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A review of Light, Voice & Vision at FrameWorks Gallery


It's hard to split a business with a gallery, and also to split a show between two artists. But at FrameWorks Gallery, these maneuvers come naturally.

Under the ownership of Christine Colvin, FrameWorks has returned to the art scene after a five-year hiatus with Light, Voice & Vision. The show features the works of local artists Mary-Linn Benning and Juel Grant, whom Colvin says she chose because they are completely different.

Grant's work greets the viewer by the door. It's actually easy to walk past it, because it's soft and earth-toned, but when you cycle back, you find it truly stunning.

Take his series of decorated eggs mounted in shadow boxes. Portraits of Native Americans, such as Chief Joseph and Medicine Crow, are drawn onto the eggs with such extreme accuracy that it looks as if Grant used decoupage on the eggs. Instead, using a fine pencil and a blade, Grant has carefully incised the images onto the eggs, drawing and scraping at the shell, giving the finished piece a soft sheen. The eggs are quietly beautiful in their gentle shading, but when wrapped around the symbolic shape of the egg, they feel as if they generated from a higher source. Not for a moment do they venture into any kind of craft territory.

Meanwhile, painter Benning exercises little restraint with color and emotion. While Grant focuses on fine lines and shadows, Benning floods her works with patches of saturated pastel hues and animal subjects. Nearly all her animals face the viewer with gazing pairs of large, adoring eyes and cute, lumpy jowls. Some would be quick to pooh-pooh Benning's work as sentimental; between her animal faces and her sparkly colors, I thought this as well.

But one work changed my mind completely. Near the ceiling is a long piece called "Moon Shadows." On a darkened, scratchy surface, Benning paints a looping outline of a reclining leopard. His languid body crowds the canvas, and his face is molded into a curious expression of ... aloofness, maybe? It's a face as indescribable as it is memorable.

The balance of Grant's muted palate with Benning's blend of jewel tones caters to a variety of tastes. Colvin chose artists she surely knows will sell, but was able to do so without compromising quality.

Unlike other art venues, FrameWorks is selling the pieces off the walls before its show ends. So it's best to go sooner rather than later, because the most impressive of these pieces won't be around for long.

Light, Voice & Vision featuring works by Mary-Linn Benning & Juel Grant
FrameWorks Gallery, 2236 N. Wahsatch Ave.
Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturdays 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., through Thanksgiving
Free; call 636-2427 for information.

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