By Darin Helfend
Bluegrass music played to the beat of a slow, lazy stroll down a country road set the mood for the opening of the Museum of Art”s newest exhibit, “Pastoral Utah,” Wednesday afternoon.
“The exhibit, comprising of 26 pastoral scenes painted by Utah artists, showcases the relationship between the cultivating hand of man and his connection to the countryside,” said Marian Wardle, curator of the exhibit.
The exhibit runs through Aug. 25 and is free.
“These scenes show that Utah isn”t only famous for its deserts and stone arches, but also for its pastoral scenery,” said Christine Howard, marketing and public relations manager for the Museum of Art.
“These pieces are beautiful slices of nature,” Wardle said. “Most of the paintings have a peaceful, relaxing feeling to them.”
Students observing the exhibit said the paintings reminded them of their memories.
“I”ve walked through that scene after looking at a painting called ”Aspen Grove,”” said Sally Farnsworth, 22, a junior from Boise, Idaho, majoring in elementary education.
“These pastoral scenes bring me back to the roots of simplicity and peace,” she said.
The pastoral scenes are also culturally significant.
“It”s interesting to see how the Salt Lake Valley looked before it was built upon,” said Josh Gildea, 23, a senior from Salt Lake City majoring in public relations and an intern at the Museum of Art.
“These paintings are special and rare because the vision the painters saw of this area 100 years ago is now gone,” he said.
Other students simply enjoyed the serene atmosphere found in the pastoral scenes.
“I am not from Utah but seeing these paintings lets me tour the state without going anywhere,” said Ben Hudson, 19, a freshman from Tacoma, Wash. majoring in computer engineering.
Besides displaying the artistry of the paintings, Wardle wanted to create a quiet, relaxing environment where students could get their mind off the stress of school.
The paintings in the exhibit come from the museum”s permanent collection.
“Many of these paintings used to hang in the offices of professors across campus,” Wardle said.
The intrigue of pastoral scenes in the midst of desert land has prompted a few BYU professors to begin a lecture series beginning on Jan. 19 and running until June 8.
“Stanley Welsh at the herbarium is interested in which grasses are native to Utah and which were implanted from other places,” Wardle said. “He will come and explain the many varieties of vegetation native to Utah.”
The lecture series will cover topics ranging from American pastoral tradition to public land laws.