Two oil paintings and an edition of lithographic prints by Everett were included in the exhibition, which opened at the Crystal Bridges Museum in February 2020
Last April, Department of Art professor Peter Everett was contacted by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art for a studio visit. Curatorial team Lauren Haynes, Allison Glenn and Alejo Bendetti were narrowing down their list of potential artists to feature in State of the Art 2020, the second iteration of an expansive exhibition that seeks to showcase a diverse cross-section of contemporary art in the United States. Haynes — curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges and of visual arts at the Momentary, Crystal Bridges’ new contemporary space — visited Everett’s studio, as well as several other artists around Utah.
“It was a good visit, and Lauren was really thoughtful,” said Everett, “but I didn’t know if anything would come as a result of the visit.” That August, however, Everett was invited to take part in the exhibition as one of 61 artists from across the country — and the only artist chosen from Utah.
“It was an honor for me to be curated into this exhibition,” said Everett. “This is a powerhouse team of curators with a great understanding of contemporary art in our country, and I was flattered to be the representative of Utah. It has been great to show my work alongside so many amazing and accomplished artists.” In addition to the two large oil paintings of Everett’s included in the exhibition, an edition of hand-pulled lithographic prints was also commissioned for the exhibition’s opening, a project Everett produced with master printer and retired BYU professor Wayne Kimball.
Everett describes his own work as an exploration of the non-linear narratives that reside, interact and evolve between moments. “These narratives often exist between the apocalyptic and magical and frequently locate themselves in the quiet immediately before or after something has happened,” said Everett. “I am interested in forms and entities that have an immediate visual power, physicality and a sense of urgency growing from a place just out of sight. Visual phenomena that I experience in transitional periods — between sleep and consciousness or in a meditative state — are often used as source material. These liminal spaces and the forms they generate have an energy that feels familiar and strange, like echoes from a parallel reality.”
In February, Everett traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas to visit Crystal Bridges and attend the opening of the Momentary and State of the Art 2020. The exhibition will be on display through May 24, 2020. “Crystal Bridges is an amazing institution with a breathtaking facility and collection of art,” he said. “The new contemporary space, The Momentary, is equally impressive and promises to energize art and culture in our country.”
Though measures taken to prevent COVID-19 have temporarily closed the museum, Crystal Bridges continues to promote art from the exhibition online, and there are plans to take State of the Art 2020 on the road to museums across the country.
Everett’s inclusion in the exhibition is a significant accomplishment, but he sees the achievement as “equal parts luck and hard work.”
“I think it is important to recognize there are so many great artists around the country and in Utah that could have been included in this show,” he said. “I am a committed artist and have been making art for a long time, but that does not always bring exhibitions and recognition. I had many studio visits in 2019, and some led to good things and others didn’t. Happily, the visit with Lauren Haynes led to this opportunity.”
For Everett, this experience has reminded him of the importance of finding internal rewards and an honest voice as an artist. “I feel it is important to not pay too much attention to extrinsic rewards and praise and to not get discouraged when there is a dry spell,” said Everett. “These things can be fickle and come and go. What is critical is to be honest and focus on where your center is, what you have to offer and what is intrinsically rewarding that you can hold onto even if no one else seems interested.”