SALT LAKE CITY — As actors, directors, and filmmakers roll into Utah this week for the Sundance Film Festival, they'll find an unusual tribute to their craft at a Salt Lake art gallery. A group of gifted Utah artists found their inspiration in film for a collection of paintings dedicated to the moviemaking industry.
Whenever Utah artist Zach Proctor sees a good movie he says, "I walk out and think, man, that makes me want to paint a really good painting."
In fact, Proctor was inspired to create his oil painting called "To Shoot and Sing Praises" after watching the 2001 cult classic, "The Royal Tenebaums."
"When I saw this particular film, it stood out to me, this one scene really jumped out," Proctor said.
The scene featuring two little boys shooting off BB guns at their grandpa's funeral popped out because Proctor and his younger brother were the same age when they lost their grandfather.
"And how could you celebrate your grandpa better than putting on black and having a gun salute," Proctor said.
After watching Proctor paint in his Salt Lake studio, art curator Joel Addams was anxious to showcase two of Proctor's paintings in the Art of Cinema exhibit opening this Friday at the Alpine Art Gallery in downtown Salt Lake.
"So he (Proctor) has kind of mixed the cinematic feel into his own idea of what it is to create," Addams said.
Alpine Art Gallery coordinator Susan Bohmholdt was excited to host the exhibit, saying, "I mean it sounds ridiculous, but I'm so in awe of their (Utah artists) talent, so for me they're sort of the movie stars."
As the stars come out for Sundance, artist Lindsay Frei's painting of a "Veiled Beauty" has a hidden message about those who sit in the darkness of the theater and pass judgment on the film.
"There is some sort of protection in being in the shadows and watching something else happening," Frei said.
Addams appreciated Frei's interest in "how people are able to see something else going on and then, maybe not be viewed themselves."
In fact, everything about films and moviemaking fascinates these Utah artists. Take Frei's "Exposure" where in a succession of panels, the clothes are stripped off her subject.
Bohmholdt sees the small oil paintings as featuring "an actor on stage or being in the movie and us watching it and seeing, sort of picking them apart."
Frei said, "The succession part, I think, alludes to film because it's these images that change along the way."
Images captured in another series of paintings show guns in the grasp of famous characters from "Taxi Driver," "Goldfinger" and "Bonnie and Clyde." It's art that captures a unique vision of what cinema is. "That it's big, it's grandiose, it's storytelling," Addams said.
Proctor's "Approaching the Infinite Abyss" might have visitors to the exhibit asking what's the story?
"It kind of shows the possibilities that movies have that real life doesn't necessarily afford us." It's like the possibilities of what might happen every time Proctor starts painting. "Before you start something creative, there's all this potential there. It's incredible what might happen," Proctor said.
Just like the actors, directors, writers and cinematographers debuting their work at Sundance this January, these Utah artists know you have to take a leap of faith into the artistic process. The exhibit opens this Friday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m. at the Alpine Art Gallery, 430 E. South Temple in Salt Lake City.