Archives - SUMA Stories

These profiles, captured during the fund and awareness raising days prior to construction (2010 – 2014), represent many people whose passion and work made SUMA possible. The Steering Committee helped the SUU Advancement Office with early fund-raising. The Community Engagement Committee sponsored events such as Art Hikes and Art Home Tours to raise awareness.

Very early on I was asked by President Benson if I'd be willing to serve on the Board of SUMA to help make it a reality. Needless to say, that was an easy YES.

Both Renn, my husband, and I feel having a museum of this caliber in Cedar City would enrich all our lives with this added cultural center. The beautiful building, the location, and Jim Jones paintings alone are something to visit and see. There are many exciting plans for the other galleries in SUMA and feel it will become a cultural destination. SUMA's mission, to have students involved in the every day function and business of the museum, is such a benefit to the lives of our young people.

I think if everyone helps get the word out about this project we will see enthusiasm reach a level of great support. This museum will make us all proud and be a place we'll love to show off to visitors coming to or driving through Southern Utah. Renn and I could not be more excited or supportive of this project.

Jim Aton

I have the great honor to tell the story of Jimmie Jones’ life. I knew Jimmie for almost 30 years and counted him as a good friend. He was not only my favorite landscapist, he was one of my favorite people. It would be difficult to find a person who was such a gifted artist and also such an extraordinary human being. I have heard this echoed in scores of interviews with Jimmie’s friends and family; these interviews are for a coffee-table book to be published by Gibbs Smith Books. It is the rare interview that people do not break down in tears talking about Jimmie. He was just that kind of person who greatly affected people’s lives. I hope that the book, along with the Jim Jones Gallery in SUMA, will help the world appreciate what a treasure Jimmie was—as artist and human being.

Arlene Braithwaite

It is so exciting to be able to support the Southern Utah museum of Art project! Having taught at Southern Utah University for over thirty years, I have seen how important it is for students to visit museums for inspiration and the knowledge that can only come through first hand observation of original work. Additionally, as a mother and grandmother, one of my true delights is to take children to see art and share in their reactions, responses and consideration of new ideas. Finally, as a painter, I understand how much artists appreciate having a venue for exhibition, a place to contemplate and be motivated by the best work of fellow artists and a space to meet and visit with others engaged in art.

While the current campus gallery space has worked well, it is thrilling to imagine the expanded exhibition area, learning spaces and striking physical setting that SUMA will provide. The support of everyone drawn into the project is truly impressive and frankly moving. How can one not want to jump on board? For my small part I have donated work and financial support, lead a gallery sponsored “art hike”, attended fundraisers and generally spread the word about what an outstanding investment SUMA will be for generations of art appreciators, students and artists. If you are interested in helping make the SUMA dream a reality please consider joining us. Getting caught up in SUMA is energizing, contagious and you meet exceptionally fun people!

Bill BrynesAs former Dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts, I was pleased to be able to help launch this project as part of developing a master plan for arts facilities at SUU. The SUMA project fits perfectly into the long range goal of having a 21st Century arts center on our campus. As it is envisioned, SUMA will be a unique destination attraction for Cedar City, while directly serving the educational mission of SUU. It will also be a wonderful asset to our community and schools.

On a personal level, art museums have always played an important part in my life. Taking drawing classes at a museum while growing up in Buffalo, New York morphed into life-long love for the experience of discovering new ways of seeing the world though the vision of artists. I look forward to hearing the stories of how SUMA will change the lives of the children of our community, as well as provide astounding visual delight to the many visitors to the museum. Jim Jones' legacy - the gift of his creative work - helped jump start the SUMA project and has put in motion the creation of a space that will have an impact on many generations yet to come.

I look forward to the day I will make my first of many visits to SUMA as a patron, proud supporter of what will no doubt be a visual arts centerpiece of the SUU Corner on the Arts.

