Exhibition Reviews | Visual Arts

A BYU Reunion in St. George

The Sears Gallery, at Dixie State College in St. George, Utah continues to present sophisticated fine art exhibitions with the latest project by curator Kathy Cieslewicz, titled ReunionReunion is a collection of 24 artists “who matriculated through the Brigham Young University art program over a span of 15 years” notes Cieslewicz, “all of whom have maintained close friendships while having gone on to successful careers.” The idea of this show began about a year ago with a small list of names. This evolved into the “Reunion” theme as additional names were suggested by Vern Swanson, Director of the Springville Museum of Art. Then each artist in turn referred additional artists. The show eventually gathered art not only from inside Utah but from across the nation, bringing together over 70 pieces into the over 4500 square foot floor space that is the Sears Gallery.

The Exhibition, which opened September 7 to a large opening night crowd, displays mediums from sculpture and pottery to collage, oil, watercolor and prints. Style runs the full spectrum from abstract and impressionism to realism and surrealism. The diversity of these artists in medium, subject, and style is remarkable, given the similarities of environment and training. This presented a particular challenge to Cieslewicz in organizing the placement and hanging of all of the pieces such that they would flow seamlessly from one medium, style, and subject to another. It is an impressive display.

About half of the artists were in attendance at the Friday night affair, each identifiable by their nametag. It was fascinating to see the artist standing alongside their work. I could not have pinned the title “Utah artist” on anyone prior to nametag application as no one in attendance fit any of my preconceptions of a typical Utah artist. They are as diverse in appearance and dress as in their art. Many of my early attempts to “pin the artist on the painting” were incorrect as I mingled through the crowd. There is an additional dimension of understanding and appreciation when you view the creator and creation in the same space. I especially appreciated those whose works were featured at one time or another in Professor Robert S. Olpin’s Utah Art history course on KUED a few years ago, as it fueled my expectations for this show.

I did not understand or fully appreciate all of the artwork that I experienced at this event. However, an experienced or even novice art investor would do well to visit the Sears Gallery for this “Reunion” show as this specific gathering is not likely to occur again anytime soon. To view this level of artistic maturity in one show along with the wide diversity and Utah influence is an experience of a lifetime.

The show, which runs through November 16, features Clay and Rebecca WagstaffSteven Lee Adams, Cassandra Barney, Brad Aldridge, Bruce Brainard, Michael Workman, Chris Young, Douglas Fryer, Brian Kershisnik, Ron Richmond, Stephen Bartholomew, Joe and Lee Bennion, Royden Card, Jenni Christensen, Patrick Devonas, Mark England, Doug Himes, David Linn, Todd Stilson, Kraig Varner, Laura Lee Stay Bradshaw and LeRoy Transfield.

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