“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.”
– Author Linda Hogan (b.1947)

Many artists in this gallery are inspired by the world around them and have captured it through their unique vantage points and perspectives, in styles varying form naturalistic to boldly abstract. For some, this re-creation of their outdoor surroundings is simply a way to honor their familiar, daily environment; for others, it represents something new, exotic, and dreamlike. Many find deep value in recording particular locations for posterity, or as a way to call attention to our need to honor and preserve our outdoor environment. These artists encourage us to spend more time looking carefully at the natural world that surrounds us.

Mabel Pearl Frazer, "Desert Grandeur," c.1940, painting
Mabel Pearl Frazer (1887-1982), Desert Grandeur, c.1940, oil on canvas, 36 1/2 x 53 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1984.

Desert Grandeur is a powerful summation of the monumental rhythm and bold colors of the Southwest landscape that Frazer loved. The Vermillion Cliffs, White Cliffs, and Pink Cliffs of southern Utah’s Grand Staircase rise one behind the other in this colorful, expansive desert landscape. Their insistent horizontal lines, along with the gentle curves of the sagebrush-covered hills, imply a sweeping vista that continues past the limits of the frame. The dusty trails in the foreground reinforce this sense of immensity by leading the eye to the left and right edges of the canvas and beyond.

Mabel Frazer was one of Utah’s leading artists of her generation. Raised in Beaver in Southern Utah, she became the University of Utah’s first “art degree graduate” in 1914, then continued her studies at New York’s Art Student’s League. She taught art in Beaver, Ogden, and Cedar City before joining the faculty of the University of Utah, where she taught for more than thirty years. This painting displays her typically vigorous brush strokes and rich but muted colors.

 

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Ann Taylor, "Celerity," 1992, print
Ann Taylor (b.1941), Celerity, 1982, lithograph, 23 x 23 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

“All of my work is a celebration of natural beauty.”

Ann Taylor’s distilled landscapes bring greater attention to her use of formal elements such as composition, color and line by removing any figures or unnecessary details. Referring to them as “landscapes of the mind,” her ambiguous vistas aim not to represent a particular place, but rather the feelings of awe and intimidation one gets in the vast expanse of the American Southwest. Employing titles such as Changing, Warp Speed, Celerity, and Velocity, Taylor evokes both speed and change, elements clearly evident in her work. Often the viewer has an aerial perspective, as if hovering above a familiar but imagined landscape.

 

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Virginia Moody, "Nature's Fire"
Virginia F. Moody (1912-1994), Nature’s Fire, no date, oil on board, 23 3/16 x 27 1/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Milo C and Virginia F. Moody, 1991.

A lover of nature and gardening, Virginia Moody preferred to paint landscapes that captured the scenery she loved, like this autumnal scene. With stippled brushstrokes, the fall leaves are captured in warm, muted colors. The dramatic lighting, created by the dwindling light of a sunset, has set the trees alit, mimicking the visual effect of fire from the work’s title.

Moody was a Utah native who spent the majority of her life in Spanish Fork. She received a two-year teaching degree from Brigham Young University and taught school in her hometown of Oak City before her marriage in 1934. Moody was a passionate artist and frequently exhibited her art in and around Provo in the 1960s and 70s.

Florence Ware, Boxelder Tree in Autumn
Florence Ware (1891-1972), Boxelder Tree in Autumn, c.1970, oil on masonite, 15 7/8 x 19 7/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1978.

A lover of nature and gardening, Virginia Moody preferred to paint landscapes that captured the scenery she loved, like this autumnal scene. With stippled brushstrokes, the fall leaves are captured in warm, muted colors. The dramatic lighting, created by the dwindling light of a sunset, has set the trees alit, mimicking the visual effect of fire from the work’s title.

Moody was a Utah native who spent the majority of her life in Spanish Fork. She received a two-year teaching degree from Brigham Young University and taught school in her hometown of Oak City before her marriage in 1934. Moody was a passionate artist and frequently exhibited her art in and around Provo in the 1960s and 70s.

Marie Hull, Cabins
Marie A. Hull (1890-1980), Cabins, c.1950, oil on canvas, 34 x 40 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1973.