Rachel Parker

It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance . . . and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process. -Henry James

I have always loved the arts. All of them. The daughter of a dance teacher, it was hard to escape childhood without the prerequisite tap, jazz, and ballet classes. In elementary school, I enrolled in summer art programs at the local museum. In 6th grade, I had a play produced as part of a playwriting workshop. In 8th grade, I began to take a subscription to Architecture Digest. In high school, my main extra-curricular activity was Concert Choir.

One of the few to go through college without changing majors, I graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre and Media Arts, emphasizing in stage management. After working for theatre companies up and down the eastern seaboard, I decided to head back west. I got a job with the then Utah Symphony and, as luck would have it, that is where I met my husband, a kindred spirit in his love of the arts. That chance meeting led me here to Cedar City in 2001, where I got a job in Southern Utah University's Department of Music.

A couple of kids and a Master of Fine Arts degree from SUU's Arts Administration Program later, I still love the arts. In all honesty, I love them even more. I was honored to join the faculty of SUU's Department of Theatre Arts and Dance last year, and have had the occasional opportunity to work in that same Arts Administration Program where I got my degree.

Being a part of the arts, from actor to curator to principal dancer to piano tuner to dresser to patron, is a very exciting and noble calling. The arts educate, they inspire, they call us to action, they touch our hearts and our souls, they make us whole. So for me, the Southern Utah Museum of Art is vital to our community. To have a place that exhibits, collects, and preserves historic and contemporary works of art significant to the interior American West will be, simply put, magnificent. And personally, I can't wait to take my children.

John WestwoodIn 1976, I was hired as an employee for State Bank of Southern Utah. From time to time I would see Jimmy Jones come into the Bank as a customer and I soon got to know him. The Bank had purchased some paintings from Jimmy to display in the main office, scenes from Southern Utah. Eldon Schmutz, Executive Vice President and Cashier of State Bank, would work with Jimmy and I would be there to help. I remember in the 1980's and 1990's, we would buy paintings from Jimmy to help with medical bills, complete some home repairs or make loan payments.

My wife and I went up to his home and studio above Rockville, scaring my wife to death, as the road was very narrow and winding up a steep mountain. Once on top, you would be looking right down Zion Canyon and what a magnificent sight it was every time we visited. I would buy paintings for a new branch or for our new main office. Jimmy was always good to work with, very open and honest. With a collection of 11 paintings from Jimmy in the Bank, we had our own show and invited Jimmy to attend. He did attend and we had a great show.

When SUMA was announced and Jimmy received his recognition from SUU, we as a Bank knew we had to be involved and wanted to be from the start. State Bank has now allowed SUMA to copy three of the favorite paintings owned by the Bank and another two paintings have been donated to SUMA from the collection. Jimmy Jones will live on and on through SUMA.

Diane Strachan and Joanne Brattain Diane Strachan and I are co-chairs of the Community Engagement Committee for the Southern Utah Museum of Art. Our group’s charter is to create awareness, excitement, and engagement in Iron County for SUMA. In a nutshell, when we break ground, we want everyone to know what SUMA is and to be excited about it.

I moved to Cedar City six years ago from the San Francisco area, while Diane came to Cedar City five years ago from San Diego. One of the reasons my husband and I picked Cedar City is its rich artistic community. I believe that SUMA will greatly enhance the area – we’ll have a year round world-class artistic destination that locals and tourists can enjoy.

The Community Engagement Committee has projects targeted at children (The Future SUMA Artists 3-Inch Art Show exhibition was at the beginning of May 2011), artists (3 art hikes are planned for June and July with local artists) and community (art tour of four houses with significant art and lunch at President Benson’s home in August, booths at Groovefest and July Jamboree). Diane’s and my role is to pull the right people together for these projects and ensure that all are accomplished to plan. People who are interested in participating in these projects can contact us.

I’m excited to see such a great addition to Cedar City.

