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Los Angeles, a global center for contemporary art, will be invaded this weekend by a group of Utah artists bent on defying stereotypes of the state.

The show, "West of Center," is curated by Micol Hebron, but not under the aegis of the Salt Lake Art Center where Hebron is senior curator.

Hebron, a video and performance artist who is represented by Jancar Gallery in Chinatown, was offered the space for a group show of her choosing. She decided to bring a taste of Utah contemporary art in a exhibition of 26 mid-career and emerging artists.

"I thought it was an awesome opportunity to give a survey of the kind of contemporary work being done here," says Hebron, who relocated from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City nearly a year ago.

As the curator, she selected the exhibit's artists to underscore the range of styles in Utah's contemporary art scene. "It's not a comprehensive survey," she says. "It's not meant to represent all of Utah art. It's not meant to be equal or fair, necessarily."

She guarantees the show will demolish one preconception: That Utah, a state of stunning scenery and distant vistas, produces only landscape artists.

"I wanted to choose work that would defy people in L.A.'s stereotypes or their preconceptions about some sort of regionalism," Hebron says. " ... Yes, there are lots of works that deal with landscapes in the show and there are lots of works that deal with animals and spirituality and life cycles. The subjects are ones you would expect — but the treatment of them is very different."

After months of exploring the state's contemporary art scene and talking to local artists and curators, she had to cut the Los Angeles show off at 26 artists. "I had enough for 10 different shows," she says. "It's a testament to the scene here that I found more work than I could show in a single exhibition."

Mary Toscano, who will have three works in the exhibit, says being selected could be helpful to her career as an artist, but she is most excited about being part of the larger Utah group. "I'm excited to see how everything comes together in L.A.," she says. "It's a great opportunity for people outside of Utah to see what a great contemporary art scene we have."

Though the works range from performance art to drawings, Utah contemporary artists share common threads, Toscano says. "I'm influenced by the mountains and the desert. It shows up in my work, and I see it other people's work."

More than half of the artists are women, though Hebron says male artists were the most aggressive in promoting their work for the show.

"It was very important for me that there was equal representation — if not an imbalance toward female artists," she says. "There is a long history, not just in Utah but in the art world in general, of women falling subordinate to male partners. Prices in the market are higher for men. Galleries show more men."

Finding qualified women artists made the selection process more lengthy. "It quadrupled the time it took for me to put the show together," she says. "I didn't just want women. I wanted work by women that was great — as good as any of the other work in the show."

As for Utahns having an opportunity to see the exhibit, short of trekking to Los Angeles, Hebron has no plans for a local show. "If one of the local galleries wants to show it," she says, "I would be delighted to help arrange it." —

Outback art in Los Angeles

P "West of Center" features 26 Utah artists: Adam Bateman, Alison Buck, Amy Jorgensen, Aniko Safran, Cara Despain, Claire Taylor, Daniel Everett, Davey Hawkins, David Ruhlman, Jan Andrews, Jared Latimer, Jason Metcalf, Jorge Rojas, Joseph Christensen, Josh Winegar, Kenny Riches, Laura Decker, Laurel Hunter, Lenka Konopasek, Mary Toscano, Michael Ryan Handley, Morganne Wakefield, Myranda Bair, Rob Mellor, Stephanie Leitch and Tessa Lindsey.

When • July 16 through Aug. 6

Where • Jancar Gallery, 961 Chun King Road, Chinatown, Los Angeles