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Front Page » June 14, 2005 » Local News » A Taste for Art
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A Taste for Art

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Cameron Grose, 9, from Colorado receives instructions in watercolor by Sue Watts.

Art and the banks of the Green River make a nice fit. The John Wesley Powell River Museum is currently hosting the second annual river runners art show. All of the art work will be on display until June 30. Art browsers can also have a hand at picking the People's Choice award with a vote for their favorite artist. Participants from as far away as North Carolina entered the show as well as local artists.

On June 4, an open house and artist's reception was held. Many of the artists set up under the awning at the museum and worked on their paintings or sculptures as the event goers wandered amid the artists and asked them questions. The Nine Mile Canyon players entertained those passing through the lobby of the museum. A silent auction to raise funds to further the art show was also held in the lobby of the museum.

Ken England an artist from Salt Lake worked on a painting of a barn which he had photographed in Fairview. "I do mostly still lifes and outdoor scenes. I was a judge at the first art show held here last year and I wanted to return. I am the supervisor for the fine arts at the Salt Lake County Fair."

Brady Fairbanks was busy working on his statue in clay entitled St. Peter, The New Testament. Fairbanks is from Sandy, he said, "The end result will be in bronze. After a couple of practice molds the final mold will be in plaster and then the bronze is poured into the mold and the clay is broken off. I have been a self-proclaimed artist for the past five years and I dabble in it a bit. I heard about the Green River show from Joe Venus."

Young Cameron Grose, 9, from Colorado just fresh from a run down the river stopped by the museum and participated in learning how to paint with watercolors. Sue Watts from Sandy is the artist in residence who worked with the young artists.

Joe and Shirley Venus along with Verna Watterson were instrumental in beginning the River Runners Arts Festival last year and continued it this year. Joe Venus said, "Green River is a fine place to hold an art show. I like including the local artists. Green River is such a historical place. Green River is a jewel to history and the contributions it has made to the area. I am so impressed with the museum and the people here. It's been so enjoyable. The museum has an outstanding art gallery. It's so nice to be part of a group of people like this."

Venus currently has a showing of his paintings at the College of Eastern Utah Museum in Price and the Museum of the San Rafael in Castle Dale. In June and July he will have a showing on Antelope Island of the wildlife found on Antelope Island. His paintings include buffalo, antelope, bobcat, badger, mountain men and an Indian girl.

Venus recently was selected to be a member of the National Wildlife Artists Association. He is also an associate member of the Society of Animal Artists. Venus and his wife Shirley live in Sandy. Venus recently completed a 40 ft x 8 ft. mural for the museum in Price. He spent six years working on the mural.

Venus falls in love with each of his paintings and doesn't like to part with any of them. He has become especially attached to the mural at the CEU museum. Venus researches each animal before he paints it to get the characteristics and features as close to real life as possible.

"I love them all, the people the animals, everything. I talked to an expert on saber tooth tigers and he said to make the saber look like a lean, hungry eating machine and I tried to do that in my mural," said Venus. The mural also includes camels who once lived here. Venus pays close attention to detail and paints the fine hairs on animals with a brush whose bristles you can barely discern.

Venus hails from the east where he worked as a taxidermist for five years. He was a technical illustrator making cutaway drawings of nuclear reactors, turbo motors, auto engines and other machinery. These drawings were cross sections of the machine to see how a part fit into the engine. These drawings had to be done by hand in the days before computer drafting.

Venus liked the west and came here in 1972 never to return to the east. He has been an artist the past 45 years.

"I love working with artists. I love working with the young artists just coming up. They have such creativity and are so positive," said Venus.

Venus has worked as supervisor of the fine arts for the state fair for the past nine years and has been chairman of the Days of 47 Art show for eight years. He is also proud of showcasing Arnold Freeburg as a featured artist who specializes in paintings of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Canadian government is very supportive of the pieces of art dealing with the history of their police.

Venus has had his work featured on telephone directories including the Castle Country phone directory.

"I want to support this museum. It's a real jewel and it is an honor to be involved," said Joe.

Shirley serves as the scheduling and marketing genius behind Joe's success as an artist. "I'm just the go-fer," she replied modestly, "Joe was always drawing as a young boy. He was always in trouble for drawing when he should have been doing his work. Joe loves to give back to the art community."

"It's been a good run," Joe said, "It really has been."

Terry Willis from Price also attended the show in Green River. She brought a book showcasing some of her work with etched glasses and different designs which she can make to personalize each one. Willis has just started going to art shows after making a conscious career change recently. "Art is very time consuming and the materials can be quite costly. I have a studio at home to work in. I've really been enjoying it. There's a building in Price, the old Yellowfront building, where I've been asked to paint a mural. They are just waiting for the stucco on the building. I'm looking forward to that and hope to have it finished by the end of the summer. When working on a project, you just have to stay focused.

"I recently completed 18 glasses for a hiking club down to Moab which had landscapes of a different arch on each one. It's just fun and it doesn't seem like work. It's great to get paid to do what you have a passion for doing," said Willis.

"I never know what my next painting is going to be. I take a lot of photographs and paint from them. I also do commissioned paintings for special reasons and they are fun to do, too. One lady wanted me to take two vacation photos she had taken and put them together into one picture. With painting you can do that," said Willis.

Jonathan Frank from Moab, attended the show with his watercolor paintings. "I put a black outline around all of my drawings. The outline makes the features standout and defines everything. We recently moved here from Denver, Denver was just too big. We've been coming out to these areas around here for years. I've made several paintings of the area. We attend 14-16 art shows each year and some gallery events. My images are currently on display in Moab at 59 East Center. I take photos and then take the watercolors and change and add to the feel of the photo. It takes me about 10 hours to outline a picture," said Frank.

All of the artists gathered for the awards which Watterson presented. Cash awards and ribbons were given away. Watterson expressed her appreciation for the many people who helped with the art show. A special feature this year was the inclusion of several young artists from Green River. Jo Baxter, artist, worked with the young to prepare their entries for the show. Glen Baxter also helped getting everything set up for the show. "Joe and Shirley Venus have backed this show 100 percent. Joe said this is an ideal place for an art show. We appreciate the Nine Mile Players for entertaining. We are grateful to our judges and to Arlo Johnson for playing the flute. Tom Burr from the city council is always ready to help and keep this museum working. JoAnn Wetherington has gathered the items for the silent auction and has spent time answering questions. She is even outside now watching the paintings so the artists can attend the awards. We want to thank the museum board and the merchants who donated. We also want to thank Frank Anderson and JoAnn Chandler for their help. This is an annual event which will be held June 1-30 each year," said Watterson.

If you haven't seen the River Runners Art Show in the basement of the museum you have until June 30 to view the paintings and vote for your favorite artist.

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