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Courtesy of Vision of the Arts Fund

LDS art auction seeks to diversify, support

By Celeste Tholen, Contributor  |  Posted Nov 18th, 2016 @ 2:01pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — Art auctions are commonplace, but there’s a local auction that seeks to broaden the diversity in and challenge the expectations of LDS art.

Started originally by Deseret Book several years ago, the Gospel Vision of the Arts scholarship auction brings together artists of the Mormon faith. In 2014, the second and final time Deseret Book sponsored the auction, original and framed works of art raised $15,000, providing three $5,000 scholarships to art students.

Now a part of the 501(c) (3) nonprofit, the Vision of the Arts Fund carries on those efforts, providing scholarships to budding artists, including a special grant for artists who are also mothers.

“It’s an opportunity to give back. When my art career was just getting started, other artists were so generous to me with their time and expertise,” Vision of the Arts Fund president J. Kirk Richards said. “This is an opportunity to pay that forward, and hopefully raise the quality of art in our community.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vision of the Arts Fund "Flying in the Midst of Heaven" by Lynn Farrar is one of the pieces in the Gospel Vision of the Arts Auction. (Photo: Courtesy of Vision of the Arts Fund)

The current auction is taking place online, featuring artists like Beth Allen, Jeff Pugh, Justin Wheatley, Brian Kershisnik, Leslie Graff, Richards, and dozens others. Bidding is open through Nov. 19 on

The Vision of the Arts Fund is headed by several individuals who, like Richards, are passionate about supporting LDS art and each one seems to have a deeply personal reason for their involvement, whether it’s vice president Linda Howard’s longtime efforts to spread the best of humanity or board member Cris Baird’s investment in the future of LDS art.

“...Contrary to what some people may think, artists need an income to continue to develop their craft,” Baird said. “That’s the reality of the world we live in. Many aspiring LDS artists feel they must choose between developing their skills and working in another profession to sustain or raise a family. There is a very real gap between the presence of artistic talent and the presence of financial success resulting from that artistic talent. And if we as members of the church want a thriving LDS artistic community, we must find ways to support and encourage LDS artists while they are trying to bridge the gap.”

The nonprofit’s mission is to provide financial assistance to artists from the auction, but it’s also to raise the level of LDS art and get the work of this new generation of artists into homes of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“It says we want to lengthen our stride. We want to give the next generation all the opportunity we had and more—so they can learn what we didn’t learn, reach heights yet to be reached, ” Richards said. “And we want to foster careers in the arts—to make works of art that have yet to be imagined. We hope to grow out of old expectations and constraints surrounding Latter-day Saint art. It’s a bigger community than people think, with increasing diversity. We’re excited to see it bloom in the coming years.”

Find the Vision of the Arts Fund on Instagram, Facebook, or on its website.

Celeste Tholen

About the Author: Celeste Tholen

Celeste is the former Deputy Managing Editor at and now works in marketing. She spends most of her spare time balancing conflicting interests in the outdoors and movies/television.You can follow Celeste on Twitter: @CelesteTholen


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