I’ve lived in the neighborhood for over a decade and I’ve walked past the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts at least a thousand times. But until last weekend, I’d never entered the building. Bored on a rainy fall day, I thought I might as well check it out. It is, after all, free.
There was no one else there except for a little old lady, the volunteer museum attendant. She was delighted to see me and immediately began to dust and polish the cases to make sure I had a clear view of the treasures inside. But it was obvious that these cases get plenty of dusting and polishing.
The woman provided some valuable info about the museum. First, all of the items inside (although from diverse cultures) are made by Utah residents. Which is a surprising tribute to the cultural diversity of the State.
Also, the curators of the museum scour the state in search of folk art. These are not recognized artists but are ferreted out by the museum staff. I think that’s what gives the museum its quirky elegance.
And there’s plenty of quirkiness. Take the whittlings and small sculptures in the Rural Gallery. Many of the wooden whittled works are fantastic. And the miniature metal sculptures by M.J. Alldredge are deceptively folksy. On closer inspection, the big-breasted women are so sexually charged that the works feel like they were influenced by current art stars. And I’d own one of the paper cuts by Ada Rigby. They’re spectacular.
My other favorite room was the Ethnic Gallery featuring works from cultures around the globe. Of particular note were the Latin-American works like crucifixes by Jeronimo Lozano and Robert Martinez as well as the day-of-the-dead sculptures by Guillermo Colmenero.
There’s plenty more to see at the museum with galleries dedicated to Native American works and occupational crafts that are both functional and beautiful.
I don’t think most people are aware of this small, charming museum. But it’s definitely worth a visit. Unfortunately, it’s only open April through October. So plan a spring visit.