Archive for January, 2010

2010 Field Trip-A Journey to the Center of the Universe

2010 Field Trip.
Join us for a journey to “The Center of the Hopi Mesa’s Universe” in Northern Arizona and enjoy the scenic drive and colorful history of Utah’s Native American and white settlers along Utah’s US Highway 89 June 3rd through the 6th.
One of our founding members, Dr. Carl Woolsey, has been promoting this fabulous trip into a land where time seems to have stood still for several years. Our committee is delighted to make his suggestion a reality. Those who have also made the trip agree with Carl that this will be an unforgettable experience you will not want to miss.
In the secluded Hopi Mesas; a place of stark and beautiful endurance, clan life centers around raising the short blue-eared corn which symbolizes the homelands, culture and responsibilities given to the Hopi clans by Ma’saw as they emerged from the Third world to this, the Fourth World.
The Hopi’s who inhabited the First, Second and Third Mesa’s are a fiercely independent and spiritual people. Their history is unmatched by any other group of Native Americans who have inhabited our continent. The Mesa’s have been the home to Hopi clans for more than 900 years. They had lived there more than 450 years prior to the establishment of St. Augustine Florida in 1565.
The village, Oraibi, was founded sometime before the year 1100 AD, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements within the United States. Oraibi remained unknown to European explorers until about 1540 when Spanish explorer Don Pedro de Tovar (who was part of the Coronado expedition) encountered the Hopi while searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold.

Hopi culture is predicated on the belief that they are the descendants of a people who had survived three previous destructions of the world. The worlds had been destroyed by the Supreme Being because evil forces led the people away from a way of life whose central tenet was devout spiritual guidance.
After the Supreme Being allowed the Hopi to emerge into the fourth world they were instructed to explore the land in the four principle directions. Four clans were formed, each of whom pursued an odyssey across span of the entire hemisphere. In the end, after exploring and at times living in rich and fertile places the clans were guided to the land of the Mesa’s.
The ancient Hopi made a purposeful choice for The People’s place of dwelling in this Fourth World, a place on the continent that was stark, arid and wrought with hardship. It was here, the Hopi believe is the CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. At the core of Hopi belief that: In such a land of hardship, the only way the Hopi can survive is to pay homage to their god, remain devout or perish.
The Hopi employ the culture of story-telling. It is said that information and stories entrusted to each Hopi are more than enough to consider and meditate upon during a lifetime. Despite a plethora of books that routinely corrupt cultural ways beyond Hopi recognition, true preservation of the life way is attributed by traditional people to their ideology of passing ceremonial information to other clan members within the Kiva. The culture endures because no individual has access or responsibility for the entire sacred narrative and life way.
The preliminary itinerary (recon trip will take place in March) is to travel south on US Highway 89, the main artery of settlement through central Utah. Towns along highway 89 have rich legacy of historical significance. We surmise that many of our members have ties to these settlements and hope that they will come forward to help us embellish our experience. Don’t be shy, we need some suggestions.
We plan to stay in Page Arizona on the first night. We will get up and travel to the Second Mesa on the morning of the 4th and meet with our guide who will be with us for the next two days.
Our tour of the Mesa’s will include Old Oriabi, Walpi. We visit what is probably the finest single rock art site in the southwest with over 12,000 petroglyphs at Taawa Canyon. Stand with respect before ancient petroglyphs that interact with the sunlight to mark the equinox and solstice – thus acting as solar calendars. We are able to ‘process’ the information and experiences we have had through the week with the help of all our Hopi guides at a question and answer session
We plan a banquet and program at the Hopi Cultural Center, where were will be staying on the night of the 4th. A lecturer has been arranged who will educate us on Hopi culture, religion and history. We will also have 3 artisans who will be demonstrating Hopi basketry, silver-smithing and pottery.
After finishing our tour of the Hopi lands we will depart the Mesa’s on the afternoon of the 5th and travel to Marble Canyon. We will either visit Lee’s Ferry that afternoon or in following morning.
We will return to Salt Lake City and hopefully be able to add a stop at the Fremont Indian State Park.
The cost of this four day expedition will be $450.00. We need to fill up the bus in order to make the trip workable within this budget. Sign up now!


January 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm 1 comment

January 2010 Newsletter

Utah Westerners

Dinner Meeting: January 19, 2010, 6:30 p.m., Alta Club

Donna L. Poulton

Painters of Utah’s Canyons and Deserts

Our own Donna Poulton will tell us about her phenomenal book with Vern G. Swanson, Painters of Utah’s Canyons and Deserts. Donna is Associate Curator of Utah and Western Art at the University of Utah’s Museum of Fine Arts, and she’s working on bringing along her co-author. For more on this great book, see this month’s Bench Press.

