SPRINGVILLE Author Margaret Atwood said that in the spring, at the end of the day you should smell like dirt. But after experiencing this year's Spring Salon, when leaving the museum you should applaud.
This is the exhibition's 81st attempt to validate its raison d'etre, its 81st effort to show Utah what the state's artists are capable of producing, and the Springville Museum of Art's owners and operators should be pleased.
Not that previous Salons haven't been excellent. They have.
However, this year there is a wind of attainment blowing through the museum's galleries: technical virtuosity howls, imagination bellows, genuine themes roar.
And yet, after this poetic introduction, visitors should be aware that there are works in the show that are not as successful as they could have been; pieces that might even cause a groan or blush of embarrassment. This is to be expected in a juried show. Selection is subjective. But the pieces that work and there are many make up for any perceived slight.
According to Vern Swanson, director of the SMA, 988 works were entered into this year's salon, beating the previous record of 930. There were 271 juried into the show, which puts the ratio of art accepted to art entered at 28 percent a very respectable rate for an exhibition.
Something museum visitors will immediately notice is the quantity of large paintings landscapes, figurative/narratives, abstracts, still lifes many of which are stunningly executed.
Some will undoubtedly notice the paucity of prints. This is a tragedy because Utah has a plethora of excellent and well-trained printmakers. Where were they? A selection of their work would have made the exhibit even better.
Some strong areas this year were figurative painting, sculpture and photography. In fact, the photography is some of the best I've ever seen in the annual Spring Salon. Modern and post-modern also had strong showings.
As in previous years, there are sundry recognizable artists participating in the show (particularly from the "100 Most Honored Artists" group), but there are many who are new to the public. This is always the most exciting aspect new talent.
To have the marriage of imagination and technical virtuosity so universal makes the show invigorating.The 81st Annual Spring Salon, in the Springville Museum of Art through July 3, has variety, vision and ultimately, value. Travel south and take it in; you won't be disappointed.
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