Category: Fine Art

Minerva Teichert: But I Will Be Someday


Minerva Teichert painted over 400 murals and is perhaps most famous for a series of 42 murals depicting events from the Book of Mormon. What is hard to imagine, today, was her struggle for recognition in her own day. They even spelled her name incorrectly in her obituary. Richard Oman, recently retired as curator at the Museum of Church History and Art, remarked to me that had Teichert been a New York-based painter in her time her work would surely be hanging in the Met.

I remember vividly the first time I saw one of her paintings. I was sitting in a humble Mormon home in a resettlement zone on the outskirts of Manila near an active leper colony. The family had an old, battered copy of a Church manual from the seventies. After years of knowing only Harry Anderson and Arnold Friberg, I leafed through the manual and came across a Teichert painting. I remember saying to myself, ‘Now that’s art.’ I walked past her paintings in the JSB at BYU and felt this kinship to her and her struggle. I marveled at her mural in the Manti Temple. For better or worse, she is part of the Mormon machine today and you can hardly look at an Ensign without finding one of her works. We have two of her prints in our home right now. Bully for you, Minerva, you deserve all the attention our little tribe can muster.

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Peter B. Gardner profiled Minerva Teichert in BYU Magazine.

“Teichert increasingly felt it was her responsibility to tell the Book of Mormon story in images so that “he who runs may read,” a common phrase from the time taken from the book of Habakkuk. So after finishing the Manti Temple mural, she set out on what she expected to be her masterwork—42 paintings of Book of Mormon stories, rendered large enough and simple enough to be “read” at a glance. Finishing the paintings in 1952, the 64-year-old Teichert was aflame with enthusiasm for how the works might accompany the Book of Mormon text or be used as slides by missionaries around the world or be sold as a book of paintings.

“What happened was something she never had anticipated—nobody wanted them. Many praised her efforts, but nobody would purchase the paintings, though Teichert would try for the remainder of her life to find a buyer. A half-century later, Wardle describes two major factors that contributed to her grandmother’s declining influence in Mormon art. First, in 1948, was the death of Alice Merrill Horne, Teichert’s best critic and counselor on the art market. Then there were changing tastes. Murals had long since gone out of favor, and the Church commissioned others, such as Arnold Friberg, to paint the Book of Mormon…Though discouraged, Teichert wasn’t one to mope. After all, there were chickens to feed, grandchildren to tend, and genealogy to research. And she kept painting, eventually finding a new agent. Though the market for her religious work had run dry, her agent found interest in her western-themed works outside of Utah.

“And she hadn’t lost confidence in her calling. One day a grandchild asked if she were famous. ‘No,’ she replied with a smile, ‘but I will be someday.'”


Scott M. Haskins: Art Restoration and Conservation

Scott M. Haskins has been a master art conservator since 1975, specializing in the conservation and restoration of easel paintings, murals, and art on paper. He attended the Lombardy Italy Regional Art Conservation Center and was previously the Head of Conservation at BYU.  Haskins was even seen on Keeping Up With The Kardashians. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.

You once said art conservation is the “perfect marriage of my two main interests: the application of science to the preservation and restoration of art.” The forensic science must constantly be evolving. How has the ‘craft’ of what you do been affected by new developments? People are sometimes amazed when I insist I am not an artist. There is nothing creative about what I do. Their response is, “Well, you are surrounded by art all day long!” Yes, well, but that doesn’t make me an artist. Even though I know how to put a painting together, I’ve never painted a painting in my life. I often draw a parallel example with a dentist. You want your dentist to know what’s going on and get the analysis correct. But you want him to be good with his hands too… or apply it to a surgeon. So, with advancements in technology, there has been no automation of the craftsmanship aspect of what we do. On the other hand, forensic science allows us to delve into the unseen, gives us more information… but as in other areas of society, just because the Getty Conservation Institute can afford the $ multimillion equipment doesn’t mean there is a trickle down affect to the private sector. In a for-profit business, the king is cash flow.

