It was Frank Lloyd Wright who said, "A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines."
Fortunately, few areas in the new Scott M. Matheson Courthouse will require such greenery. And while the new edifice's utilitarian, bare-bones classical design is competent and occasionally satisfying, there are some sections of the building that excel in beauty and craftsmanship.One such site is the building's rotunda ceiling where Daniel Peterson and his team of local artisans have created a stenciled wonder. The workmanship is so good it is very similar to the inlaid cerulean tile of some Florentine church. The visual effect is dazzling.
So too, are Darhl Thomson's two sculpture/lights in front of the courthouse, "Plane & Sphere," (steel). They are machined elegance, complementing the vertical thrust and texture of the building's exterior columns.
Doug Snow's mural "Capitol Reef" (oil on canvas, 19 by 15 feet), behind the Utah Supreme Court bench, is another outstanding work of art. In describing the inspiration behind the painting, Snow writes, "An apocalyptic thunderstorm saturating the slick-rock sandstone, followed by intense heat from the summer sun, brings about a magical moment. Vaporous clouds rise from the cliffs and domes of southern Utah's desert country, providing a powerful and poetic experience of hope and renewal."
This idea of "hope and renewal" would seem apropos in a courtroom setting. Yet, as good as Snow's abstract landscape is, there has been some discussion as to its appropriateness as a backdrop for the courtroom. However, art communicates only what the viewer is in the mood to receive.
Those works, as well as others by Ed Maryon, Susan Fleming, Howard and Kathleen Meehan and Tim O'Niell, Sheryl M. Thornton and Gerald Witt were commissioned with funds from the Percent-For-Art program.
The program was designed to enhance Utah's quality of life by placing high caliber art in public spaces. It was also designed to promote and preserve an appreciation for art by encouraging the creativity and talents of the state's artists and craftspeople.
The committee members who com-missioned and selected the art for the courthouse were: Judge Michael Zimmerman; Judge Timothy Hansen; Wayne Bingham, Division of Facilities Construction and Management (DFCM); Frank Ful-ler, DFCM; Bill Valentine, architect; Peter Moyes, architect; Gordon Bisseger, Administrative Office of Courts; Robert Olpin, Utah Arts Council (UAC); Aden Ross, UAC; Fred Babcock, UAC, architect; and Dale Satterthwaite, Big D. Construction.