Education, skills and connections: Many say this is the pathway to one’s career

Story and slideshow by PEYTON M. DALLEY

Meet Chris Haston, the head photographer for NBC Studios.

In the small neighborhood on Catalina Avenue in Burbank, Calif., one may not recognize the flood light cameras and crew surrounding the house where the production is occurring. But it’s just another day in Hollywood. The crew and cast are filming a pilot for a television show that they hope will become an instant hit.

Among the hustle, directors are yelling “cut,” “quiet on set” and “that’s a wrap.” Assistants fix fly-away hair, and set designers find the perfect angle of lighting.

Chris Haston, NBC’s head photographer, is part of this scene. Haston has been working for the company for 23 years, and can be found behind the camera capturing the perfect angle of every noted Hollywood icon. He also has had cameo roles in sit-coms like “The Office.”

While Haston’s home may be the rolling green hills of Hollywood, he has also shot movies in Park City and Salt Lake City.

Focusing on the success of Chris Haston

Haston attended a junior college in El Camino, Calif., and tried to figure out which art college he wanted to attend. But he realized formal education wasn’t a good fit for him. “I’m glad I didn’t waste four to six years, when I’m already doing what I love,” he said.

Haston worked at a local camera store in Gardena Calif., a job that meshed with his interest in photography.

While working there, Haston began to take photos of off-road racing, and used a studio called Trackside to edit his footage, experiment with lighting and develop his skillset.

He had also built a connection with a man named Frank Carroll, who was an NBC photographer.

“I stayed on that guy constantly for a job at NBC,” Haston said.

After six years, Haston finally was hired for a lab position in the NBC Studios in Los Angeles producing and making film.

“Persistence and work ethic got me the job,” Haston said. “Being hungry and not letting words ‘it’s not possible’ cross your mind.”

Some aspects of success

Haston not only is doing what he loves, but he also knows his cast and crew. Haston said it’s important to treat everyone with kindness and respect in this industry, because it gets people further than any ego.

“Be nice, not egotistical,” Haston said. “Having egos make[s] it impossible to work with [people] in such a competitive field.”

Haston isn’t the only one making dreams a reality. He works alongside photographers Dave Bjerk, Rafael Ortega and Allan Nadel.

Bjerk said timing in the career process is crucial. “Just because something opens up does not mean a person is ready for it,” he said.

Ortega said, “Some people need to go to college for experience. I took pictures and figured out how to use a camera. Can’t say I’m in a better place than I am now.”

Nadel added, “You can definitely make connections in school.”

While the City of Angels may be the hot spot for future careers, connections play a valid role for hitting the big leagues, Haston said.

So how does one break into the field?

Although higher education wasn’t an ideal fit for Haston, others can benefit from taking classes that help them gain skills. The Career Services office located at the University of Utah can be a good resource for students. Director Stan Inman said his office helps current students as well as alumni to tell their story.

While Career Services provides both connections and help with resumes and portfolios, Inman said students “have to have the skillset to do the job.” That becomes the story students can share with their connections.

“Education credentials are important to have,” Inman said. “We provide contacts that can develop into opportunity.”

Students who have graduated from the U can be surveyed and  jobs they have acquired after graduation can be tracked. Although the survey isn’t inclusive, Inman said, the Career Services website shows students as well as potential employers who has hired Utah graduates. Currently, 35 jobs were booked in the film and media industry, and 11 were booked in the theater industry.

“It’s not a cut and paste process,” Inman said. While a job or internship may not happen immediately, it’s important to have the skillset and credentials.

Haston said even in Hollywood, “knowing someone doesn’t get you the job.” But being able to prove yourself with credentials or skillset can help you get a foot in the door.

 

 

 

 

Laura Durham: The work of an artistic woman

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Laura Durham enjoys her job with the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. Photo courtesy of Durham.

Story by JORDAN SENTENO

Utah native Laura Durham has a bachelor’s degree in art history from Brigham Young University. She currently works for the Utah Division of Arts and Museums in Salt Lake City and manages marketing and special projects that encourage public value of the arts in the state.

Growing up as a young girl, she really enjoyed music and art. Both her parents were musicians so she was surrounded by music all the time. The turning point for her was when she was in high school. She went to London with her father when she was 17 to study art and music.

“Since my parents were both musical artists I knew I wanted to do something with art and music and kind of rebelled against them by going into the field of art history,” she said in an email interview.

She has 15 years of working experience with the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. Before being promoted to marketing and public value manager, she worked as the visual arts coordinator. She also does graphic design on the side as a hobby, but has used those skills to create a brand and unique look for the Utah Division of Arts and Museums.

