Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our Halloween Party

Although it was almost a month ago, we wanted to record our success at our annual Halloween party that we held on the 29th of October. In case you missed it, here’s the recap:

In our upstairs galleries, we held two different tours for our visiting trick-or-treaters. The first tour went through our Voices exhibit, and was the more light-hearted of the two.

Several figures from the paintings came to life to interact with our party guests. Here, Simone Gowans dressed up as the mother from this painting by William Sargeant Kendall, titled The Artist’s Wife and Daughters.”
The woman portrayed here has a unique condition called heterochromia iridum. While her left eye is hazel, the right one is blue. Simone, who naturally has hazel eyes, was a trooper and went the extra mile by getting one blue contact to perfect her role. Thanks Simone!

The other tour (which ran through several exhibits: “Portraits of Childhood,” Corinne Geertsen’s “Beyond Memory,” and our Soviet collection) was dark and spooky. All the lights were turned off, and the museum goers had to rely solely on the light of their flashlights and the lamps carried by  Victorian “ghosts” who wandered the exhibit.

In one corner of the gallery, our good friend Madam Carmen set up shop as a fortune teller.

Madame Carmen told some amazing fortunes that night. For instance, she revealed that one of the children will travel to the deepest trenches of the ocean, while another will travel to the farthest reaches of space. One of our guests will someday invent the world’s most delicious flavor of ice cream. She even predicted the future President of the United States. Who knew we had such influential people in our community?

On our main floor, we had games, crafts, and trick-or-treating.

If you came to the event, we want to thank you for attending and making it a great evening.
We had a great turnout, with about 800 people who showed up. If you missed the event, and would like to know about upcoming activities, check our Facebook page for more information. We love having these activities, and we do our best to make sure they are enjoyable for our community.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Southern Utah and The Big Hole in The Ground

This past week, Rachel Stratford and I took Art Talks to several schools in Southeast Utah, and had the chance to spend time at some fantastic places along the way.

On Tuesday morning, we left Provo at 7 am to reach the elementary school in Circleville. Once we were finished, we headed down to Cedar City to help out with the “Evenings for Educators” event they held on SUU campus about the importance of teaching art fundamentals. On the way, we spotted a sign announcing the Big Rock Candy Mountain. We both had heard of the song, but had never even seen pictures of this location. Apparently, the song came first, and this location was given the same name later. It wasn't as large as we had imagined it might be (it's more of a foothill in comparison to most Utah mountains), but it was a beautiful site to visit.


After staying the night at Mt. Carmel, we attended the Elementary school in Orderville. We finished around noon, we had the entire afternoon to visit our sightseeing locations.

Our first stop: the home of famous artist and illustrator, Maynard Dixon. Dixon arranged a pretty dreamy set up for himself and any visiting artist friends in Mt. Carmel, complete with compact, all amenity cabin:


Bunkhouse for visitors (includes a kitchenette):

A studio:


And a “Cold House,” which was for storing produce during the summer, as well as wines.
After becoming enamored by the property and wishing we could just move in, we finally pulled ourselves away to start the long drive south to Arizona. Unknown to us, park rangers were lighting prescribed fires in the area, which made for a spooky vista:



After we paid the fee to enter the park, we drove for 5 minutes tops before we saw these guys on the side of the road.


I’m not sure getting out of the car and getting so close to them was a good idea. I kept eyeing those horns and making sure there was a clear path between me and the car in case they ever felt threatened.

And then, after even more driving, we found it. The Big Hole in the Ground.



It was a surreal experience. We walked out to several lookout points around the north rim enjoying the cool breeze, and as the sun began to set, someone at another lookout point close by pulled out a trumpet and began improvising. When the sun sunk behind the horizon, he played “Taps,” and we applauded him. It was a touching experience, and we were glad to take part in it.


That night, we stayed at the Best Western hotel in Kanab, where we would visit our final school in the morning. When we went to breakfast, we ran into someone we would never have expected: Spencer Mayberry, who Rachel and I have known for years. He is also an outreach educator, but for Thanksgiving Point. We were happy to meet another POPS (Professional Outreach Programs to Schools) group out on the road. The kids love these programs, and we love visiting them.

We will be heading out to Emery this next week, so check back to read about that adventure.

Thanks for reading!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

City Slickers Like Us

This past week, we had the opportunity to visit several schools in Duchesne county. As we were driving in on Tuesday morning, I was trying to catch a little shut eye since we had left at 6 am and had at least a two hour’s drive to get to our first school. When the sun crept over the horizon, I was stunned by how beautiful the landscape was. It definitely had the redrock, desert, other-worldly feel that many places in Utah have, but it also had a lot more desert vegetation than I was expecting. Needless to say, I began to bother everyone in the car by snapping pictures constantly.

