Great stories stand the test of time, and Weber State University’s Storytelling Festival has given life to a great story — one that began in 1976 with a vision and will continue with an art exhibit July 24-28 at Union Station in Ogden.
While the nation was celebrating its bicentennial in 1976, a local lawyer and philanthropist William “Bill” Critchlow had an idea to combine Utah artists and local history to tell little-remembered stories of the past. He commissioned 24 of Utah’s best artists to capture 64 scenes of Northern Utah history. Artists including LeConte Stewart, Farrell Collett, and Lee K. Parkinson chronicled events such as the discovery of the Great Salt Lake, Fort Buenaventura, the Bamberger Railroad, a horse drive with explorer Miles Goodyear, the Ogden Tithing Yard and the construction of Ogden High School. The art was displayed for the bicentennial and then donated to Weber State.
For several decades the WSU visual arts department preserved the paintings in its collection. The visual arts department brought the works out of storage, and Storytelling Festival committee members selected 20 paintings. They paid for minor restoration and added frames where necessary. They then enlisted professors from WSU’s history department to write a short narration about the events portrayed in each painting. Two Utah storytellers, Sam Payne and Suzanne Christensen, long associated with the festival, read each historical description.
The 20 paintings and their accompanying documentaries will be on display at the Ogden Union Station from July 24-28. The “Eyes Toward the Past” art exhibition includes a documentary interview with Critchlow describing the process of commissioning the paintings 40 years ago. Prints of the paintings will also be on sale at the Union Station Gift Shop.
Following the exhibit, the 20 paintings will hang permanently in the David O. McKay Education Building at Weber State, and the Storytelling Festival will begin work on the next 20 paintings. The committee’s hope is that the story of Weber State’s bicentennial art exhibit is one that never ends.
Union Station hours: Monday 24th 10:00-5:00 Tuesday-Thursday 8:00-5:00 and Friday 8:00-4:00. It will be in Gallery 51.
For more information about the Storytelling Festival, visitweber.edu/storytelling.
For more info about the exhibit, contact DeeDee Mower, WSU education assistant professor, 801-626-6143, firstname.lastname@example.org