Durham also enjoys cooking, traveling, writing and sharing stories in her spare time. With her enjoyment of music, she sings with the Utah Chamber Artists.

Durham works out of the division’s main office in the historic Glendinning Mansion at 617 E. South Temple in Salt Lake City. Also located there is the Alice Gallery, named after founder Alice Merrill Horne. Durham chose to work at the Utah Division of Arts and Museums because she wanted to work with the arts and build programs, while also giving back to the community.

She serves on many boards, including the Salt Lake Gallery and Utah Emerging Museums Professionals. And she sits on the Downtown Marketing and Events committee, assisting with the Downtown Farmers Market, Dine O’Round and other community events.

She has worked for several other arts programs within the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, and was the visual arts coordinator managing the Rio Gallery and Traveling Exhibits. She also served as the vice president of the Salt Lake Gallery Association from 2003 to 2006.

Durham was program director of the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll from 2005 to 2010. “It was significant because it’s a great anchor in Salt Lake City when it comes to the visual arts,” said Durham in an email interview. “It’s a community event that people can count on each month and it has fostered a fertile environment for new galleries to pop up and join. A lot of business have joined the fun too, as we see more small business rotating local artwork on their walls and opening up their doors for the Stroll.”

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A piece that Durham designed for “15 Bytes” about Utah artists. Image courtesy of Durham.

She regularly contributes to “15 Bytes,” which is an online visual arts magazine in Salt Lake City. She serves, too, as assistant editor and managing music editor. Durham has developed a longstanding partnership with Artists of Utah, publisher of 15 Bytes. The magazine publishes two free adds every month for the Utah Division of Arts and Museums so it can advertise what is going on in its galleries, literary arts programs and more.

Durham has developed many other partnerships, such as with the Salt Lake Film SocietyUtah Film Center and Utah.com. She is in the process of helping the latter showcase its website and direct tourists to the wide variety of arts that are available here in Utah.

In 2014, Durham completed the Change Leader Program, which is a professional development course. According to the Utah Division of Arts and Museums website, “Participants attend a three-day institute with instruction on assessing environment and the communication and facilitation skills necessary to implement change.” As part of the program, Durham initiated a project called “Utah’s 15 most influential artists.” In a press release about it, Durham said, “Hopefully this program will inspire more people to recognize how art has enhanced their quality of life as well. And hopefully we will nurture a society that more widely and visibly values artists and their contributions.” She  said in the release she believes artists influence our landscape and culture. “I sought to identify Utah artists who influence and impact our community,” she said.

 

Ben Behunin, artists have a responsibility to illuminate the world

Story and slideshow by NATHAN ASTILL

Experience the artwork Behunin has created in his Salt Lake City studio.


Ben Behunin quickly wipes the excess dust away from his ceramic pieces with a sponge. He has the practiced efficiency that only years of experience can bring. The artist moves between a metallic sink and a shelf that holds the ceramic dishes he is working on in his studio at 1150 E. 800 South in Salt Lake City. His sentences flow out in a smooth, nonchalant way. “I feel like artists have a responsibility to illuminate the world,” he says.

He is glazing bowls, painting them black with a brush as he speaks. “Art is anything that is done to the highest level, whether it’s making sandwiches or mowing lawns,” Behunin says. “Life would be so much better if everyone considered themselves artists.”

Behunin is fairly busy, hoping to get in a good amount of work before he heads over to the Deseret Book flagship store, in downtown Salt Lake City, to sell his various artwork at the “Lunch and Learn” series. This event allows LDS artists to come meet customers and share the stories behind their artwork. 

Behunin, 41, grew up, for the most part, in Salt Lake City. The oldest of seven children, he not only became independent, but also learned to use his creativity to make money since his parents never had much.

“My dad wasn’t rich but could teach me how to work, so I started my own lawn business when I was 10,” Behunin says.

By the time he was 12, his parents informed him that he was making more money than they were. Up to this point in time he had begun to realize that he, like many other artists, lacked a financial safety net. Whatever he chose to do in his life he knew he had to be successful enough to make a living off of it.

Knowing this simple fact has helped Behunin when it comes to running his own pottery business. The ceramic artist, who jokingly refers to himself as Chief Slave, relays something his friend once told him. “The great thing about running your own business is you get to only work half days. Pick any 12 hours you want,” he says with a laugh.

But as Behunin believes, “Being a slave to your work isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

Behunin is usually in his studio by 8:30 a.m. and still works 12-hour days. “I love creation,” he says. “I love being able to take mud and turn it into something functional, something that has value.”

