`Images of the sacred in landscapes' on display

While a sacred message can be drawn at once from an art work depicting, say, a scriptural or Church history event, receiving such a message from a landscape image takes greater effort, perhaps a keener spiritual perception.

Thus, viewers of a new exhibit at the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City are invited to stretch their spiritual muscles. But when they do so, the reward is there, according to curator Robert O. Davis."A Season, a Time, and a Purpose: Images of the Sacred in Landscape," opened May 9 and will continue through Nov. 1. It features 35 historical and contemporary works by early Utah landscape painters such as John Hafen, J. Leo Fairbanks and LeConte Stewart and more contemporary artists trained at BYU and elsewhere. Two works were selected from artists who were not members of the Church, Hanson Puthuff and James Knox, but who attempted to capture on canvas the spiritual qualities of landscape.

In all of the works, "the artists acknowledge God as the source by which the land is nourished through the changing seasons, consequently blessing the earth's inhabitants," Brother Davis said.

Themes reflected in the art include the following:

Heaven and earth created for the good of man.

The earth and its seasons bear witness to God's divine plan.

Chosen land is set apart for the children of God.

Man is given stewardship over the land to use it wisely.

When the Lord's laws are kept, mankind prospers in the land.

The exhibit is arranged in a series of groupings of three to five works, each arranged around a general theme, such as the progression of the seasons, planting and harvesting, or sacred places.

"The viewer is invited to explore the works for their beauty and spirit rather than from an interpretive point of view," Brother Davis explained. "However, scriptural passages which invoke the major themes of creation, testimony, stewardship and prosperity in the chosen land are placed on walls near the groupings."

Located across the street to the west of Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City, the museum is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.,m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Admission is free, and free patron parking is available at 103 N. West Temple. For recorded information, call (801) 240-3310.

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