THE GLENDINNING Gallery, Utah Arts Council, is a modest venue, more conducive to intimate art displays than the current gutsy exhibit, "Cultural Icon or Not. . ."

With the work of four accomplished Utah artists - Sam Wilson, Fletcher Booth, Alison Marie Perreault and Jacqui Biggs Larson - the gallery demonstrates that, indeed, size is not important. And while their collection of drawings, paintings, prints and mixed media is not always representative of recent work, the exhibit serves to reaffirm their creativity and abilities.In "Cultural Icon or Not. . ." the artists address issues of culture as related to history and traditions, domesticity and intimacy, manipulations and aggressions.

Wilson's drawings of a bald man wearing a big nose/bushy eyebrows/moustache/glasses are an anatomically correct exaggeration of human flesh. They're also extremely humorous. In his artist statement he writes: "Painting and drawing become exercises in curiosity, personal challenge and excessive self-indulgence . . . I am both an art elitist and an over-educated folk artist that tries to craft a semi-precious object that visually entertains an audience while daring anyone to actually buy the damn thing."

Wilson has a masterful touch; he's one of the best draftsmen in the valley.

Booth creates an intimate anarchy in his work. His "Double Date" (mixed media, triptych) is an "X Files" Sunday School lesson. The left and right panels are intentionally messy charcoal sketches, featuring humans and an extraterrestrial. In the left, an alien injects something into the arm of a woman. On the right, two men and a well-endowed female alien sit at a restaurant table. One man is on the verge of committing some heinous act while the other has CPAP headgear (a device used to correct sleep apnea) over his face. The alien seems indifferent to everything, including the large, ornate crucifix on the wall behind them. The centerpiece is a huge, angry male face gritting his teeth.

Looking at "Double Date" is like looking at a car crash: it's hard to turn away from peering at the resulting destruction.

Perreault's woodcuts will be, for many viewers, the highlight of the exhibit. Her "Prayer" and "Embrace" have the clawing power of the woodcuts of Emil Nolde and the German expressionists. The struggling marriage of line and color transfix, coercing one to study every nuance. Perreault's paintings are good, but these woodcuts are better.

In her statement, Perreault writes: "It seems to me that people hunger for intimacy, but fear its connection. Alice Neel said, `The human race wants something they never can get, security.' I am working from a combination of imagination and observation, which parallels my curiosity with people whose connections and separations are made up of inner and outer realities."

Larson currently has her collages in the Salt Lake Art Center's exhibit "A View of 9." Her pieces in "Cultural Icon or Not. . ." are much smaller but no less accomplished. The size forces an intimacy that supports the subject matter.

"In creating personal worlds through collage, I'm drawn to subjects that are part of my own experience: childhood, sisterhood, maternity, belief. Throughout these themes I've brought in opposing conditions. . . I juxtapose or substitute idealized images of women in art with images that question or redefine those forms," Larson writes.

Her pieces are a visual respite from the work of the other three artists. However, they are no less difficult to decipher.

"Cultural Icon or Not. . ." will not travel to other venues, as do many of the exhibits that show at the Glendinning. This is a pity. The exhibit is a powerful example of the idiosyncratic well-executed.

The Glendinning Gallery, 617 E. South Temple, will run the exhibit through July 3. For more information, call 533-5757.




"Cultural Icon or Not...," featuring work by Sam Wilson, Fletcher Booth, Alison Marie Perreault and Jacqui Biggs Larson, will be at the Glendinning Gallery, 617 E. South Temple, through July 3.

Gallery hours:


9 a.m.-5 p.m.