You have to sort out the kitsch from the classic. This is not an exhibition of cheap tourist art found haphazardly around Moab. With nearly 20 large-scale paintings, The Continuing Allure highlights painting’s “rock” stars.
“We are targeting the best artists of the West and the most important pieces made in Utah that look at this iconic landscape,” says Donna Poulton, associate curator of Utah and Western Art at UMFA. “To see them all in one room and have them talk and work with one another is remarkable.”
Maynard Dixon—master of the landscape and, arguably, the most important artist to portray images of the West—is one. He inspired many of the exhibited artists to come from areas farand-wide to paint here. Challenged by the Great Depression in the 1930s, Dixon was part of the minimalist movement—using less paint and more turpentine, which resulted in a thinner, grayedout effect. Only after his death was the body of his work reviewed and revered. (“Moonlight Over Zion” is pictured.)
In many ways, these pieces are more modern than expected—modern artists painting an inherently modern landscape, reduced to the bare essentials of the desert—very cubist, indeed. Other showings include the nearly cubed work of post-modernist Buck Weaver, and the light traces of human impact in works by Mark Knudsen.
This exhibit will appeal not just to art aficionados but also to those interested in geology, history and tourism. It marks the existential experience of the desert, minimalism and, in a way, the personal insignificance illuminated by vastness.