UMFA exhibit features artistic side of Utah pioneers

By By Ana Breton, By Ana Breton, and By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts, in partnership with the Marriott Library and the Utah Historical Society, is giving students a rare opportunity to see the artistic side of Utah’s earliest pioneers.

The exhibit, titled “Revisiting Utah’s Past: The Pioneer Experience,” will be on display at the museum until July 23.

“We have some very unique items in the exhibit like paintings and journals created by the pioneers,” Mary Francey, curator of UMFA, said. “We even have a map that lists the original points along the pioneer trail route.”

The items in “Revisiting” were specifically chosen to make visitors wonder how the pioneers viewed Utah through their art, said Annabelle Shrieve, a historical researcher for the exhibit.

“The photos, newspapers and books featured will hopefully help reveal the mindsets and sensibilities of the artists who painted the early scenes of Utah,” Shrieve said.

During the last couple of years, UMFA received inquiries about what Utah was like and how pioneers viewed Utah through their art, said Cody Dingus, communications and design specialist for UMFA.

“During the early years of Utah’s settlement, there was little time or support for the arts.” Dingus said. “It’s important to look into the future by learning from our past.”

In addition, “Revisiting” offers viewers a chronological perspective of who lived in Utah and why, as well as how regions changed as increased numbers of settlers arrived. The exhibit features photographs of downtown Salt Lake City taken more than 100 years ago.

“Viewers can appreciate the photographs and note the similarities of the way our city is now and the way it used to be,” Dingus said. “You can actually picture (Salt Lake City) today, even though you’re looking at it from 100 years ago.”

“Our hope is that the primary resources will cause viewers to doubt their preconceived ideas, question the Utah pioneer stereotype and expand their thinking about Utah history,” Shrieve said.

In conjunction with the exhibition, UMFA will be presenting a special roundtable discussion on Feb. 14 at 11 a.m. Local experts will share their experiences and offer advice on collecting Utah art. This event is free and open to the public.

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