Last February, noted art collector Dolores Chase donated the painting “Legend of the Blue Mound People,” a painting by celebrated Utah artist and Westminster College alumnus Layne Meacham. The painting is prominently displayed in the new Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory.
Layne Meacham is an abstractexpressionist mixed-media painter. A child of the fifties, he was influenced by many of the abstract-style techniques of that era. However, Meacham seems to be influenced as much by Utah’s unique landscape as he is by his abstract roots. The cracked layers of “Legend of the Blue Mound People” resemble a dried desert flood, and the scratchings and indentations that dot the piece evoke images of the dinosaur tracks scattered across Utah’s terrain.
Meacham’s passion for painting started in his youth, and he eventually dropped out of public school to pursue painting. In 1967, he joined the Marine Corps and was sent to Vietnam. Upon his return he earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in New York City and a master’s degree from the University of Utah. He took additional art courses at Westminster College in 1973–74.
For over a decade, Meacham’s work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, juried competitions, and invitationals. His work is exhibited in three permanent museum collections, and he was elected one of the hundred “Most Honored Artists of Utah.” His work was often featured in Dolores Chase Fine Art Gallery in Salt Lake City.
Dolores Chase, who purchased and donated the piece, opened her gallery in 1985. Although she closed the gallery in November 2002, she continues to deal privately from the collection of painting and prints she has acquired throughout the years.
Responding to market needs and student interests and capitalizing on Utah’s unique ecology,Westminster has introduced several new academic programs in the fall 2005 semester.
A new academic major in arts administration will give students the opportunity to explore and develop their artistic interests while acquiring practical business skills. To accomplish this, students will study the arts as well as take courses in leadership, management, marketing, and finance as part of the degree program. College officials believe that the major will produce graduates with skills in high demand at arts-related organizations such as symphony orchestras, museums, theatres, and community art centers in Utah and across the country.
Westminster has also introduced a new academic minor in paleontology, making it the only college in the Intermountain West to offer this minor. Paleontology is a science focusing on understanding the history of life and includes principles from geology, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and physics.Westminster is especially well suited to offer paleontology studies. Utah’s historic fossil record is one of the most complete in the nation, and many significant fossil sites are less than a half-day’s drive from Westminster’s campus. Regarding the new program, director Dr. Goldsmith remarked, “This is a remarkable opportunity for students interested in the history of life. Utah has been a tropical beach, a coal swamp, an inland desert, and even a freshwater lake. Nearly every possible environment for life and period of life’s history are just waiting to be explored.”
At the graduate level, a new Master’s of Science in Nursing Education (MSNED) degree is being offered. The program was created to address the shortage of qualified nursing educators both in Utah and nationally. The new MSNED program will be the only one in the state that prepares RNs for teaching both at the college level and in staff development roles within all types of health care organizations. The program is designed to teach students how to enhance student and teacher roles through a variety of courses, seminars, and research opportunities.