Art: Eye-Burner

Even an invitation to exhibit in Pittsburgh's Carnegie Annual is considered an accolade; its first prize is the top U.S. painting honor. For this year's show, most of the 300 chosen U.S. artists were out of art's second drawer, but they were the best available these days. Visitors who plodded through the exhibition on opening day last week agreed that the paintings had nothing in common except craftsmanship—and perhaps mediocrity.

The $1,500 first prize went to thin-faced Zoltan Sepeshy, who at 49 is one of the world's best tempera technicians. His realistic landscapes, figure paintings and still lifes incline to be dull...

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