Center for Latter-day Saint Arts

On This Day...

A DAILY FACTOID OF OUR ART HISTORY

September 12

Elder Spencer W. Kimball gave the speech, "Education for Eternity" on this date (1967) that later became known as a call to arms, "The Gospel Vision of the Arts" after he became the president of the Church. It challenged artists in the Church in every artistic discipline to aspire to greatness, including this statement: "Our writers, our motion picture specialists, with the inspiration of heaven, should tomorrow be able to produce a masterpiece which would live forever."

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Glen Nelson
September 8

Obituaries began to appear on this day (2005) after Rowan Taylor's death the day before. Taylor was one of the most prolific composers in history. A professor at Pierce College in Woodland Hills California, his musical works include a staggering 265 symphonies, 46 concertos, 2,502 songs, 250 chamber works, as well as operas, hymns, ballets, choral pieces, and solo works.

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Glen Nelson
September 7

Tragedy struck on this day (1978), when Joycel Parson and her daughter Chancy were killed in a car accident. In response, painter Del Parson turned his talents to religious subjects, including the series of red-robed paintings of Jesus that are among the Church's most familiar images.

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Glen Nelson
September 6

Although Louise Richards Farnsworth was not accepted initially in Utah as a female artist, she studied at the Art Student's League in New York and then in Paris. She had solo exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, and her work was accepted into the Paris Salon, a high honor within the international art world. She married Philo T. Farnsworth, Jr. (cousin of the renowned inventor of the same name) on this day (1904).

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Glen Nelson
September 5

On this day (2016), Deseret Book published the children's book Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families, by Bethany Brady Spalding, McArthur Krishna, and Caitlin Connolly. This landmark book illuminates the role of families both in heaven and on earth--and places special recognition of a Heavenly Mother.

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Glen Nelson
September 2

On this day (1877), Joseph J. Daynes played the organ at Brigham Young's funeral. Daynes was able to play the keyboard, have perfect pitch and create his own musical instruments--all at age 4. He even played while he was asleep. In 1867, Brigham Young appointed Daynes as the first Tabernacle organist when he was sixteen years old. Years later, people would continue to refer to Daynes as the composer who wrote Brigham Young's Funeral March for his friend and Prophet.

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Glen Nelson
August 30

Grant Whytock was part of the first wave of Mormons working in Hollywood film. From the 1920s up until the 1960s, he collaborated and assistant-produced several films, most notably The Devil's Passkey (which premiered on this day, 1920), The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Scaramouche, The Emperor Jones, The Count of Monte Cristo, Timbuktu, and Jack Giant Killer.

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Glen Nelson
August 29

Scholar and author Terryl Givens published People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture on this day (2007). The book traces the development of culture throughout the Church's history and is but one of Givens' numerous books, articles, and papers on Mormonism that offer unbiased and thorough examinations of the faith to a wider audience.

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Glen Nelson
August 28

Mabel Pearl Frazer, an influential artist and teacher at the University of Utah, was born on this day (1887). Her vibrantly-colored paintings were modern in spirit and drew from her love of her environment and religion. She wrote, "The vitality of art is life. All great art must have roots deep in a native soil. It can neither be borrowed nor lent. Things expressed without deep convictions can never be greatly convincing, rarely are they more than bits of superficial pettiness. That briefly, sums up my philosophy of art, and I try to live up to it."

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Glen Nelson
August 27

On this day (1943), Wulf Barsch was born. The artist known for his religious works and symbolically dense images was awarded the Rome Prize by the American Academy in Rome (1976). He retired from teaching at BYU in 2010 retirement.

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Glen Nelson
August 23

Brian Evenson's first volume of 28 short stories and a novella, Altmann's Tongue, was published by Knopf on this day (1994). Publisher's Weekly noted their enigmatic and gruesome qualities and said, "The spirit of Edgar Allan Poe inhabits this collection..."

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Glen Nelson
August 22

The anti-Mormon play The Danites in the High Sierras premiered on this day (1877) in New York. Featuring Danites hunting the daughter of one of the men who had murdered Joseph Smith, it became one of the most successful of anti-Mormon dramas at the time. In its prime The Danites in the High Sierras even rivaled the popularity of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The author, Cincinnatus Heine Miller eventually admitted that he regretted the anti-Mormon tone.

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Glen Nelson
August 21

James W. McConkie died of polio at the age of 32 on this day (1953). McConkie earned a PhD from Columbia and studied with Nadia Boulanger and Arthur Honneger in Paris on a Fulbright scholarship before moving to Minnesota to begin a promising music career as a composer. When his children were stricken in the epidemic, however, McConkie learned over to kiss his son, caught the disease himself, and died two weeks later

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Glen Nelson
August 19

Weeks before publication, author and apostle James E. Talmage wrote in his journal, on this day (1915), "Finished the actual writing on the book Jesus the Christ, to which I have devoted every spare hour since settling down to the work of composition on September 14th last. Had it not been that I was privileged to do this work in the Temple it would be at present far from completion. I have felt the inspiration of the place and have appreciated the privacy and quietness incident thereto. I hope to proceed with the work of revision without delay."

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Glen Nelson
August 17

Eugene England, father of Mormon cultural studies, died on this day (2001). He taught Mormon Literature at BYU, co-founded Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (1966) and helped to establish the Association for Mormon Letters (1976). Among his many essays, books, and articles, a favorite is "Why the Church Is as True as the Gospel" (1985).

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Glen Nelson
August 16

Elsie Talmage Bradley is born on this day (1896) and eventually becomes a successful writer and editor. She was a columnist for "Hello Life" at the Salt Lake Tribune, Asociate Editor of the Improvement Era and Editor of the Young Ladies' Journal, and co-editor of the Utah Sings collection of prose. She also contributed to various publications in Utah and several plays and librettos.

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Glen Nelson
August 15

Sinking with the Titanic on this day (1921) is William H. Harbeck. Although not a member of the Church, his film company announced a major production about the history of the Church to be titled, The Romance of Mormonism. While a crew began filming the Salt Lake Temple and other Utah sites, Harbeck traveled to Europe and then booked return passage on the ill-fated Titanic. Mormon Cinema: Origins to 1952, by Randy Astle, 2018, p. 193.

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Glen Nelson
August 12

"My Heart Is Like a Singing Bird," for soprano and piano premieres on this day (1977) in a performance at BYU. The composer is Mack Wilberg, a music student who will become one of the most prominent of all LDS contemporary composers because of his choral arrangements of hymns for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which he music director.

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Glen Nelson
August 5

The Museum of Modern Art's exhibition Recent Drawings U.S.A. closed on this day (1956), and it featured Mummy Cliffs, Utah (gouache, 1955) by V. Douglas Snow. For the exhibition, the museum invited artists to submit works. 5,000 drawings were received, and 150 drawings were chosen in the survey exhibition. The works were also for sale, and Snow's drawing was one of the sold artworks.

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Glen Nelson
August 3

Royden Card was born in Alberta, Canada on this day (1952). He began painting at age fourteen and fell in love with the desert landscape of Utah, where he eventually settled. His inspiration comes from the desert landscape of the Southwest, and his artistic creations include paintings, woodcuts, prose and poetry.

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Glen Nelson