A controversial move by the Logan School District has Utah arts organizations wondering what they can do now to prevent other public education institutions from selling valuable paintings in the future.
Soon after Alice Merrill Horne ran for and was elected to the Utah Legislature in 1898 she assembled 37 collections of Utah art to be displayed in public schools.
“She felt it was very important for young children to be exposed to original artwork, and live with it, and be influenced by it,” said Karen Horne, Alice’s great-granddaughter and owner of the Horne Fine Art Gallery and Studio. “I think she’d be disgusted that this work that was intended for educational purposes and to enrich students and be cultural heritage is going to someone’s living room.”
Horne watched Tuesday as members of the Logan School District's Board of Education voted to sell ten works of donated art for more than $400,000.
“I was very disappointed when the Logan City School District decided to sell these works,” Wendi Hassan said.
She is one of the many representatives from northern Utah arts organizations who had pushed for the district to delay the sale of public paintings to private art collectors, until they could apply for grants, ask Utah lawmakers for state funding, and work together to keep the art in a public gallery.
“I pushed for a delay because Logan City School District’s action galvanized statewide attention to these collections.” Hassan said.
The Uintah School District donated their collection to the local heritage museum where it is currently on display.
“Actually many districts care for their art very well. If districts are having difficulties in caring for the art, there are many, many entities that would be happy to assist.” Horne said.
Logan School District will use the money from the art auction sale to repair 30 pieces that weren’t sold, and will set up an endowment to promote artistic and cultural experiences for disadvantaged students.