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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Art and architecture meet on the canvas and in life for Justin Wheatley

Sep 07, 2018 01:54PM ● By Jana Klopsch

“Huntington” by Justin Wheatley. (Courtesy of Justin Wheatley)

By Holly Vasic | [email protected]

Holladay’s own Justin Wheatley is an artist inspired by suburbia. His acrylic paintings, which feature mostly barns and houses, are being noticed by the Utah art world. Despite being busy in his many roles as a father, husband and school teacher Wheatley finds the time for art.

Wheatley anticipated art would be a part of his life when he stepped into his jr. high art class and knew he wanted to be an art teacher. “I wanted to do art on the side and then art started taking off,” Wheatley said. Wheatley was raised in Clinton, UT and attended Utah State University, experiencing more barns there then he does in Holliday. Wheatley found the monumental farm structures held a deep meaning for him and they have remained a staple in his work. “The barns are representational of grand things,” Wheatley said. “We notice and appreciate for a second and then forget.” Wheatley is not the only one who finds them intriguing, considering one of his barns was featured in “Western Art & Architecture” magazine early this year.

“The Huddle” 36x36 acrylic on panel by Justin Wheatley. (Courtesy of Justin Wheatley)

 Art and architecture seem to be a reoccurring theme in Wheatley’s work and life. He met his wife when she graduated with her master’s in architecture and he attended the graduate showcase with a friend. They decided to put their roots down in Holladay when they just happened to find the perfect house. “It was kind of just happenstance — it was where we found the right house I guess after we put offers on like seven other ones. There is a couple of artists that live on my street so it’s kind of cool,” Wheatley said. Their daughters are now 2, 4, 6, and 8 and Wheatley encourages art as much as he can. Next month Wheatley will take part in a show called “Back to School Special.” “It’s going to be collaborative work between artists and their kids. I’ll be doing two pieces with my two older girls,” Wheatley said. The show opens Sept. 21, 2018, at Art Access in Salt Lake City with a free reception open to the public.

Wheatley is not only inspired by structures but also fellow artists, and he enjoys gathering with peers for critiques. “We actually get together and usually do a potluck, bring artwork and look at it, tell each other their work sucks, and have a good time,” Wheatley said. When up and coming artists ask Wheatley for advice this is his go-to recommendation: “The first thing I tell them is find some friends you can get together with and talk about your artwork.”

“End of the Road” 36x36 acrylic on panel by Justin Wheatley. (Courtesy of Justin Wheatley)

 Eventually, Wheatly may leave the classroom to pursue art full time, but for now he teaches at Connection High School, Granite District’s alternative high school, doing what he planned way back in jr. high. Wheatly has found ways to balance all his roles. “I just don’t watch much TV,” he said, and when he is on summer break he takes off his teacher’s hat and puts on a painter’s cap.