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- If variety's the spice of life, then there are plenty of flavorful art exhibitions around town. These zesty new shows spotlight a diversity of mediums and techniques.

Michael Hullet can be thanked for the piquant visual treat at the Gayle Weyher Gallery.Since his show in 1986 at the same gallery, his style has matured. And his free-standing sculpture has grown up, too. In the earlier show, he displayed several maquettes. Now he has life-size sculptures.

Gallery owner Gayle Weyher said, "Hullet has always wanted to work bigger. And he did for this show."

The sculptor not only focuses on free-standing sculpture, but also wall pieces. But they all have the same things in common: they're highly imaginative and adroitly designed.

Hullet enjoys combining aluminum, neon and lacquer. Using a variety of grinders, he textures the aluminum and then paints it with small areas of brightly colored geometric shapes.

Allen Dodworth, director of Gayle Weyher's downtown gallery, says that Hullet's pieces "are intriguing combinations of opposites - severity and whimsy, cold metal and warm light, industry and humanity."

At first glance, all the free-standing sculptures appear abstract. But upon closer investigation, one realizes that some are highly stylized animals.

And his works are not static. He has a knack of creating a sense of movement by effectively combining color, design and space.

In 1974, Hullet received his bachelor of fine arts degree in small metals and sculpture at the University of Utah and, in 1987, his master of fine arts there in sculpture. He also attended the Rhode Island School of Design.

It's evident that his mentor was Richard Johnston. One of the fortuitous things he learned from Johnston was how to be a real technician.

The most recent and visible of Hullet's creations are his innovative lighting fixtures in Club Baci. And three of his recent sculptures are part of "Artluminium," a top-notch show in Montreal, Quebec, including works by contemporary artists Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and others.

This visually stimulating show inaugurates the gallery's fall exhibition schedule. It continues through Friday, Oct. 13. The Gayle Weyher Gallery is located at 167 South Main Street. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A gallery stroll has been planned for Friday, Oct. 13, from 5-9 p.m. It is sponsored by the Salt Lake Art Dealers Association.

- Photography exhibits can be rather bland, but Salt Lake Art Center's "Personal Focus" is pithy and provocative.

Guest curator for this show - and one of the photographers - is Rodger Newbold. Other artists are David Baddley, Kevin Bjorklund, Richard Burton, Grant Heaton, Craig Law, Michelle Lowry, Morea Marian, Sandria Miller, Kent Rich, Barbara Richards, Ed Rosenberger, Cary Stevens-Jones, Bonnie Whitesides and Charles Wiese.

I say "artists," because that's exactly what they are. They don't use the medium as most photographers do. They're not afraid to go outside safe territory and explore.

"It is not possession of technical knowledge that produces art," Newbold said, "rather a finely honed sensitivity, astute powers of observation and a free imagination."

Three of the most imaginative works in this show are by Kevin Bjorklund, Ed Rosenberger and Charles Wiese.

Bjorklund's negativelike prints filled with pastel colors are more like serigraphs than photographs. They represent a change in direction for him. He says, "My goal is to create images that represent some of my world with the hope that what is created will somehow mesh with the viewer's imagination, creating a more personal involvement by the viewer."

The eye-blasting colors in Rosenberger's collages have immediate appeal. The photographer indicated that all movement and color in his works are created through the camera during the exposure. "Then each image is printed full-frame on 16x16 Cibacrome paper. Next, all prints are cut, inlaid and cold-mounted."

Wiese's works also resemble paintings. He says the images are an exploration of juxtaposition, pattern, negative imagery and unexpected relationships. "I utilize photography to explore the nature of human visual cognition."

Hopefully, gallerygoers will not pass over this exhibit lightly. Bjorklund encourages, "Take the time to look at the works here with less urgency and you may find that these photographs will have more meaning to you."

"Personal Focus" will continue through Nov. 11 at the Salt Lake Art Center, 20 S. West Temple. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The gallery is closed on Sundays.

- Fifteen of the "best" art students from across the state are exhibiting at the Bountiful/Davis Art Center. Representing five regions, they are the winners in last year's Deseret News-KSL Sterling Scholar Awards program.

One look at the exhibit reveals that while some of these young artists might be classified as "the best in the state," others might not. A lot depends on what region of the state they live in.

The competition was much keener in some regions than in others. And having judged in the Wasatch Front Region, I know how stiff it was there.

Three of the most gifted students exhibiting in this show are Nathan Durrant (Highland High School), David Stevenson (Weber High School) and Jenni Clawson (Morgan High School). Without their creative contributions, the show would be largely uninspiring.

If you doubt my choices, take a good look at Durrant's "Fruit Vendor" and "Woman and Child;" Stevenson's "A/P," and "Eve's Last Supper;" and Clawson's fiber and ceramic works "She A Wa Se" and "Golden Girl."

This student show continues through Nov. 3. Hours and 5-9 p.m. on Mondays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 2-5 p.m. on weekends.