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Springville Museum of Art celebrates 50th year of high school displays

By Rebecca Packard - Special to the Daily Herald | Feb 7, 2022

Courtesy photo

Tortoise is a ceramic by Sasha Brown. Brown is a student at Westlake High School.

The Springville Museum of Art opened its 50th Annual Utah All-State High School Art Show on Saturday. The show features 335 teen artists from around the state, chosen from nearly 1100 applicants — 50 of them receive prizes.

Accompanying the teen show is “From Student to Studio,” an exhibit featuring 13 former participants who have since turned their talents into professions from fine art painting to illustrating and art instruction.

The Springville Art Museum first began almost a century ago with donations from Springville High School, according to Emily Larsen, the associate director at the museum. She said the school started a collection of pieces from artists Sirus Dallin and John Hafen, among others, in 1903. They donated the works to the museum when it opened in 1932. In addition to honoring its roots, the high school exhibitions have shown SMA to be ahead of its time.

Though fine arts education has always featured public display in the performing arts, visual arts education just added presentation to its state standards in 2016, according to Cathy Jensen at the Utah State Education Office. Jensen, who specializes in fine arts education, said the state now has a four-strand approach to visual arts education — creating, presenting, responding and connecting.

Jensen said the presentation strand, “opened a lot of doors for thinking besides create.” The standard is also meant to include student-curated shows such as the ones that James Rees, a Provo High School visual arts teacher, has supervised at Art Cetera in Provo Towne Center for the last five years and at Guru’s and Enliten Café for the last decade.

Courtesy Marcus Garcia

Pitch Field Three by Stephanie Leitch. Leitch's work was accepted to the Springville Museum of Art's high school art show when she was a West Jordan High School student. Now she exhibits her work throughout the West and curates exhibitions for "non-traditional venues" while working in a book s

Curating helps students think like the teachers and jurors who have traditionally curated teen shows, according to Rees. He said it helps them realize that being accepted to a show has to do with factors such as theme, curator preferences and other criteria besides a work’s inherent merit.

Rees, who is now part of the National Art Education Association Research Commission, arranged for the Art Cetera gallery space and guided his students in curating. His work, and the story of his personal success, is included in “From Student to Studio.” His own teen entry made it into the SMA student show in the ’80s when he was a student at Timpview High School.

Others in the Student to Studio show include Greg Newbold, a Bingham High School graduate who had work in SMA’s high school show in 1983, 1984 and 1985 and later became an illustrator. Curator, bookseller and installation artist Stephanie Leitch, whose work was in the high school show in 2000 and David Meikle, whose billboard designs welcome people to Utah are also on display.

All have brief biographies next to their works along with advice or statements about how the student art show impacted their careers.

Rees, who helped create the new 2017 standards on a committee with Jensen, said the hope was to require, “other lessons that can help create a better spectrum of possibilities,” so even more students find a place in the art world.

Courtesy Springville Musem of Art

Crimson Harvest by Greg Newbold in the Springville Museum of Art. Newbold has illustrated for Simon & Schuster, Random House and Barnes & Noble and exhibits regularly in Salt Lake City and Tuscon, AZ. He began exhibiting in SMA's student art show as a high school student at Bingham High School in West Jordan.

Do More Browse Less by Lillian Hu.

The Springville Museum of Art is shown in this undated photo.


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