New art exhibit features retired BYU professor

Walter Askin, Christopher Columbus Returns from the New World with the Four Basic Food Groups to Queen Isabella Levitating and Oskar Kokoschka in a Funk, Acrylic on canvas, 92” x 94”, 1991. Courtesy of the Artist.

BYU’s Museum of Art opens its newest exhibition this week: “Reality Reorganized: Walter Askin and Wayne Kimball’s Mysterious Discursions.” This free exhibit featuring artists with close connections to Utah County will run from April 13 to Aug. 27.

Head of Education Janalee Emmer worked as an educator for the exhibition and said this show will bring ties close to home for several people.

“What I think our local and community audiences will enjoy is that one of the artists, Wayne Kimball, taught for many years in the Art department at BYU, so his art and contributions will be familiar to many,” Emmer said.

Wayne Kimball, Birds in Confinement + One Fugitive, Lithograph, 8” x 8”, 2014, Courtesy of the Artist.

Kimball specializes in lithography, a printing art, and is considered one of the most talented lithographers in the field. Askin is based in California and focuses on eccentric and unexpected subject matter in his art.

Emmer said Kimball and Askin’s art is skillfully created but also remarkably imaginative and creative, inspiring her in her own art.

“These artists see the world through a humorous and sometimes even an absurd lens; it can’t help but bring a smile or laugh,” Emmer said. “After I look at their work, I want to be more creative in my own life.”

Curator Kenneth Hartvigsen met with these two artists often as he worked to select art pieces and put the exhibit together. Hartvigsen described them as fun, quick, quirky and witty and said that their art functions the same way.

“Given that this is a contemporary art show, a lot of people don’t anticipate that the art will be funny,” Hartvigsen said. “I think that artists sometimes have a reputation of taking themselves too seriously. Neither one of these artists is like that.”

Hartvigsen said that Kimball and Askin have so much fun with their work simply because they have fun with their lives, and encouraged viewers to live likewise.

Wayne Kimball, The Artist Mounted on Horseback, Lithograph, 15” x 19”, 1984, Courtesy of the Artist.

“I think that the take home message from this show is to not take anything too seriously,” Hartvigsen said. “It doesn’t mean to be frivolous, but to be open to unexpected joy in things that we might be initially concerned about or weighed down by.”

Emmer described this exhibit as light-hearted and hopes that viewers of all ages will come out of the exhibit with that kind of an attitude.

“This exhibition has something for people of all ages,” Emmer said. “Children will be drawn to the bold colors and fun narratives, while older audiences will appreciate the meticulous process of the works as well as the deeper themes they address.”


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