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Holladay Artist of the Month Marjorie McClure portrays ‘the beauty of the common’

Oct 31, 2019 03:52PM ● By Sona Schmidt Harris

McClure said, “I think we're just stepping over beauty all the time, and people just don't look at the leaves. People rarely stop to think how exquisite they are.” (Marjorie McClure/Holladay)

By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]

Getting to Marjorie McClure’s home and studio is a bit complicated. Tucked away in a wooded area of Holladay, there are twists and turns before arriving at her place, much like McClure’s work itself. There are no manicured lawns — only the wild greenery of the area, which she wanted by design.

“I'm not urban,” she said. “I’m inspired by Holladay all the time. I wanted the birds. I wanted sanctuary.”

McClure was named November’s Artist of the Month by the Holladay Arts Council. The artist’s work will hang in the City Hall foyer throughout November (4580 S. 2300 East, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

In her art, she enjoys abstracting the object. “I just want to push it someplace else — I want to do something else with it. I want to take it a little bit deeper.”

For example, she creates leaves that are blue and white, while the integrity and shape of the leaves remain. In some of her leaf creations, she uses a mixed-media technique called “encaustic,” wherein wax is dripped on top of a painting or objects. In Roman times, it was used to preserve art. The effect is kind of a softening of the colors and edges of the subject.

McClure said, “I think we're just stepping over beauty all the time, and people just don't look at the leaves. People rarely stop to think how exquisite they are.”

Another object of interest to her are feathers. She also enjoys re-creating the human form.

I focus on “the beauty of the common,” she said.

Marjorie McClure is the Holladay Artist of the Month. (Toni Taylor/Holladay)

McClure knew she wanted to be an artist when she was a child.  She grew up in fields on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley, which inspired her to re-create the beauty she saw. 

“I think I do it for myself as much as for anyone else. I would paint if I didn't ever sell a piece of work,” she said.

Her favorite medium is oil, though she has worked with other materials as well.

Graduating with her bachelor of fine arts at the University of Utah, McClure wanted to go further. “I was kind of terrified to go back to graduate school,” she said. But it turned out that her life experience as an older student was an asset. She then obtained her master’s degree of fine arts at the University of Utah, where she ended up teaching.

Of teaching she said, “I loved it. I love their curiosity — I have a lot of students that are artists in the city. It's like giving away something you love. It's for in perpetuity; it just keeps rolling down the hill.”

McClure also taught at Brighton High School. “I wanted to go back to high school and teach drawing and painting. I had those kids for two or three years, then you can build and watch them blossom,” McClure said.

Of those who influenced her own work she said, “Somebody else gives you a kernel of something.” Those who inspired her include: John Singer Sargent, Richard Diebenkorn, and the Japanese artists. And she enthusiastically credits her professors at the University of Utah, including Paul Davis, as major influences.

From enthusiastic student to a teacher herself, McClure continues to pass on the gift of art “in perpetuity.”

If someone would like to nominate themselves or another Holladay artist, please email [email protected].