This Friday’s Downtown Gallery Stroll will feature paintings of the Provo Tabernacle by BYU students.
On a chilly day in late October, BYU illustration faculty member Greg Newbold took his class to paint the burned-out shell of the Provo Tabernacle. The announcement that the Tabernacle would be rebuilt into a temple prompted the visit. Greg thought it would be an interesting opportunity for his class, made up of senior illustration students, to document the remaining walls and towers before major transformations took place. As luck would have it, Judi Harding, owner of Window Box Gallery across the street from the tabernacle, saw the group of painters. Harding approached Newbold with the idea of doing a small show in conjunction with the December Gallery Stroll.
[easyembed field=”Photogallery”]”It was October, it was nice out, and I was sweeping out front,” Harding said. “They were just scattered all over the green park area, and I couldn’t figure it out. I introduced myself to the teacher, and he said he would come over. I said, ‘I have a gallery over here, are you interested?’ and he said ‘yeah, we’d be interested!'”
Harding said she was excited about the paintings because of their portrayal of the tabernacle, which was constructed from 1883 to 1898 and was severely damaged by fire in 2010. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are especially interested in the future of the building.
“It was just after conference where it had been announced that it was going to be a temple,” Harding said. “There was, and still is, a lot of excitement about it. I thought, it doesn’t hurt to ask [if we could show the students’ art].”
Most of the students have never had their art shown in a gallery and Harding said she likes to give opportunities for exposure to emerging artists.
“A lot of the time I’m trying to give somebody who’s starting out a boost, instead of having someone really accomplished come in and show their art,” Harding said.
Newbold assigned the paintings as an opportunity for the students to learn about a different painting style.
“The goal of the class this semester was to gain experience in painting outdoors,” Newbold said. “For most of these students, Plein air painting was a new experience.”
Plein air, a french term, refers to a style characterized by the representation of the effects of natural light and atmosphere. The paintings show a lot of texture and have a relaxing look to them, and give a unique perspective on the tabernacle.
“The information gained from direct observation is very difficult to replicate any other way,” Newbold said. “Photos cannot capture the color and nuance that the trained eye can decipher, making these on-location studies invaluable when taken into the studio. Each student was directed to combine the location studies, photographs and sketches to produce a new work for the show.”
The gallery stroll featuring these paintings also includes many other works, including nativity scenes at the Provo Community Church, 175 N. University Ave. The gallery stroll begins at 6 p.m. on Friday and ends at 9 p.m.