Some of the names Rock Hudson, Liberace, Roy Cohn, Michael Bennett - are easily recognizable. Others aren't.

But each of the names prominently displayed on the nearly 9,000 panels of the Names Project Quilt, which arrived in Salt Lake City Wednesday, represents someone whose life was cut short by the deadly AIDS virus.Each panel in the ornate quilt represents about 18 percent of the deaths from AIDS in the United States. For each panel in the quilt, 4.5 other people have died.

But local sponsors of the display - the Utah AIDS Foundation and the People with AIDS Coalition of Utah - say that the purpose of the quilt is "to bypass the statistics surrounding AIDS and to emphasize the compassion and dignity due those directly impacted, their families and friends."

The giant quilt, a tribute to those who have died of AIDS, is beginning its 1989 U.S./Canadian tour in the Salt Palace March 16-19.

But the real beginning of the labor of love was in San Francisco after a candlelight memorial service in 1985 prompted participants to attach to a government building cardboard pieces with names of friends or loved ones who had died of AIDS.

Cleve Jones, now executive director of the Names Project, conceived the idea of a giant quilt consisting of panels bearing names of those who have died of AIDS. It was to be a vehicle to spread a message of compassionate awareness around the world.

In 1987 when Jones teamed up with Mike Smith to organize the Names Project Foundation, the response from around the world was immediate. Sewing workshops were set up and people contributed the 3-foot by 6-foot cloth memorials of their husbands, wives, sons, daughters, lovers and children who had died of AIDS.

The panels, as varied as the lives they commemorate, are made of everything from clear vinyl, leather, shirts, shower curtains, afghans, cremation ashes, stuffed animals, photographs, incense, mink, merit badges, fishnet hose, Mardi Gras masks, pearls and lots of sequins.

There's a 100-year-old quilt panel, and another panel is fashioned from a Buddhist's saffron robe. A Barbie doll is displayed on another of the panels, which collectively contain 28,184 feet (5.34 miles) of fabric.

The quilt will be displayed in the Salt Palace through March 19 at 9 p.m. when several Utah panels will be added. The quilt weighs 16 tons and represents all 50 states and 13 foreign countries.

The Names Project does not allow admission to be charged to view the quilt. But Geoffrey Baer, media coordinator, Utah AIDS Foundation, said donations that are made will stay in Salt Lake City to provide help (food, shelter, medical services) to people with AIDS. The goal is to raise $5,000 for these services.

In conjunction with the quilt's arrival, an interfaith candlelight healing service will be held March 15 at 7 p.m. in St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, 231 E. First South.

"The service at St. Mark's is for people with AIDS and for people who care about people with AIDS," said the Very Rev. William Maxwell, dean of the cathedral. "Healing comes in many forms and not always as an immediate physical healing, but a healing of the spirit of the individual.

"Likewise, all of us who have been touched by AIDS in any way need healing; healing from fear, grief, anger, guilt, loneliness, all of the emotions which enter our lives when someone we know - and especially someone we love - is diagnosed or dies from AIDS."

Following the service a candlelight procession will go from the cathedral, down South Temple to the Arts Center.

The quilt display will officially open at 5 p.m. March 16.