Center for Latter-day Saint Arts

On This Day...

A DAILY FACTOID OF OUR ART HISTORY

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
August 1

Emily Hall is torn between memories of a handsome nonmember (Michael) and her inactive member husband (Ryan), in First Love and Forever, published on this day (1994). The romance novel by Anita Stansfield, written for a Latter-day Saint audience with a real life edge, is one of approximately 75 books by this best-selling author, with sales of nearly half a million.

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Glen Nelson
July 29

J. Malan Heslop (died today, 2011) was a combat photographer during World War II, where he was one of the first American photographers to document evidence of Nazi war crimes and the prisoners at the Ebensee concentration camp. After the war, he joined the Deseret News and held the position of chief photographer for 20 years. Heslop also served as editor and then managing editor of the Church News.

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Glen Nelson
July 24

On the centennial of the Saints entering the Salt Lake valley (on this day, 1947), Mahonri Young's magestic This Is the Place Monument at the mouth of Emigration Canyon was dedicated. Sculptor Mahonri Macintosh Young, last grandson of Brigham, was given only one minute to speak at the event. He said, "My friends, this is the 100th Anniversary of the day when the Pioneers arrived in this Valley. I shall be seventy years old on the 9th day of August, next. This is the greatest day of my life. I want to thank all the people who have been so faithful in carrying out that work. It has been a tremendous job. There have been delays; there have been difficulties, but the monument is essentially done. I thank you."

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Glen Nelson
July 18

In 1937 renowned cinematographer Lawrence Dallin "Dal" Clawson died of an intestinal malady, even within an hour of his mother's death. His first feature film credit was in 1914, and by the 1920s he was shooting around the world as a cameraman and cinematographer for silent films and early talkies. From 1937 to 1914, Clawson was the cinematographer for dozens of films, and he eventually founded the American Society of Cinematographers.

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Glen Nelson
July 16

Composer and singer Lavinia Triplet Careless was born on this day (1846). A talented vocalist in 19th century Salt Lake City, Lavinia composed the hymn, Once More, My Soul, the Rising Day, (text by Isaac Watts) which appeared in the 1927 Latter-day Saint Hymns. She is one of the only women represented in official hymnals in her day. She and her husband, the early LDS composer and conductor, George Careless, were fixtures in the early Utah music scene.

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Glen Nelson
July 13

"Mormon Panorama," an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art opened on this day (1970) featuring the monumental series of paintings by C. C. A. Christensen. 175 feet altogether, the 22 paintings that depicted events in early Church history were displayed on the main floor of the museum and also were reproduced in Art in America magazine.

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Glen Nelson
July 9

The silent film, Caprice of the Mountains, was released on this day (1916). Mormon actresses Sarah Alexander and her niece, Lisle Leigh, appeared in Caprice and other films by the same company at eighty and thirty-seven, respectively. The Deseret News reported of Alexander that she was "distinguished as the eldest actress who had ever been filmed."

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Glen Nelson
July 7

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who died on this day, 1930), wrote a novel in 1886 and published 1887, A Study in Scarlet. It is a novel whose case involves the frothy and murderous tale of 1847 Mormons in Salt Lake City, told in flashback. The 27-year old novelist wrote the book in less than three weeks. It is the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in print.

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Glen Nelson