U Artists Through the Ages

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U Artists Through the Ages

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In honor of the U’s “throwback” for homecoming and with the help of the Marriott Library’s Utah Artists Project, this week we’re throwing it back to recognize some of the U’s most accomplished artists and alumni.


Beverly Ann Wheeler Mastrim, an award-winning watercolorist and oil painter, was born and raised on land resembling many of her landscape paintings — many know it as Wheeler Historic Farm.

west_art-10According to the Utah Artists Project, Mastrim’s paintings depict the life of a farmer, one she is quite familiar with: “I have painted their portraits, homesteads and artifacts. I love the earth’s bounty, naturally, I favor the earth’s colors for my palette. At the age of six, I lived on my grandfather’s farm. My young impressions still influence subjects that I choose to paint. To me, the farmer is an aristocrat among men.”

Mastrim attended the U from 1952-56. During her college career, Mastrim was an art exhibit supervisor for the Salt Lake County Fair and, later, the Murray Showcase of Fine Arts in 1958.

Mastrim built her career as an artist with exhibitions at the Utah State Institute of Fine Arts, Art Center Biennial and ZCMI Fine Arts Festival, among others. She won several awards for her work including an Excellence in Art award and “Best of Show.”

She and her legacy live on in Salt Lake through her works of art at many local galleries and in her childhood home.


Robert Bliss graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1949 but later led the founding of the U’s Graduate School of Architecture in 1963. The department was originally a subsidiary of the College of Fine Arts, but after Bliss accepted a position as dean the department, became a separate professional school.

Bliss paved the way for U students’ innovative architecture and made the college frontrunner of architectural schools at the time. He has received countless awards including the AIA Utah Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Today Bliss is a leading furniture designer in Utah. You can find his designs in the annual Design Arts Utah exhibition by the Utah Arts Council, as well as in an exhibit at the National Museum of Art in Washington, D.C. He also continues to serve as a nationally-recognized jury member for architecture schools and special exhibitions.


David Pendell works with many media, including ceramics, glass blowing and woodworking. He also plays a variety of instruments in an American string and Irish folk band.

west_art-11He taught at the University of California before he joined the U’s Department of Art in 1977. According to the Utah Artists Project, his work is “based on traditional ideas of form while conceived and executed in a contemporary mode.” Pendell’s work has led to important grants, recognition and advancement in his career.


Willamarie Huelskamp graduated from the U in 1982 with a civil engineering degree, but only “several days after graduation,” she ventured into watercolor painting and hasn’t looked back.

Huelskamp returned to the U, this time graduating with a degree in painting and drawing. Her paintings have won several awards including three “Best of Show” awards from the Utah Watercolor Society.

Huelskamp now has a passion for teaching, with plein air painting workshops in Italy and watercolor classes here at the U’s Lifelong Learning Program. Today more than 1,000 of her works hang in both private and corporate collections.

Next time someone tries to make the argument that an arts degree won’t get you anywhere, let these four outstanding artists prove otherwise.

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