In Memoriam | Visual Arts

Harold D. “Pete” Petersen: 1930 – 2023

Notice of Petersen’s passing on the exterior of the Petersen Art Center in Salt Lake City’s Sugar House neighborhood, photo by Shawn Rossiter

Can anyone be an artist? Harold D. (“Pete”) Petersen seemed to believe so. In 1993 he and son Mark founded the Petersen Art Center in Sugar House to nurture and shape artistic dexterity. The new Dictionary of Utah Fine Artists describes him as, “a talented watercolorist and art teacher without local peer.”

Pete Petersen died “peacefully at home in Salt Lake City” on Jan. 20, 2023. He left behind beautiful artwork of his own and, perhaps more importantly, had touched the lives of tens of thousands of students as their teacher or friend during his 92 years.

Born in Hyrum, Utah, to Alfred and Maude Petersen on June 7, 1930, Pete Petersen grew up extremely poor, enduring the Depression in Cache Valley in a two-room house with just a coal stove and no running water.

A passionate artist from early in life, he drew in the margins of newspaper pages and fought for those scraps of paper with brothers Don and Roy who also were artists.

After graduating from Logan High School, Petersen received a BFA from Utah State University (1954), and an MFA from the University of Utah (1966).

He began teaching at Highland High School in 1957 and would continue as an art teacher there for 30 years. Pupils, according to the Dictionary of Utah Fine Artists, included “Kim Whitesides, McRay Magleby, Shauna Cook Clinger, Mark Durham, Nathan Jarvis, David Fetzer, Gayle Weyher, and Mark Petersen among many others.” He was so loved at Highland High that they named the art wing for him.

Pete would also teach as an adjunct associate professor of art education at the U of U for nearly a decade.

Harold Petersen, “Dan’s is Now Open Across the Street,” 1989, watercolor, 21 x 29 in., courtesy Springville Museum of Art

In 1987 Petersen retired from Highland but continued to teach art classes out of his cramped home studio, which resulted in the opening of the Petersen Art Center in Sugar House, where he would teach full time until he was 90 years old. The bottom floor of the center would become home to Blick Art Supply (previously Utrecht).

Strong ties to his God are described as “essential” to those who Pete knew throughout life. He met the talented Lucretia Cushman, a pianist and teacher, after returning from his LDS mission to Norway. They married in 1953, rearing four children in Salt Lake City, sharing “art, music and family together for nearly 70 years.”

Petersen is survived by his four sisters, his wife, Lucretia, his four children: Mark, Anne, Holly and Kim, six grandchildren, and by one newly born great-grandchild: Jonah.

The funeral is Friday, Feb. 3, at Canyon Rim LDS Chapel, 3100 East and 3000 South, Salt Lake City. Public viewing is from 10:00 a.m. to noon, with funeral services at 12:30 p.m., followed by burial ceremony at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park (3401 S. Highland Dr., Salt Lake City).

Categories: In Memoriam | Visual Arts

2 replies »

  1. Once again, Ann Poore has displayed the humanity that distinguishes her profiles and . . . well, yes, eulogies. The first rule of journalism is to get the facts. Many writers don’t do that, others stop there. I’ve always wondered, whenever I shopped at Utrecht, now Blick, about the art school upstairs. Now I wish I’d gone further and followed my curiosity.

    Ann, you always know what matters and how best to compose it for the clearest image. You get the reputation right—no mean feat—and then go on to find the person, too. Thank you for the illumination.

  2. Thank you, Geoff. I can’t take credit for clarifying the location of the art school as being above Utrecht (now Blick), however. That would be our intrepid Editor Shawn Rossiter doing his job — impeccably as always. He catches everything that matters, making me look a better journalist than I am. 15 Bytes is so fortunate in him. (And I know full well I am NOT getting a raise, so that’s sincere.)

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