He believes everyone has an inherent creator inside of them. “Whatever it is we do we’re making mud pies of a sort. All of us probably start out as creative artists as kids,” he says. “When you ask kindergarteners who thinks they are an artist, 99 percent of them will raise their hands.”

Except he believes that many of us grow, or are even pushed, out of it. “But then someone tells a child that their dog looks like a monkey, or that there is no such thing as purple trees,” he says. “And then they start to think that, ‘maybe I’m not an artist.’”

But artists come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Nick Beckstead, 31, a character animator for Disney Interactive, offers another artistic voice to the belief that no matter what a person is doing in their life, they are still creating art.

In a phone interview Beckstead said, “My personal belief in life is that everyone is meant to be a creator. I have friends who are programmers and though they wouldn’t say it, they are creating art.” Beckstead pauses, “It doesn’t have to be traditional art to be art.”

Beckstead adds another thought onto his idea. “There is so much you can do with art,” he says. “I personally believe work ethic exceeds talent. Anyone can be a good artist and make a living off of it.”

Behunin would agree. “Too many people buy into the idea that ‘it’s good enough,’” he says.

“I feel like art is one of the most important subjects,” he says. “It enhances science and math. I mean, you have to be creative to design new things. And art is what opens your mind to the possibilities.” Behunin continues, “Imagination asks questions while knowledge feels like it has all the answers.”

As Behunin speaks an idea begins to emerge. “Artists create beautiful things that give hope,” he says. “They create philosophies and ideas that challenge the status quo.”

But challenging the status quo — having society progress — is only half of the answer to the question: why is art so important?

“The hope of joy,” Behunin says. “They are buying my story as much as they are buying my art.” He pauses, “They are taking home a piece of ‘follow your own dreams.’”

Because when Behunin creates art he wants to create something that will make people feel happy.

“My goal at any art festival is that people see something they like and that they can afford,” Behunin says. “Because I would rather make 1,000 people happy than just one person happy.”

Happiness is something people seek. Something that people need. Behunin points to the “gear heads” hanging on his wooden fence outside his home studio. The ceramic faces are molded together with gears from cars. “I used to make happy and sad gear head faces. But people only bought the happy ones, so I stopped making the sad ones,” he says.

Whether it’s at art festivals, his studio, or at small events like Deseret Book, people continue to buy his art, a lot. So does that make Behunin a successful artist? Well, yes and no, because Behunin defines success differently than most. “I feel like I’m rich because I have no wants and am happy every day I go to work,” he says. “I feel like I’m contributing joy to the world.”

Linda Howard, the art concierge at Deseret Book, talks about her views on art as she helps Behunin place his bowls, plates and books on the table they have set up for him, organizing them neatly for potential customers to view.

Howard used to teach art for elementary teachers at Brigham Young University and as such has strong views as to why art is so important as an educator. She echoes a thought Behunin has also had before. “Art is just as important as science and math,” she says. “The world would be a dreary, terrible place if we didn’t have art to uplift and inspire.”

As she walks around showing off the diversity of the various paintings in the store she offers a fitting final thought. “Art is not the frosting on the cake,” she says. “It is the cake. You need art to connect with life.”

Unstructured past creates stable future

Story and slideshow by LIZ G. ROJAS

You’ve read her story, now meet the woman.


It’s been more than three weeks since Katara Nyberg, office manager for a Utah-based lending company, helped the business relocate from Salt Lake City to its new location in Sandy. Nyberg, who is only 23 years old, not only works as office manager but also as a member of the executive team for the lending company.

Nyberg has been with the company for more than four years. Her responsibilities vary from internally setting up software to directing the client services department.

Her commitment makes her an essential part of the company as she grows, learns and directs its structural organization.

Though Nyberg is in a position where not many young adults find themselves, she credits her success to her unstructured past and how it helped create a strong, secure future.

BEGINNINGS

Nyberg was born in Salt Lake to a 15-year-old girl in the early ’90s. She began her education at Hawthorne Elementary, a school on the outskirts of the city.

There, she remembers, was where everything began.

Nyberg’s first grade teacher had asked her to go outside the classroom with her partner to read a book. Before she went out the teacher started examining her, specifically a scab on her wrist.

She was called to the front office where she saw her 3-year-old brother. Next to him, in handcuffs, sat their mother.

“I went through a lot of court from that time,” Nyberg said.

School administrators were under the impression Nyberg was being neglected and/or abused because of the presumed cigarette burns on her wrist and body. As required by the state of Utah, the school contacted the Department of Child and Family Services.

A police officer escorted the confused and scared little girl from the school. While sitting in the police car she remembers being asked if she was hungry.

