Public response to my “Sinners and Saints: 10 Notable and Notorious Utahns” mural project was tremendous. Almost 5,000 took the poll and a significant number offered names not included on the list. The mural that I will be painting at The Leonardo includes your picks and a couple of my own. I took some liberties and decided against a couple of favorites (sorry, Kirby) and elevated a dark horse or two.
My intention is to identify 10 Utahns timeless in their influence or infamy. By this standard Brigham Young is a Utah colossus. Everything from our wide, gridded streets to the most iconic structure in the state (the Salt Lake Temple) bear his fingerprints.
Some, like Butch Cassidy and Philo Farnsworth, make the cut for things as varied as the romance evoked and the practical impact on our lives. Physician/educator/legislator Martha Hughes Cannon would be a standout choice in any century. That she confronted 19th century polygamist male privilege adds to her luster.
As a personal pick I am including “The First Utahn.” About 15,000 years ago someone first set foot in the boundaries of what is now the Beehive State. A thousand generations of Utahns would pass before the arrival of Brigham and the Mormon pioneers. There were certainly remarkable people and tales that are lost to us; it’s appropriate to acknowledge the Adam or Eve who set the whole human drama in motion.
Mountain man Jedediah Smith blazed the roads we still follow when we hop in the car and take Interstate 15 or Interstate 80. He is the first white who considered this place home.
Brigham Young University professor “Dinosaur” Jim Jensen scratched fossil bones out of rock that is clearly older than 6000 years and firmly established our state as the real life Jurassic Park.
Maude Adams was Utah’s first real superstar, preceding Donnie and Marie and our plague of reality TV stars by decades. At the turn of the 20th century America’s singing, dancing, acting sweetheart earned a million dollars a year when a million dollars was real money and talent couldn’t be lip-synced.
John Moses Browning is lionized by today’s gun fetishists in the Legislature, but his real achievement was creating a local business that revolutionized an industry. Utah had something to sell the nation.
As much as I would like this not to be true, Gayle Ruzicka is Utah’s most influential unelected politico since Brigham Young. Like Brigham, her handiwork is hard to miss. From home schooling to screwy liquor laws to unconstitutional marriage amendments, in some way we are all in thrall to Ruzicka’s agenda via her agents on Capitol Hill.
I will start work on the mural May 19 with every intention of finishing it by the end of the month. Stop by the Leonardo some afternoon and there’s a good chance you can see me in action. If I’m out, there will still be an activity table that introduces kids to the rudiments of political cartooning.
Some readers think the mural should be about currently notable and notorious Utahns. It’s not a bad idea. I am considering doing a top 10 Utahns for 2014 at the end of the year. Stay tuned.
Meet Pat Bagley at The Leonardo
Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley is artist in residence this month at Lab @ Leo at The Leonardo, 209 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City. Public events associated with the artist in residency include:
May 16 • During Salt Lake City’s monthly gallery stroll from 7 to 9 p.m., Bagley will sign prints and answer questions.
May 19 to 31 • Bagley will work on the “Saints & Sinners” mural most afternoons. About 60 Bagley prints also are on display along with a giant Bagley cartoon featuring seagulls and Utah legislators. There’s also an activity table where children and young adults can hone their political cartooning skills.
May 31 • The “Saints & Sinners” mural will be unveiled.