WOODLAND HILLS — As many packed up and evacuated ahead of the approaching Pole Creek Fire, an artist known to many in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints found the process extra challenging.
J. Kirk Richards was faced Thursday afternoon with moving numerous paintings he had been storing at his house ahead of a November art show.
“We’re kind of just prioritizing,” Richards said. “We’re not going to take everything out, you know.”
Richards estimated he had as many as 150 finished and unfinished works in his home located along the hillside, including a painting of the Last Supper, which is divided into four, 4-feet by 8-feet sections.
“This doesn’t come at a great time, but when does a fire come ever at a great time?” the artist shrugged.
Richards said his art, which includes paintings and sculptures, is largely religious or spiritual.
“I’m interested in a less dogmatic illustration of the scriptures and more kind of the magic and, I guess, the spirit of the law,” he said.
Among other places, the artist’s work is displayed in the Church office building and museum, Richards said.
Like other Woodland Hills residents, Richards has been wary of the fire risk posed by the surrounding trees and brush.
“A lot of people here have the mindset here that it’s not if, but when, there will be a fire here,” he said. “Consistently through the summer months, it’s a very high hazard, high risk of fire, so we’re always worried about that.”
Richards received offers of help from several neighbors and friends, including Marco Davis, who brought his truck to help move out the sections of the Last Supper painting.
“(It’s) not exactly the right equipment for this move, but hopefully it’ll get these panels out of the way, anyway,” Davis said.
Richards said the Last Supper painting and others were headed to the Springville Art Museum, and that he was very grateful for all the assistance he had received on short notice.
“Lots of people have been offering to help and that’s really great to have so many people watching your back,” Richards said.