“I was so frustrated at the fact that he asked,” Nyberg said.

She didn’t understand why this was happening — why her mother was handcuffed and why she couldn’t be with her.

From what Nyberg remembers, her mother wasn’t guilty of abusing her.

A few weeks before the incident her family had gone camping. While camping, Nyberg said she’d gotten some mosquito bites, including one on her wrist. That bite got infected and that’s what her first grade teacher had seen.

She remembers repeating this to court officials during numerous recorded interviews. This made no difference because in court, her recordings were said to be inaudible.

“One day, they say, if you say yes [your mother abused you], you can see your mom,” Nyberg said.

On her mother’s trial date the judge put Nyberg on the stand and asked if her mother had abused her.

“I looked at my mom and she’s staring right at me and she’s bawling,” said Nyberg. “Because the last thing that I said was ‘yes.’”

She then saw as her mom was handcuffed once again and taken from the courtroom.

Nyberg and her younger brother were also separated and sent to live with different foster parents for two years.

LIFE AFTER COURT

Nyberg was living with foster parents when her paternal grandmother was able to get custody after finding out about the children’s situation.

Once her mother was released, she regained full custody after successfully finishing parenting classes at Valley Mental Health.

Nyberg recalls the transitional period her mother experienced.

“My mother is a great mom, but I think because she went to jail so young that really took a toll on her,” Nyberg said. “She was younger than I am now.”

The family moved to Vernal in 2000 where her environment consisted of addictions and police officers.

Nyberg had to take care of herself and her brother. The adults in her life were in no condition to do so.

At the end of sixth grade Nyberg’s grandmother told the children their father had been released from jail. She offered a trip to Nevada to meet their birth father after many years of not seeing him.

In July 2004, they went to Nevada.

After a few days with him, Nyberg asked when she and her brother would return home. He told her they would remain with him. There was no home to go back to — her mother had been evicted and there was nowhere to go.

Devastated, Nyberg resigned to her fate and lived with her father.

Nevada was her temporary home from 2004 until 2009, when she graduated from Spring Creek High School with a scholarship worth $10,000 for academic achievement. The scholarship was to be used in any university in the state of Nevada.

Nyberg knew she had to move back to Utah to reunite with her mother.

There was nothing in Nevada for her. The only way she could think of getting out of Nevada was to attend school in Utah. She packed her bags and enrolled in Salt Lake City’s Paul Mitchell School of Beauty, beginning her education.

PERSISTENCE AND DEDICATION

Nyberg juggled work and school. She had to commute from Salt Lake City to Draper in order to go to work. Eventually she realized she couldn’t keep on commuting. It was making her late to class every day and she needed a job closer to the school.

She started applying to multiple jobs and came across a small start-up lending company in Salt Lake City. With no previous sales experience, she was hired as a junior funding analyst.

Initially, Jantzen Fugate, the CEO and founder, did not want to hire Nyberg. However, after persistence from the former office manager who saw potential for her development, she was hired.

“I have never been more wrong and more pleased at being wrong,” Fugate said.

Nyberg worked her way up from an entry-level junior sales position to director of client services. As director of client services, she helps ensure the fulfillment of services provided by the company like business plan writing, credit repair, website creation and lender matching.

Describing her experience working in the company Fugate said, “It’s because of her relentlessness to outperform other people.”

Shelby Fielden, a close personal friend and coworker of Nyberg’s, admires her attentiveness in their friendship. When referring to Nyberg’s past, she believes the way she’s overcome her situation has molded her into the person she is now.

“I think it made her a stronger person,” Fielden said.  “She does things on her own, she’s very independent.”

Nyberg is currently in school at Stevens-Henager College working on her business administration degree while simultaneously working as director in the client services department. During the day she works at the company and at night she completes her courses.

“My mom was passionate about me being smart because we were poor, we didn’t have money for college,” Nyberg said. “No one in my family even considered going to college.”

She’s driven by success and motivated by past failure.

“Growing up and being successful is what I was always told to do,” Nyberg said. “’Don’t be like me,’ is what everyone always told me. ‘Be different, be better than me. Make sure you go to school.’”

She sighed when she reflected on how she has dealt with the difficulties in her past.

“What else are you going to do,” Nyberg said. “I love myself, and I love my family, I love it because it’s who I am.”

High Uintahs Taxidermy brings memories back to life

Story, photos and slideshow by WILLIAM PHIFER III

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the process of taxidermy.

 

In the center of Coalville, Utah, lies a small 700-square-foot building filled with hides, horns, antlers and taxidermy forms.

