Community members and arts advocates in Utah are seeking signatures in support of a collection of Western art. The petition has been posted online by the Utah Cultural Alliance.
“It is always better when the public is involved,” says Crystal Young-Otterstrom, executive director of the alliance organizing the petition Help Us Save The Logan City School District Art Collection.
"We speak up whenever art and humanities is threatened or in any way hurt. These painting were purchased by children, their history is important for the Logan School District to be enjoyed by future children,” she said.
Logan School District board members announced Wednesday that a bid review for 11 paintings scheduled to happen Thursday morning has been delayed and will be open to the public Tuesday, Feb. 6. The district had planned to review bids for the painting during a private meeting, but removed the item from the agenda following a push by residents and reporters from the Logan Herald Journal to open the meeting to the public under the Utah's Open and Public Meetings Act.
“We do care very deeply it remains in public hands, hopefully accessible to Logan School District,” Young-Otterstrom said.
The Logan School Board of Education is selling the art after learning of the value of paintings purchased in part by students during a milk-money-for-art donation campaign in the 1930s. District Superintendent Frank Schofield says the district can't afford to insure and protect the property. Young-Otterstrom says the alliance is asking the district to donate the art to a recognized arts organization like the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Utah State University.
"Who could then take on the burden of insurance and properly storing, caring and displaying them,” she said. “Then they would still remain in the Logan community. The school district is just looking to make extra money here."
The advocacy group plans to seek state appropriations from Utah lawmakers to help support an arts organization interested in obtaining, insuring and caring for the art work. The 11 paintings are part of larger collection of works by artists from Utah and Wyoming including Minerva Teichert, Leconte Stewart, James T. Harwood and Birger Sandzen.