Famed Utah artist dies in car accident

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In the days before he died, renowned Utah muralist and painter V. Douglas Snow told friends he was not ready to retire his brush.

"He told us over the weekend he would really like to do one more mural," said Frank McEntire, former Utah Arts Council president and longtime friend of Snow, whose murals appear in several public buildings in Utah and whose paintings are nationally recognized.

Snow, 82, died Tuesday when his car rolled off a highway near Sigurd.

He was driving a Nissan Altima west on State Road 24 about 1:30 p.m. when he drifted to the left and then overcorrected, rolling off the road. Snow was wearing a seat belt and the car's airbags deployed, but he died at the scene.

Snow and his wife, Susan, were entertaining McEntire and other friends this weekend at their home in Teasdale, where Snow captured the landscapes that made up much of his portfolio, McEntire said.

According to an article in the Tribune archives, Snow said he merged what he saw in the land with the emotions he felt, making brief sketches while outdoors and sometimes writing a paragraph of text to describe his emotions.

Then he would go to his studio to paint.

"When you see things that move you, you paint the reasons why," he said in 2004.

Locally, Snow is best known for murals at the Leonardo museum, the University of Utah graduate school of social work building, the Pioneer Theater, Salt Lake City International Airport, Snowbird and behind the Utah Supreme Court bench at the Matheson Courthouse, according to the Marriott Library biography.

The vibrant, 300-foot 1997 courthouse mural prompted complaints from attorneys and court justices who were distracted by the painting. Titled, "Capitol Reef," it showed Utah's signature redrock country in the sun after a thunderstorm.

The court in 2001 decided to cover the $80,000 painting with a $26,000 gray drape because it would have been impossible to remove the large canvas from the courthouse without destroying it.

Snow's paintings appear in New York's Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as in several Utah collections, according to the biography. His work once was featured in an article and full-color spread in Life magazine.

Snow studied at the University of Utah, New York's American Art School, Columbia University and the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan before winning a Fulbright Scholarship to the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome.

McEntire said many of Snow's most significant achievements were as an instructor.

"He impacted the lives of countless students and others by encouraging careers," McEntire said.

As a professor at the University of Utah, Snow also worked to bring exhibits by Andrew Wyeth, Robert Motherwell, Ben Shahn, Stuart Davis, Abraham Rattner, and Rico Le Brun.

But "big-city famous" was not what Snow wanted for himself, McEntire said. He, instead, immersed himself in the southern Utah landscape and the feelings it gave him.

In a written eulogy, McEntire cites a passage in a 1992 journal by Snow:

"To be in this country; to live in it much of your life; to understand its geology, its history, to see it in all its seasons, and still, ultimately, to know nothing that can summarize it. All you can do is have faith in the strength of the experience, paint, 'not knowing,' but with conviction in the significance of those feelings."