Sixty years ago, artist Minerva Teichert was a Wyoming ranch wife with five children and no studio but her living room - where she painted murals on canvas tacked to her wall while inverting binoculars to see how they would look from a distance.

But her art of Mormon pioneers, Indians and religious subjects - which is seen in the West on murals in government buildings and LDS Temples - is now also exhibited in the nation's capital.An exhibit at the visitors center of the Washington Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened Wednesday with a reception attended by members of Congress from Utah and Wyoming and regional leaders of the LDS Church.

A lecture on Teichert's art is also scheduled for May at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Teichert (1888-1976) was an Idaho native who wore a headband most of her life to remind her of the days in New York City when she performed Indian dances and rope tricks to pay for art lessons.

She studied at the Art Student's League in New York, the Chicago Art Institute and the Mark Hopkins Art School in San Francisco under such people as muralist Edwin K. Blashfield and realist Robert Henri.

Henri urged Teichert to return to the West to "paint the great Mormon story." She wanted to paint murals when she returned to Idaho in 1916, but there was no market for them until the 1930s - when she had five children and lived on a ranch in Wyoming.

She chopped off chicken heads on an old board upon which she had painted a farm scene and painted in between mending clothes, cooking and feeding livestock.

Among her works on display in Washington are paintings of handcart pioneers, Book of Mormon scenes, skirmishes with Indians and a painting of Christ with Mary and Martha.

A brochure about the exhibit said about that last painting, "Teichert felt the impulses of both Mary and Martha in her own life. As a ranch wife and mother she was often occupied with the practical concerns of cooking, cleaning, gardening and tending children. On the other hand, she yearned to spend more time in reading, scripture study and the creative outlets of writing and painting."

By Lee Davidson