Says Diane, “It is exciting to be able to contribute to CC/Iron County in a way that will make our area even more desirable. “I love the way that SUMA will positively impact SUU, area residents and provide yet one more destination for tourists.”

I am privileged to serve as co-chair, along with Scott Anderson, of the SUMA Steering Committee.

Cedar City, as well as southern Utah, has long needed a museum large enough to house the collection that already exists at the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery. Access to the Braithwaite is difficult and the space there is too limited to be competitive in the quest for important traveling exhibits. Cedar City, because of the Utah Shakespeare Festival and the beautiful natural surroundings, is a destination city for many tourists. A world-class museum would further enhance the desirability to visit here. Because of the growing enrollment of SUU and the population of Cedar City, there is a need for a repository for fine art. Such a space would provide impetus for education, preservation for both contemporary and historic art, and provide a space for exhibiting work by local artists.

My association and friendship with Jim Jones and the need to have his paintings remain in the area in which he grew up, initially was the catalyst for my interest in being a part of this project. Subsequently, the need for such a museum in the southern part of the state and particularly in Cedar City has become tantamount. My role in helping to move this project forward is to be an ambassador for SUMA, to broadcast the news, and to encourage fund raising.

I consider myself fortunate to be affiliated with the Southern Utah Museum of Art as a member of The Friends of the Braithwaite Gallery. As a board member, I am excited to see the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery have this richly deserved opportunity to reach its highest potential.

As the owner and director of a local art gallery, I am delighted at the prospect of any endeavor that will raise the profile of the arts not just in our community, but across the region, and even on a national level. As an artist, I look forward to a greater and more varied exposure to the many mediums and artistic styles that the SUMA organization will be able to offer to our artistic community.

As a community member, I believe the SUMA project has tremendous potential to attract an even broader range and larger number of visitors to our area, increasing not only Cedar City’s reputation as a destination for first-rate live theatre and lively festivals, but also as a destination for world-class visual arts.

On a personal note, I am honored to have been friends with the artist Jim Jones for nearly 15 years. I feel that the SUMA project offers a wonderful legacy to a man who was not just a phenomenal artist, but a truly kind, generous and authentic human being.

As a small business owner, community member, artist and Friend of the Braithwaite, I will do all that I can to increase awareness of, and support for, the SUMA project. I would encourage others to do the same, for though it may sound cliché, I believe that when the arts win, we all win.

Shauna Mendini

Since October of 2009, I have had the privilege of serving as Interim Dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts. During this time, one of my most honored callings has been serving as a member of the Campaign Steering Committee and working closely with our dedicated Office of Advancement to help bring the vision of SUMA to reality. For the next 6 months the project is moving into an important phase called “Programming.” This is a carefully orchestrated phase directed by the Division of Facilities, Construction and Management. While you will not see shovels in the ground and dirt flying through the air, this is an essential phase with the scope of work including such activities as site evaluation, facilities analysis, and exterior consideration—to name a few. As with all aspects of the development of SUMA, this is an important step bringing us closer to completion. I am thrilled to be working with a remarkable team of talented individuals headed by our visionary leader, President Michael Benson who is inspiring us all with his passion for this important project. Please join us and become part of SUMA.

“I feel personally invested in this project as a campus and community arts supporter for 27 years. I am thrilled and feel fortunate to be involved with SUMA as it reflects a growth and excellence in the fine arts at SUU and in our region. We can all now see the talents and generosity of Jim Jones matched with the visionary love of the arts on the part of President Michael Benson. It’s as if the stars were aligned to build the museum that we all deserve!

SUMA will be the home of Jim Jones’ works, the repository of the remarkable and ever growing University collection and galleries for rotating exhibits. The current Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, with its rich 34-year history, will also move to the new Museum.

The Jim Jones collection is currently being exhibited in the St. George Art Museum and will travel to the University of Utah this summer. This will give Utahns and our guests throughout the state a chance to have their breath taken away with Jimmy’s work just as we all have.