Though her home base was in Mississippi, Marie Hull traveled all over the country and Europe to visit museums and study art. In the 1930s, she often took night trains to exhibitions, to avoid the cost of a hotel. Remarkably motivated, Hull produced over 600 works during her lifetime, and also devoted herself to teaching art to young students in her home state.

Inspired by local scenes, Hull transformed a typical rural view of cabins into an expressive exploration of fiery sunset colors. The bold oranges and yellows, combined with the curving branches, align this work with visionary Symbolist Art and illustrate Hull’s willingness to explore different styles and approaches. Of this, she said: “One must keep experimenting, seeking and finding new ways of working in art. . . . When art ceases to become vital and moving forward, expanding, then the artist begins to copy himself.”

Ella Peacock, "Towards Chester #2"
Ella Peacock (1905-1999), Towards Chester #2, c.1969, oil on canvas, 13 7/16 x 17 5/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1987.

Inspired by the Utah landscape, Peacock preferred to work outdoors as she painted the desert terrain. Though she grew up in the wooded East Coast, Peacock felt a special attachment to the Western scenery. Peacock’s tonalist landscapes capture the look and feel of the place that she admired. Never satisfied with her work, Peacock would often rework areas of her paintings, sometimes years after their initial completion, as she tried to recreate her emotional response to the landscape on the canvas.

Towards Chester depicts a scene that would have been familiar to Peacock. Chester is a town not far from her home in Spring City, Utah. She often traveled around with her paints and canvas, creating unassuming plein air scenes of her rural Utah environs.

Ella Peacock "Pigeon Hollow #1"
Ella Peacock (1905-1999), Pigeon Hollow #1, no date, oil on canvas, 23 3/8 x 28 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1987.

Inspired by the Utah landscape, Peacock preferred to work outdoors as she painted the desert terrain. Though she grew up in the wooded East Coast, Peacock felt a special attachment to the Western scenery. Peacock’s tonalist landscapes capture the look and feel of the place that she admired. Never satisfied with her work, Peacock would often rework areas of her paintings, sometimes years after their initial completion, as she tried to recreate her emotional response to the landscape on the canvas.

Towards Chester depicts a scene that would have been familiar to Peacock. Chester is a town not far from her home in Spring City, Utah. She often traveled around with her paints and canvas, creating unassuming plein air scenes of her rural Utah environs.

 

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Judith Mehr, Fall Forest
Judith Mehr (b.1951), Fall Forest, 1975, oil on masonite, 23 3/8 x 28 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

“A landscape with sunlight glowing behind a mountain edge, or rocks locked together like puzzle pieces down a waterfall, rumbles up to take control of my arm and finds its way onto the canvas.”

Versatile in her subject matter, Judith Mehr paints still lifes, landscapes, scenes of everyday life, and religious images. Mehr has a facility for adapting her style to match the topic or tone she seeks, resulting in an extremely diverse body of work. While her still life paintings are often rendered with precise detail, her landscapes often have a looser style, as evidenced here. Fall Forest seems less like particular forest scene and more like a memory of pine trees, river streams, and autumn leaves on a quiet October day. The atmospheric stillness and the tonal subtleties between the various greens and yellows entices our senses and reveals Mehr’s mastery of the medium.

Photo Unavailable Due to Copyright Restrictions
Rita R. Gonzales-Terwilleger, Untitled, 1995, Gelatin silver print, 13 x 10 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift in honor of Wallace M. Barrus, 1995.

This elegant photographic composition is an homage to the seemingly ordinary scenes of nature that surround us daily. A broken gate lies suspended above the still water, not yet fully immersed. The fallen section creates a diagonal line across the composition, that joins another diagonal of the road bisecting the watery landscape. The pathway winds around, following the contours of small stream beside it. This fracturing of the landscape with multiple diagonal and zigzagging lines adds a dynamic energy to an otherwise still image. The motionless water peacefully reflects its surroundings and snow-capped mountains stand tall in the background as a reminder of the constant presence of nature.

Photo Unavailable Due to Copyright Restrictions
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), Mulberry Tree, Neagle Home, 1953, Gelatin silver print, 9 1/4 x 7 1/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Jack and Mary Lois Wheatley. Copyright Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of Art. Gift of Paul S. Taylor, 2007.

