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Artwork/Williams Fine Art
"Still Life with Oranges and Bananas" (oil, 9 by 18 1/2 inches) by Utah artist and teacher Florence Ware.

Before influential Utah artist and teacher Florence Ware passed away on Nov. 11, 1971, she bequeathed her home — with all of its contents — to the University of Utah, the institution where she taught art for more than 25 years.

Subsequently, the U. auctioned off the property, and over the ensuing years the owners have discovered numerous works by Ware scattered about the house.

Recently it has become necessary for the house to be sold again, and on Thursday, Williams Fine Art will host a Ware retrospective, composed of 250 of the relinquished sketches, watercolors and oils. The event will begin with remarks by local art historian William C. Seifrit and Salt Lake Tribune columnist Holly Mullen. After discussing Ware's contributions to the visual arts in Utah, the artwork will be sold.

Wanting to do the right thing with all of the art left in the home, Kisi Clawson Watkins, daughter of the owners, sought help from Seifrit and Donna Polton, another local art historian. "They came over and went through the house with me," said Watkins. "It took four months.

"We found just unbelievable amounts of stuff. (They even discovered the original deed to the property signed by the president of Zions Bank, Joseph F. Smith.) Every time we turned around we'd find more paintings."

Polton and Seifrit helped Watkins "figure out what needed to go to the Utah Historical Society, what needed to go to the U. and what should go the Museum of Church History and Art."

When Watkins discovered that Clayton Williams, owner of Williams Fine Art, was a good friend of her father's brother, she asked for his help in selling the remainder of the art.

"As we've gone through all this," Watkins said, "we've found tons of pictures of Florence Ware and her family. There was a photo album of when she was going to school at the Chicago Art Institute, and her sketchbook from the Institute.

"By going through all of this we got to know her well. What a wonderful person she was. She was extremely loved, having many friends, and was a very talented painter, with so many diverse styles."

Ware was born May 6, 1891, in Salt Lake City, the only child of prominent architect Walter Ware (1861-1951) and his wife. After earning a bachelor of fine arts degree at the U., Ware studied three years at the Chicago Art Institute. She also studied a year at Laguna Beach, Calif., and eight months with Charles W. Hawthorne at Provincetown, Mass.

Beginning in 1918, Ware began teaching art at the U. Today, she is best known for her two WPA-sponsored murals, painted in 1936, in the U.'s Kingsbury Hall.

Those individuals interested in attending the exhibition and sale should contact the gallery at 534-0331 by Monday afternoon to reserve seating.

If you go ...

What: Florence Ware Retrospective, Exhibition and Sale

Where: Williams Fine Art, 60 E. South Temple (ZCMI Center)

When: Thursday, 6:30 p.m. Call Monday for seating reservation.

How much: Free

Phone: 534-0331

E-mail: gag@desnews.com