Peter Everett’s intellectually absorbing Hypnagogic exhibition at Material Gallery set for June 28 closing reception

The untethered mind is at the heart of Peter Everett’s intellectually absorbing exhibition, Hypnagogic, which will close tomorrow (June 28) at Material, which quickly has become one of Salt Lake City’s most important contemporary art galleries in its short history.

In music, there is synesthesia where the composer seeks to conjure up shapes and colors for the listener, who is unencumbered by the musical concepts that led to the architectural form and harmonic structures in a specific composition, which typically follow musical concepts. Likewise, Everett’s process follows a similar path. The paintings supersede the layers of abstract concepts to invite the viewer to internalize and make their own visceral connections to what they see and experience in the layers of colors and patterns that generate a sense of complex rhythms and harmony from elements that no longer seem disjointed.

In an interview with The Utah Review, Everett said that his process has evolved into a counterpoint arising from interests in science and psychology as well as alchemy and magic. “One might think of how the patterns, colors and shapes during my painting process come from intermediary images that are seen and then unseen, especially in the transitions between sleep and consciousness when I am awake,” he explained. When meditating, he said that he is sensitive to his breathing patterns and rhythms and how they are regulated. His work exemplifies visual phenomena of interstitial spaces such as peripheral vision, daydreaming, meditative and hallucinatory states. The sense of harmonic vibration is palpable when one stands long enough to absorb and process the experience of viewing his paintings.

Screen, Peter Everett, Ink, acrylic, and oil on handmade mulberry paper, 24 ¾ x 19 inches, 2024.

In recent decades, neuroscientists interested in exploring how creativity flows from one’s mind have turned their focus to an emphasis on process and not just in the dream stages during sleep. They also are interested in what meaningful types of daydreaming appear to forge the creative links that eventually are manifested in a novel, a musical or choreographed composition — or in one of Everett’s paintings.

Hypnagogia occurs, according to neuroscientists who have been studying this phenomenon of complex consciousness, during spontaneous dreams when the brain is likely to solve gaps and make the connections between concepts that otherwise do not agree with each other in semantics or superficial logic. Plainly, we should be encouraging instead of discouraging the value of daydreaming, especially when its purpose allows our brains to handle complex connections between and among ideas, thoughts, concepts, approaches and designs that would otherwise confound us during the state of being fully awake and alert. Everett’s paintings generously open the door, allowing us to glimpse how he imagines alternate realities of the world. Most importantly, the subtle epiphany is that Everett’s work encourages us to articulate our idiosyncratic interpretations, without worrying about what might be the ‘correct’ interpretation of the painting or the artist who created it.

Rupture, Peter Everett, Ink on paper, 42 x 31 inches, 2016.

Indeed, for an artist like Everett, these processes of connecting to his deep consciousness do not just occur in the studios. A 2018 article in the Journal of Environmental Psychology pointed to evidence that spending time in nature is good for the creative process, whether it helps the individual to decompress and restore their focus and attention or to allow themselves to daydream for what they consider for themselves a meaningful purpose. The space in Everett’s work can be easily imagined as extending well beyond the physical canvas upon which it was created. Working in tightly defined enclosed spaces such as cubicles does not nourish the mindset for creativity but working with a larger window view can prime the pump, so to speak, and even better is to hike or walk in expansive liberating natural environments. In fact, Everett recently returned from a creative residency at Monson Arts, located at the edge of the North Woods in Maine. 

Like Andrew Alba, a Salt Lake City artist who had an exhibition af Material earlier this year, Everett cherishes Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, among the finest examples of magical realism in 20th century literature. “It was something that immediately was grounded in me, for recognizing the realities of going to and escaping to different realities,” Everett explained. Growing up in the Eighties with a father in the military, he moved around a lot, and always felt like an outsider looking in, trying to find the ideal fertile ground long enough to experience and process it.

Borderland, Peter Everett, Ink on paper, 39 ½ x 27 ¾ inches, 2024.

His coming of age encompassed all sorts of transitions, moving from industrial to post-industrial cultures, the rise of postmodernism, punk rock aesthetics and “all sorts of hiccups around me,” as he described it. When one embraces transitions as Everett has done, the door is open to envisioning one’s own stream of consciousness in all its stages — not influenced whatsoever by the advice, counsel or critique of others —- and to reach their own lucid dreamscape that they can continuously build upon for expressing themselves creatively. 

There will be a closing reception tomorrow with Everett attending (June 28 at 6 p.m.), which is open to the public. For more information, see the Material Gallery website.

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