Explore Modern Art with Utah Artist George Smith Dibble

Published: April 27, 2018 | Author: Brooke Vlasich | Read Time: 3 minutes

Artwork of George Smith DibbleThe work of Utah painter, teacher, and art critic, George Smith Dibble, will be on display at the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) from May 12-June 30, 2018. Influenced by many styles and artists including Cezanne and cubism, Dibble fostered the understanding and appreciation of modern art in Utah through his exhibits and a column in the Salt Lake Tribune. In George Smith Dibble: A Revolutionist for Modern Art in Utah, museum visitors can explore the artist’s abstract style and experience his vision for modern expressions of art. 

Dibble received his teaching certificate in 1926 from the University of Utah and continued to take additional art classes as an elementary art teacher. In New York City, he began studying at the Art Students League where he found his own personal art style. After continuing his education at Columbia University, he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1938 and his Master of Arts in 1940. 

After completing his education, Dibble taught at Utah State University and the University of Utah for several years. In 1950, he became visiting professor for the College of Southern Utah (now Southern Utah University). As a teacher, Dibble encouraged students to explore and find their direction, an approach that contributed to his progress as a former student. 

Dibble was a member of the first Modern Artists of Utah and helped write a formal statement to the public to increase the understanding and acceptance of modern art in Utah. He served as an art critic for the Salt Lake Tribune for over 38 years and was the recipient of numerous painting awards throughout his lifetime. 

“SUMA is the perfect venue for exhibiting important pieces of George Dibble that show his transition from the representational to the abstract,” said Jonathan Dibble, son of the artist. “After teaching in a more conservative environment at the University of Utah, his summers in Cedar City allowed him to let loose and paint without restraint. Because of his experience in southern Utah, the art department at the University of Utah became known for modern painting and abstract expressionism.” 

“George Dibble was a professor of Jimmie Jones when he studied at the University of Utah,” said Jessica Farling, director/curator at SUMA. “The museum is using this exhibition as an opportunity to display many of Jimmie’s final paintings that he created in 2009. Since many of Jimmie’s work has been up since the museum opened in 2016, the work will need to go into storage for proper conservation efforts.” 

The museum will offer related programming for the special exhibition. On Saturday, May 12 at 1 p.m., Jonathan Dibble will lead a walking tour of the exhibition. He will discuss how Cedar City was a pivotal point in his father’s long-time career as a painter. Before the exhibition closes, visitors can join the museum for the Cedar City Arts Council’s Final Friday Art Walk on June 29 for watercolor demonstrations, hands-on activities, and live music. 

The exhibition features more than 50 works by Dibble spanning from his early work to paintings he created of southern Utah, the Wasatch Mountains, California, Hawaii, and Europe. Uncover the story of how modern art began in Utah with artist George Smith Dibble. For more information, please visit www.suu.edu/suma.

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