Spring is in the air. And it will "land" on Thursday. To celebrate, some local galleries are featuring works by promising craft students and new gallery regulars. Galleries that opened during the cold winter months are looking forward to their first spring.

- Utah Designer Crafts Gallery is featuring impressive crafts by students from colleges and universities across the state. "Teacher's Choice" spotlights works selected by art instructors.The 26 craft pieces on display represent the creativity of 15 students. Twenty four are made of clay and range from utilitarian pottery to ceramic sculpture.

John Neely of Utah State University submitted ceramics by two seniors - Brad Baxter of Homer, Alaska, and Seo Eo of Seoul, Korea. Neely indicated that Baxter's wood-fired stoneware has a natural ash glaze. Eo's gas-fired, unglazed stoneware was cooled in a reduction atmosphere.

David Pendell, associate professor at the University of Utah, chose ceramics by Kathy M. Royster and Kevin Parsons. Pendell reminds us that the U. of U. ceramic program in the oldest in the state. "It's thorough and diverse - one that emphasizes the relationship between ceramic traditions and the greater art world."

Catherine Kuzminsky of Westminster College entered a ceramic wall hanging by Suzanne Tenney Roberts. Kuzminski said that her department attempts to give students the skills and confidence in their abilities needed to produce works of art.

The two non-ceramic items in the show are woven pieces submitted by Weber State University. One is a mixed-media neckpiece by Betsy Elder; the other, a handwoven coat by Deborah Hughes.

The show's curator, Martha Klein Haley, was pleased and excited about the works submitted. She said, "I think one clearly visible common thread is these students' enthusiasm for learning the language of crafts."

The abundance of ceramics and the lack of other crafts indicate what has been happening to craft programs on a college level. Unfortunately, many that have prospered in the past have been phased out.

"The only surviving crafts program in Utah colleges and universities is ceramics," Haley said. "And except for weaving at WSU, none of these schools offers programs in weaving, jewelry making and glass blowing."

She pointed out that this is unfortunate. Students interested in pursuing a degree in crafts are forced to go outside the state.

"Teacher's Choice" continues through April 12 at the UDC Gallery, 38 W. 200 South (359-2770). Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The gallery is also open during evening performances at the Capital Theater.

Tivoli Gallery owners, Dan and Mary Ann Olsen, are proud of the artists they have represented for years - Ken Baxter, Elva Malin, Marilyn Miller, Rod Serbousek and others. And they're excited about some new artists they have added. Three of them are Randi Wagner, Linda Curley, Gregory St. Thomas.

Wagner needs no introduction. Her abstract and non-objective paintings have been spotlighted in local exhibits for several years. And, last October, she made quite an impact on the art scene in Washington D.C. when she held a one-woman show in the office of Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough.

Linda Curley works exclusively in oil. During the three months she has been a regular at Tivoli, her landscape paintings have received favorable comments.

Curley recently received first place in oil painting in the Utah Chapter of the American Mothers Association exhibit in Salt Lake. Several years ago, another painting won best of show in the AMA contest. It also captured first place in the Association's national exhibit.

Gregory St. Thomas, an accomplished pianist, composer and jewelry maker, shows his expertise in sculpting and painting as well. His large canvases contain human figures that glow in the light and disappear in the shadows. This style contributes considerably to each painting's mood and symbolism.

Located at 255 S. State Street, Tivoli Gallery is the largest gallery in Utah. In fact, excluding art centers and museums, it's one of the largest in the country. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

- Ellie Sonntag opened her gallery at 359 W. Pierpont Avenue several months ago. She already carries art by an impressive list of artists, including Royden Card, Jenni Christensen, Nancy Lund, Richard Murray and Trevor Southey.

The gallery is also the home of Belanger Antiques. And the furniture and accessories complement the paintings, prints and sculptures.

Card, known primarily for his black-and-white woodcuts, introduced the gallerygoer to his paintings. He manages to retain the flavorof his printmaking style in his painting, bordering each color with black. One of his strongest oils is "Looking South Past the Lasal Mountains."

Christensen's colorful etchings brighten up any decor. Gallery walls come alive with her moonflowers, peonies, magnolias, day lilies, and spring poppies. And these works can be purchased framed or unframed.

Lund's paintings add to the gallery's springtime flavor. The artist has had a long love affair with color; she's found that the best way to capture it is in floral paintings.

Murray held his first one-man show 20 years ago at the Springville Museum. Since that time, he has had more than 15 others. Intrigued by light, water, rain and mist, the artist has learned to record these moods in his impressionistic canvases.

Southey has mastered many art mediums - drawing (pencil and pastel), painting (oil and acrylic), printmaking, (etching and silver point) and sculpture (bronze). Over 50 of his works are sprinkled along the walls and sculpture stands.

Hours at Ellie Sonntag Art & Design are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Call 532-6125.