Salt Lake Valley, education, art and outdoor communities converge

Andrew Pollard, a recent Westminster College graduate, holds up a finished watercolor painting imitating the lake scene in the background. Pollard said his art allows him to communicate with audiences who are unable to see these places and to show them how breathtaking the landscapes are. Photo courtesy of Andrew Pollard.

Andrew Pollard, a recent Westminster College graduate, holds up a finished watercolor painting imitating the lake scene in the background. Pollard said his art allows him to communicate with audiences who are unable to see these places and to show them how breathtaking the landscapes are. Photo courtesy of Andrew Pollard.

Andrew Pollard, a recent Westminster College graduate, was raised in the aesthetic lands and mountain ranges of the Salt Lake Valley, which provided the foundation for the ideas behind his art as a method for environmental activism.

Pollard said President Donald Trump's new administration and protected lands issues have brought particular attention to the American West and the need to protect the lands that harbor the outdoor and art community.

There are over 15 national parks within a few hours' drive from Salt Lake City, which provide endless influences for eco-centric art. Though art is used for many purpose across the globe, members of the art community in Utah use photography, videography and freehand art skills as a tool—some to shape how people see the environment and others to express themselves and help shape who they are.

Pollard for art and activism

Pollard is an athlete and artist who said he has been influenced by Utah and its surrounding landscapes.

"Growing up in Utah, I have always been inspired and influenced by the mountains and desert," Pollard said. "I like to share those places with people who don't get to see them. Through art I can show them how I see it."

Pollard is a free-hand artist who draws, paints and loves the outdoors. He said an influential figure who cultivated his passion for art was Eric Pollard (not related), a professional freeskier and artist who creates eco-centric designs for products manufactured by Line Skis, Anon and Dakine.

"Eric Pollard was always influential for me," Pollard said. "He was doing a similar thing combining skiing, art and the environment and has really taken it to a new level."

Alex Mager, a senior at Westminster College custom-majoring in video production and management, sets up his camera equipment to shoot photos of the night sky. Mager is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota and said he moved to Salt Lake City to develop his artwork through the ski scene, the outdoors and higher education. Photo courtesy of Joey Manship.

Alex Mager, a senior at Westminster College custom-majoring in video production and management, sets up his camera equipment to shoot photos of the night sky. Mager is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota and said he moved to Salt Lake City to develop his artwork through the ski scene, the outdoors and higher education. Photo courtesy of Joey Manship.

Pollard said he typically creates landscape pieces influenced by his love for the outdoors and skiing, presenting an opportunity to communicate his abstract perspective to an audience.

"Salvador Dali intrigued me in terms of how abstract his art was and how real it [seemed]," Pollard said. "He manipulates the world that he sees and changes it in a way that is understood by others."

Pollard said some people have skewed views of the environment and its preservation and said he looks at art as a way to communicate his own feelings about the environment to a greater audience.

Pollard sad his artwork was also influenced by "The Monkey Wrench Gang," a novel by Edward Abby about sabotage as protest against development that takes place in the Southwestern United States.

"Moving further on in life, I am really inspired by 'The Monkey Wrench Gang' and how I can use art to protect the environment that myself and those around me cherish," Pollard said.

Kiendl captures the action sports community

Trey Kiendl, a graduate from Castleton University with a B.A. in digital media, moved to Utah during his senior year for an internship and to pursue a combination of digital media and outdoor action-sport photography in Utah.

“During my internship with Park City Television, I realized what Utah had to offer me," Kiendl said. "I was addicted. There is an abundance of action-sports and landscapes so close to the valley. You don’t get that proximity many other places.”

Kiendl said the action-sports community and environment in Utah influence each other, creating a special relationship between the two.

“Not only is the art awesome to look at, but it brings the outdoor and action sports community to a new level,” Kiendl said. “Photographers, videographers and athletes see photos and videos of other athletes performing around the Wasatch and everyone wants to one-up the other.”

Kiendl said many big names and career paths in the industry are rooted in the Salt Lake Valley because of the amount of both artistic and athletic talent here.

“If you want to make a career of action sports or outdoor industry, this is the place to be,” he said.

Kiendl had the opportunity to work for National Geographic but was unable to accept the position at the time. However, he said that is exactly the type of career path he is in Utah to pursue.

"Between the access to public and protected lands and the art and action sports communities, there is nowhere else in the world where these things come together,” Kiendl said. “There is just so much to see and capture that the ideas and opportunities are endless.”

Mager shoots for the stars

Alex Mager, a senior at Westminster College custom-majoring in video production and management, is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, where he developed a love for skiing and documenting that experience with his friends.

“I grew up skiing in Minnesota and watching ski-edits on Newschoolers,” Mager said, referring to an online site where skiers and snowboarders share digital media. “This [community] was a

huge influence and I wanted to capture the tricks my friends and I were doing. It totally morphed into a desire to get better at photography and videography all around."

Mager said he moved to Salt Lake to develop his artwork through the ski scene, the outdoors and higher education.

"People say that I am not getting a useful degree, but I know how I am going to apply it," Mager said. “My goal is to make videos for outdoor-based companies at some point, and I know that takes a lot of networking in the outdoor community Salt Lake is great for.”

Mager said the Salt Lake Valley's access to national parks and other public lands is unparalleled and means he doesn't have to travel for hours to find a place to shoot film or photos.

“It’s not just skiing," Mager said. "I really have been getting into outdoor landscape and star photography. The deserts and the mountain ranges provide some pretty unreal opportunities to capture these images.”

Mager recently won the Star Wars photo contest for "Stay Wild Magazine," an outdoor-centered publication.

Without the community surrounding Salt Lake Valley that facilitates his love for the environment and his art, Mager said he would not be as passionate about digital media. Since he moved to Salt Lake, he said his experiences have helped him forecast where he wants to be in the future and how he wants to use his camera as means of making a career.