Hidden in the Mountains: Spring City, Utah

Spring City—like Ephraim—is located in Sanpete County. There I met Joe Bennion, a potter of international renown. Joe makes functional wares in a wood fired kiln at his local Horseshoe Mountain Pottery. He has a great interest in the vessels he makes being part of the ritual and experience of sharing, of communion, and of connecting through the handling of his bowls, cups and plates. We discussed Bernard Leach—an influential figure for Joe—and his biographer, Emmanuel Cooper, with whom I lived in London; it is an ever smaller art world indeed. 

Joe and his wife—the painter Lee Udall Bennion—have lived in Spring City for over 40 years, and have been instrumental in the town becoming an art community. Joe sits on the city council, and knows a great deal of local history. I could not have had a better guide. 

We toured the newly refurbished city hall building, and Joe introduced me to everyone we ran into. We went to Lee's studio, above her horse paddock and barn, where I was fortunate to see her work. We also visited the former home of Ella Peacock, where Joe told me of her life and work as a painter. The atmosphere, splatters of paint on the floor and silence, conjure an idea of what it might have been like to live and work here. A fascinating story. We discussed Joe's career as a maker, his Mormon faith, and another great love—being a river guide on the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon, where Joe will spend up to several weeks on expeditions. We drank the cold, fresh spring water that gives the town its name. Many thanks to Joe.