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ART EXHIBIT AT DEPOT LETS VIEWERS EMBARK ON UNUSUAL JOURNEY

During this week's Utah Arts Festival, an exhibit at the Union Pacific Depot offers the opportunity to board unique trains of thought.

A wide array of sculptures and crafts invites audiences to contemplate the meaning behind multicolored ceramic collages, finely finished furniture and contorted steel monoliths, among other works.David Sucec, curator of the collection, said the exhibit provides a "way of giving our good contemporary artists a way to be seen to the public."

Twenty-four veteran and emerging artists, all from Utah, are represented at the show. Among them is Silvia Davis, whose sculptures find inspiration from everyday themes.

"I find reality more powerful than anything I could ever make up," she said. "When you look at things that way, the world just opens up with everyday things that you might otherwise pass by . . . . The ordinary becomes a source of great wealth."

Depicting the sublime in the mundane is the essence of "Shopping," a near life-size depiction of a wide-eyed baby in a shopping cart.

"It's about looking, going shopping and watching all these babies surrounded by all this stimulus," Davis said. "I've always found kids in the store profound . . . . They're so innocent, and all their responses are so pure."

The piece took her three months of 60- to 70-hour weeks in her Salt Lake studio to complete. Its striking richness in detail, from the bananas in the cart to the small pink rose on the baby's shirt, seem remarkable considering the sculpture is made of wood.

Davis finds wood-working satisfying because its steadfast intolerance of mistakes forces her to have the final piece clearly in her mind.

"There's a lot of dust I have to breathe to get those pleasures," she said, "but it's worth it to see it all come together."

David Pendell is another artist whose laborious works bring him satisfaction. Though his colorful wall-hangings of curiously shaped ceramics may at first seem to be nonsensical, such as his piece appropriately dubbed "Ha, ha, ha, I'm crazy," he actually feels his work offers a needed message.

"None of the things I do are very static - they have motion to them," he said. "We need that in our lives; in this day and age, we need that poetry."

Pendell, an art professor at the University of Utah, said he fires some pieces as many as 15 times to achieve the types of colors and textures he wants.

Though he acknowledges that his work has a lyrical light-heartedness to it, he thinks his work has its serious side. "Although often whimsical, it should not be viewed as `slap-stick' or without content. The work is dictated by a love of life, its materials and processes."