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 over 1,100 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
A portrait of Welsh poet Leslie Norris began as a request from the Norris’s neighbor. Since Kershisnik doesn’t generally do commissions — or portraits for that matter — he decided to do a piece of his own choosing with Leslie as the subject and allow the neighbors the first right of refusal. Unfortunately (for the neighbors) they did refuse the piece. Regardless, it is a charming painting so Kershisnik entered the piece into the Utah Arts Council’s Statewide Annual Exhibition back in 1994. It was juried into the show and the UAC bought the painting for the State Fine Art Collection.
Leslie and his wife, Kitty, saw the painting in a show at BYU before the Statewide Annual Exhibit, but their interest in owning the piece didn’t mature until after the Arts Council had purchased it. As Kershisnik’s fame grew, so did the number of requests from Norris and his wife to purchase the painting from the State Collection. Leslie Norris remains a good friend of the Arts Council having served as poet laureate for several years, but he still doesn’t get the painting.