Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day 3/60: BYU Art Museum

Tuesday, 9/11: Wendover to Provo: 163 mi, I-80 to I-17

Wasatch Mountains from BYU
Dan's photo
Entrance to BYU Museum of Art
Jan's photo
"Juno" by Reuben Nakian, 1897-1986
Jan's photo
Today we visited our first art museum of the trip: the museum at Brigham Young University, which was a new one for us. BYU is owned by the Mormon Church, and located about an hour south of Salt Lake City in the attractive town of Provo. The rugged Wasatch Mountains loom above the campus.

We started with lunch at museum cafe. The setting is lovely because it is located on the second floor and large windows show views of the mountains. Since it is a Mormon school, I was interested to observe the students;  many were obviously accompanied by their mothers; a few were parents and had their own children with them. Dress in general was conservative, except the girls all wore skinny pants.

Next we went out into the sculpture garden where we found a pleasant mix of abstract and figurative works by 20th Century Americans in a lovely setting.

"Eight-bit Modern" by Michael Whiting
Dan's photo
"Sleepwalking," by James Avanti, b. 1942
Dan's photo
Photography was not allowed in galleries. I took this shot in the foyer.

Untitled (Paper-clad Hangers), by Dan Steinhilber, 2008
Foyer of BYU Museum of Art; Photo by Jan
Brigham Young University owns the largest collection of art by Maynard Dixon in the country. The reason is that Herald R. Clark, who was dean of the College of Commerce at BYU during the 1930s and 40s, was also a lover of fine art, and he became a fan of Dixon's. As an economist, Clark seems to have been particularly impressed by Dixon's paintings of the maritime strike in San Francisco, and his scenes of the great depression. In 1937 Clark traveled to San Francisco on behalf of the university and struck a deal with Dixon in which he acquired 85 paintings and drawings for $3700.

The museum was exhibiting three of Dixon's large depression paintings. Since we couldn't take photos, I grabbed images off the web for two of them.

Forgotten Man, from Internet
Free Speech, from the Internet                     

Dixon is primarily known for his scenes of the Southwest, including Utah. Here's a more typical example of his work, which I photographed at the Denver Art Museum.

"Wide Lands of the Navajo," by Maynard Dixon, 1875-1946
Denver Art Museum
Several of these landscapes and about a dozen portraits were exhibited in a show called Iconic Images of the Southwest, which also included work by other artists including Herbert Dunton and Frank Tenney Johnson. This was a satisfying exhibit.

As for contemporary art, there was an exhibit comparing Takashi Murakami, a prolific Japanese artist born in 1962, with Andy Warhol, an American artist born in 1928. Both artists are known for flat art, lacking dimension or perspective, and for commercializing their approach.

Photo of Special Exhibit poster by Dan

The museum also had a few exhibits that didn't interest us, such as Medieval English alabaster carvings of religious scenes, and pretentious art videos. They had a large display of Islamic art, but decorative art is less interesting when removed from its setting; for instance, they made a big deal about one or two special tiles, when we've been in rooms that were covered with patterned tile of higher quality.

When we had seen all the art, we had a quick walk around the campus. It is quite large, and the buildings we saw were generally modern and newish.

"Brigham Young" by his son Mahonri Young, 1877-1957
Dan's photo
Since we were there on 9/11, across the plaza from this statue was a Memorial Wreath with an Honor Guard.

9/11 Memorial Wreath and Honor Guard
Dan's photo
We had dinner at the Olive Garden near our motel; the food was good; we ate in bar to avoid families, quieter that way; service was good.

After dinner we picked up Coke and water at Buy Low market in the same shopping center. Then Dan watched Giants on TV.
Here's the link to the map: Art Journey 2012
To see the detailed itinerary, click here: Itinerary

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