Prestigious Art Exhibit’s First Time in Utah

This is a big deal.

While non-painters may not be familiar with the Oil Painters of America, this 3,600-member group is one of the leading art organizations in the nation and it’s bringing its Western Regional Exhibition to Utah for the first time. And Illume Gallery of Fine Art in St. George is the host gallery.

In fact, Illume’s arrival in St. George is something of a big deal itself. Owners Jane Bell Meyer and Mark C. Lundgren initially opened Illume at City Creek Center in Salt Lake City a few years back. Jane has been a mover and shaker on the St. George Art Scene for about a decade now through her other galleries at Ancestor Square: The Mission Gallery and Authentique Gallery of Art & Design. Now Illume has joined them, dominating the northeast corner of Ancestor Square (the southwest corner of the Main Street and 200 North).

Because Illume is new to St. George, its grand opening here will join the opening of the OPA Western Regional Exhibition this Friday at 6 p.m. This opening reception and awards presentation will be centered at Illume, 29 W. 200 North, with a ribbon cutting at 6:15 p.m. and the announcement of awards at about 8 p.m.

What this all means for St. George art lovers is that a whole bunch of nationally recognized artists, whose work is not typically seen in Southern Utah, will have their work on display here until Dec. 9. While Illume is technically the host of the exhibition, OPA pieces will be shown in Authentique and The Mission as well. Each of the galleries will retain a few of their regular artists but the bulk of their normal inventory will be moved to a temporary exhibit space in the tower building at Ancestor Square (where the Painted Pony is located).

It also means St. George is finally getting its spot on the national art map. Not only will the OPA show bring prominent artists from throughout the western states to St. George, it will also bring many of their collectors here. That means some prominent art collectors will also have a chance to discover what Southern Utah has to offer.

In addition to the opening reception, there are a number of other events throughout the weekend. Kanab-based artist Julie Rogers will offer a painting demonstration from 9-11:30 a.m. Friday at Illume followed by another demonstration there from 1:30-4 p.m. by William Schneider, the juror for this year’s exhibition and an OPA signature artist.

On Saturday, OPA member and Tooele resident Rachel Pettit will offer a demonstration from 9-11:30 a.m. followed by a special presentation, “Hot Topics for Artists,” from noon to 1:30 p.m. with Schneider and OPA President John Michael Carter. There is a $10 charge for a deli-style lunch, which gives artists a chance to ask questions of these two prominent OPA members.

Following the lunch presentation, Carter will offer a demonstration with a live model. However, the scheduled model is unable to make it so Illume is searching for someone willing to have their portrait painted and (here’s the catch) then purchase the resulting painting, which could be a value of anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000. So, if you want to have your portrait painted by a fantastic artist (and you have a little spending money), here’s your chance.

Finally, on Sunday morning you just might find some of the artists out painting around Washington County, from Snow Canyon and Pioneer Park to Grafton and Zion from 8 a.m. to noon. This is all on top of the Zion Plein Air event ongoing this entire week out in Zion National Park.

I had a chance to check out the OPA paintings earlier this week while walking through the three galleries. They are already on display and will remain there through Dec. 9. So stop by and check them out.

For more information visit or call 801-210-2853.

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