Four years ago, a ladder collapsed on Lee Deffebach, crushing her heel. For a long time afterward she was confined to a wheelchair. Then, about a year ago, she broke her knee. She wasn't able to work all last summer.

Despite accidents that would cause many artists to cancel their exhibits, Deffebach bit the bullet. The result? A powerful one-woman show that now hangs in the Finch Lane Gallery.The artist, an advocate of abstract expressionism for almost 40 years, still enjoys pursuing that style.

As she paints each large canvas, she does not try to tell a story. What she tries to do, however, is to satisfy certain needs.

"I have a drive to do abstraction because of the pleasure I derive from the process as well as the finished product," she explains. As she works on each painting, her goal is "lack of consciousness" - a total involvement in the act of painting.

Deffebach says she doesn't have a preconceived idea of what her finished painting will look like. "You put something down, and you react to it," she said. "It tells you what you must do."

She isn't offended when people say they don't understand her work. She responds, "You don't have to understand something to enjoy it."

Hanging alongside her recent abstract paintings are some of her found-art wall sculptures dating back to 1985. These works were first introduced in a one-woman show at Gayle Weyher's downtown gallery.

One of these pieces, "Betty's D&D Club," was created from tin, mixed media, acrylic and spray enamel. If you take time to compare it with her painting "The World's Most Beautiful Landfill" (to the right and on the gallery's west wall), you will see similarities. To imbue the same personalized style in both mediums is no easy task.

Her work will remain at the Art Barn, 54 Finch Lane, through March 26. For more information, call 596-5000.

- The Salt Lake Gallery Association has set its next gallery stroll for Friday, March 15, from 6-9 p.m. This event allows the public to hop from gallery to gallery without a set route or time pressure. Thirteen galleries will participate in this month's stroll. They are A. Allen, Courtyard, Marble House, Pierpont, Repartee, Sego, Southam, Tivoli, Urban Arts, Utah Designer Crafts galleries, as well as Dolores Chase Fine Art and Gallery 56.

The event is free, with some galleries providing live music and light refreshments. A map showing the location of the galleries is available at each participating gallery. For addresses and current exhibits, see the Galleries listing elsewhere on this page.

- Visual artists are invited to submit proposals for a public art project to be integrated into the new sports arena plaza on Block 79. Up to $95,000 will be made available through Salt Lake City's percent-for-art program. Interested artists are invited to an information meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 18, at the Art Barn, 54 Finch Lane in Reservoir Park. Artists' proposals will be due April 24. For details, call 596-5000.

- The Utah Watercolor Society is offering a conference to artists on Friday and Saturday, March 22 and 23. It will include lectures, watercolor demonstrations and hands-on experiences to broaden skills, stimulate thinking and expand artistic horizons.

The creativity conference will be held in Malouf Hall on the Westminster College campus, 1300 East and 1700 South. Registration will be held March 22 from noon to 1 p.m., followed by a luncheon featuring keynote speaker Nathan Winters. Sessions one and two will be held at 3 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Participants can select from four different lectures each session. Saturday's sessions are scheduled for 9 a.m., 10:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Attendees can choose from three lectures in each of these sessions. From 1:45 to 3 p.m., Paul Davis will lecture on "A Personal Evolution." Pre-registration must be received by March 15. For more information, call 367-5967 and Suzanne Reynolds at 261-3084.

- The March meeting of the Intermountain Society of Artists (ISA) is set for Wednesday, March 13, at the Senior Citizens Center, 255 S. 1000 East. It will begin at 7 p.m. and feature guest artist Nancy Seamons Crookston. For details, call 571-2886.

- Lectures, workshops, classes.

Sunday, March 10, 3 p.m., Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah - Lecture on women's fashions in the 19th century by exhibition curator Jill Haley.

Wednesday, March 13, noon, Salt Lake Art Center - Art-lunch tour of exhibit "High Art, High Chair" by Magda Jakovcev-Ulrich.

Sunday, March 17, 3 p.m., Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah - Lecture on dream women in symbolist art by Kristine Jensen by exhibition curator Kristine Jensen.

Monday, March 18, 7 p.m., Salt Lake Art Center - Open Forum on Art Criticism with Mary Francey, Anna Campbell Bliss and Ann Poore.

Wednesday, March 20, noon, Salt Lake Art Center - Art-lunch tour of the "High Art, High Chair" exhibit with Clinton Call.

Wednesday, March 27, noon, Salt Lake Art Center - Art-lunch tour of exhibition "A Dozen & One Utah Furniture Makers" by Michael Iannone.

Thursday, March 28, 7 p.m., Collett Art Gallery, Weber State University - Lecture by visiting artist Mary Ann Bonjorni.

Thursday, April 4, 7 p.m., Salt Lake Art Center. "The Mechanical Paradise," the first of the eight-part film series "Shock of the New." Other segments will follow on every Thursday evening through May 23.

- By Richard P. Christenson