THORNTON UTZ. The following is from Harriet Shaplan of Champaign, Illinois:My husband and I knew Maud and Thornton Utz when we lived on Siesta Key,Sarasota, FL. in the 1980s. We bought the Greenhouse Restaurant (now calledthe Summerhouse) and Thornton had a lovely nude painting (Greenhouse Nude) hanging at the base of the stairs that eventually made its way to our home where it hung for several years. Prints had been made of it and Thornton wanted it to hang in a more public place so the painting was moved to the Museum of Modern Art in Dallas.Later it was bought by a Frenchman named Francoise Gardinier who owned a phosphate plant in FL. He hung the Greenhouse Nude in a resort he bought on Longboat Key called Far Horizons and later moved it to France.I have 3 large original oil nudes painted by Thornton, one being "Snowfall" which was made into prints, and several prints from his nude collection. Thornton was also commissioned to do portraits of some famous people. . . Princess Grace of Monaco, Jimmy Carter and family, and a royal family in Europe whose name I don't remember. He also did lovely portraits of children.Thornton was one of the kindest, gentlest souls I have ever met and those qualities came through in his nude paintings, which are lovingly and tastefully done.I'm glad to have a found a way to help perpetuate the memory of Thornton Utz. He was truly a gifted artist and a wonderful person.Attached are excerpts Thornton's obituary as it appeared in the Sarasota Herald Tribune on Dec. 4, l999:Numerous examples of Thornton Utz's work dot the landscape of Sarasota. From buildings on siesta Key to the chapel windows of the Catholic church of the Incarnation, Utz left behind a county filled with memoirs of his artistic gift.The internationally known illustrator and painter died Wednesday. He was 85.Utz was born Nov. 15, 1914, in Memphis, Tenn., where he spent his young years doodling in textbooks. After discovering his artistic talent, he struggled to save enough money to attend art school in Chicago. With the country in a depression, Utz could afford only one year at the American Academy of the Arts, and though he studied there for only a short time,k he learned the secret to being a great artist: drawing continually.And draw Utz did, as well as paint, illustrate and design. Initial recognition of his work came for his illustrations. During the 1940s and '50s, Utz provided advertising illustrations for clients such as Coca-Cola, General Electric and Ford Motor Co. His work also graced more than 50 covers of the 'Saturday Evening Post.'International fame came with portraits of Princess Grace of Monaco and President Jimmy Carter. In addition to personal portraits of Carter, the family's 1977 Thanksgiving celebration is forever immortalized, thanks to Utz.One of his most serious artist decisions came in 1987, when he was commissioned to design the stained-glass windows for the Catholic Church of the Incarnation.'He struggled a lot before accepting the windows at Incarnation,' said Utz's son Scott. 'He was troubled because of a passage in the Bible on how we shouldn't carve idols and engrave images. He didn't want his work to be glorified.'A man of religious conviction, Utz feared that his artwork would be recognized more than the biblical message behind it.Despite his achievements, Utz never fancied himself an artist talent. 'He was so humble, though so little of himself,' said his daughter Dawn Hadley. 'He never thought of himself as a great artist. That was just his work and his trade. That's what he did to provide for his family.'Collections of Utz's work have been on display at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, the Pentagon and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.Utz came to Siesta Key 50 years ago from the Northeast. He was a member of the Ringling School of Art Board of Directors, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Sarasota.
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