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Valuable painting missing from Provo school found in Springville museum

By Braley Dodson daily Herald - | Apr 24, 2017

Provo City School District’s most valuable painting has been found.

“Terraces of Gold,” a painting by James T. Harwood, has been located at the Springville Museum of Art. It’s been cleaned, framed, was previously circulated around and is now being stored at the museum.

For now, it’s going to stay there.

“We aren’t in the business of being art curators,” said Christine Durst, the district media coordinator for Provo City School District who has taken up the responsibility of handling the district’s art collection. “It’s in good hands and they are taking good care of it.”

The painting had previously been listed as missing on the district’s art inventory. An article published in December in the Daily Herald highlighted the painting as one of more than 30 pieces of art the district had listed as missing. At the time, the district suspected the missing artwork wasn’t intentionally stolen, but that paintings had gone missing as staff retired and principals gifted them with a piece of art.

After the article was published, Durst said retired employees contacted the district to tell them the painting was on permanent loan to the Springville Museum of Art.

Most of the artwork listed as missing has since been found — including another district-owned painting at the museum that Provo City School District didn’t have listed in its inventory.

In December, about 9 percent of the artwork was listed as missing, according to documents obtained by the Daily Herald through a public information request. Twenty-five of those pieces were missing from Dixon Middle School.

The most valuable painting in the district’s collection is “Terraces of Gold,” worth $31,000, according to the inventory. The artist, Harwood, was born in Lehi, served as the head of the art department at the University of Utah and died in 1940.

The principal of Dixon Middle School contacted staff about looking for the paintings.

“Most of them we found,” Durst said.

Durst said the district is taking a digital inventory of the artwork. It’s not an easy task — especially when it’s sometimes hard to match the paintings to the descriptions on the list.

“I feel like I am a detective solving the mystery,” Durst said.

The old inventory listed the district’s art collection as being worth more than $700,000, but that’s likely not the case. Durst said the old inventory took the artwork’s previous appraisals and doubled it for every piece.

All of the district’s art has been donated, and Durst said the district has plans to have “Terraces of Gold” appraised.

Calls to Rita Wright, director of the Springville Museum of Art, were not returned.

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