Stone Age Crafts, 3695 S. 300 West, is featuring pottery by Joseph (Joe) Bennion of Spring City. For those of you who don't know, Spring City is 5 miles south of Mt. Pleasant on old Highway 89. Bennion said it's in the exact geographical center of Utah. And it's "home" for several other artists - Ella Peacock, Osral Allred, Max Blain and, of course, Bennion's wife, Lee.

His current exhibit spotlights wheel-thrown pieces that have been fired in a salt kiln.In a telephone conversation, Ben-nion explained the process.

After he places unglazed pieces in the kiln, he fires it up to 2,000 degrees. He then throws rock salt into the firebox. As the salt melts, it vaporizes and causes a chemical reaction on the surface of the pottery.

He explained that as sodium combines with alumina and silica, a glaze forms on the pots. "It's an organic thing, because the glaze is taken from the surface of the pots."

While the kiln continues to heat to around 2,400 degrees, Bennion adds more and more salt. He said that the longer the firing can be held at the higher temperatures, the thicker the glaze will be.

The largest vases in the exhibit appear to have been created by the coil method. But Bennion said, "Everything in show has been thrown on the wheel."

When making the large vases, he throws the pieces without a bottom. While the clay is still plastic, he forms the elliptical shapes with his hands. Then, after the piece stiffens, he adds the bottom.

The potter can call this handsome shape his own. Although the shape was initially borrowed from other potters, "it slowly developed into my own personal expression."

Bennion has been a potter for 17 years. He held his first public exhibition in September 1975 in BYU's Wilkinson Gallery. He was a functioning professional artist for a number of years before he enrolled at BYU to pursue a master of fine arts degree, which he received in 1986.

Over the years, Bennion has taught ceramics part time at Snow College and BYU. But he found that teaching interferes too much with his first love - throwing pots.

Occasionally he accepts invitations to teach workshops. "I just finished a two-day visiting artist stint at BYU." And he has been invited to participate in several out-of-state workshops later this year.

His work is represented by Stone Age Crafts, F. Weixler and Ellie Sonntag galleries in Utah. And he supplies pottery on a regular basis to galleries in Scarsdale, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Denver.

The exhibit will continue at Stone Age Crafts, 3695 S. 300 West, through April 12. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call gallery owners Leigh and Michelle Schack at 262-9654.

- The Utah AIDS Foundation will present "Art for Life" at the Tivoli Gallery on Sunday, March 10. Beginning at 1:30 p.m. and continuing throughout the afternoon, pianist Gregory St. Thomas will play music by Debussy and Chopin as well as several of his own compositions. In addition, his paintings and sculpture will be on display, along with works by Gary Collins, Lanny Barnard, Randall Lake, Clayton Robbins, Randi Wagner and others. These art works will be for sale.

Also planned for the afternoon are a musical review, a light buffet and auction. Cost is $35 per person (tax deductible). The money raised will go to further the work of the Utah AIDS Foundation. For tickets, call 359-5555.

- Students at Wasatch Elementary in Clearfield are creating a mural under the guidance of visual artist Wayne Geary. After it is completed on Friday, March 8, it will be displayed permanently in the school.

Geary, a local artist participating in the Artist in Residency Program of UAC, also teaches painting at the University of Utah.

- Randi Wagner will be guest speaker at Utah Watercolor Society's monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 6. The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the County Complex, 2100 South State. For details, call 467-5967.

- Lectures, workshops, classes.

Sunday, March 3, 3 p.m., Utah Museum of Fine Arts - Gallery talk by museum director E. Frank Sanguinetti on exhibit "The Hidden Museum: Treasures from the Storage Vaults."

Monday, March 4, through Friday, March 8, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Whitmore Library Auditorium - Five-day workshop on the classical oil painting technique of the Italian Renaissance taught by Frank Co-vino. $55 a day. Space is limited. Call 487-7098.

Wednesday, March 6, noon, Salt Lake Art Center - Art-Lunch tour of exhibit "A Dozen & One Utah Furniture Makers" by O. Rhees Ririe.

Wednesday, March 13, noon, Salt Lake Art Center - Art-Lunch tour of exhibit "High Art, High Chair" by Magda Jakovcev-Ulrich.

Monday, March 18, 7 p.m., Salt Lake Art Center - Open Forum on Art Criticism with Mary Francey, Anna Campbell Bliss and Ann Poore.

- By Richard P. Christenson