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THE ANNUAL exhibition of the Northwest Rendezvous group, now showing at the Kimball Art Center through Sept. 27, promises much but delivers little. Still, what little it delivers makes it worth the drive up Parleys Canyon to see the show.

An affiliate of some 37 Western artists, NWR was first organized 18 years ago, in 1979, in response to what several artists felt was a need for a membership-based organization. They wanted to be centerd in the West where many of the early Western artists had worked.Initially, their exhibits were held at the Montana Historical Society's Museum in Helena. The group later moved its show to the Helena Civic Center and finally to the Holter Museum, also in Helena.

Eventually, the group recognized a need for the exhibits to be more accessible to potential patrons. In 1992 the NWR established Park City, and the Kimball Art Center, as its new home.

Traditionally, several days prior to the show the group holds what is called a "Quick Draw," wherein participating artists ahve 25 minutes to do a drawing, painting or sculpture. Upon completion, the paintings and drawings are immediately framed and the sculptures mounted on bases. The event's ticketed guests have an opportunity to purchase any of these works.

This might sound like a marketing gimmick, but the art devotees thoroughly enjoy it, and the group maintains that the one-on-one conversations between artists and watchers during the "Quick Draw" enrich the entire experience for both.

Each year NWR members invite quest artists to participate in the show. Invitations are extended on the basis of each artist's proven talents and abilities. Historically, these guests have included painters and sculptors with established and distinguished careers. (Guest artists are eligible for membership consideration after two successive quest participations.)

Four of this year's member artists are from Utah: Jim Morgan, a premier wildlife painter from Mendon; Salt Lake sculptor Ed Fraughton, recognized as one of America's best; Jim Norton, of Santaquin, winner of the 1994 Gold Medal at the Cowboy Artists of America Show; and Provo's Gary Kapp, whose renderings of American Indians are found in private and corporate collections throughout the nation. Guest artist Michael Workman, also from Utah, has exhibited his Inness-inspired landscapes all over the state.

While the NWR show has difficulty rising above a "we've-seen-all-this-before" level, it's not for any lack of quality in the work. Each artist knows his/her medium and commands it masterfully. The problem is it's all technique and no soul.

Except for artist Paul Mullally. His "Market Bound" (oil, 22 by 30 inches) satiates the senses, both visually and contextually, with vibrant colors, compelling composition and subject matter. One is captured and held a willing hostage within a harried moment, on a sunny day, in a bustling village.

The advancing women, each wearing a troubled, preoccupied expression, lean into the day's work, their colorful blouses and skirts complementing each other for a rather dazzling effect.

The canvas brings to mind the opening sequences of the film "My Fair Lady": Frozen street vendors suddenly come alive, all at the same moment, and dash off to the day's labors.

Mullally's "Market Bound" is the antithesis of his "Morning" (oil, 20 by 24 inches). In this tranquil painting, a woman relaxes at the breakfast table, reading. Her robe is parted and the low-neck nightgown beneath reveals just a glimpse of cleavage. Obviously, the woman believes she is alone. One almost expects her to suddenly become aware of our presence, quickly close the robe and offer a polite, if somewhat embarrassed, "Good morning."

There are other excellent pieces in the show: Bill Anton's "Into the Sunset" (oil, 12 by 16 inches), Joseph Bohler's "Bridal Veil Falls - Utah" (watercolor, 183/4 by 153/4), George Carlson's "Woodland Nymph" (bronze, 151/2 by 131/2 by 7 inches), Tony Hochstettler's "Cobra Lillies" (bronze, 141/2 by 51/2 by 5 inches), Don Prechtel's "Gary-owen" (oil, 24 by 30 inches) and Sherry Salari Sander's "Dorinda" (bronze, 11 by 6 by 12 inches).



1995 Northwest Rendezvous awards

John Scott People's Choice Award

Donald C. Prechtel

"The Blue Valley" (oil)

Ben Stahl Artist's Choice Award

Jim Morgan

"Trouble Maker" (oil)

"Caught by the Sun" (oil)

"Down of a Thistle" (oil)

"Nesting Killdeer" (oil)

Awards of Excellence

Gerald Fritzler

"Morning Mass at the Salute" (watercolor)

Donald C. Prechtel

"The Blue Valley" (oil)

Ned Mueller

"Logos Harbor - Portugal" (gouache)

Blair Buswell

"The Peacemaker" (bronze)