Center for Latter-day Saint Arts

On This Day...

A DAILY FACTOID OF OUR ART HISTORY

October 5

On her way home from a concert in Vernal, Utah, pianist and composer Helen Taylor was killed in a car accident on this day (1950). A composer who studied at Juilliard, with Paul Hindemith at Yale, and married concert pianist Grant Johannesen, Taylor's music was championed by Johannesen, but is still under-known.

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Glen Nelson
October 4

Jason F. Wright's best-selling Christmas Jars was published in paperback on this day (2005). In the novel, a young woman whose apartment is robbed discovers a jar full of money left on her doorstep. She tracks down the family who collects spare change for people in need.

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Glen Nelson
October 2

The first professor of art in Utah and one of the earliest of the Church's painters, William W. Major died on this day (1854) while serving a mission in England. His work for the Church began in Nauvoo, in the spring of 1845. Later, he was commissioned to document the trek west, arriving in September of 1847.

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Glen Nelson
October 1

John Willard Young (born 1844) opened what was then known as the Salt Lake City Museum and Menagerie on this day (1869). Almost ten years later, ownership was transferred to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and was eventually renamed the Deseret Museum. Names such as James E. Talmage and J. Reuben Clark, Jr. were involved with the curation of the museum.

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September 30

Count Olaf tortures poor Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire beginning on this day (1999), as Lemony Snicket's first book, A Series of Unfortunate Events is published. The illustrator for the series is Brett Helquist, who has provided illustrations for approimately 50 books, including the series: Chasing Vermeer, Tales from the House of Bunnicula, Green Knowe, and picture books of his own authorship, including Roger, the Jolly Pirate.

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Glen Nelson
September 27

The towering figure in Mormon letters, B. H. Roberts, died on this day (1933). In addition to a lifetime of church, politics, and military service, Roberts helped establish the Improvement Era magazine, wrote the six-volume History of the Church..., a novel Corianton (1889), a biography of John Taylor (1892), and some twenty other books on theology, history, and science.

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Glen Nelson
September 26

Illustrator of fantasy, fables, and religious images, artist James C. Christensen was born on this day (1942). In addition to commercial illustration, three books of his work were published: A Journey of the Imagination: The Art of James Christensen (1994), Voyage of the Basset (1996), and Rhymes & Reasons (1997).

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Glen Nelson
September 25

On this day (1926), President Heber J. Grant unveiled the Daughters of the Utah Handcart Pioneers monument, which was sculpted by Norwegian-born Torleif Knaphus. Knaphus created many works for the Church, including the Hill Cumorah Monument, Angel Moroni statues for the Washington, DC and Los Angeles Temple, and many other artistic works for and about members of the Church.

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Glen Nelson
September 24

Joel H. Johnson died on this day (1882). He was writer of “High on the Mountain Top” and 360 other hymns, published as Hymns of Praise for the Young Selected from the Songs of Joel, (Deseret News, 1882).

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Glen Nelson
September 22

Playwright, poet, publisher, and author Clinton F. Larson was born on this day (1919). Founding editor of BYU Studies, Larson was a professor at BYU and its first poet-in-residence. A poetry contest in his name is administered through BYU.

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September 21

Corianton: An Aztec Romance shows its last performance on Broadway on this day (1912), written by Provo playwright Orestes Bean, who also directed and produced the play in Utah. Corianton ran for six performances on Broadway in 1912 before closing. It was also made into a film, Corianton: An Unholy Lovestory, but Bean did not approve of the result and sued filmmaker Lester Parks.

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Glen Nelson
September 20

A generation of fans of Jack Weyland's romance novel Charly (1980) cheer over the film adaptation, released on this day (2002). Weyland, a physics professor at BYU-Idaho, is the author of approximately three dozen book, short stories, and articles.

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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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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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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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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