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-Three Utah mothers won first-place awards at the National American Mothers Convention held April 17-May 1 in Spokane, Wash. Salt Lake artist LaVon Merrill won the top award in the drawing/painting category for her pastel portrait titled "Almine." And Gisele Nash of Provo placed first for a sensitive clay sculpture of a mother and daughter. Each won $1,000 in prize money. Gov. Norm Bangerter presented these cash awards to the artists in ceremonies at the State Capitol on May 2. At that time, he proclaimed May 14-20 as Utah American Mothers Week.

This marks the third year that Utah mothers have captured first place in the visual arts category. In 1985, Afton Smith of Logan won for a mixed-media painting. Last year, the top award in drawing/painting went to Salt Lake's Mary Lou Romney for her floral painting "Cape Primrose." This is the first year a state has walked away with two first-place awards in the visual arts category in the same show.Attending this year's convention was Marcia Ford, president of American Mothers Inc. Utah Association. She felt particularly proud of Utah's entries and wasn't all that surprised when two of them won top awards.

She said that the national competition is open to all mothers. And it's not limited to visual arts. It also includes music and literature. In fact, another Utahn, Patricia Ramsey Jones, won first place this year in the short story category.

Utah has participated in the annual competition ever since the national convention was held in Salt Lake in 1982. Next year's state visual arts exhibit is planned for Feb. 12-16 in the Grand Court of the ZCMI Center. For more information, call Carol Langford, 295-0215.

-Linda Southam is planning something unusual for the May 19 opening of her spring show. She has invited well-known painters Ken Baxter, A.D. Shaw and Kent Wallis to set up their easels outside the gallery and demonstrate their painting skills to the public. In this new show, titled "Paris on Broadway," Southam has invited 10 guest artists to participate in addition to her steady stable of artists. Refreshments will be served on tables reminiscent of Paris in the spring.

-The Kimball Art Center is planning eight exciting workshops this summer. June 19 - Watercolor painting with Osral Allred; June 23 and 24, July 21 and 22, and Aug 18 and 19 - Wildflower photography with Jerry Honeywell; June 26-30 - Oriental papermaking with Dorothy Linden; July 10-14 - Outdoor oil painting with Valoy Eaton; July 25-29 - Painting the spirit of Park City in watercolors, with Carl Purcell; August 14-18 - Ceramic tile painting with Lark Lucas; August 21-25 - Non-silver photography with Joe Marotta; August 21-25 - Figure drawing with Paul Davis.

Space is limited. Interested students should register early. For detailed course description and tuition information, call 649-8882.

-Lectures, art classes, workshops, etc.

May 14, 3 p.m., Utah Museum of Fine Arts - Gallery talk by Joseph Marotta, chairman of the University of Utah art department. Part of reception for new faculty exhibit.

May 14, 4 p.m., Bountiful/Davis Art Center - Tony Rasmussen to present his video "Abstractions from Nature" and lecture about his past and present work.

May 18, 7:30 p.m., Weber State College, Browning Center for the Performing Arts - Slide lecture by Indian artist Edgar Heap of Birds. Free.

May 19-21, (two days, two evenings), Arches National Park - Environmental portraiture photography workshop taught by Norm Shrewsbury. Fee: $150. Contact Canyonlands Field Institute, P.O. Box 68, Moab, UT 84532, (801) 259-7750.

June 4, 4 p.m., Bountiful/Davis Art Center - Randall Lake to pre-sent the video "Realist" and lecture about Alvin Gittins' art.