We arrived safely to our appointed schools and got to work. When we present for most elementary classes, we only take half an hour to give a presentation about the museum and figure drawing. In one school, we ended up teaching high school aged students, and we were given a full hour to present to them. After we talked about figure drawing and portraiture, the students asked us about portraying animals. As I was drawing a deer on the whiteboard, the students remarked on how it looked like a “2 point.” I mentioned that I had no idea how the rating system for deer worked, and the teacher laughed. “You city slickers!”

And it’s true, we definitely are city slickers, and we were in a place where horse riding, operating farm equipment, and owning your own cow wasn’t as rare as it is here in Utah county. Where I live, it takes a good 20 minutes or more to go find an open piece of nature. For the cities we visited, it was all around us. It was interesting to see how this environment affected the way the way the students related to the artwork we showed them. For example, we usually show this painting, Chelsey VI, to the younger kids, and we ask them to tell us what objects they see in the abstract shapes:

While most kids will mention trucks and trains, some of these kids began talking about farm equipment. I was impressed, because I wouldn’t have had any idea of what they were talking about when I was their age.

At one point, I was waiting at the main office of Altamont High School for the others to get back from their schools so they could pick me up. I was looking through the local newspaper, and I found these announcements of the grand prize winners for different livestock.

I thought how cool it would be to have hands on experience in raising one of these animals. We “city slickers” are so far removed from the farming and agriculture that we depend on daily, so it was nice to get back to that.

Overall, it was a wonderful visit. The landscapes were gorgeous, and the people we met were welcoming and helpful. Thanks Duchesne!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Road trip! Road trip!

This week we went to Duchesne school district. Crazy stuff. It was a lot of fun. I have never been out there and having been on this trip I have come to two conclusions: 1-there is a lot I don't understand about living on a farm and 2-kids are the same everywhere.......also, kids are just funny!!!!!

Our first stop after having left @6 am to get to the schools on time was Duchesne Elementary and High school. It was a lot of fun! Ali did her first ever high school presentation and I had the opportunity to watch and help out!! Woot woot! We started with the high school and the kids were so fun! We gave them an opportunity to make their own galleries and they were super great. I laughed a lot with them and both Ali and I were very impressed.

The elementary school was great as well. I was really impressed with how well the principle knew the kids at the school! The students were so funny and so full of life! I love it!

When we finished we waited for our ride and went to our motel. When Sarah and I walked into our room we were impressed! It was decorated!

Not really my style, but it made me happy regardless. I feel like the world is giving me a sign to become more outdoorsy but I don't know..... :)

The next day I went to Myton Elementary by myself. It was a lot of fun.

 The kids were wonderful and I enjoyed talking to the teachers. It was a smaller school and I was floored by how close the staff was with one another. It also fascinated me when they talked about their farms. I don't know anything about farms or raising animals. (I grew up without ever having owned an animal) When I talked about not understanding farms with my husband later I said to him, "I didn't even know that people raised boars!!" This just goes to show that I don't know much about farming but I still found it interesting and I was impressed with these teachers.

I just keep growing and learning. Here I am, supposed to be the teacher and I become the student.

Our last day Sarah, Ali, and I went to Kings Park Elementary. The school seemed so big! It had only 3rd-5th grade! Crazy!! That's a lot of kids! I had a lot of fun with the kids and I think they did as well. I feel so popular when I do these trips. I walk into the classroom and the kids all wave excitedly (if they see me in the hall they wave more emphatically while also trying to keep their arms folded as their teachers requested). They also seem to constantly boost my self-esteem. Almost every school I've been to the kids tell me I'm pretty. If children are really as brutally honest as people say, I think I'm doing alright. ;)
It's a great feeling to live in such a great state!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The First Trip of Adventures and Songs

It's official! I can now say that I have done some things that I didn't think I would ever experience. It's kind of funny because in preparing for this trip I had a certain vision of what it was going to be usual, what I thought would happen did not. It wasn't bad by any means but it was an adventure to say the least.

I must admit that when we started it all sounded a little foreboding. Rachel, our supervisor, said that we would need to pack our food because there wouldn't be a place to go out to eat. This blew my mind!!! We were located in what seemed the middle of nowhere. (I had a friend once call me a city girl....I am, apparently.) Photographic evidence:
There is a little dot in the distance....that little dot is our hotel.

So, we got our food and went on our way. Being on the road with Rachel and Sarah was a lot of fun! We sang to our hearts content and may or may not have car danced. We had great views of Utah as well.
This picture does not do the scenes justice but it gives a taste of what it was like.
I find that I'm often amazed at the people we meet and how much I miss just staying in one place. This state is so beautiful and I am grateful that I get the chance to witness so much of it through my job. IT IS MY JOB TO DO AWESOME THINGS!! I know, you're jealous.