In a 1952 essay, Lange rejected trends of contemporary photography saying that it emphasized the spectacular and unique over the familiar and intimate. Lange wrote,“That the familiar world is often unsatisfactory cannot be denied, but it is not, for all that, one that we need abandon.” Throughout her career, Lange concentrated on what was real and authentic. Lange came to Toquerville, Utah to document the deep heritage of the town and how it was changing. She focused this photograph on the large mulberry tree outside a family home giving a sense of the community’s deep roots.

Photo Unavailable Due to Copyright Restrictions
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), Sky and Clouds, Gunlock, Utah, 1953, Gelatin silver print, 9 7/16 x7 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Jack and Mary Lois Wheatley. Copyright Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California, City of Oakland. Gift of Paul S. Taylor, 2007.

“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.”

As a documentary photographer, Lange used her camera to direct the public’s gaze towards subjects that were generally left unseen. Though best known for her empathetic and compelling portraits. Lange also produced striking landscapes, such as this photograph of the clouds over Gunlock, Utah.

Dominating the composition, the clouds are a study of light and shadow, as the sunlight hits each area of the cloud differently. Stretching upward through the immensity of the sky, the clouds create a powerful diagonal line through the composition. The image stays rooted by the inclusion of the mountains that stand, dwarfed, at the bottom edge of the photograph.

Photo Unavailable Due to Copyright Restrictions
Helen Gerardia (1903-1988), Journey, c.1970, serigraph, 20 1/16 x 16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Samuel Sumnar Goldberg, 1977.

Gerardia’s style is characterized by geometric shapes and sharp lines. Originally working in black and white, in the early 1960s she started incorporating more color into her works. As seen in this work and Moonladder, another work featured in this exhibition. Gerardia had a great interest in space and the idea of motion through repetition of shapes. She placed color in broken areas so that she could “approximate the movement of atmosphere and the divisibility of color” in fractured, geometric shapes. Reducing her colors to black and red, and limiting her shapes to bisected circles and intersecting triangles, Gerardia leaves the viewer to imagine what kind of journey is taking place.”

Photo Unavailable Due to Copyright Restrictions
Helen Gerardia (1903-1988), Lunar Swing, c.1970, serigraph, 16 x 20 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Samuel Sumnar Goldberg, 1977.

Through her use of strong, defined lines, Gerarda brings order to the unknown expanse of space. Here, layered crescent shapes give the effect of a pendulum swinging back and forth. They bring an element of movement to the precision of her lines. The back and forth motion of the pendulum serves as a reminder of the continual passage of time.

Photo Unavailable Due to Copyright Restrictions
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), Open Road, Desert, c.1950s, Gelatin silver print, 9 7/16 x7 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Jack and Mary Lois Wheatley. Copyright Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California, City of Oakland. Gift of Paul S. Taylor, 2007.

After the Great Depression, Lange shifted from working as a photographer for the government to a successful career in photojournalism. Employed by major magazines such as Life and Fortune, Lange traveled the world, using her camera to shine light on subjects that she felt needed attention.

Lange captured this image as part of her 1953 Life Magazine article, “Three Mormon Towns.” Her photographs investigated how three Southern Utah towns coped with changing times as communities grew and confronted urbanization. In this photograph, Lange targets the open road that winds through the desert hills. The long highway winds across the vast desert hills, carving through the landscape as a physical reminder of modernization.

Helen Gerardia, "Moonladder," c.1970, painting
Helen Gerardia (1903-1988), Moonladder, c.1970, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 36 3/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Samuel Sumnar Goldberg, 1977.

Born in Russia, Helen Gerardia immigrated to the United States and was a first-grade teacher in New York public schools before devoting herself completely to art. In 1947, she enrolled in the Art Students League and studied under renowned artist Hans Hoffman for two years. Attracted to the fractured spaces of Cubist art and influenced by Abstract Expressionism, she found a defining style in embracing strong geometric shapes and bold use of color. In Moonladder, Gerardia uses sharp, diagonal lines to push towards the moon circle and emphasize negative space. This piece particularly reflects fascination and perhaps some anxiety for the future as the American space age of the 1960s came to a close.

