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Alice Merrill Horne: A Pioneer for LDS Arts Advocacy

Alice Merrill Horne

Alice Merrill Horne


Alice Merrill Horne (1868-1948) was a prolific advocate for the arts in early Utah. Horne's passion for visual art had many venues. She studied art herself, at the University of Utah (then known as the University of Deseret), at the Art Institute of Chicago, and privately with several artists.

Although an artist herself, most of Horne’s efforts were dedicated to promoting the work of others. In 1989, she ran for office and was elected as a member of the Utah House of Representatives, where she served for one term. Horne’s platform was promoting the arts; under a bill she passed, a state arts institute was established. The effects of this institute, now operating as the Utah Arts Council, included the establishment of the Utah Symphony and state-acquired paintings for a state art collection (the first of its kind). The collection now houses over 1,200 pieces and is informally known as the Alice Collection in her honor.

Alice Gallery, SLC

Alice Gallery, SLC

Horne’s work had far-reaching effects, including all the work done by the Utah Arts Council. Her work with the council planted the seed for such institutions as the Springville Museum of Art. She was also prolific in writing about Utah artists: she edited a volume of poetry by Mormon women, published Devotees and Their Shrines: a Handbook of Utah Art (1914); wrote a periodical; and published numerous articles in local magazines.

Later in life, much of her energy was dedicated to her gallery in the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City, which is still in operation under the ownership of her great-grandchildren. This gallery was mostly concerned with dealing for Intermountain artists. Through her art dealing, Horne "discovered" and made popular the art of Minerva Teichert, who is to this day a household name among Latter-day Saints.[1]

Horne’s advocacy of Teichert is exemplary of her innovative and resourceful advocacy. Horne was a supporter of advancing the cultural capital of all Utahns by bringing art into more homes and public places; she connected Teichert with many public schools that placed her murals in their buildings [3] . According to Harriet Horne Arrington,

"She determined that Utah children would have the advantage of original art around them by inspiring thirty-seven art collections in the state's schools, with scores of paintings by Utah artists."[2]

Herding Cattle Across the River , 1956, Mural by Minerva Teichert

Herding Cattle Across the River, 1956, Mural by Minerva Teichert

Another example of Horne’s resourceful matronage of Teichert’s art occurred when the Teichert family ranch fell into jeopardy in 1932. Traditionally, art patrons have large fortunes to leverage, but Horne used her ingenuity to secure the mortgage by brokering additional painting sales, including to various auxiliary organizations within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and by intervening with the mortgage company to trade a cowboy painting for a portion of the mortgage.[4]

Horne, a passionate advocate of the Relief Society as well as the arts, displayed a passion for her sisters in the gospel and in art that went beyond professional courtesy. The aesthetic results of this passion have been a defining force in Latter-day Saint arts ever since.

Contemporary artist and scholar Ingrid Asplund will present her research on Alice Merrill Horne at the 2019 Center for Latter-day Saint Arts Festival. Learn more about the event and purchase tickets here.

[1] [2] Harriet Horne Arrington, "HORNE, ALICE MERRILL," Utah History Encyclopedia, , accessed December 14, 2018,

[3] For more on Teichert’s murals, see Marian Eastwood Wardle, "Minerva Teichert's Murals: The Motivation for Her Large-Scale Production" (Master's thesis, Brigham Young University, 1988), , accessed December 2018,

[4] Dierdre Mason Scharffs, "Refiguring the Wild West: Minerva Teichert and Her Feminine Communities" (Master's thesis, Brigham Young University, 2016), 2016, , accessed December 2018,

Ingrid Asplund