SALT LAKE CITY, UT.- The Utah Museum of Fine Arts
and LDS Church History Museum present the largest joint exhibitions ever presented of work by beloved Utah artist LeConte Stewart (1891-1990). On view through January 15, 2012, the exhibitions collectively feature more than 200 paintings and works on paper, providing insight into the life and work of one of the states most accomplished artists. Best known for realistic portrayals of Utahs rural and urban landscapes, Stewarts contributions to art of the West spanned 75 years and resulted in the creation of thousands of artworks. Wallace Stegner compared Stewarts work to that of Edward Hopper, but he is most often compared to American Scene and Regionalist artists of the 1920s and 1930s.
Stewart took classes at the University of Utah before conducting his serious art study in New York and Pennsylvania. After returning to northern Utah he frequently took trips to central Utah to paint the small towns, farms, and deserts of his childhood. A committed educator, Stewart was an art instructor at Ogden High School before serving as chairman of the Art Department at the University of Utah from 1938 to 1956. Until his death in 1990, Stewart created artworks nearly every day along the roads or in the fields near his home.
LeConte Stewart: Depression Era Art was organized for the Utah Museum of Fine Arts by Donna Poulton, UMFA associate curator of art of Utah and the West. The exhibition features more than 130 paintings and works on paper from the 1930s. During this period Stewart turned to what he described as the raw side of life, depicting storefronts, gas stations, and old homes in his community through minimal forms and expressive color, evoking images of abandonment and isolation. The UMFA thanks title sponsors the S.J and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation and the Ray, Quinney & Nebeker Foundation.
The Church History Museum presents LeConte Stewart: The Soul of Rural Utah, an exhibition developed by museum curator Robert Davis, featuring approximately 120 landscape paintings and works on paper. Using rich tones, thick impasto, and impressionistic brushstrokes, Stewart painted throughout his career farmhouses, barns, and other familiar scenes that convey the heritage of Mormon settlement. For Stewart, true art was usually not found in perfect natural compositions or the most paintable subjects, but rather in humble and visually unpretentious scenesmade beautiful by the soul of an artist who loved them and expressed them with integrity and sensitivity.
In partnership with our colleagues at the Church History Museum, the UMFA is proud to present the stunning work of LeConte Stewart with the aim of cementing Stewart's legacy in the art of our state and the region, says Gretchen Dietrich, UMFA executive director.
We are thrilled to be opening this exhibition in conjunction with the UMFA, says director of the Church History Museum, Kurt Graham. It is appropriate for our two institutions to collaborate in honoring one of Utahs premier artists.