Partner’s Night

January will be our annual partner’s night, so don’t forget to include your significant other when you make reservations. Cost of dinner is $35.00 per person. YOU MUST MAKE RESERVATIONS for dinner. For reservations: call Walter (363-1331; e-mail

Walter must hear from you by the Thursday before the meeting. If you e-mail him, Walter asks that you put Westerners in the subject line. Walter will confirm either by email or phone with everyone who makes a reservation. If you make a reservation and fail to cancel it by the day of the meeting, you will be charged for the cost of the meal.

Upcoming Programs

Next month Jay Banta will share with us tales of his long career caring for Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge. And in March we’re in for a special treat, when one of Utah Westerners’ finest historians, Steven K. Madsen, will share his experiences researching and writing Exploring Desert Stone: John N. Macomb’s 1859 Expedition to the Canyonlands of the Colorado, the first comprehensive history of this forgotten exploration of the American Southwest.


We’re once again updating our annual directory SO PLEASE check last year’s listing to make sure your contact information is up-to-date. If you need to change you directory information or wants to add or change your mugshot, contact Nelson Wadsworth (801-598-0753 or by January 15.

A New Board

January marks the installation of our new board, which now has a total of five new members, including Judy Dykman, Vernon Gorzitze, Oscar Olson, Brent Reber, and Brad Westwood.

Officers for 2010 are Brent Reber, president; Brad Westwood, vice president; Walter Jones, treasurer; Kristen Rogers-Iversen, secretary.  Judy Dykman is membership chair, Oscar Olson is field trip chair, Bob Steensma is publications chair, and Curt Bench is programs chair.

Next Year’s Trek: Hopi Country

Our 2010 field trip will be to Hopi country, by way of Highway 89, and it will take place on June 3, 4, 5, and 6.  If you have any questions or suggestions or are interested in helping out, contact Steve Gallenson at or 801 244-8468.

Vegetarian Meals

The Alta Club will prepare specially ordered meals to accommodate your dietary preferences and medical needs. If you would like to request a vegetarian or special meal, make it known when you make your reservation.



By Curt Bench

PAINTERS OF UTAH’S CANYONS AND DESERTS by Donna L. Poulton and Vern G. Swanson. Published by Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2009. 290 pp., oversize, illus., photos, index. $75.00

For over a century and a half, writers, artists, and photographers have attempted to capture the stunning beauty of southern Utah’s canyon country and desert landscapes in various art forms. The Red Rock country of the Colorado Plateau has long been a magnet for some of the most talented artists of the West: Thomas Moran, William Henry Jackson, Solomon Nunes Carvalho, Alfred Lambourne, Georgia O’Keefe, Maynard Dixon, LeConte Stewart, Everett Ruess, and many more.

Donna L. Poulton and Vern G. Swanson, both respected art experts and authors of several books of Western and Utah art, spent three years finding, viewing, and researching hundreds of pieces of artwork on southern Utah. The result, after careful selection, is a lavishly illustrated volume of the most beautiful and vivid examples of the art of the southern Utah country ever assembled. This large, handsome book contains over 300 color and black and white images which show the various media used by the many artists from oil, watercolor, and acrylic to block print and lithography. The book is divided into three sections: “Utah’s Red Rock, 1848-1970,” “Utah’s Plateau Parks & Monuments, 1900-Present,” and “Utah’s Continuing Allure, 1960-Present.” Informative and insightful text provides background on the many artists and descriptions of their specific work on Utah landscapes.

Having family roots in Springdale and the Zion National Park area, I was particularly pleased to see a wealth of material and images of the area created by a large number of artists, both famous and lesser-known. I learned that Alfred Lambourne was the first artist to explore the Zion region and the first to fully paint the grandeur of the area. There is also much on Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, the Grand Staircase and other monuments, and the many natural arches and bridges in southern Utah.

Donald J. Hagerty writes in the foreword: the authors “have compiled an almost encyclopedic approach to identifying and discussing those artists who have defined and delineated the lithic landscape of Utah’s canyon country from 1848 to the present. . . . No artists—past or present—have been overlooked.”

In a Deseret News interview about the book, author Vern Swanson said that woven into the history of the art is a history of the land and its people. He emphasized that it is much more than just a book of pretty pictures, saying that it will appeal to many people on different levels—those interested in art, those interested in the area, the geography, geology, and the history. He added, “It’s a nice combination of scholarship and beauty. It’s the warp and woof of art in southern Utah.”

January 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm 2 comments

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