You studied in Italy and have run your own fine art restoration business for many years. What do you still enjoy or find exciting about your field? There are many reasons why I enjoy the field of art, in general; you meet interesting people, its been a good excuse to travel and an enjoyable and enlarging thing to do/see when I travel, my field of art conservation of historic works has an influence on future generations and therefore has a socially conscious feel to me, I interact with a wide variety of professional people which I enjoy, I’m a well accomplished specialist in my field and enjoy that notoriety.

You’ve done a lot of work for the Church over the years. How have attitudes about art evolved within the Church? I can’t say regarding the contemporary art market or policies. But I have seen a positive evolution in the importance that the Church gives to its “art collection,” the oversight and care it strives for with its historic sites and art assets and the commitment and care the Church provides to its historic art. The biggest evolution in the Church (art administration and curatorial efforts) has been in the hierarchy of stewardship that continues to evolve for the better… or maybe I should say in a more efficient manner.

You are very active on social media. What has been the drive behind these efforts? What has been the response? The art conservation profession is intent on public education and outreach. After all, with a profession that has a social conscience, we ought to reach out to society, don’t you think? Its best used in connection with groups of people, already organized, that are like-minded. Its benefit for growing small businesses is limited as the search engines and the social media companies are not good friends. Private website blogs are different for benefiting small business than social media if you know how to use them.

Visit the website for Fine Art Conservation Laboratories.

Visit the YouTube channel for Scott M. Haskins.

David Habben: Habbenink

David Habben, known by his alter ego ‘Habbenink’, is a talented illustrator and creative mind. He lives with his family in Utah. Habben was profiled previously on The Krakens for his religious works.

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You once said, “good art equals good communication.” Explain. I still believe that, but my understanding of it has changed. I’m learning more and more about the possibilities of what can be communicated. More than just communicating a direct narrative or strong emotions, I think a work of art can be a small link in a larger chain of thought and direction. We can see beautifully crafted abstractions or hear new and exciting music and come away having our mind opened to new ways of seeing the world around us, both physically and figuratively. One piece of art, film, music, etc. isn’t going to be the one source of change in someone’s life, it’s just a piece of the puzzle. It may be a turning point or an “eye-opener”, but it will still need to be buoyed up by other experiences to create lasting change. Seeing things that way relieves some of the pressure of creating that one great piece and allows me to grow more incrementally and trust my viewers to do the same. So, my definition of “good art” and “good communication” has become less imposing and more accessible.

What’s your career like these days? Busy and varied. This year has included everything from snowboard design and custom sneakers to editorial and children’s book illustration. I had been full-time on a marketing team in Salt Lake City for about a year and a half, but made the transition soon back to school for an MFA at the University of Utah. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so I’m thrilled to finally be able to make it happen. I’m teaching illustration there as well, which was another dream of mine. Fortunately, I have a wonderful wife who’s incredibly supportive of this crazy artist ride we’re on.

Visit Habbenink’s website.

Follow Habbenink on Instagram.


Images courtesy David Habben and 15 Bytes.

Leslie Graff: Organic


Leslie  Graff is a prolific painter with an intriguing collection called the Organic Series. She lives and paints outside of Boston with her husband and three sons. Graff says, “My organic works explore growth, connection, and our social experience. Drawing on the inherent metaphors of rooting, branching and fruition, these pieces represent the energy and yield that comes from our efforts, as well as our relationships and connections with others. It uses repetitions of small shapes and visual busy-ness to show the vibrancy of life, power of potential and the almost imperceptible, yet real, nature of change and growth.”


