed it.  

In fact, you’ll see Emily Plewe’s work all around town used in some of our staging and in our very own COLLECTIVE office. We know what we like, and we like her paintings in our goddamn space. Like any right fan-girl on the verge of stalker-dom, you’ll be constantly surprised, challenged, and compelled to lean in, linger, and learn more about them. Emily’s most recent works combine her curiosity about natural elements and themes of power, energy, and transcendence using the vocabulary of physics, quarks and astronomy. Again: wicked smart, über-talented. We can’t wait to see what she does next. Find out more about her stuff at the site below.

Emily Plewe

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