December 21, 2012
Foundation in Texas Donates 11 Minerva Teichert Paintings to BYU Museum of Art
Minerva Teichert was a preeminent LDS artist who was very comfortable on the farm. She took care to feed the chickens and her family — sometimes in that order. She was steady in churning butter, washing clothes in an old wringer washer, and cooking on a coal stove. She loved genealogy work and quoting scripture to anyone who would listen. Sometimes she sold extra eggs, other times she gave them to neighbors.
With the day’s chores complete, she’d pick up a brush and paint stunning murals on large canvases hung on the wall — sometimes until late into the night. Among LDS audiences today her religious artwork is well known and highly regarded.
But she also had a flair for the western lifestyle. Her unique style of color and composition invite viewers to step into the yesteryear of horses and land without fences.
In the 1940s, her artwork caught the attention of Texas businessman H.J. Stark who was vacationing in Colorado. A lover of nature, he acquired at least 15 of her works and tacked them to the walls of several cabins he owned.
Teichert’s artwork eventually became part of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation of Orange, Texas, set up in 1961 to preserve Stark’s legacy.
In a ceremony at the Museum of Art on Friday, Dec. 7, representatives of the Stark Foundation presented BYU with 11 of those original paintings, saying that the paintings could be best preserved and displayed to larger audiences on the BYU campus.
In accepting the gift, Kevin Worthen, advancement vice president of BYU, emphasized the generosity of the gift considering the monetary value of the paintings during fiscally tight times. He also noted that the gift was significant because it was the third-largest gift to the museum, and that Teichert sometimes traded her artwork to fund her grandchildren’s education at BYU.
Teichert is known for art with religious themes, some depicting the Native Americans in light of the Book of Mormon. Over the years, as her art grew in popularity, new audiences expected a Native American image more like the Hollywood cinema — evident in these donated paintings.
Teichert painted during the Depression, when her family was young and paints were hard to acquire. Yet she accomplished much with what little she had.
These highly prized works are on display as part of the BYU Museum of Art’s People in a Hard Land: Iconic Images of Life in Southwest art exhibition on the BYU campus.
The museum has received many works of arts from generous members and is eager to consider the donation of others.