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Painter Karen Horne finds inspiration in Salt Lake scenes

| courtesy photo Painter Karen Horne will be one of the recipients of the Mayor's Artists Awards, presented by the Salt Lake City Mayor's Office and the Utah Arts Festival.

By Sean P. means

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jun 19 2013 05:39PM
Updated Dec 7, 2013 11:33PM

Karen Horne’s love for art and for Salt Lake City comes naturally — it dates back to her great-grandmother Alice Merrill Horne, who promoted arts education in the 1900s and was a founder of the Utah Arts Council.

Karen Horne’s love of the city is demonstrated amply by her paintings, gorgeous canvases that depict the life of the city — whether it’s people flocking to the Capitol Theatre or enjoying the fare at the Utah Arts Festival.

"I loved the architecture at Abravanel Hall, the way the plaza is slanted, and I loved the City-County Building," Horne said in an interview.

Horne will receive the Mayor’s Artist Award Friday, June 21, at 8:15 p.m. at the Festival Stage of Utah Arts Festival on Washington Square. Also receiving awards are Mary Ann Lee, artistic director of the University of Utah Tanner Dance Program; Bryan Young, founding editor of the geek-news site Big Shiny Robot; arts organizer Frank McEntire; and the staff of KUER’s "RadioWest."

A pre-ceremony reception for Horne will take place Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at her gallery, Horne Fine Art, 142 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City. It’s one of the events in the monthly Salt Lake Gallery Stroll.

Horne grew up in Salt Lake City, graduating from Skyline High School in the late ’70s, but decided to go east. She studied art at Yale, perused the museums on the East Coast and lived a dozen years in Manhattan.

But "I missed the incredible mountains, and the sunsets and the openness," she said. So in 1996, Horne and her husband, who lived in Santa Fe, N.M., decided to return to the West.

"I was just pleasantly surprised how Salt Lake City was coming into its own," she said. "The city offered more than I remembered as a child."

Specifically, Horne admired the renovation of the Capitol Theatre and Abravanel Hall and performing groups such as Ballet West and Utah Opera, which are "marvelous companies for a midsized city," she said.

"We don’t have a raging street life all hours of the day, but there are pockets of activity — you just had to look harder for it," Horne said. "What interested me was to find those gathering places, like Gallivan Plaza or Liberty Park."

Horne said her gallery on 800 South was "kind of an outpost" when she opened it in 2003. Since then, 800 South has become an art enclave of sorts, with Brush Works Gallery and the design firm J. Scott Andersen becoming neighbors.

The gallery business has had its ups and downs, Horne said, and has improved since the market hit bottom in 2009 after the economic downturn.

"There are still art lovers, even if their capacity might be smaller," she said. "They’re still looking and still enjoying and still acquiring."

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