By Bonnie Gangelfhoff
Utah artist Jeffrey Hein keeps his studio stocked with vintage clothing, hats, and hundreds of pairs of sunglasses. He relishes painting his models in all sorts of “goofy” costumes. The model in mowava, however, is an exception. An acquaintance from his church, Hein says, the woman was intriguing enough sans costume. “She has all this hair and wraps a scarf around it,” he explains. “I knew she would make a really cool model.” But more than likely his models are complete strangers. “I’ve run out of family and friends,” he says half-jokingly. These days, he turns to the streets of Salt Lake City to find his next subjects. “I carry business cards wherever I go to give to possible models,” he says.
The sunglasses that many of his subjects wear are for an artistic purpose, Hein explains. They shield the eyes, and thus viewers are less likely to read in a narrative. His contemporary, figurative paintings are about color and form, he emphasizes. “I realized by accident that sunglasses separate the viewer from the models’ eyes, making the paintings less personal,” he says.
Hein’s work is on view this month in a group show at Williams Fine Art in Salt Lake City. He is also represented by Wendt Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA; Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, CA, and New York, NY; and Phillips Gallery, Salt Lake City, UT.
Featured in “Artists to Watch” October 2005