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Painting Utah's Mount Olympus

 

July 8 - November 14, 2010

 

While not the tallest mountain in the Wasatch Range, Mount Olympus stands today as a familiar and inspiring natural wonder unique to Utah. In the current exhibition, Painting Utah's Mount Olympus, on view in the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) G.W. Anderson Family Great Hall through November 14, 2010, visitors will encounter large, breathtaking paintings by premier Utah artists, all of whom aim to capture the sublime beauty of our local icon: Mount Olympus. (right: Gilbert Davis Munger (1837-1903), The Wasatch Mountains with Salt Lake City and the Great Salt Lake in the Foreground, 1877, oil on canvas, collection of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.)

Organized by Donna Poulton, UMFA Associate Curator of Utah and Western Art, Painting Utah's Mount Olympus comprises works from esteemed private collections in the local area. The featured paintings span roughly 150 years and were created by such artists as Lee Greene Richards, Gilbert Munger, Edwin Deaken, and David Meikle.

These painters followed in the footsteps of the early Utah pioneers who bestowed Mount Olympus with the Greek name for "home of the gods." When Brigham Young and his followers settled in the security of the mountain's shadow, they recognized Olympus as a crucial source of necessary minerals, abundant timbers for building, and precious water in a dry land. However, it was when these pioneers traded their picks and plows for pencils and paintbrushes that the true majesty of Mount Olympus came to light. The mountain was then, as it remains today, a source of undeniable artistic inspiration.

Artists were not the only residents who held, and continue to hold, a deep admiration for the silent sentinel. Throughout time, the awesome grandeur of Olympus's peak has inspired authors, hikers, geologists, climbers, and adventurers from all walks of life. Many of these Olympus aficionados have shared their thoughts and experiences on a collective, public register located at the mountain's summit.

The UMFA is delighted to celebrate one of our local natural wonders in Painting Utah's Mount Olympus, an exhibition generously sponsored by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and Mount Olympus Waters, Inc.

 

Video

As part of the Painting Utah's Mount Olympus exhibition, the UMFA has compiled a short video (http://bit.ly/9aYjKs) to serve as a visual register of local residents' responses to Mount Olympus, whether or not they have actually climbed it. Looping on a screen next to the large paintings in the Great Hall, this video features the commentary of an award-winning poet who was inspired by the beautiful butte; a former University of Utah student who wrote his thesis on experiencing the mountain through the eyes of an artist; and Caine Alder, a gentleman in his mid-seventies who has climbed Mount Olympus over 425 times in the last fifty years.

 

Related public event

"Painting Utah's Mount Olympus" Free Public Lecture
Wednesday, September 15 at 6 pm
Those in attendance gained insight into the majesty of Mount Olympus in this free public lecture by UMFA Associate Curator of Utah and Western Art Donna Poulton.

 


(above: Louise Richards Farnsworth (1878-1969), Bluff Shadows, 1910, oil on canvas, gift of Mrs. Robert B. Mee, collection of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.)

 

(above: Mark Knudsen (b. 1946-), Crossing the North Face, 2010, acrylic on canvas, collection of the artist.)

 

(above: David W. Meikle (b. 1969-), Evening Light, 2003, oil on canvas, private collection.)

 

(above: Leslie Thomas (b. 1949-), Mt. Olympus, 2010, oil on canvas, collection of the artist.)

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