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Joseph walks like an Egyptian

Published November 7, 2011 8:24 am

Outsider art • Joseph Smith as Sphinx? Check it out at Gilgal Gardens.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It's amazing how few Utahns are aware of the existence of a globally famous artwork that has been in their midst for decades.

No, this time, we're not talking about Robert Smithson's "Spiral Jetty" in the Great Salt Lake. It's Salt Lake City's Gilgal Gardens, literally one of the most accessible world-class artworks in Utah. In fact, generations of Salt Lake teens are vaguely familiar with the sculptures from makeout sessions in the garden in the years before gained stature as significant art.

The garden's creator, Thomas Battersby Child Jr., was a stonemason, not a trained artist. But his Mormon zeal and knowledge of stone and acetylene torches created something truly original and fascinating, including a Sphinx with the face of Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith. Thanks to a group of benefactors, the garden's story is told in an exhibit on the grounds. http://www.gilgalgarden.org/

What we love about Gilgal is that it has something to creep out everybody. Non-Mormons are often turned off by it because Battersby's sculptures are so rooted in his faith. Meanwhile, Mormons are put off because it is just so weird.

So before snow obscures the art, take a self-guided tour of one of the coolest sculpture gardens in America. It's open every day during daylight hours.

Gilgal Sculpture Garden, 749 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City (next to the Wonder Bread factory).






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