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8 Utah artists whose work is on display in some very famous buildings

8 Utah artists whose work is on display in some very famous buildings

(Tatjana Michaljova/

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Utah has an impressive legacy of incredibly talented artists who've left their mark on the world. And while their names may not be quite as recognizable as da Vinci or Rembrandt, each of the following painters, sculptures and photographers has created pieces worthy of national (and sometimes international) recognition.

Next time you take a trip to the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art — or even downtown Salt Lake — keep your eyes peeled for these Utah artists' work.

Arnold Friberg

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will recognize Arnold Friberg's name from his paintings depicting scenes from the Book of Mormon. (These paintings were actually personally commissioned by Adele Cannon Howells, the Church's general primary president from 1943 to 1951, according to a past article by the Deseret News.)

But not as many people know that Friberg's legacy includes working with renowned filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille on "The Ten Commandments," or that he traveled to Buckingham Palace to paint portraits of Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II.

His most well-known work of art is probably "Prayer at Valley Forge," which depicts George Washington kneeling in the snow by his horse. Copies of that painting are in many homes and offices along the Wasatch Front, but the original is on display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. through January 2023.

Charles Roscoe Savage

Charles Roscoe Savage became one of the foremost 19th-century landscape photographers of the western United States and a renowned studio portrait photographer, according to the BYU Library. He was an early convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, emigrated from England in 1856 and eventually opened a studio in Salt Lake.

Savage's most famous photograph is the joining of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah. His work has been on display in museums around the country, including the Smithsonian and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Alvin Gittins

Best known as a portrait artist and a professor at the University of Utah, Alvin Gittins definitely left his mark on Utah's art legacy. According to the Utah Artists Project, his work includes portraits of 89 administrators, professors, and benefactors of the University of Utah and they hang in almost every campus building.

He also exhibited his work at the Royal Society of British Artists and Royal Society of Portrait Painters in London, Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, and Stanford University.

Jann Haworth

You would never guess that one of the co-designers of the Beatles' famous "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album cover lived in Utah. Not only that, but she created a modern, up-to-date version of that album cover in a downtown mural called "SLC Pepper."

Jann Haworth is one of the most accomplished pop artists since the 1960s, and though she grew up in Hollywood and spent many years in London, she now calls Utah home. According to the BYU Museum of Art, Haworth's work has been exhibited in major museums around the world and has a permanent place in the Tate Modern, the Walker Art Center, and the Smithsonian.

Cyrus Edwin Dallin

Utah-born Cyrus Edwin Dallin was a famous sculptor who created more than 260 works of art in his lifetime. These included the equestrian statue of Paul Revere in Boston and "Appeal to the Great Spirit," which is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The Cyrus Dallin Art Museum in Arlington, Massachusetts is a tribute to Dallin and his prolific career. He is recognized as an American sculptor, an educator and an activist for the rights of indigenous people.

And if you've ever strolled around downtown Salt Lake, you've likely seen another one of his famous pieces. Dallin sculpted the Angel Moroni that sits on top of the Salt Lake Temple.

Mahonri Young

Stroll through New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and you might come across a work of art by none other than Brigham Young's grandson, Mahonri Young. Currently on view in Gallery 774 is Young's statuette, "Man with a Pick." According to the Met's website, Young's sculptures were supposedly informed by his heritage since they reflected "themes of struggle and endurance." Young also made a sculpture of his grandfather Brigham that stands at the Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building.

You'll find his work in museums and galleries all over the U.S. and Europe, but you don't have to travel that far. Young also sculpted the Seagull Monument and the This is the Place monument in Salt Lake.

Avard Fairbanks

Proving yet again that Utah has no shortage of talent when it comes to sculptors, internationally renowned artist Avard Fairbanks is another accomplished artist who hails from the Beehive State. According to an article on The Church of Jesus Christ's website, Fairbanks has four statues in Statuary Hall in the nation's Capitol Building, which is more than any other artist. He also made four different marble busts of Abraham Lincoln that are on display at Ford's Theater Museum.

BYU football fans have seen his work at Lavell Edwards Stadium. He was the artist who sculpted the cougar statue fans pass as they enter the stadium.

But some of his best-known pieces were religious subjects that local members of the Church may recognize. These include the monuments honoring the Three Witnesses and the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood on Temple Square. He also sculpted the Angel Moroni for the Jordan River, Seattle and Mexico City temples.

V. Douglas Snow

Known for his large abstract murals, V. Douglas Snow is another Salt Lake City native who made a name for himself nationwide. The Utah Artists Project says that Snow has public and private collections all throughout the U.S., including New York's Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and museums here in Utah.

You'll see his murals at the Salt Lake Public Library, the University of Utah social work building, Pioneer Theatre and Iron Blossom Lodge at Snowbird. In 1976, Snow became the director of art at the University of Utah/Snowbird Summer Arts Institute.

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