Helen Gerardia served as president of the American Society of Contemporary Artists from 1967-1969. She had 125 one-person exhibitions during her lifetime and her works can be found in countless collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

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Edna Andrade, Space Game
Edna Andrade (1917-2008), Space Game, 1971, lithograph, 15 15/16 x 15 15/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of June Wayne, 1973.

Given her traditional art training, Andrade’s stylistic move to abstraction came later in life and was, in part, motivated by her lifestyle as a working mother. Without much time to work on her paintings, she found that painting geometric, grid-based patterns allowed her to plot out the composition and fill in the work, little-by-little as she had the time. Andrade related this method of work to traditional “women’s work” like needlework.

Eventually embracing active geometric patterns that often appear as if they are moving. Andrade became associated with Op Art of the 1970s. Like other artists of this era, she tried to remove her personality and emotions from her work, instead focusing on a visual hypnotic experience. Although her work has no narrative, it often references landscapes or starry sky patterns.

Anna Mary Moses, Whispering Hills
Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961), Whispering Hills, no date, Tempera on board, 9 1/16 x 12 1/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Bryan A. Larson, 1985.

When the artist was in her eighties, a New York critic chanced upon the paintings of Grandma Moses. Enamored by their golden charm, he encouraged Moses to exhibit on a professional level. Her works were shown nationally and internationally into her nineties, as visitors reveled in their delightful old-time feel.

The pieces eventually caught the eye of Hallmark, who purchased the rights to her paintings and reproduced them as the quintessential American greeting card, transforming Grandma Moses into a household name.

Moses continued painting until her death at 101 years old. Her works have been shown at various prestigious institutions, including the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Anna Mary Moses, Spring
Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961), Spring, 1943, Tempera on board, 15 x 22 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Dr. Robinson and Dr. Kindred, 1974.

Beloved American painter Anna Mary Robertson Moses did not work as an artists until she was in her eighties. While raising her children in rural Virginia and New York, Moses entertained her family by embroidering idyllic scenes of the countryside. At the age of 78, after arthritis made needlework too painful, she boldly took up a new hobby of painting.

Over the course of the next three decades, Moses produced over 1,500 canvases. A self-taught artist, Grandma Moses, as she became known, was nationally recognized for her work that depict quaint, nostalgic scenes of childhood. Originally selling for $3-$5, by the end of her career, her paintings were sold for thousands of dollars each. Here, a young boy with his fishing net stands by the water’s edge while cows watch from the other side. It is a timeless scene, lacking any noticeable signs of the modern world.

Ida Lingk, Forest Stream
Ida Lingk (1926-2001), Forest Stream, 1982, oil on canvas, 31 x 40 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

Ida Lingk’s tombstone reads “Beloved artist, wife, mother, friend,” showing that being an artist was essential to her identity. In this painting, the German-born artist uses layered elements—the trees in the foreground, the river, the rest of the forest, and the mountain behind—to add depth to the scene. The river cuts through the composition and creates an open clearing. The tops of the trees reach beyond the canvas sheltering the viewer under the branches in this still, peaceful scene.

Mabel Pearl Frazer, "Grey Cliffs of Utah," c.1935, painting
Mabel Pearl Frazer (1887-1982), Grey Cliffs of Utah, c.1935, oil on canvas, 19 7/8 x 23 7/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1980

Frazer embraced a modernist style of painting, often utilizing warm colors reminiscent of Fauvism, Impressionism, and Expressionism. During the summers, she traveled throughout the Utah and Arizona deserts, creating dynamic paintings that one New York critic praised for capturing “the very mood and texture of the country itself.” Grey Cliffs of Utah probably refers to part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument area in Southern Utah. Despite the title, the cliffs are not just grey but decorated with soft pinks and bright orange, and spotted with green vegetation flourishing on flat surfaces and angular ledges.

A longtime faculty member in the art department of the University of Utah, Frazer taught numerous disciples including painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, ceramics, art history, and human anatomy. Familiar with the challenges of being a woman artist, Frazer tried to support her female students and annually invited them to her home for a spring tea with their mothers.

See other sections of A Studio of Her Own: Women Artists from the Collections.

Home & Scenes of Daily Life

Cities & Towns

Still Life & Beyond

Portraiture

Views of the Gallery

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