A spectacular painting by Farrell Collett, entitled “The Hole in the Rock”, is on display at the Bluff Fort. The story behind the painting is worth retelling.
On February 28, 1980 the San Juan Record ran a story about a painting that DeMar Perkins and Norma Perkins Young purchased from Farrell Collett, entitled “The Hole in the Rock”.
Collett was a well-known artist and dean of the department of art at Weber State University for many years. He is a descendant of Reuben Collett, one of the Escalante scouts for the expedition. He died in 2000.
Norma Young saw the piece at the BYU Museum of Art and spoke to Farrell Collett about it. Norma explained that 1980 was the 100th anniversary of the Hole in the Rock Pioneer trek from Escalante to Bluff.
Collett felt that the painting belonged in San Juan County and agreed to sell it for much less than what he could sell it for in the New York market.
Demar and Norma were anxious to take it to San Juan to see if the county would purchase it. No one seemed interested in purchasing it, so it hung in the bank in Monticello for a time and then in the Blanding library. It was displayed several other places for short intervals.
Finally Demar took it home and eventually sold it to Paul Redd in 1998. It is a very impressive painting – 36”x48” – plus the frame.
It is a rare painting for its portrayal of Uncle Ben’s Dugway, which was used to help get the wagons through the Hole and down to the Colorado River.
When Norma heard the new visitor center was in the planning stages at Bluff, she told Corrine Roring that the painting would be very much at home there.
Corrine approached Paul about obtaining the painting for the visitor center and he told her they would talk about it when the center was done.
Paul and his wife Diane had become attached to the painting and were reluctant to sell it, but they were willing to have it copied as a gift to the Bluff Fort.
Copying the painting was a process. They first asked an excellent photographer to photograph the painting, but because of the lighting, it could not be photographed successfully.
So after seeking out the heirs of the artist, permission was granted to copy the painting. Paul and Diane took the painting off the wall, wrapped it carefully and drove it to Pixels Foto and Frame in Salt Lake City to have it copied and printed on canvas.
Some barn wood to make the frame was secured from some Blanding “Rockers” who were glad to donate the wood that had been on an old shed owned by the Guyman family.
Keith and Jerri Nielson drove the wood to Paradox so Paul could take it to Pixels to be made into a frame. Farrell Collett had originally had his painting framed in barn wood to give it the rustic feel the painting portrays.
On Friday, October 11, the day before the dedication of the wonderful new Co-op Visitor Center, Paul and Diane drove the new painting to Bluff and helped install it in the proper place to share with the visitors at the Bluff Fort. Many descendants of the San Juan Mission pioneers worked together to get this painting in the Co-op in time for the dedication.
Now it is on display for all to see at the Bluff Fort Visitor Center.