U of U professor retires, school hosts exhibit of his art work

Posted at 10:14 PM, Feb 14, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY -- He was a professor at the University of Utah for decades, and now his work is being celebrated in an art exhibit at the school.

Sam Wilson produced the work in the exhibit between 1971 and 2015, and the former art professor said art is his passion.

“I've been doing this forever,” he said. “It's an addiction."

Wilson recently retired after 36 years at the University of Utah, and to show their appreciation the school is hosting an art gallery showcasing some of his work. Wilson said he has produced too much work to have all of it displayed.

“Storage is my main problem in retirement,” he said with a laugh.

Even though Wilson has been creating art for years, he said the thought of his work being on display is still a frightening concept for him.

“The work is fairly self-indulgent,” he said. “It's kind of what I do, and it doesn't need an audience, so I’m afraid of it when it has an audience."

U of U student April Martin said that nervousness surprises her.

“I heard him saying things like that, and it just struck me as comical, because, clearly, he has nothing to be--I mean no one has--I don't even know how to express how little he has to be nervous about,” she said.

Wilson’s art pulls from multiple sources and styles. He said it keeps him from "working for the rectangle,” a reference to rectangular canvasses.

"I'll go from drawing to painting, [and from] painting to three-dimensional painting, just to keep the momentum going,” he said.

Wilson said some of his art is inspired by special places.

“My wife and I go to Italy a lot, and I'm just mad about Italian history and art and stuff,” he said. “And so I’ll lift these characters from renaissance paintings... It's kind of like I never could choose the team I wanted to be on, so I joined all the teams."

Martin said that decision not to narrow his focus paid off for Wilson.

“I think that's one thing that's really impressive about it,” she said. “You see a lot of artists who do one thing really well, but he does so many things extremely well. He's really versatile.”

To see Wilson’s work in person, visit the exhibit at the University of Utah’s Art and History Building, which is located at 375 South 1530 East in Salt Lake City. The exhibit runs through March 6.