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Recognizing the need for mankind to become more tolerant culturally, Suzanne Klotz approached the Salt Lake Art Center last year with a dream - an art exhibition in which professional artists from a number of cultures would collaborate to create art that focused on unity.

Key people at the SLAC were excited about the proposal and gave their approval. Klotz then selected local artist Dan Groussman to help curate the show.They contacted artists from Utah, other Western states, Israel, Australia and Canada. Their efforts paid off; eventually, 24 professional artists agreed to participate.

Each artist was asked to create one piece of work expressing his or her view on world unity. But to reinforce the idea of unity, Klotz and Groussman paired artists from vastly different cultures to create collaborative works.

Although the exhibit is made up of 36 works of art, viewers should pay special attention to the 12 collaborative works. They are superb examples of how working together can produce amazing results.

The collaborative efforts of Steve Reynolds, Texas, and Ahmad Canaan, Israel, were most impressive. Imagery on Canaan's abstract acrylic was flat and drab. Reynolds' fabric collage was filled with color and pattern. The collaborative work revealed a striking blend of realism and abstraction; emphasis and subordination; two- and three-dimensional imagery; and warm and cool colors.

In his artist's statement, Reynolds wrote, "I passionately believe that the arts are the most potent vehicles for bringing about a universal vision that allows all of us to function with dignity and human virtuosity intact."

Canaan wrote, "In order to achieve peace there has to be justice; in order to achieve justice there has to be freedom; in order to achieve freedom there has to be unity. And unity starts at home."

Other superb collaborations were created by Fred Brayman of Salt Lake City and Rodney Abdulla of South Australia; Stephen Goldsmith of Salt Lake City and Aharon Bezaele of Israel; Trude Parkinson of Arizona and Yitzhak Greenfield of Israel; and Sam Wilson of Salt Lake City and Paul Kropenyeri of South Australia.

Klotz and Groussman paired up to create an effective union of diverse styles and media. However, the craftsmanship of this piece doesn't quite measure up to that seen in their individual works.

When talking about unity, Klotz says, "The physical and spiritual condition of this planet can be compared to the fingers of one hand. It is as if all of the people and elements of this world are holding hands. When anyone or anything moves a fraction of an inch in any direction, the entire chain is affected."

Groussman believes that art "is a reflection of the culture in which it is created rather than a guide in which to create culture. Only by allowing the peoples of our world to interact with each other through the peaceful medium of art will barriers such as religion and political affiliation be crossed."

The project was a dream come true for the two curators. But Groussman did say that the reality of the project was more trouble than the dream. "Organizing a collaborative exhibition by pairing up 24 artists from different cultures, cities, countries and continents is a tricky process." He stated that two of the problems were language barriers and international red tape.

Klotz feels that the effort put forth to accomplish this show is an example of what can be achieved when people work together. "Hopefully this exhibition will be an inspiration for individuals to combine their efforts to help create a world community."

This provocative, multicultural exhibition will remain through Feb. 10 in the Main Gallery of the SLAC, 328-4201. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.