Most visual artists stop making art within five years of their college graduation.
Artists of Utah wants to improve that statistic with its "35x35" exhibit, which highlights 35 artists under age 35 at Salt Lake City's Finch Lane Gallery.
"We received over 100 submissions from artists across the state representing video, sculpture, painting, printmaking, ceramics, performance, installation and drawing," said Shawn Rossiter, founder of the nonprofit organization. "We want to give young artists some exposure and a chance to establish themselves. We also think it's interesting to see what the younger generation of artists is doing."
The exhibition continues through April 26. Awards will be announced at the April 19 Gallery Stroll and will include three jurors awards, a Board of Directors Award and a People's Choice award, determined by ballots from exhibit visitors.
The "35x35" show recurs every 3.5 years, so submitting artists will naturally age out.
But why the number 35?
"We figured if you can be elected the leader of the free world at age 35, that must be an age people are definitely taking you seriously," Rossiter said.
Many of the artists who participated in the 2009 show have become respected and recognizable names in the Utah art world. Mixed-media artist Mary Boerens Sinner, part of this year's show, concluded that the curators are either "effective at launching careers or choosing good work." She humbly hopes it is a little of both.
The Artists of Utah board members charged with picking the entries are a diverse group, Rossiter said, which "ensures lively discussion about art, and for this show the board had to fight it out to agree on these particular 35."
For example, board members clashed over a dance performance piece by choreographer Ashley Anderson. "Performance is an odd category in the visual arts because it plays out in time rather than being a fixed object," Rossiter said. "Ashley's work is considered dance, but she is working against visual objects a projected set of slides calling forth nostalgic objects to produce visual ideas."
Anderson said there is a national movement of integrating visual art with performance at venues such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Berkeley Art Museum in California.
"Call it what you like," Anderson said. "But this piece works better in a gallery setting than a stage setting because a gallery is more relaxed, people walk past and talk about the work. I hope visual artists and choreographers can exist in new ways together."
Chad Crane and Tess Cook are two artists who look at subjects that might seem mundane in an intelligent or witty way. "They are taking themselves seriously but coming at you with a laugh, seducing you with humor instead of knocking you over the head with it," Rossiter said. "Which I think is a smart strategy."
Cook's painting "Chocolate Delicatessen Delicacy" is part of a series of food-based puns representing different relationships and beliefs people have about food.
"Language puns budge people to look at language in a playful way," Cook said. "So I've created visual puns that entice and repel at the same time. It's a way to get people to question their relationship with food and to hear language – what might a chocolate turtle really look like?"
The works of 35 Utah artists all under age 35 will be on display. The show, sponsored by Artists of Utah, includes video, sculpture, painting, printmaking, ceramics, performance, installation and drawing.
Where • Finch Lane Gallery, at the Art Barn, 54 Finch Lane, Salt Lake City
When • Artists' reception Friday March 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. Show continues through April 26. Awards will be announced during the April 19 Gallery Stroll.
Hours • Gallery open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and on the third Friday of the month from 6 to 9 p.m. for Gallery Stroll.
Cost • Free
Info • For a full list of artists, read Artists of Utah's newsletter 15Bytes at artistsofutah.org/15Bytes