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When a Minerva Teichert painting was dropped off at DI and ended up in a museum

An Arizona Deseret Industries store manager visiting the Church History Museum saw again the painting he helped rescue

David Anderson was managing the Mesa, Arizona, Deseret Industries store around the year 2009 when someone drove through the outdoor donation dock, dropped off a few pictures and paintings that had been sitting in their garage and then left.

A staff member took particular notice of one of the paintings and brought it into the office. Anderson said he knew right away what it was.

“That’s a Teichert,” he exclaimed — he was looking at an original Minerva Teichert painting with some damage, scratches and grass clippings on it. The painting depicted Jesus Christ blessing the Nephites.

Teichert (1888-1976), a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, painted stories of the Savior, the Restoration of the gospel, Old Testament themes, Book of Mormon narratives and stories of the western United States. Her works have been displayed in Latter-day Saint meetinghouses and in other church buildings — but were also given to individuals, schools and organizations.

Anderson was stunned at the find. He was already “a big fan” of her paintings and couldn’t believe one had just been dropped off.

He said he could not find out how it had gotten to Arizona and into someone’s garage. Then Anderson said his staff reached out to the Church History Museum, who expressed interest. One of the DI assistant managers put the painting into the back of his car and drove to Salt Lake City.

“He gave it to them and they were so pleased,” Anderson said.

Over the years, Anderson — who now manages the DI in Gilbert, Arizona — has watched for any word of the painting, wondering if it might end up in a Church building or in a book or as a print. He kept an eye out online and throughout stores but never saw a copy of the painting again.

Then, on Monday, June 24, Anderson was in Salt Lake City for meetings and had some time left in his day. He walked around Temple Square to the Church History Museum — a place he hadn’t been able to visit in several years.

Anderson loved how he felt after seeing the First Vision experience and Liberty Jail exhibit. But then he realized that the museum had an exhibit of Minerva Teichert paintings upstairs. He marveled at the artwork as he walked through the rooms, but had just about given up on his DI painting, when he turned a corner and saw another room — a room dedicated to the conservation of Teichert’s paintings.

“And there it was,” Anderson said. “I was very emotional.”

David Anderson stands by "Christ Visits the Nephites" (1956) by Minerva Teichert at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City.
David Anderson stands by "Christ Visits the Nephites" (1956) by Minerva Teichert at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 24, 2024. He helped rescue the painting when it was donated at his Deseret Industries store in Mesa, Arizona, around the year 2009. | Jan Smith

A sign by the painting noted its title: “Christ Visits the Nephites” (1956). The sign said that it had been found at DI, but didn’t say which one, and said that the painting had undergone conservation.

“There was a docent nearby,” Anderson said. “I couldn’t speak. I motioned for her and she came and I finally said, ‘That’s my DI.’ She was like, ‘Really? We always wanted to know the rest of the story.’”

‘Christ Visits the Nephites’

Museum records noted that when the painting arrived, it had drips in a vertical pattern across the left half of the painting, two significant dents, and the paint had curled and lifted at the edges.

Conservators gave the painting several cleanings to get rid of the water marks and dirt, then put the painting on a hot table to help realign the paint. A conservation adhesive was used to attach the old canvas to a new canvas.

“The result was excellent,” states the record.

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A Minerva Teichert painting shows Jesus Christ blessing the Nephites one by one.
"Christ Visits the Nephites" by Minerva Teichert, 1956. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Anderson said the painting means a lot to him, not just because of its rescue, but because of its meaning. His favorite verses of scripture are found in 3 Nephi 17.

“I just love how Jesus spent the day teaching them and being with them and then He said, ‘It’s time for me to go, I have others to visit,’” Anderson said. Jesus invited the multitude to ponder on what He had taught them. And as He looked at them, they looked at Him and wanted him to linger.

He was filled with compassion, and asked them to bring forth any that were sick or lame or afflicted in any manner. Anderson said “Christ Visits the Nephites” shows these moments where the Savior was blessing the multitude and the children one by one.

“He was so moved by their faith — it said He wept and His joy was full,” Anderson said. “I love that so much, and to have that painting that represents that story is so moving. I’m so grateful that it is something that we as Saints can have and enjoy and increase our faith.”

The purpose of the Church History Museum is to provide engaging experiences where people can “reflect on the faith and sacrifices made by members of the Church, increase their own faith in Jesus Christ, gain a greater understanding of God’s dealings with men and women on this earth, and desire to know Him.”

With This Covenant in My Heart: The Art and Faith of Minerva Teichert” opened in July 2023 and closes on July 27, 2024. The exhibit showcases 45 original paintings and was designed to show Teichert’s devotion to her faith and artwork.

The artwork “Christ in a Red Robe” is featured in an exhibit showcasing 45 of Minerva Teichert’s paintings at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City from July 6, 2023, to July 27, 2024. | Elder Hunter Winterton, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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The real treasures at DI

Deseret Industries turns 86 years old in August and has 46 locations in eight states. Over the years many treasures have been found on store shelves — but the mission of DI remains to help people.

“The real treasures that we have are our associates,” Anderson said. “Some are rescued — like that painting was — and sent to DI by their bishops. We help them with their grass clippings and scratches that keep them from seeing who they are.”

DI associates work in store facilities and train with local business partners, gaining valuable retail work experience and learning work habits and other essential life skills that will enable them to succeed in an industry of their choice.

They receive training opportunities in many fields including security, medical, dental assisting, education, management, manufacturing, production, skilled trades, and more.

In 2023, 10,112 Deseret Industries associates were served.

Merchandise for sale inside the new Deseret Industries in Gilbert, Arizona, on Oct. 20, 2018. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Anderson sees parallels with the Teichert painting and with the work at DI.

“Just as the Savior blessed one by one, we help our associates one by one with what they need so they can have joy and opportunities,” he said. Besides the work training for associates, bishops’ orders help those in need in their wards, and vouchers for the community help refugees and people experiencing homelessness receive items that they need at no cost.

“That’s where the real treasure is — in the lives of people that come here,” he said. “There are good things that happen at DI because of the commands of the Savior.”

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