Visual Arts

Years in the Making: The Hansen Collection


For podiatrist, Dr. Steven L. Hansen (1913-1997), an appreciation for early Utah art began as his parents began collecting pieces from George Wesley Browning and Paul Fjellboe. In the 1950’s Dr. Hansen established his office in the Judge Building on Main Street in Salt Lake City, Utah. He became acquainted with owners of local art galleries and antique stores. His sons, Phil, Art, and Scott Hansen, recall the enthusiasm he felt after seeing a new painting on display and his spontaneous decision to purchase additional art.

Being an avid investor in local companies, Dr. Hansen believed investing in Utah art would be a wise long-term investment. He enjoyed relaying stories about the artists he collected. He supported their art talents through buying and occasionally trading for podiatry services. This, combined with his love of the Utah landscape, were the major reasons he began to accumulate an impressive collection from a variety of artists.

After Dr. Hansen passed away, the collection was passed through his family. His son, Scott, and daughter-in-law, Jeanne Denny Hansen, are currently showing this collection in their home. Jeanne orchestrated this art event, “Years in the Making,” with the theme of “then and now.” The show displays Dr. Hansen’s collection, abstract/realist paintings of Jeanne’s, and works from modern Utah portraitist Heidi Daynes Darley.

Dr. Hansen collected fourteen works from George Wesley Browning (1868-1951), an accountant, and Sunday painter who was extremely well respected by his fellow artists. He was also one of the first Utah landscape painters to use watercolor. “His primary subject interest in painting was the portrayal of dramatically lighted mountain and woodland scenes in oil, pastel, and watercolor” (Robert S. Olpin, Artists of Utah).

Another artist strongly represented in the Hansen collection is Paul Fjellboe, a native of Norway and a Mormon convert who came to America in 1905. Fjellboe was “well-known for rather richly painted though quite similar views in oil of Utah’s mountain landscape” (Robert S. Olpin, Artists of Utah). The Hansen collection of twenty-four pieces aptly demonstrates the work of Fjellboe with numerous alpine landscapes depicting a late evening sun shining on the tips of Wasatch or Uintah ranges. It also includes rare pieces of the Great Salt Lake.

Dr. Hansen collected from other Utah landscape painters from the time period such as: John B. Fairbanks, Frank Zimbeaux, Merle Olson, Robert W. Davidson, Joseph Kerby, and Torlief Severin Knaphus. Knaphus was born in Stavanger, Norway, and is known for his bronze realist sculptures, but also painted the Utah landscape. One of the many paintings in the collection is “Provo Canyon in Autumn” by Joseph Kerby, who is known for his scenes of Provo Canyon and Mount Timpanogos.

Jeanne Hansen organized the exhibition because she herself is an artist. Harold Petersen, a professional artist, has long been a mentor and model to her artistic endeavors. He inspired her to attend the University of Utah to study art and graphic design. There, George Dibble and Doug Snow first introduced her to watercolor. Ed Maryon, Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah, encouraged her to travel to New York to intensely study art and design at the School of Visual Arts. There she studied with Milton Glazer, who utilized marvelous fluid graphic images to create wonderful poster and book designs.

Jeanne soon discovered she “missed mixing paint” and was able to connect her design skills to fine art. She states “good design is crucial when creating a painting.” This concept is evident in her work when one views her watercolor paintings and sketches. Jeanne creates the perfect mixture of realism and abstraction in her piece titled “Schussing,” a painting of the carved turns in powdered snow. The colors are done simply in blue and white, with a touch of orange, red, and purple. The scene centers on the theme of line, shape, and color.

One of the goals of “Years in the Making” was to raise enough funds to enable Jeanne to visit her uncle, David Kouwenaar, a professional Dutch gouache artist. She is interested in the artistic family ties between his gouache (opaque watercolor) and her transparent watercolor.

Jeanne has also included in the show the work of her friend Heidi Darley. The highlight of Darley’s work is a beautiful portrait of Maestro Keith Lockhart from the Utah Symphony & Opera. She has enveloped his figure in soft warm-tones of Abravanel Hall, and successfully captured his charming personality.

Jeanne credits many people in helping her put the show together: David Ericson from David Ericson Fine Art, Vern Swanson from the Springville Museum of Art, and Aly Graham from the A Gallery. To view “Years in the Making,” contact Jeanne Hansen before the end of February at 801-209-2823 or Scott Hansen at 801-556-7448 and by e-mail at to make an appointment. One may also see Jeanne Hansen’s work at Local Colors in the Trolley Square Mall. Dr. Hansen’s collection is being documented by the Utah Artists Project and will soon be available for perusal on their website.


Categories: Visual Arts

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