Arts & Entertainment

Utah artist's angels being featured in Dayton

Artist James Christensen loves whimsy, angels and beautiful women.

He aims to capture that emotion on canvas in a way that captivates his audiences and evokes a sigh from those who see his art.

For example, the first time he saw actor Cate Blanchett on the big screen, he was smitten.

"She has such beauty that from the first time I saw her, I wanted to paint her," Christensen said in a recent telephone interview.

His newest collection of work, which includes a new book Men and Angels, features an ethereal painting of an angel with an uncanny resemblance to Blanchett.

"I might have had her in mind when I painted that one," Christensen admitted. "But I also love the whole concept of angels, their role as messengers who bring good news or mete out justice, who are caregivers and benevolent. There is just a soft goodness about angels that I like."

A collection of Christensen's work is featured Oct. 18 at the Wenaha Gallery in Dayton. It includes a selection of all facets of his paintings, plus sculptures he collaborated on that reflect his paintings. And, of course, there will be copies of Men and Angels.

He also will be on hand that day for booksignings, a slideshow and lecture about his angelic collection.

Men and Angels is the largest collection of his work ever published, he said.

"I like to think of it as a life through art publication," he said. "About 85 percent of the work in the book has never been seen before."

Christensen, who lives in Utah, has two daughters who seem to have followed in their dad's footsteps.

"They both paint beautifully, and they're not clones of me, I'm proud to say," he said. "They each have their own style and paint under their married names, which are Emily McPhie and Cassandra Barney."

His lecture and slideshow start at 1 p.m. at the Liberty Theater, 344 E. Main St., in downtown Dayton. The reception is from 2 to 5 p.m. at the gallery at 219 E. Main St. Admission to both events is free, though tickets are needed for the Liberty Theater event because seating is limited.

"People can call the gallery to obtain a free ticket," said Lael Loyd of the Wenaha Gallery. The number is 800-755-2124.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;