Critic's Notebook: The Four Floors of the 2019 Artists' Reception at Zions Bank 

click to enlarge "My work is who I am," said artist Katherine Bajenova Grimmett. "You have to make your life interesting to make your work interesting."

Harrison Berry

"My work is who I am," said artist Katherine Bajenova Grimmett. "You have to make your life interesting to make your work interesting."

I was at the top of the Zions Bank Building. From the 17th-floor banquet room, I could see the nearby Hoff Building. Stately from street level, the Hoff was just an ivory swell between the Foothills and where I stood. Behind me was the upper deck of the 2019 Artists' Reception, which took over four floors of the Bank Building on May 9.

This was the sixth reception Zions Bank has held, and it was a polished affair, with different hors d'oeuvres on every floor, beer and wine, and staff on hand to hold open elevator doors for patrons—the men mostly dressed in un-tucked button-ups and chinos, and the women in cocktail dresses, or smart skirts and blouses. Many were in their 30s and 40s, and some of them were looking to buy art.

click to enlarge - Marilyn Watkins showed her work on the first floor of the Zions Bank Building. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Marilyn Watkins showed her work on the first floor of the Zions Bank Building.
The artists were looking to sell. When I approached Katherine Bajenova Grimmett, whose still lifes and portraits hung on the sixth floor, if she was the artist, she answered my question with a question: "Are you the buyer?"

Grimmett collects muses, mostly inanimate objects like ornately painted vases, glass bottles of Heinz clear vinegar and, notably, couches. Her human muse, a woman with silky, dark hair, olive skin, full lips and a penchant for flared shirt cuffs, is featured in all of her portraits and a print Grimmett produced from behind her stall. The artist also studies ballet and the Basque language, writes and travels—all of which informs her art.

"My work is who I am," she said. "You have to make your life interesting to make your work interesting."

On the first floor, Marilyn Watkins said her paintings reflect her homes in Boise and Arizona. Her paintings of Boise trees and waterways are lush and textured; those from Arizona draw from sunset palettes, and at her stall, the arc of her painting career (from the realistic to the impressionistic) was represented from left to right.

click to enlarge - Saylor Shuman's landscapes are deeply impressionistic. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Saylor Shuman's landscapes are deeply impressionistic.
"I started painting intuitively, trusting that my soul had something to say," she said about her newer, more stylized work.

Where Watkins' work was bright, Saylor Shuman's landscapes in the sixth floor "training room" bled winter solstice gray, and her thick oils of rugged mountains and leafless forests were conveyed more through texture. One of the younger artists at the reception, Shuman said her grandmother's painting and training, along with a passion for the outdoors, inspired her  to pick up a brush.

Her paintings combine fine detail work that sucks in light with big, goopy brush strokes that cast shadows of their own. In one piece, you can almost hear the bark peel from a stand of birches beset by snow.

"I just love impressionism," she said. "It's what I like to do."
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