Valuable paintings by Utah and Wyoming artists displayed throughout schools in the Logan School District could be sold next week.
After removing the art work during a renovation at Logan High School the district had the paintings appraised. Logan School District Superintendent Frank Scholfield said the district decided the work needed to be repaired and placed in locations where they could be more easily accessible for student viewing.
"We found that we had a number of pieces that were very valuable, in the couple hundred-thousand-dollar range,"Scholfield said. "That was a bit of a surprise for us. We were not expecting the art to be that high in monetary value."
The cost of repairing and insuring valuable works of landscape, western living and regional art makes it necessary, said Scholfield, to consider ways to preserve the integrity of the work without using public school resources.
Schofield and school board members are telling the public that selling the art work will benefit art students in their district by funding art competitions and district arts education programs. The sale, they believe, will also help guarantee the 11 paintings including work by artists Minvera Teichert, James T. Harwood and LeConte Stewart will be better preserved and protected.
District board members say they want to expose students to different types of art, but in a fiscally responsible way. As part of the contracted sale agreement with the district, those who purchase the art will be required to pay for a reproduction of the paintings to replace original works that once hung in school hallways and their library centers.
"If we donate the paintings they are not in our building where students can see them, there's no funding to create endowments of the type we are describing," Schofield says. "So, it is taking a resource from our students and placing it someplace else where we can't guarantee they are going to receive any direct benefit."
Sam Passey is director of the Uintah County Library and oversees the heritage museum in Vernal. He says the Uintah County School District had a similar situation a few years back when education officials decided the best way to maintain the art and make it available to the public was to donate the pieces to the museum. Money from a grant was used to restore paintings that had been poked by school children, were covered in grease and dust, and were worn through years of neglect.
"It is community art that needs to be available to the community in some capacity,” Passey said. “Whether that ends up being agreements with private collectors that they will allow public exhibition or even loan these paintings back to local Cache area museums. I hope that they can work towards that so that children in Cache County can still see these. And really, it is a treasure to the whole state of Utah."
Logan School District officials could meet as early as Tuesday to review bids to purchase individual or the entire collection of art. Superintendent Schofield says the district is prepared to reject bids if the amounts offered do not justify the sale.