Helper and the Landscape

August 12 – October 6, 2018
amjworks Gallery
167 S. Main St.
Helper, UT

Jeffery Pugh, ‘Morning Under Balance Rock’









Historically, Helper City was a Mining and Railroad mecca. Today, vestiges of the past look a little broken but as a town, the people are filled with the hope and ideas of reinvention. The City of Helper is nestled in the buttresses of the book cliffs surrounded by desert grasses, elegant sage brush, gnarled Juniper trees and boulders that look as if they had been flung into chaos by an ancient god. Walking through the high desert, one feels small and insignificant and yet very much a part of the whole.

Visiting and spending time in Helper is cathartic and allows for the time to be with oneself. The sophistication of the surrounding hues: Greys, greens, purple, and blues spark an internal painter’s conversation about the possibility of tonality.

Helper, and the landscape is the theme of our 2018 invitational painter’s exhibition, an exhibition sponsored by The Helper Project. The Helper Project is a non-profit 501 (C)3 whose mission is: Foster Revitalization, Promote Beautification and Cultural Enhancement for the City of Helper, Utah.

Kathleen Royster and Anne Morgan-Jespersen both of Helper worked closely with Vern Swanson and Donna Poulton to compile a list of established and emerging artists whose work honors the Landscape of Helper, Utah.

Download the catalog: Helper and the Landscape

See photos from the opening reception.

Featured artists: Steven Adams, Joseph Alleman, Connie Borup, Doug Braithwaite, Charles Callis, Royden Card, Gary Russell Case, Paul Davis, Frank Ray Huff, Jr., Anne Kaferle, Patricia Kimball, David Wayne Meikle, Bonnie Posselli, Jeffery Pugh, Hadley Rampton, Andrew Skorut, Gary Earnest Smith, and Michael Workman.

What the Landscape Might Say
Helper, Utah

The mountain
loved you before
you were born.

If you don’t look too hard,
the tan land
has a teal blush.

In Spring Canyon
you might find that jewel —
pink glass from an ancient dish.

Turn left
at the withered awning
to see the brightest stars.

A train will call to you
at each crossing
through the darkness.
This is where
they didn’t get along,
then did,
after an ocean
of old countries,
to find happiness,

to butter cakes on Main Street,
to arrange the blossoms,
to sell the sausage, the coffee,
to steal a payroll, gamble,
to nail the rails or mine or hook
the helper engines on,
to keep the kids true
among the sorrows.

A newcomer Emily, at first,
said to her husband
George: We live
at the edge of the world.

Their daughter Helen later
had a passion to write
about this world. *
New outlaws lift brushes
to vermillion and cobalt
at midnight. They imagine rivers
that take us years to discover.
They paint the pepper-scent
of globe mallow. They keep
the past, and mine the present,
for us: in sweeping sepias,
ochres of mesas; keep
the honor of a 40’s Conoco;
renew the four-room cottage
and paint it like the sky;
they let the faces rise
from clay so that we can
almost hear the voices;
they smooth a bowl
with the scent of earth
on their fingertips,
maybe to keep the curve
of a wild arroyo close.
This town has a feisty grin
and humble shoulders.

This town bets on rain,
for a community garden,

loves the violet shadows
on cloud-crowded days.

It feels the rush
of big-horned sheep,

feels the ripples between the tongues
who still speak great-grandmother’s
Slovak, Spanish, Italian, Greek.

This town has a fine espresso
you can sip
at Happiness Within.

This town carries
a hint of juniper
the canyon lifts
downwind, on your
evening walk, as you watch
another happiness becoming,
new breath rising like
old-country pastries,
warm, tangy, seeded,
in our lighted windows.
– Nancy Takacs
*Helen Zeese Papanikolas