Inside the Vault:
Truths & Myths from the Utah State Fine Art Collection
The State Fine Art Collection, begun in 1899 as the Alice Merrill Horne Collection, now consists of more than 1,200 works by Utah artists in all media. The pieces are on display in various state and office buildings throughout Utah and many travel with the Utah Arts Council Traveling Exhibition Program.
The continued acquisition of artwork comes from purchases made through the visual arts program and donations from patrons and artists of the state of Utah.
This series is an effort to preserve and share the stories and experiences surrounding the artwork and artists of Utah as seen through the eyes of the Utah Arts Council staff.
Compiled by Laura Durham
Assistant Visual Arts Coordinator, Utah Arts Council
That Doesn’t Mean It’s Yours!
“Cherry & Snowball Blossoms”
watercolor on paper
Because the Arts Council is a state agency, we are often asked to provide paintings to adorn the offices of politicians and other big names in government. We are slowly trying to phase out the practice for several reasons, including the one surrounding this painting by LaVerne Stevens.
The Visual Arts Program makes an effort to inventory loaned artwork on a regular basis. We visit the Capitol, the governor’s mansion and other state buildings to make sure everything is in its proper location. We check the backs of the paintings to make sure our contact information is correct and we secure the “DO NOT REMOVE” stickers, ensuring their legibility. One day the Stevens painting was missing from its designated wall. The visual arts coordinator and registrar searched high and low, but couldn’t seem to zero in on its location. They added the painting to the “missing artwork” list, but still, no word on its whereabouts.
Many years later, a state employee walked into the visual arts offices with the missing painting. He said he was retiring that day and wanted to thank us for letting him hang this painting in his office throughout the years. He had changed offices several times, but he loved the painting so much, he packed it up and took it wherever his work sent him.
It is pretty.
Laura Durham works for KUED Channel-7 in the Creative Services Department, curating community engagement projects for both PBS and KUED productions that foster trust and value to the communities in Utah. She also produces Contact with Mary Dickson and Contact in the Community — a digital series featuring arts and culture groups in Utah. Prior to her work at KUED, Laura spent 15 years at the Utah Division of Arts & Museums in the visual arts program and later managing communications, branding, marketing, and public value projects for all arts and museums programming. She has served the Utah community in various capacities with her role as Vice President of the Salt Lake Gallery Association and Program Director for the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll. She lives in Salt Lake City, sings with Utah Chamber Artists, and loves to contribute to 15 Bytes as often as time allows.