Then, we arrive at our hotel......

Notice the bowed ceiling and the water stain on the floor. Ya, it was wet when we walked in. I thought I was going to die. It didn't help that when I told my husband about the place that he jokingly told me to be wary of bedbugs!!! Not cool. No sleep. Too afraid of bugs. (I didn't get bed bugs and we were all fine.)

Though I have never stayed at a hotel quite like this, it was nice to have a place to go when the day was done. They accommodated us well and we were safe. :) PLUS, I got to watch movies on TV late at night with Sarah while I screamed and she laughed. Good times.

The next morning we got up to go to Garrison Elementary and EskDale High School. My goodness! Garrison Elementary is such a cute school! They had ten students from kindergarten through third grade. The kids were adorable and loved doing "scribble drawings" with us. I must say that one of my favorite things about this job is that I get to see kids get excited about doing art! I love it!!! :) EskDale High School was a really cool place! It was like walking into another world! It was communal! Anyway, we did the secondary program with them and it was fun. They came up with fun titles for the art images that made me smile and laugh inside.

The next activity was to go to the Great Basin National Park. We left Utah (15 minutes across the border) to Nevada. SO FUN!!!!!!!
We were excited. :) We ended up doing a cave tour of the Lehman Cave! It looks kind of like this....
This is a picture of a shield. They are very common in this cave. (I found this picture on Google because we didn't bring our cameras afraid that we would lose them)
We saw several parts of the cave that looked like this and we all decided that it looks like a Dr. Seuss birthday cake. :) (I also found this on Google)

When we got out, we wanted to go on a hike to see the Bristlecone Pine trees which we found out are the oldest trees. So cool! Unfortunately, the weather was bad so we couldn't go....BUT we did stop to take a few pictures and I took a picture of a tree that kind of maybe looked like a Bristelcone Pine. :)

Maybe? I don't know but it is beautiful there. Look at all that green!!!!!
We came back across the border at the end of the day.

The next day, which was our last day, we checked out of the hotel (how I won't miss it) bright and early to go to West Desert High School and Elementary. (On the way there, we braved treacherous roads -muddy and rocky- but we still came out of it alive and not stranded without cellphone service. We actually ended up singing at the top of our lungs to the "Wicked" soundtrack.) Both of the schools had a smaller student body than the previous. It was actually a nice change to have one on one time to talk with a small group rather than our usual large ones. We had a blast!

This was a great first trip. This trip was a wonderful way to start the new school year. Who knew that I would be so adventurous? ;)


Friday, August 22, 2014

A Topaz in the Rough

Returning from our school visits near the Nevada/Utah border, we visited a place near Delta, Utah called Topaz. This site was used from 1942 to 1945 as one of the internment camps for US citizens of Japanese descent during WWII. The government deemed the action a "military necessity" for fear that these citizens would assist Japan in the war.

It’s a pretty desolate spot. Hot, dry, and infested with flying ants that crawled into our hair and clothing. The buildings are long gone, having been recycled or destroyed after the camp closed, but evidence of their existence can still be found today.

One of the things you first notice is that the ground is covered in thousands of rusty old nails, left where they fell when the buildings were dismantled.  At the time they were removed, the ground was soft and powdery, making it difficult to retrieve the nails. They sank into the dirt and remained there until the elements dug them up again.

Although the housing units are gone, stones that lined the borders and walkways are still in the ground.

The residents of the camp had to use communal areas for eating, washing, cooking, etc. This area was used as a mess hall.

Our guide Jane Beckwith then took us back to the newly built Topaz Museum, where she works on the Board of Directors. 

Photo Courtesy of Rachel Stratford

The museum's architecture is modern and clean, but the walls are mostly bare and the building is closed to the public. The exhibits are designed and ready for production, and they even have an authentic housing bunker set up in the back. 

Photo Courtesy of Rachel Stratford

The reason why they have been delayed is because of legal action taken by the descendants of the internees, who want to make sure that the experience is not portrayed with too positive a light. For example, among other demands, these descendants do not want the museum to display images with the Topaz residents smiling. These demands have slowed down the museum's progress on exhibiting historical information about the camp, however they are planning on having a soft opening to show the artwork created by the residents. With limited resources, Topaz internees created furniture, paintings, pottery, katanas, and even jewelry made from shells left by Lake Bonneville. 

Photo Courtesy of Rachel Stratford

The work on behalf of the Board of Directors, volunteers, and donors has brought the museum from an informal collection of items to a nonprofit organization dedicated to reminding US citizens what happens when we allow prejudice and fear to infringe on basic human rights.  Sadly, there's still a lot of work to be done before the museum can open to the public.  

All information is courtesy of Jane Beckwith herself, as well as the museum's official website: