Exhibition Reviews | Visual Arts

Tales of Magic and Fancy: James Christensen at the St. George Art Museum

The St. George Art Museum is pleased to present The Art of Imagination: Tales of Magic and Fancy, an exhibit of fantasy art inspired by traditional children’s fairytales, nursery rhymes, and other “childish” fancies.

Select works by renowned fantasy artists James C. Christensen, Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, “Dinotopia’s” James Gurney, and Scott Gustafson will be featured, as well as the “fantastic” flying airships of Alpine, Utah sculptor Dennis Smith.

Many in the community may be familiar with James C. Christensen’s works, which are often associated with the many images he has provided for the Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City, Utah. He has illustrated numerous projects for Time Life Books including Time Life Dragons. Several paintings from this series will be on display

faery tales

“My aim,” says Christensen, “always begins with a desire to connect with imagination.” He adds, “My work is an invitation to let your imagination run wild, explore, and make interpretations spontaneously.” Many of Christensen’s interpretations of traditional fairy tales and favorite nursery rhymes will be included in this magical exhibition.

Visitors to The Art of Imagination: Tales of Magic and Fancy will also be pleased to find many of Greg and Tim Hildebrandt’s imaginative works included. Throughout their careers, the Hildebrandts worked together and separately, winning awards and fame. They created everything from their own first novel, Urshurak, to their world-famous Star Wars poster. Together they have won the coveted Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators. The St. George Art Museum will be showing a number of paintings from J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings which they worked on together, as well as an assortment of Greg Hildebrandt’s originals inspired from Alice in Wonderland, Pinnochio, Wizard of Oz, Robin Hood, and other Children’s tales.

Other favorites included in this “fantastic” exhibition are the brilliant, detailed paintings by James Gurney from his popular fantasy book, Dinotopia, as well as a variety of works by Scott Gustafson who has colorfully depicted his version of the Wizard of Oz, The Three Little Pigs, and Little Bo Peep, to name a few.

A lively three-dimensional aspect to the exhibit includes the marvelous flying airship assemblages by Dennis Smith, popular Alpine, Utah sculptor.

Of these works, Smith says, “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fly? Almost everybody has…” That is what prompted the artist to make a sculpture entitled “Viking Airship” which is on display in the Museum exhibit. It is not of a bird, but of a flying machine “so light that it carries six kids higher and higher into their wildest imaginings.” Smith has made dozens of these “airship” sculptures over the years, each one a little different, with different colored wings, and different shapes of tails and varying numbers of children being transported on their “fantastic” journey. His works are found in public displays in fifteen states, the Ukraine, Moscow, London and Prague. Smith is most widely known for his sculptures of children, but is also sought after for his abstract assemblages and fanciful flying machines.

As a special component to the fantasy exhibit, the St. George Art Museum is inviting the children in the community to submit, on an 8 x 11 sheet of paper, their own “fantastic drawing” of their favorite fairy tale character or story which will be kept in a binder for all Museum visitors to review and enjoy throughout the show. Children may sign and date their works of art and turn them in at the front desk of the Art Museum or mail them to:
St. George Art Museum, Attn: Fantasy Exhibit
47 East 200 North
St. George, UT 84770

An opening reception will be held 6-9 p.m. on Friday, March 28th at the St. George Art Museum, located 47 East 200 North, St. George, Utah. Admission is free to this event and all, both the young and the young at heart, are invited to an enchanting evening of art, music, and light refreshment.

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