EPHRAIM — A former Salt Lake Tribune art critic explained his unusual art and expressed his views on how humans affect the natural environment during a Snow College gathering last Thursday, September 15.
Works by Frank McEntire, who also served as executive director of the Utah Arts Council, are currently on display at the Snow Art Gallery in the Humanities Building. McEntire was honored at an inaugural reception on Friday, September 16.
Born in 1946 in Wichita Falls, Texas, McEntire received his associate’s degree from Lon Morris College, a private junior college in Jacksonville, Texas, and his bachelor’s degree in theater and motion picture arts from Brigham Young University. He also earned a master’s degree in Community Education Administration from BYU.
From 1992 to 1998 he was art critic for The Salt Lake Tribune and Salt Lake Magazine.
McEntire said he was first exposed to environmental issues when he was a young man reading Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring.
Carson’s book documented how indiscriminate agricultural spraying of the insecticide DDT decimated bird populations. Many species, including California brown pelicans, peregrine falcons and bald eagles, have been pushed to near-expansion in the lower 48 states.
He said Carson’s book led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and other environmental protections. The book also inspired his own lifelong environmental activism.
McEntire believes that human interaction with the environment is the largest contributor to climate change. He cited the mega-drought in the west and the floods in Pakistan and India as recent examples of climate change. He said he believes we have 2050 to turn things around.
“There are no easy solutions,” he said. “My work tries to ask a series of increasingly difficult questions.”
McEntire practices what he calls “Assemblage Art”. Much of his media comes from flea markets, garage and real estate sales. His ‘Silent Spring’ assemblage consists of a wasp’s nest, still attached to the branch it was created on, perched atop three roughly hewn square quartzite stones. It’s a rad piece that evokes no sense of comfort.
Another piece, titled “Nature Fights Back,” features a large rock and rusty chain sitting on an antique wooden dock cart with metal wheels. At the base of the rock is a small hole in which McEntire placed a small round rock painted to look like the world.
McEntire says: “…We inherit these (environmental) challenges on our global doorstep from times past. I trust that as we recognize and better understand them, we will find the political will, develop innovative technologies, and retain the mental determination and courage to thwart pessimism and inspire problem-solving action. Our response will determine whether humanity remains in the expansive realm of geological time.”