The Salt Lake City School District has nearly 350 important works of art in its collection. Through Sept. 17, you can see and experience 68 pieces from that collection at the Museum of Utah Art and History, 125 S. Main.
Rarely seen by the general public, the artwork in the exhibit, "A Century of Art: The Salt Lake City School District Collection," includes pieces from the 19th century through present day. These works grace the walls of administrative offices, libraries and hallways in the city's schools, allowing students to appreciate and be inspired by fine art.
It is fitting then that the exhibit is at the MUAH, whose mission is to foster an awareness of, and excitement about, Utah art.
Most of the 50 artists whose work was selected for inclusion in the show will be instantly recognized: Cyrus Dallin (1861-1944), Avard Fairbanks (1897-1987), ElzyJ. Bird (1911-2001), Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), J.T. Harwood (1860-1940), Alvin Gittins (1922-81), John Hafen (1856-1910), Lee Greene Richards (1878-1950), Henri Moser (1876-1951), Florence Ware (1891-1971) and George Dibble (1904-92).
As in every exhibit, "A Century of Art" has a few weak pieces, but for the most part, the show is replete with fine works that will please even the most discriminating viewer.
Cyrus Dallin's 1899 bronze of "Paul Revere" (a replica of his original, which is in Boston) is an excellent example of the sculptor's talent; it is also positioned for best effect in the exhibit space.
Many viewers will be familiar with Minerva Teichert's painting "Soldier and Indian," due to its appearance in various printed publications, but to see it live is an immense pleasure. Witnessing her drawing technique and paint application makes any traveling to see this exhibit worth it.
J.T. Harwood's 1928 color etching "The Cascade" genuinely exhales mood; it is one of the finest works in the exhibit. And George Dibble's 1950 watercolor "Wasatch Mountains" is a confident abstract awash with vibrant color. It is highly accomplished.
Some of the artists in the show were part of the Works Progress Administration, and many of the initial works collected by the schools were by these artists. Elzy J. Bird's large "Trailbreakers" and "Indian Buffalo Hunt" are good examples of this period.
One of the lesser-known artists in the show, Bessie Bancroft (1887-1945), taught at West High School for 39 years. Her watercolor "Lilies Climbing the Fence" is delicate yet rich in subdued color. A fine addition to the show.
Excellent contributions to "A Century of Art" are the brief historical bios on the artists and the paintings. Not only are they helpful in understanding why the artists painted what they painted, they add historical context about the nature of the artwork.
Also worth mentioning is that Alice Merrill Horne (1868-1948), who advocated excellence in education through art appreciation and who helped in establishing the collection, is given her due in the show's text panels.
The exhibit curators David Ericson, Ann Orton, Maria L. Peterson, Janie L. Rogers, Kandace Steadman, Daphne Williams and McKell Withers should be applauded for their piece selection and hanging of the show.
What: A Century of Art: The Salt Lake City School District Collection
Where: Museum of Utah Art and History, 125 S. Main
When: Through Sept. 17
Museum hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
How much: Free
E-mail: [email protected]