Center for Latter-day Saint Arts

On This Day...

A DAILY FACTOID OF OUR ART HISTORY

June 28

In search of competition experience for his students, Paul Pollei organized the BYU Summer Piano Festival on this day (1976). Two years later, it is renamed for Gina Bachauer. In 1983, it joined the World Federation of International Music Competitions, and now is the second largest piano competition in America.

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Glen Nelson
June 26

On this day (1883), Charles Roscoe Savage, the influential photographer of early Utah history, landscape, and people, became debt free through his entrepreneurial efforts of his photography studio, the Art Bazar. And on that day, it mysteriously burned to the ground. He rebuilt it, but his entire collection of negatives were destroyed.

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Glen Nelson
June 25

On this day (2018), Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of Imagine Dragons, led a documentary that explored how the Church treats its LGBTQ members. The film, Believer, premiered on HBO.

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Glen Nelson
June 24

Calvin Fletcher, born on this day (1882), led the Utah art movement from Impressionism to Modern Expressionism from the 1920s to 1940s. He was also the head of the art department at Utah State University for 40 years, and it was said that "he has probably done more than any other individual to build the art program at Utah State University." Whether from an artistic or an educational standpoint, Fletcher ushered in modern art to the Utahn community and to emerging artistic minds.

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Glen Nelson
June 23

Painters John Hafen, John Fairbanks, and Lorus Pratt, having been set apart to study painting in Paris for the purpose of creating the Salt Lake Temple murals, set sail on this date (1890). Their immersion in academic painting and Impressionism at the Julian Academy sets the course for a generation of artists to study in Europe before the war and in New York City, thereafter. See Harvesting the Light: The Paris Art Mission and Beginnings of Utah Impressionism, by Linda Jones Gibbs, (Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), 1987.

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Glen Nelson
June 22

Brandon Flowers and his band, The Killers, headline the 90,000 seat Wembley Stadium on this day (2013). The singer, songwriter has released five chart-topping band albums and two solo albums. Hot Fuss, the band's debut album, has sold over 5,000,000 copies.

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Glen Nelson
June 20

President Heber J Grant dedicated the Angel Moroni Statue atop the Hill Cumorah today in 1935. The statue stands just outside of Palmyra, New York on top of a 25-foot slab of granite, and the bronze figure of Moroni stands at ten feet tall, holding a replica of the golden plates.

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Glen Nelson
June 18

Composer and professor Merril Bradshaw was born today in 1929. He taught at BYU for many years and was also a composer-in-residence for the university. He condemned sentimental or merely entertaining music, but believed that Mormon art could encompass many themes and would not be limited to one style.

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Glen Nelson
June 16

On Mount Eskel in the land of Danland, fourteen-year old Miri first appeared in print on this day (2005). The fantasy novel was Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, and it earned a Newbery Honor and a spot on The New York Times' bestseller list.

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Glen Nelson
June 15

John B. Fairbanks was one of a group of artists who studied in Paris under the sponsorship of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in order to prepare to paint murals at the Salt Lake Temple. Although he received little recognition in life for his landscape paintings, his son, Avard grew up to be a renowned sculptor.

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Glen Nelson
June 14

Novelist Dean Hughes takes readers back in history, on this day (2005) with the publication of Rumors of War, Vol. 1 (Children of the Promise series). The setting is the days leading up to WWII, with Elder Thomas serving his mission in Germany and worrying about his family back home. Hughes has written over 100 books.

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Glen Nelson
June 13

Annie Poon's stop-motion animated film, Runaway Bathtub, premiered at the Brooklyn International Film Festival that ended on this day (2004). It later appeared at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival and has been screened repeatedly at the Museum of Modern Art. Poon's three dozen films draw on her playful, childlike wonder. http://www.anniepoon.com/runawaybathtub

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Glen Nelson
June 11

"Vote for Pedro" enters the LDS lexicon with the premiere of Jared Hess' film Napoleon Dynamite on this date (2004). The unlikely comedy about a misfit who befriends the school's "new kid" and launches a campaign for school office, the film took in approximately $46 million--more than ten times its shooting budget.

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Glen Nelson
June 8

Composer and band director Dominico Ballo died on this day (1861). He was one of the first to establish a Mormon settlement band. Originally from Sicily and a graduate of the Milan Conservatory, Ballo converted to the church and emigrated to Utah with the pioneers. It was noted that Ballo produced a new work for his band almost once a week, and although less of his works remain today, the popularity of community music continued throughout the West.

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Glen Nelson
June 7

Artist Boyd K. Packer (and also apostle of the Church) painted, carved, and sculpted for nearly 80 years. On this day (2014) an exhibition of his work opened to the public at the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at Brigham Young University. While sometimes antagonist to the Church's progressive artists, Packer wrote, "It seems appropriate now that my artwork can serve to illustrate...that all nature bears testimony of that divinely directed creation, and that there is complete harmony between nature, science, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

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Glen Nelson
June 6

On this day (1926), artist and author Alfred Lambourne died. He was born in 1850. During the 1860s, Lambourne and his family emigrated to the United States and moved out west with the Mormon pioneers. As he traveled, he kept a sketchbook of all the scenery along the journey, and accompanied Brigham Young to Zion Canyon and made the first sketches of the area. He continued to paint and began to write later in his life, accumulating fourteen books.

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Glen Nelson
June 5

The first narrative film about members of the Church was copyrighted on this day (1905). A Trip to Salt Lake City is comedy that mocks a polygamist man, his wife, and many children as they settle down for the night about a Pullman sleeper train. Filmed and exhibited at the same time as Senator Reed Smoot's contentious hearings in Washington, D.C., the silent film showed Mormonism less harshly than the anti-Mormon films that would follow it, if only because of its originality and humor. Mormon Cinema: Origins to 1952 by Randy Astle (Mormon Arts Center, 2018), p. 146; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZvA1qeHwQ

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Glen Nelson
June 3

David O. McKay offered the dedicatory prayer of the Springville Art Gallery (later Springville Museum of Art), the first museum in Utah on this day (1937). He honored the artists whose work made it possible, "“Let us bow our heads and dedicate this institute for the high and worthy purpose for which it was built.” During his dedicatory prayer, Elder McKay characterized the building and institution as "a sanctuary of beauty, a temple of contemplation." Then in his remarks he praised the idealistic and enterprising spirit of the residents of Springville in fostering such a project. Referring to the founders of the Museum, Elder McKay said, “When a man gives his life for art, he gives it for the Savior, John Hafen gave something to the world that will never die.” He spoke eloquently and forcefully: “No other little community in America stands out as distinguished for its patronage of art, [Springville] is the most distinguished community in this land in the world of art...and all the world will benefit from it.” "Springville Museum of Art, History and Collection" by Vern G. Swanson

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Glen Nelson
June 2

The American drama Civilization (1916) was one of the first anti-war film. It was also the first to depict Jesus as a character in a motion picture, which led many to criticize the film's taste. However, Civilization was also hailed for its photography achievements and messages. Yet following the film's success, it was pulled from distribution after the United States entered World War I. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwU035gIGO8

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Glen Nelson
June 1

Woman's Exponent, a semi-monthly newspaper owned and published by and for LDS women was first issued on this day (1872). Poetry, fiction, humor, and articles on theology, Women's Suffrage, and other contemporary issues filled its pages from 1872-1914.

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Glen Nelson