April 10, 2017
Reflections on Ancient and Contemporary Structures
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Santa Fe Arts Journal
April 10, 2017 
by Emily Van Cleve

John Vokoun's Chaco Canyon-inspired paintings on display at David Richard Gallery

Although he is a technologically savvy artist who enjoys designing on the computer, John Vokoun wanted a National Parks Arts Foundation residency in New Mexico’s remote Chaco Canyon last fall.

“Technology doesn’t work out there,” he explains, “so it gave me the opportunity to examine the concepts of overstimulation and multi-tasking in our contemporary society in contrast to the way of life for the ancient people who lived in Chaco Canyon.”

Vokoun’s observations of sunrises and sunsets over the canyon and reflections on the architecture, mark-making and symbolism of the ancient Chacoans are explored in his latest body of paintings on exhibit in his solo show “horizons/structures” at David Richard Gallery.

Up close and from one perspective, some of Vokoun’s acrylic on laser-cut panel paintings appear to show aerial floor plans of ancient structures that often had kivas built on top of previously-constructed kivas. Technologically-inclined viewers, however, may look at the same works and interpret them as esoteric computer language. Vokoun likes the ambiguity.

Horizontal lines of color in the show’s acrylic and oil works remind Vokoun of the Southwestern landscapes he has appreciated for years. “The horizons I see in this work are the New Mexico vistas I’ve been living with for a long time,” he says.

Most of the pieces in the show were created in Vokoun’s studio, out of his imagination with photos as reference material. A few paintings were started in the field and completed at home.

“When I was at Chaco, I thought about ancient cultures, their rituals and structures, and I thought about how our lives are constructed now,” explains Vokoun. “At Chaco, I was influenced by the way the Earth comes up and meets the sky. It seems their structure and civilization was built that way, reflecting geography and topography, like those buildings were meant to reach the sky.”

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March 27, 2019
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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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