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John Heber Stansfield
(Mt. Pleasant, UT, 1878 - 1953, Mt. Pleasant, UT)
John Heber Stansfield was born in the small, central Utah town of Mt. Pleasant in 1878. As a young man, he worked long hours sheepherding, and to help pass the time he drew with charcoal. Later, his family's successful and growing sheep business meant increasingly less time for art, but Stansfield did become a self-taught painter. Although he never left the area for formal studies in the East or Europe, as many of his contemporaries did, Stansfield had a natural and unique sense of light and pattern and produced "very personal, even mysterious, apprehensions of reality on canvas." His early paintings were described by Haseltine as "lean, dry, and taut."
By 1905, Stansfield had married and settled down to become a building contractor, decorator, and stalwart member of the community. He was a Presbyterian Church trustee, served as Sanpete County Welfare Department administrator, and as town councilman. He managed to fit in time to paint as well as to make occasional visits to other artists' studios and for painting trips to California, the Southwest, and the Canadian Rockies. He also taught for 13 years at Snow college in Ephraim and as a volunteer instructor at the Utah State prison. When he died in Mt. Pleasant at the age of 75, he left over 2000 paintings.
Although critics morn his transition to a very saleable palette knife technique that reduced his earlier strong, unique style to a more formulaic approach, Stansfield was a much-loved man whose love and comfort with home set him apart in his generation.