- A number of people tested the visual arts climate last year and decided the time was right to open new galleries. In fact, I can name 14 of them - seven locally and seven in outlying areas.

Opening their doors for the first time were Marble House, Pierpont, Courtyard, Master's, Sego and Williams fine art galleries, as well as one in Trolley Square's Cafe Central. Others sprouted in surrounding towns - Gayle Weyher and the Hoffman galleries in Park City, Kaysville Gallery of Art, Brimhall Gallery at BYU, Rock Barn Gallery in Farmington, Willows Art Gallery in Kanab and Richens Art Exhibits in Ogden City Mall.Gayle Weyher's Park City gallery, which opened Dec. 16, is the newest one of all. And its unique offerings have already generated considerable interest.

Gallery assistant Nadra Peragallo was "minding the store" when I stopped by last Tuesday afternoon. She said that the gallery doesn't conflict with others in the area because of the contemporary flavor of the artwork. It adds greater dimension to the art offerings in Park City.

Peragallo said that there are two partner's in this new venture - Gayle Weyher of Salt Lake City and Marilyn Hite of Las Vegas.

Weyher, of course, brings to the gallery walls and pedestals the familiar works of her regulars in her Salt Lake gallery. Viewers will immediately recognize the brightly colored creations by Bonnie Sucec - a large acrylic painting "Left & Right" and an even larger plywood sculpture titled "Figure." Smaller snakes and devils also dot the room.

Forgetful David Furman left his flashlight on, and the yellow beam shines brightly on the pedestal. More of his trompe-l'oeil art attracts the gallerygoer's eye. It's hard to believe that an old tin can filled with paint brushes and pencils would sell for $1,000. But these are not ordinary materials; they have been painstakingly sculpted in clay, fired and painted to look like the real thing.

The same is true with several works hanging on the wall behind the can. However, don't ask how much the one is in the corner; it's not one of Furman's sculptures, but the gallery's light control panel.

Other gallery regulars are Susan Carroll, Lee Deffebach, David Dornan, Tom Judd, Moishe Smith and Erica Wangsgard.

In addition to these works is an array of products brought in by Marilyn Weyher's partner Marilyn Hite. They include lamps by Akari, bells by Torren, pens from Italy, "Rock Klok" watches and the popular Novadatum dayplanner. Soon to be displayed will be Italian furniture by Triangulo and handcrafted Southwestern furniture by Sam Bair.

These art offerings fit comfortably on the two levels of the recently renovated Rio Grande Depot at 820 Park Ave. Incredible as it may seem, Weyher Brothers Construction started the face lift only one month before the gallery opened.

The building had been vacant for several years and the insides had been gutted. Construction workers had to level the main floor, since it dipped in the center. They also placed a quarter-inch overlay on top of the upstairs floor. Other chores included walling up a side doorway, as well as fixing, caulking and painting the entire building.

Weyher chose gray carpet and white-to-gray paint for the walls. These neutral colors make an ideal background for the art work.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and by appointment. For more information, call Karen Kohlhepp, the gallery's assistant director, at 649-8222.

- Park City also boasts of another new gallery. When the Sun Gallery suddenly closed its doors earlier last year, Gordon Hoffman moved into the space at 339 Main Street. And for six months now, Hoffman Gallery has been in operation.

Some of the artists whose works previously were carried by Sun Galleries have continued with Hoffman. But some new, exciting ones have been added. Their individualistic styles give considerably more depth and diversity to the offerings.

Lovers of abstract art will go for Soren Edsberg's works. Fans of realism will enjoy the detailed works of Knud Edsberg, Soren's father. Western art enthusiasts will be drawn to John Prazen's welded sculptures and oils by Hermon Adams and Robert Sleicher. Viewers attracted to landscapes will be captivated by paintings of A.D. Shaw, James Olson and Diane Turner.

Some of the works that especially appealed to me were Peter Engel's photography, L'Deane Trueblood's cibachrome print "Paiute Princess" and Carlo Wahlbeck's cast-paper sculpture "Winged Helmet."

Hours at the Hoffman Gallery are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

- Clayton R. Williams opened his new gallery on Dec. 3rd and invited guests to celebrate both the opening and his birthday. He reported that 300 people showed up, and sales were brisk. In fact, sales that first month "have been unbelievable."

Some of the regulars in Williams' new gallery are Michael Coleman, William Whittaker, Graydon Foulger, Nancy Lund, Ken Baxter, Dan Baxter, LeConte Stewart, Maynard Dixon Stewart and others.

Also on display are outstanding oil paintings by Richard Murray and detailed watercolors by Chris Young. Clayton Williams is also exhibiting some of his own oil paintings.

Williams Fine Art gallery is located in suite 2011 of the First Commerce Center, 175 W. Second South. Gallery hours are 12 noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment. For further information, call 534-0331.

The gallery will validate parking for those who use the terrace at the south of First Commerce Center.

Some of the other new galleries are also displaying exciting works. "Exploring the Light" at the Pierpont Gallery (159 Pierpont Ave., 363-4141) features weaving by Sharon Alderman and oil painting by Tom Mulder. The Courtyard Gallery (153 Pierpont Ave., 363-5151) focuses on black-and-white artworks in all media by gallery artists.