Thinking not very far into the future, SUMA will join the Utah Shakespearean Festival’s 50-year history with another dimension of the arts and a greater opportunity for travelers. We live in a state of such great beauty and will deliver artists’ views of our landscape as well as the diverse genre of the visual arts.

And for now, all sorts of activities are scheduled for the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, including the Southern Utah Art Invitational, which will run through the summer months. Please feel welcome to visit the Braithwaite, bring friends or just give yourself a pause in your day, then share it. It’s quiet, it’s beautiful and admission is always free!”

Jim JonesThe following text is from Jim Jones: Recent Paintings. By Jon Smith and Jim Aton. Published 2009.

"I was probably drawing from the time I was a little kid because I do remember drawing a lot. I remember entertaining myself. I was never much interested in movies and things like that. I wanted to draw. And by the time I got out of high school I knew I was going to be an artist. I learned there was no such thing as an easy path in art.

When I left college, I went to Mexico to paint, to do a master’s thesis. I had to put together a show, so I spent the winter doing sixteen paintings. Mexico was an enormous influence on me; I loved everything about it- the color, the people, the strangeness of the place. I was going to submit it to a committee at the University of Utah, and I stopped in Tucson to have some things framed, and the guy offered me a show. So I sold my thesis; I had a show and there went my master’s degree down the drain!

I was a bartender at Grand Canyon Lodge for four summers. That was my last “job”. I graduated and just started painting full time. Just as I was starting to learn something about the figure, my interest was usurped by landscape painting. I’m actually a better landscape painter than I was a figure painter.

I have moved into an intimacy with the place I never imagined possible. The Grand Canyon is my passion now. It’s like a lover you cannot get enough of. It’s my odyssey. I’ve only done 124 paintings of it, but I’ve managed to get it just about every place that can be reached by road, a pretty good road…. I just can’t get enough of it! You can get a good composition from any view. You have all these strong verticals and then the horizontal layers of sediment. Then all these diagonal shadows tie it together. It falls into place so beautifully. If you are going to paint the Grand Canyon as a representational landscape, the features should be recognizable. Thomas Moran only got it half right.

I love the diversity and verticality of [Zion National Park]. Something about it, takes my breath away- at any time of day. Of all the places I’ve lived, [Zion] is the best. Outside you hear the birds singing, you smell smoke and feel the wind blowing through the trees. You watch color changes happening before you-even flies and minor nuisances contribute to the whole experience. You can’t help but get some of that in your work.

I am a Realist who focuses on the Southwest landscape."

Jim died peacefully at his home, on December 5, 2009. Jim had requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Southern Utah Museum of Art in care of SUU Advancement Office, 351 W. University Blvd, Cedar City, UT 84720 - (435) 586-7775.

“Southern Utah University will now be the repository of the latest works of this amazingly talented artist is both exhilarating and appropriate”- Michael T. Benson- President of Southern Utah University

“No one paints like him. These last ten years he’s his own artist now. His is a way of seeing that people haven’t seen before”- Kathy LaFave, Worthington Gallery manager

“He is an inspiration to southern Utah painters; his work will stand the test of time”- Arlene Braithwaite, Professor of art at Southern Utah University

“He is the pater famillias of the artists of the red rock. He is the mentor, the people recognize the quality and his approach- and it is distinctive by any way. There is nobody that paints like Jimmie Jones- Vern Swanson- Director of Springville Museum of Art

Professor of Elementary Art Education at Southern Utah University

My connection to SUU's art gallery began in 1987 when I would walk all five of my middle school art classes across the street to the Braithwaite Gallery. In addition to wanting to try out the only elevator in town, these energetic twelve to fourteen year-olds were eager to discuss the artwork they saw. Their encounters were magical. To see Dale Chilhuly's beautiful glass sculptures up close, or learn how Sue Cotter constructed an artist book out of stones, opened their minds to new possibilities.