Dixie State University’s Sears Art Museum presents local, COVID-19 exhibits

Untitled, Raymond Kardas

Featuring two distinct exhibits, Dixie State University’s Sears Art Museum is showcasing “From the Permanent Collection: Kardas” and “COVID-19 Pops-Up in Art” this summer.

The exhibits are available for viewing in the Eccles Fine Arts Center Grand Foyer on the Dixie State campus through Aug. 28 on Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on holidays when the museum is closed. The Kardas exhibit is viewable as a digital display in the foyer or in an online gallery at searsart.com/kardas. The museum is located at 155 S. University Blvd. in St. George and admission is free.

“From the Permanent Collection: Kardas” highlights the romantic journey of Raymond and Virginia Kardas and the practice of art they explored when they retired to Hurricane. Raymond, a retired physicist-engineer, and Virginia, a ceramist, met in an art class and went on to pursue their interests in history and archeology by extensively traveling together. Their art, which was donated to Dixie State’s permanent collection by their daughter, Sue, shows the love they had for each other.

The Sears Art Museum also is showcasing art that reflects how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting artists from throughout Southern Utah. The exhibit features eight paintings that tell local artist Stewart Seidman’s poignant story of losing his sister to the virus.

To accompany Seidman’s series, Kathy Cieslewicz, director and curator of the Sears Art Museum, invited area artists to create 12-inch-by-12-inch pieces that share their COVID-19 stories. The artists became part of the installation when they brought their art to be displayed. To facilitate social distancing, artists hung their own art on a set of modular walls while wearing masks and taking other heightened hygiene measures. The placement of the art illustrates a somewhat disorganized, uncontrolled pattern, just as COVID-19 presented itself as an unwanted surprise that disjointed humanity’s idea of normal.

“All Together,” Stewart Seidman

“Around the world, artists are creating art that will determine how we remember the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cieslewicz said. “Here in the southwest corner of Utah, artists reflected and then record the effects of the new normal through art to gather the collective memory in a personal way.”

To prepare to become part of the art experience, visitors are asked to wear face coverings and sanitize their hands upon entering the building. Additionally, chairs are carefully placed inside taped squares to maintain a perfect social distancing around the exhibit, and no background music is being played so viewers can hear their own thoughts without rhythm or melody to interrupt thoughts.

“Please make every effort to get out and see this show. It is a beautiful example of art speaking to our community and our common culture,” Jeff Jarvis, dean of DSU’s College of the Arts, said. “The power of art to express our deepest thoughts and feelings is what brings us back over and over to galleries and museums. What we often overlook is the power of art to stimulate deeper thinking about our culture, our world, and our community. This show will do both, express our deepest thoughts and feelings, and stimulate deeper thought about what we have lived through these past few months.”

The Sears Art Museum Gallery features six exhibits each year. Offering a variety of art styles from traditional to contemporary, the gallery exists for the enjoyment and education of Dixie State University students and the community. For more information, visit www.searsart.com.