8 Utah Valley artists with pieces in the Payson Utah Temple

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Of the 19 original paintings in the Payson Utah Temple, eight are original pieces by Utah Valley artists and additional pieces comes from artists in other western states.

“Typically [the artists] are members of the Church or they’ve done work with us before,” said Elder Kent F. Richards, executive director of the Temple Department and member of the Quorum of the Seventy, in a media tour. “The artwork goes through several levels of review, and ultimately, the First Presidency approves all of the paintings that are in the temple.”

All of the Payson temple artists interviewed by UtahValley360.com said it was a long process before they were officially notified that their piece had made it into the Payson Utah Temple, sometimes taking years from initial introduction to final approval. Most of these artists had to bring multiple options to the table in order to get an idea approved. Then it was detailed work with regular check-ins from the LDS Church’s interior design committee to make sure the art was meeting their guidelines. Finally, the artwork made it on the walls.

Meet the eight Utah Valley artists who have original pieces in the Payson Utah Temple, hear their idea behind the art and find out more exclusive facts.

Holly Ellis

From left to right: LeAnn, BrookLynn, Holly and Jon Ellis attend the Payson Utah Temple Open House. (Photo courtesy Holly Ellis)

From left to right: LeAnn, BrookLynn, Holly and Jon Ellis attend the Payson Utah Temple Open House. (Photo courtesy Holly Ellis)

City: Spanish Fork
Art: Cross stitch of Trent Gudmunson’s “By the stream
Location in temple: Bride’s room

How did you decide what to cross stitch?

Holly Ellis was instructed to find 10 pictures that had a mother and daughter theme. Using Church magazines as a resource, Ellis found 10 pictures and created patterns for all of them before she brought them before the committee. After she received permission from the committee and from the artist, Trent Gudmunson, Ellis spent 2.5 years working on and completing the detailed cross stitch.

“Of the 10, they chose this one. They said it reminded them of the pioneers,” Ellis said.

What does it mean to you to have a piece in the Payson Utah Temple?

“It’s meant the world to me,” Ellis said. “While I was working on it, I loved the possibility that I could have something in the Lord’s house and that I was able to do the quality just for Him.”

Interesting Fact: The color palette for the pattern had to be adjusted to eliminate darker colors to match the temple’s guidelines.

 

Elspeth Young chose sunflowers for the background of her painting of the Payson pioneers because sunflowers represent the "Trails of Freedom." "We follow their example of their lives, so I thought the sunflowers would be a good symbol of hope,” Elspeth Young said. (Photo courtesy Elspeth Young)

Elspeth Young chose sunflowers for the background of her painting of the Payson pioneers because sunflowers represent the “Trails of Freedom.” “We follow their example, so I thought the sunflowers would be a good symbol of hope,” Young said. (Photo courtesy Elspeth Young)

Elspeth Young

City: Orem
Paintings: “Blessed, Honored Pioneer” (painting of Lucinda Pace, who founded Payson with her husband) and “And Thou Didst Hear Me” (painting of Jane Elizabeth Manning)
Location in temple: By the Bride’s room and in the sealing waiting room, respectively
Site: alyoung.com

How did you decide what to paint?

“The first things I did in terms of Payson was look carefully at Payson history and what inspired me,” Elspeth Young said. “Their story completely touched my heart and I just thought that they shouldn’t be forgotten. I am enamored with history; it was amazing to me that I had never thought about who founded Payson and whose legacy we were living the fruits of.”

What does it mean to you to have a piece in the Payson Utah Temple?

“It’s exciting to feel like I could use a gift that I’ve been given in order to try to communicate with others visually,” Elspeth Young said. “It’s lovely to feel like there is a little testimony of mine, a little message that will hopefully point people to the Savior and hope.”

What future projects do you have planned?

Young paints religious art. Some of the projects she is working on are a painting of Pharaoh’s daughter finding baby Moses, an Indiana pioneer and an ethnic painting.

Interesting Fact: Young searched for a model to represent Jane Elizabeth Manning for more than 10 years. She finally found her model who was the granddaughter of the first member of the LDS Church in Ghana. The model for the pioneer painting outside the bride’s room was an actual descendant of a Payson pioneer.

 

Al Young

Al Young, who paints with oils on canvas, uses costume models for his paintings. (Photo coutesy Al Young)

Al Young, who paints with oils on canvas, uses costume models for his paintings. (Photo coutesy Al Young)

City: Orem
Painting: “The Lord Hath Anointed Me”
Location in temple: Placed in front of the chapel area
Site: alyoung.com

How did you decide what to paint?

“This arose out of a photo shoot of the model,” Al Young said. “I had no intention of painting this particular composition. I had done the costume and gotten things ready for the shoot. After taking a look at the images in the shoot, this jumped out at me as a subject that wanted to be painted, so to speak. As I embarked on the process of painting it, the thought kept coming that this might be suitable for consideration as a temple painting.”

What does it mean to you to have a piece in the Payson Utah Temple?

“There’s a personal component in that there is something rather wonderful about being able to make a contribution to the temple, to the Church, to God,” Young said. “None of those necessarily need my offering, but just to be able to do something like that is an intensely rewarding personal feeling.”

What future projects do you have planned?

Continuing with religious art, Young is working on a painting of Ammon, a character in the Book of Mormon, using Nebo Canyon as the backdrop. He is also working on a large detailed painting of the city of Jerusalem as it was during the Savior’s mortal ministry amongst other projects.

Interesting Fact: Al Young and Elspeth Young, who are father/daughter, use costume work for their paintings, meaning they create scenes physically, take a picture and then paint what they capture.