You color choices are bold and striking. What are your thoughts on color? I joke I use color obscenely, I have no palette modesty. Other people can do limited palettes but I love the full spectrum. Its hard for me to do pieces that are even confined to an analogous range. Its always instinctive for me to “cross the (color) wheel”. Its probably the element of design that captivates me the most. It’s probably also why I have a very big wardrobe (acquisitions mostly from the thrift shop) as l love pairing colors. You can create so much mood and feeling with color. I have loads and loads of colors of paint, as only certain lines make certain colors and I appreciate the subtle properties of color a lot. You can use color to just be flashy, but there is a lot of nuance in color, the subtlest shifts in intensity, or color make all the difference in nailing a piece with good color harmony. Color and flavor always have a relationship for me, I cook a lot (because I love to eat really good food) and paintings for me have a similar dynamic each piece, like a recipe is influenced by all the ingredients.

What’s the most gratifying part of being an artist? I would rather paint than eat or sleep and I very frequently give up both of those to paint. I often force myself to bed at 2 am. It even comes on vacation with me. I absolutely love the act of creating. Artist life is a perfect fit for me, both in purpose and structure. I love to inspire people, to share ideas, to help them feel powerful, deliberate, and valued. I see the work of art is to relate and inspire, to awaken people to deeper understandings of the world, to slow down, to notice, to feel, to capture the essence of things, but mostly to connect us. I love having others in my studio, and I think people can recognize it’s unique energy—or maybe they just like my playlists and treats. I thrive in an unstructured environment it makes me insanely productive. I am very “flavor-of-the-week”, always falling in love with new pieces I am making, and there is this constant crush energy—only its infatuations with ideas, colors, and patterns. Creating art in very psychologically intimate for me, part of my personal thoughts are embedded in every piece, there is always some thought, emotion, or meaning in my work I hold back only for myself and don’t share with others.

I am a very connecting social person, but I also love the solitude of painting, it’s process and experience. I usually have one of my many playlists on or audiobooks, podcasts, movies. I zone in and out of paying attention to them. I find I have developed a deep self-awareness as I spend so much time in my own head tapping into thoughts and feelings. It allows a unique awareness of the nuanced flavors of emotions and energies. It gives time to explore the deeper parts of human experiences, tensions and bigger existential conflicts. For me creating is energizing but also very calming in almost a meditative way, It lets me make more sense of life’s complexities.

Visit Leslie Graff’s website.

Follow Leslie Graff on Instagram.


Cristall Harper: Flowers

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Cristall Harper is a prolific painter and lover of flowers. She once wrote, “I inherited my love of flowers from my parents. On vacations, they take more pictures of the local flowers than their own family, something I’m now guilty of as an adult. I like the artistic challenge of taking something traditionally feminine and fragile, like a flower, but redefining that femininity with strength and confidence.” She was profiled previously on The Krakens for her series of dog paintings. Harper lives in Utah.

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Talk about your soap venture. It’s so funny to me that you asked about my soap venture. As if I didn’t have enough to do already being a full-time artist, I also make my own soap. I don’t know, I just love making things with my hands. I decided one day to take a lotion-making class at Thanksgiving Point. The lotion making was a bust but I sat by a lady who has made her own soap for decades. After class, she taught two of us how she did it and I was hooked. I make enough soap to keep my family supplied and to sell to friends and neighbors. It’s all just word-of-mouth. I made a blog for my soap sales venture and it’s – maybe some day I’ll have an Etsy store, but for now it’s a wee operation out of my kitchen that makes my house smell amazing and makes my friends and neighbors happy.

What’s next for you? My 2016 is totally booked, and my 2017 is quickly filling up. I’m so blessed. I have my first big show at my Park City gallery (milestone!) booked for the summer of 2017. I’m marinating on the idea of entering a couple of new markets. There are areas of the country with a strong art scene I feel my work would fit into nicely. First, I need to acclimate my business and my production to the two new markets I have recently entered (Sun Valley, ID and Jackson Hole, WY). I have the mindset that I will be as successful as I choose to be.

Visit Cristall Harper’s website.

Follow Cristall Harper on Instagram.