Artwork of the Week: July 2018 (Week 31)
Mahonri M. Young (1877-1957), Plowing Valley of the Great Salt Lake, c.1930, oil on canvas, 28 ¼ x 72 1/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.
A flapping cloud of exuberant seagulls circles around a father and son as they till their Utah field. Because seagulls saved the lives of early settlers by devouring the hordes of crickets destroying the crops, the birds in this painting appear like winged messengers portending a prosperous harvest. Equally evident is the theme of harmony—between man and nature, between the farmer and his team, and above all, between a father and his son.
Although he lived in New York and Connecticut for much of his life, Mahonri Young was born and raised in Salt Lake City. Known as Utah’s most prominent artist during his life, he was recognized for his paintings, etchings, and especially his sculptures. Many of Young’s works celebrate his Western roots, depicting the rugged territory and the ambitious workers who chose to settle there.