The Orem Public Library offers community members many wonderful resources, from fiction and nonfiction book titles for all ages, one of the best movie and music collections in the state, a Makerspace, and a variety of programs throughout the year. The library is also home to the Orem City Art Collection, one of the finest public art collections in Utah Valley. Now, thanks to a recent digitization project, the art collection can be viewed in its entirety from anywhere via the world wide web.
How the Orem City Art Collection Began
Starting in the late 1960s at the encouragement of Mayor Winston Crawford, and in anticipation of the opening of Orem’s library at its current location, a Visual Arts Commission was formed. The task of this commission was to create an art collection that the public could enjoy, to be displayed in the new library. Library director Dick Beeson, along with local artists including BYU professor Max Weaver, began to commission and acquire artwork from local artists and travelling art shows.
The result is a collection of 170 paintings, sculptures, stained glass, and ceramics dating from the early 20th century to today. While most of the collection hangs on the walls of the library, space limitations prevent the collection from being displayed in its entirety. As a result, library staff began a digitization project that would give access to the entire collection, along with information about the artists.
The Digitization of the Orem City Art Collection
The digitization project itself was funded through a Library Services & Technology Act Grant administered through the Utah State Library. In January of 2021 library staff created a workspace in the media auditorium of the library, and gathered the entire collection. In order to be photographed or scanned, each piece had to be removed from glass and/or frames. Each piece was photographed by Snelson PhotoColor Lab in Springville, and the images were stored electronically. Some large works had to be photographed in pieces, and digitally stitched together.
The next step of the project was to catalog each artwork, which required gathering information including artist name, medium, size, and subject matter for the entire collection. When each artwork had been entered into the library’s catalog, this data along with the corresponding images were sent to the digitization librarian at UVU’s Fulton Library & George Sutherland Archives. Now the Orem City Art Collection can be found on UVU’s Digital Collections along with other local historical and cultural collections.
Highlights from the Art Collection
Storming the Gate by Käthe Kollwitz
Kollwitz is considered one of the great German expressionist artists of the 20th century. Her work often documented the horrors of war, poverty, and violence of early 20th century Europe.
Springville Barn in Winter by James Christensen
Long-time Orem resident James Christensen was known nationally for his whimsical and mysterious fantasy images. While its mundane subject matter is far from the images he was best known for, Springville Barn in Winter is nonetheless instantly recognizable as his work, and shows his versatility as an artist.
Born in Zimbabwe, Southey attended school in England before emigrating to the United States and continuing his education at Brigham Young University. Southey inspired many through his art and teaching, as well as his active role in the Utah LGBTQ community.
Untitled (Red Volcano) by Fidalis Beuhler
Buehler’s work explores his Euro-American/Pacific islander heritage. Beuhler is an art professor at Brigham Young University and has exhibited his work throughout the world.
Shasta the Liger by Nathan Hale
Orem resident Nathan Hale is the bestselling author of the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series of historical graphic novels, as well as the illustrator of the Eisner award nominated Rapunzel’s Revenge.
Gathering by Jenna von Benedikt
Born in England, and moving to Utah as a teen, von Benedikt attended Orem High School. She studied art at Brigham Young University, as well as in Florence, Italy, and her work appears in galleries throughout Utah, Wyoming, and throughout the western United States. Gathering is the latest addition to the Orem City Art Collection.
Written by Nathan, Librarian