Art LINK: BYU ties strengthened in Nauvoo Illinois Temple

A newly opened exhibit at BYU's Museum of Art highlights six LDS artists linked across three generations at the Church-owned university.

But the artists' connection, or "intersection," now runs far deeper than their collective tie to BYU. Each of the men was enlisted to paint the murals that now encircle the endowment rooms in the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, which was dedicated last June.

"Intersections: Recent Paintings by Six Utah Artists" features more than 75 independent works of longtime BYU art instructor Frank Magleby, renowned fantasy artist James C. Christensen, landscape painters Gary Ernest Smith and Robert Marshall, and a couple of young talents, Christopher Young and Douglas Fryer.

Writing about the artists and their BYU exhibit, museum director Campbell Gray described Brother Magleby as the patriarch of the talented sextet representing three generations of BYU faculty/student relations. Despite their age differences, the group became a team for the Nauvoo temple mural project.

Brother Magleby, who has devoted the past couple of years to creating paintings for temples around the world, worked with Brother Smith in the temple's World Room. Brothers Christensen and Young focused their attention on the Garden Room, while Brother Marshall joined Brother Fryer to complete the Creation Room.

"While social and professional relationships between these artists had already been established, nothing compared to the intense period of engagement that occurred . . . on this large and personally significant project," wrote Brother Gray.

Each of the artists shared ideas during the Nauvoo mural project — and did not hesitate to challenge one another.

In an interview with Brother Gray, James Christensen said the artists were comfortable with each other's candidness. Aside from Brother Magleby, each artist was involved in his own secular art career before working together inside the Nauvoo Illinois Temple. So, asked Brother Gray, what has been the effect of their intersection at Nauvoo?

While each artist has earned a living in the art world, he has done so without sacrificing the integrity and personal execution of his craft, Brother Gray said.

"The institutionalized character and significance of the Nauvoo commission, together with the strengthened association they have found with each other, has given each one more confidence, more commitment and more resolution in paths that were determined years before the Nauvoo commission," he wrote. "Thus the principal intersection of note is one that cannot automatically be seen. It is within their common sense of virtue and faith."

"Intersections: Recent Paintings by Six Utah Artists" will run through Sept. 13, 2003.

The six men enlisted to paint murals inside the Nauvoo Illinois Temple represent three generations of art study at BYU. Each found inspiration working together inside the temple's endowment rooms. Robert Marshall's "Interplay" is included in the BYU exhibit.
The six men enlisted to paint murals inside the Nauvoo Illinois Temple represent three generations of art study at BYU. Each found inspiration working together inside the temple’s endowment rooms. Robert Marshall’s “Interplay” is included in the BYU exhibit. Credit: Photo courtesy BYU Museum of Art

Frank Magleby painted "Joseph's Creek" in 2002.
Frank Magleby painted “Joseph’s Creek” in 2002. Credit: Photos courtesy BYU Museum of Art

Douglas Fryer's landscape "from Blue Mountain."
Douglas Fryer’s landscape “from Blue Mountain.” Credit: Photo courtesy BYU Museum of Art

Christopher Young's "Winter Aspens."
Christopher Young’s “Winter Aspens.” Credit: Photo courtesy BYU Museum of Art

James C. Christensen's "The White Fish."
James C. Christensen’s “The White Fish.” Credit: Photo courtesy BYU Museum of Art

Gary Ernest Smith's "Field of Onions."
Gary Ernest Smith’s “Field of Onions.” Credit: Photo courtesy BYU Museum of Art