Years ago, I studied watercolor painting with an artist of the ‘California School’, Milford Zornes. We became friends and remained in touch for a lot of years. At one point, Milford came to Hermann, Missouri to put on a workshop when I was chairman of the local Arts Council.
Milford had been mentored by Maynard Dixon, the renowned western artist. Dixon owned a log home in Mount Carmel, Utah. When he became too old to continue there, Milford and his wife Pat bought the place and moved in. As time so inevitably goes by, there came a time when the Zornes gave up the place.
As Louise and I drove west across Utah on the first of the journeys that spawned The Four Directions, we came into a Mount Carmel. It’s not much more than a wide spot in the road. There’s a gas station, a road house and an art gallery. The gallery had a sign out front that read ‘Living and Dead Artists’. Well, I had to know more!
I parked and walked up on the porch. The door behind the screen was open. Hallooing, I walked in, but there was no response. After a few minutes admiring the paintings of the living and the dead, I was greeted by a lady in a silk bathrobe with wet hair wanting to know if she could help me. They weren’t quite open yet.
In our conversation I explained that I had studied with Milford Zornes and that I was looking for his cabin. She told me that she and her husband now owned it and operated it as a self-guided museum and that it was, in fact, on this property!
I paid the ten dollars and we walked up the path to the four buildings. There was a main house, a bunkhouse, a ceramic studio that had formerly been the garage and the painting studio. The buildings housed paintings and drawings by both artists, props that they had used as well as some personal items. There was a path that led up behind the buildings to a viewpoint overlooking the valley where each of their ashes had been scattered. It became instantly apparent that this was where each of them had come to paint so often and that this is where they decided to rest eternally.
There was a bronze plaque up there on that hill commemorating Milford, another for his wife Pat (the ‘ceramist, chef and grandmother’} and a carved stone that read ‘MD His Place’ for Maynard.
We worked our way back down by buildings where there is a small orchard. There are orchards all over Utah planted by Mormon pioneers. I don’t know if this one dates to those days, but it has some of the finest fruit I’ve ever eaten.