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(James) Roman Andrus
(St. George, Utah, 1907 - 1993, Provo, Utah)
James Roman Andrus was for many years a prominent and respected artist and educator in Utah. He was born July 11, 1907, in St. George, Utah. Much of his youth was spent in the hills and canyons of Southern Utah where he observed the structures of the landscape, its masses and spaces, and its rhythms and breaks. The knowledge and experience he gained wandering the canyons later influenced his drawings and paintings. Those early impressions became an important part of Andrus' work despite the sophistication he acquired through extensive training in portrait painting and university work that led to academic degrees, culminating in an Ed.D.
Dr. Andrus earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Brigham Young University. Then he spent the next few years studying at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. Additional graduate studies took him to the major art centers of the United States and Europe. He studied at the Art Students League of New York, at Columbia University, and at the University of Colorado, where he received his Ed.D. in 1958. A few years later, he painted his way from Bergen, Norway, to the Alhambra in Spain.
In 1940, Roman Andrus joined the Brigham Young University art department. He founded the university's printmaking program and was chairman of the department twice during his more-than-thirty years of teaching painting and drawing. Andrus exhibited his award-winning paintings and prints in galleries, museums, and universities throughout the United States, and his pieces are part of private collections in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
Although he had many portrait commissions and exhibited his lithographs extensively, Andrus is best known for his sweeping, evocative, and abstracted mountain paintings such as Cadmium Crest. Andrus' oils are a blend of fine abstract qualities and the anthropomorphic visions of the expressionists. His landscapes are alive with spiritual and metaphysical qualities. There is mystery in the undulating landscapes that are reminders of other times and other worlds when creative powers were at work. His colors intensify the emotional and magical character of his mountains, which seem to be engaged in the very dance of their own mystical creation.
Whether in portrait, print, or landscape, his over-powering interest was the interplay of color and rhythm. His work is creative rather than representational, personal rather than realistic. According to Andrus, "Art is a precious way of life, wanting to see, to extend the senses, to include the unusual and the beautiful."
Over a lifetime of work, Roman Andrus established himself as an important chapter in Utah art history. He died at home in Provo, on June 23, 1993, leaving behind numerous visual examples of his personal philosophy:
"Art is essentially what the artist sees. It is the expression of feelings, understandings and observations followed by a response that involves the process of organizing, selecting and giving expression to such experiences. The artist however, is not merely a recording mechanism. Each artist sets his own direction and makes his own interpretation."