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Utah has an impressive legacy of incredibly talented artists who have left their mark on the world. And while their names may not be as recognizable as da Vinci or Rembrandt, each of the following painters, sculptors, and photographers created pieces worthy of national (and sometimes international) recognition.
The next time you take a trip to the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art — or even downtown Salt Lake — keep your eyes peeled for the work of these Utah artists.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will recognize Arnold Friberg’s name from his paintings depicting scenes from the Book of Mormon. (These paintings were actually personally commissioned by Adele Cannon Howells, general president of the Church’s primary from 1943 to 1951, according to an earlier Deseret News article.)
But few people know that Friberg’s legacy includes his collaboration with famed filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille on “The Ten Commandments,” or that he traveled to Buckingham Palace to paint portraits of Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II.
His best-known artwork is probably “Prayer at Valley Forge”, which depicts George Washington kneeling in the snow beside his horse. Copies of this painting can be found in many homes and offices along the Wasatch Front, but the original is on display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC until January 2023.
Charles Roscoe Savage
Charles Roscoe Savage became one of the greatest 19th-century landscape photographers in the western United States and a renowned studio portrait photographer, according to BYU Library. He was an early convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, emigrating from England in 1856, and eventually established a studio in Salt Lake.
Savage’s most famous photograph is of the transcontinental railroad junction at Promontory, Utah. His work has been exhibited in museums across the country, including the Smithsonian and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Best known as a portrait painter and professor at the University of Utah, Alvin Gittins has definitely left his mark on Utah’s artistic heritage. According to the Utah Artists Project, his work includes portraits of 89 University of Utah administrators, faculty, and benefactors and they hang in nearly every building on campus.
He has also exhibited his work at the Royal Society of British Artists and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in London, the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and Stanford University.
You would never guess that one of the co-creators of the Beatles’ famous “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover lived in Utah. Not only that, but she created a modern, up-to-date version of this album cover in a downtown mural called “SLC Pepper.”
Jann Haworth has been one of the most accomplished pop artists since the 1960s, and although she grew up in Hollywood and spent many years in London, she now calls Utah home. According to the BYU Museum of Art, Haworth’s work has been exhibited in major museums around the world and has a permanent home at the Tate Modern, the Walker Art Center and the Smithsonian.
Cyrus Edwin Dallin
Born in Utah, Cyrus Edwin Dallin was a famous sculptor who created over 260 works of art during his lifetime. These included the equestrian statue of Paul Revere in Boston and “Appeal to the Great Spirit”, which is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
The Cyrus Dallin Art Museum in Arlington, Massachusetts is a tribute to Dallin and his prolific career. He is recognized as an American sculptor, educator and activist for the rights of indigenous peoples.
And if you’ve ever walked around downtown Salt Lake, you’ve probably seen another one of his famous plays. Dallin carved the Angel Moroni that sits atop the Salt Lake Temple.
Take a stroll through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and you might come across a work of art by none other than Brigham Young’s grandson, Mahonri Young. Currently on display in Gallery 774 is Young’s statuette, “The Pickaxe Man”. According to the Met’s website, Young’s sculptures were meant to be inspired by his heritage since they reflected “themes of struggle and endurance.” Young also made a sculpture of his grandfather Brigham that stands in the United States Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
You’ll find his work in museums and galleries all over the United States and Europe, but you don’t have to travel that far. Young also sculpted the Seagull Monument and the This is the Place Monument in Salt Lake.
Proving once again that Utah has no shortage of carving talent, internationally acclaimed artist Avard Fairbanks is another accomplished artist from Beehive State. According to an article on the Church of Jesus Christ website, Fairbanks has four statues in Statuary Hall at the nation’s Capitol, which is more than any other artist. He also made four different marble busts of Abraham Lincoln which are on display at Ford’s Theater Museum.
BYU football fans saw his work at Lavell Edwards Stadium. He is the artist who sculpted the cougar statue in front of which the fans enter the stadium.
But some of his best-known plays were religious subjects that local Church members may recognize. These include the monuments honoring the Three Witnesses and the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood in Temple Square. He also sculpted the Angel Moroni for the temples in Jordan, Seattle, and Mexico City.
V. Douglas Snow
Known for his large abstract murals, V. Douglas Snow is another Salt Lake City native who has made a name for himself across the country. The Utah Artists Project says Snow has public and private collections all over the United States, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, and museums here in Utah.
You’ll see his murals at the Salt Lake Public Library, the University of Utah Social Work Building, the Pioneer Theater, and the Iron Blossom Lodge in Snowbird. In 1976 Snow became artistic director at the University of Utah/Snowbird Summer Arts Institute.