 

Adair Payne primarily paints primarily forest and outdoors scenes. “I can’t say enough what a humbling and joyful experience it was to do," Payne said. "I feel really satisfied as an artist now.” (Photo courtesy Adair Payne

Adair Payne primarily paints forest and outdoor scenes. “I can’t say enough what a humbling and joyful experience it was to do,” Payne said. “I feel really satisfied as an artist now.” (Photo courtesy Adair Payne)

Adair Payne

City: Lehi
Painting: “Below the Mighty Peaks”
Location in temple: Next to ordinance room #1
Site: adairpayne.com

How did you decide what to paint?

“It’s a favorite hike where I often go and photograph,” Payne said about his painting of the waterfall scene. The scene is from Dry Creek in Alpine.

What does it mean to you to have a piece in the Payson Utah Temple?

“It’s the greatest honor of my whole creative life,” Payne said. “I’ve been painting since childhood and this is something I’ve never dreamed of doing. I can’t think of a single collection of art that I would rather be part of. I have some paintings in some pretty nice collections, but the painting in the Payson temple close to home is the greatest honor. There is really nothing that compares.”

What future projects do you have planned?

Payne is currently painting pieces he hopes will be approved for the Barranquilla Colombia Temple, Fortaleza Brazil Temple, Rio de Janeiro Temple, Tuscon Arizona Temple and Hartfort Connecticut Temple.

Interesting Fact: Payne started working on the painting in Janurary 2014 and took 2.5 months to complete the painting.

 

Josh Clare

Josh Clare, a Utah County artist, has his first painting in the Payson Utah Temple. “This is the pinnacle," Clare said. "To have a painting in the temple, is enormous. I’m humbled by it.”

Josh Clare, a Utah County artist, has his first painting in the Payson Utah Temple. “This is the pinnacle,” Clare said. “To have a painting in the temple is enormous. I’m humbled by it.”

City: Salem
Painting: Painting of Mount Loafer
Location in temple: North of the stairs that lead from bottom level to main level
Site: joshclare.com

How did you decide what to paint?

Josh Clare painted Mount Loafer because that was the view outside of his parents’ window in Salem. “I knew that the Payson Temple was coming,” Clare said. “I’ve always wanted to submit something, and that was enough to make me actually do it — to have a temple that would be close to my home. It would be my parents’ temple.”

What does it mean to you to have a piece in the Payson Utah Temple?

“Even though I feel like my work isn’t at the level I want it to be, it is the crowning moment to have a painting in the temple. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done, it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done and the most important thing I will ever do.”

What future projects do you have planned?

Clare is continuing to improve his technique and work on projects.

Interesting Fact: Clare initially submitted two paintings to the committee. Both were approved, but the other one will be in the Star Valley Wyoming Temple.

 

Tom Holdman

Tom Holdman, who designed the stained glass windows for the Payson Utah Temple, works on his "Roots of Knowledge" project that will go to Utah Valley University.  “For us as artists, we have an individual art glass window that we spend days on and we have in our minds and hearts the moment that it can be held up to the light and then we act as a partnership with us, the glass and the light," Holdman said about the stained glass at the Payson Utah Temple. "It’s wonderful that we have the temple to teach us about light and to grab ahold of the stained glass of the the 220,000 pieces of glass and let it sing. That is a moment that you will never forget.”

Tom Holdman, who designed the stained glass windows for the Payson Utah Temple, works on his “Roots of Knowledge” project that will go to Utah Valley University at the end of 2016. In the Payson Utah Temple, Holdman used 220,000 pieces of glass to portray the apple blossoms in the windows. (Photo courtesy Tom Holdman)

City: Highland
Art: Stained glass windows
Location in temple: 1,200 windows on the temple
Site: holdmanstudios.com

How did you decide what to create?

“When we met with the architects and the interior designer, we had talked about ideas and we wanted it to feel like you were stepping back in time to the pioneer times,” Holdman said. “Apple orchards were pretty prevalent in Payson for those pioneers, so we decided to show the progress of an apple tree, how it grows a bud and then it blossoms into a full blossom as you get higher up in the temple.”

What does it mean to you to have a piece in the Payson Utah Temple?

“It’s been humbling to have the opportunity to work on stained glass windows. It allows me to feel nearer to God,” Holdman said. “I’ve had the opportunity to have stained glass in Catholic and Protestant churches as well, but to be able to do art glass for your own faith is a humbling experience. I’ve had the opportunity to do stained glass in temples all over the world, but to do one so close to home is an honor and that I can have easy accessibility to it and enjoy the fruit of my labors.”

What future projects do you have planned?

Holdman is currently working on stained glass windows for the Rome Italy Temple, Paris France Temple, Sapporo Japan Temple and Suva Fiji Temple.

Outside of temple work, Holdman is working on a 10-foot high by 150-foot long display for Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. “At UVU, I’m doing ‘Roots of Knowledge’ , which will be our Sistine’s Chapel,” Holdman said. “It is the history of the knowledge from the dawn of men to the present.”

Interesting Fact: Eighty artisans helped put the stained glass windows together for the Payson temple. Work started more than 4.5 years ago.

 

Two other artists from Utah Valley contributed art work to the Payson temple, Richard Miles and John Fairbanks (a prominent early Utah artist who was born in Payson).

The open house, which began at the end of April, is coming to a close after Saturday, May 23, for final preparations before the temple is dedicated on Sunday, June 7.

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Rebecca Lane

While her first language is sarcasm, Rebecca dabbles in English and Russian to achieve her lifelong dream of being a journalist. A BYU sports fan, reading enthusiast and wannabe world traveler, Rebecca is a Colorado transplant that is convinced Colorado's mountains are much larger than the many Utah County peaks. Rebecca manages UtahValley360.com for Bennett Communications. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccalane.

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