The College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum in Price is currently hosting two diverse exhibits in the museum's gallery. According to museum director Don Burge, an art exhibit depicts the lifestyles and art of the region's original inhabitants, while a scientific exhibit examines the history of extinction.
The art exhibit runs through September and features the work of Utah artists Joe Venus, John Prazen and Ron Kierstead. Venus has studied archaeology and traveled to Nine Mile Canyon many times to learn of the prehistoric Fremont Indian culture. He has created a series of paintings depicting the culture. This large group of people disappeared from the area more than 3,000 years ago, leaving an abundance of rock art to document its existence. Venus' paintings capture the spirit of the Fremont culture as its artisans created their rock art.Prazen captures the likeness of American Indians in fusion metal sculptures. With a common welding torch, Prazen creates realistic figures that include authentic reproductions of ethnic clothing and adornments.
Kierstead owns Current Creations, a business he founded to sell rock art reproductions. The process begins by transferring photos of pictographs and petroglyphs into a polymer resin stencil. He then sandblasts the images onto slate, marble, aragonite or sandstone. Original rock art is threatened by vandalism and the elements of sun, wind and rain, but Kierstead's reproductions offer an alternative to people who would like to own realistic reproductions and document the art for future generations.
The second exhibit, titled "The History of Extinction," examines the causes for the disappearance of prehistoric organisms. According to Burge, the exhibit explains why millions of different kinds of organisms have appeared, flourished and then disappeared from the planet. It describes the difference behind background extinction and mass extinction and attempts to explain why the Earth is experiencing one of the most dramatic extinctions in its history because of human activity. By 2,050, half of all species now on Earth may disappear.
According to Burge, 12 species are listed as "endangered" in Carbon and Emery counties. An additional four plants and 23 animals are under study in this area to determine if they are in danger of extinction.
The gallery at the CEU Prehistoric Museum is open to the public, and admission is free. For more information, call the museum at 637-5060.