Spring arrived early in Springville this year. Already Ken Baxter's tulips are up, as well as Lou Jene Carter's zinnias and Peggy Anderson's chrysanthemums. They're up on the walls, that is part of the 64th National April Salon at the Springville Museum of Art.
In this show, color is often intense. A bright-red background is seen behind James Christensen's fanciful figures in "The Continuing Game," a woman wears a rainbow-colored housecoat in Richard Lack's "Morning News," and welcome sunlight invades Dave Wade's "Dawn Patrol."But color isn't the only element that catches the eye. There's a potpourri of styles and mediums.
Museum Director Vern Swanson, who always radiates enthusiasm about every new show, said, "I feel that in the representational confines, this show is easily the most diversified so far subjectwise, stylistically, and in every other way."
The juxtaposition of diversified styles is most dramatic in the step-down gallery just inside the main entrance. Again this year, the gallery has been chosen to feature the 35 winners of the jurors' awards.
Jurying duties were performed by Simon Taylor, director of British Paintings and Drawings from Sotheby's auction house in London; and Sandy Havas, director of the Eccles Community Art Center in Ogden.
Taylor said that the task of jurying was formidable, but it was made much easier because of his decisive co-juror, Sandy Havas.
The two jurors plowed through 680 actual entries and 300 slides, whittling the numbers considerably. They communicated well and sometimes studied marginal pieces at great length. When the dust had settled, 234 works had been selected for the show.
In his juror's statement, Taylor said that he felt every work entered had been given a fair "hearing." He added that he was highly impressed by the strength and diversity of the entries in this show.
Many viewers will agree with him. Others, particularly the artists whose works were rejected, will undoubtedly question why certain pieces got into the show but not theirs.
In a way, it's like playing Russian roulette, since jurying art is highly subjective. One seldom knows the direction a juror will take, especially one from out of state and country.
Hanging next to works by relatively new artists are creations by many of Utah 's "Who's Who in Art" Allred, Baxter, Bennion, Christensen, Edwards, Forsberg, Huff, Kimball, Lake, Marshall, Maryon, Mulder, Parkinson, Smith(s), Speed, Fillerup, Fraughton, and others.
But, by the same token, a number of top Utah artists who have participated in the past were noticeably missing Caravaglia, Coleman, Goodliffe, Fehr, Jones, Whitaker, Haddock, Barsch, Clinger, Johansen, etc.
Curious as to why they didn't enter, I contacted a few
of them and got the following responses:
"My problem was transportation. I didn't have any way to get my work down to Springville."
"I had two works loaded in my car and ready to take over. Then I reread the rules and found that I needed Plexiglas instead of silica-glass. So I didn't enter."
"I thought the $10 fee per entry was excessive. And, with no cash awards or medals, the show isn't as attractive as it used to be."
The increase from $10 for two entries last year to $20 this year didn't seem to make much of a dent in the number of entries submitted 980 this year compared with 1,030 in 1987.
A fee of $10 each for about 980 entries is quite a bit of money coming in. However, Swanson emphasized in his call for entries that these fees would be used exclusively for producing the catalog. He also indicated that someone gave a generous donation for printing costs. Total cost for 1,200 copies of the catalog will run around $6,000.
After checking my Springville Art Museum files, I noted that the museum stopped giving cash awards in 1980. Then, for two years, the museum handed out gold and silver medals. In 1983, that procedure was discarded. Instead, each juror was asked to select a certain number of his favorite works to hang in the Jurors' Choice Gallery.
The long dearth of cash awards was broken this year when the Grand Central Art Galleries in New York generously offered a $1,000 cash award. Recipient of that award was Stephen Gjertson of Minneapolis for his classical realism painting, "The Anniversary."
During a telephone conversation several weeks ago, Museum Director Vern Swanson disclosed the winners of this year's purchase awards. They are Wayne Kimball for his lithograph "2nd Elddir without the (Ernst) Nightingale"; Robert L. Shepherd for his watercolor "The Grand Canyon"; and Ed Fraughton for his bronze "One Nation."
Museum visitors who want to save the best for last should wait until they have walked through the other five galleries before entering the Jurors' Award Gallery. Undeniably, here hang most of the top entries in this year's show and in startling juxtaposition.
Swanson said that the art in the other galleries have been grouped to emphasize visual or stylistic hegemony. The first floor Clyde Gallery reflects modern, contemporary styles, while the Steed and Music Galleries contain more conservative, traditional works. And the Works on Paper Gallery displays a surprisingly few entries in the drawing, print, and small watercolors categories.
There is no admission charge to view this 64th Annual National Spring Salon. Continuing through May 15, the show can be viewed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 2 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Preparing for this annual exhibit is always a monumental task. But for Swanson, experience has simplified the procedure and lessened the frustration. He no longer feels the need to escape to Hawaii for R&R. He finds it right inside the museum by relaxing in front of the art works and soaking up their beauty.