Front door - High Uintahs Tax

The main entrance to High Uintahs Taxidermy in Coalville, Utah. Ironically, a sign directs visitors to a side door because the entry is crowded with life-size mounts.

High Uintahs Taxidermy, owned by Dean Schulte, 49, is located at 31 S. Main St. Specializing in big game taxidermy, Dean strives to recreate a lifelike appearance of the animals that people bring to him.

“I hope that when [people] look into the eye of my work … they can see a spark of character and soul,” Dean said. “That is the most important thing that we really try to work for here, with myself, and with the guys that work for me. I never stopped reinforcing that.”

Dean believes focusing on the detail of an animal’s eyes is what makes them look alive. “We are known for our eye work here. Our eye detail is the foundation,” Dean said. This process entails setting the glass eye into clay and tucking the hide into the clay. This prevents the hide from pulling away from the eye socket when it fully cures.

By doing this, Dean hopes that his work will serve as a commemoration to his clientele and their hunts, especially those of family-related outings. “They are looking at a snapshot of a lifelong memory,” Dean said.

While some of his clients focus on the trophy quality of the animals, Dean said his emphasis on the eyes “is going to make that memory that much more lifelike for them. … It’s the difference of having a sharp image of something and a dry poor piece of photography.”

Dean, a self-taught taxidermist, founded the business in 1993 so he could make a living and support his family, while doing work that he enjoyed. “Most importantly,” Dean said, “I am happy at what I do.”

However, Dean said, “There’s a struggle between the artist and the businessman. I’m an artist first.” He never intended to create a business that would grow and become a huge operation and he has purposefully prevented it. While he has employed as many as eight people at one time, Dean presently employs four people.

Including himself, Dean prefers his current five-man operation. “This is the limit for me, otherwise I’m going to become a manager. I will not be involved on the floor as a taxidermist if I was to add more personnel,” he said.

By running this type of operation Dean is still able to be involved in the work that he is passionate about.

Dean’s passion for taxidermy began in Montana when he was 10 years old and he paid a $1.99 monthly subscription for pamphlets made by the Northwestern School of Taxidermy. However, he only dabbled in it until he was 16. He strayed from it as adult life began to take precedence.

Dean moved to Utah when he was 18 to work in the oil fields with the intention of only working for six to eight months. However, he said the money was good.

On one calm, cold November morning Dean said he and his team of three guys were having trouble with an individual oil drill they were working on. It was the third day they had been working on this particular piece of machinery. Each night the well would build up pressure caused by a mixture of natural gas, oil and water, and his team would follow safety procedures to bleed-off the pressure.

However, the company he worked for at the time did not have an oil and gas separator, which would burn off the natural gas and dump the excess oil and water slurry into a tank.

Dean recalled the events of that morning:

Getting ready for the day, as the well was bleeding down, well what happened is within 5 minutes, all the sudden that well just opened up and it unleashed a huge tremendous amount of [gas]. I don’t know how many cubic feet of gas it dumped into the valley. By the time we could get over to the well and shut the valve, it had already saturated this valley. It was literally like fog, like a fog of natural gas. We were shutting down all the equipment we had started up, basically all your ignition sources, trying to shut them down. Well on the edge of the location there was a trailer, probably like a 6 by 10, that we had lockers in there and we changed our clothes and we had a heater in there. Well that trailer was the last thing we got to and that heater, the piolet lite, it ignited the location. I was probably 10 feet from the door.”

Dean said it felt “like standing by a jet intake on an airplane, just a roar. And obviously all the oxygen is being consumed in the air. Everything just went red.”

Dean suffered third-degree burns on 40 percent of his body and spent six weeks in the hospital. After that he was in and out of the hospital for about five years, while he had multiple operations done on his hands and face. (The other members of his team also suffered burns. One person sustained third-degree burns over 55 percent of his body. Another suffered third-degree burns over 25 percent of his body. The fourth man was in the trailer at the time of the flare and didn’t get burned until he tried to help the other men.)

“It was a swift kick in my ass. I went back to school,” Dean said. “I wasn’t going to let it beat me.”

Doctors told him he would probably never work with his hands again, but Dean set out to prove them wrong. He went back to school to be a machinist and in between surgeries, earned a degree in robotics and automated systems. After that he also spent three years studying electrical engineering. Then at the age of 25, a friend reintroduced him to taxidermy.

“I just kind of realized, second time around, maybe this was my forte, this is what I really want to do. This is what I’m supposed to be doing [and] I just very aggressively pursued it,” Dean said.

In 1993, he started doing taxidermy work out of his garage. Later he moved to a 30-foot by 30-foot building but quickly realized he need more space. He moved his shop into its current location.

Over the years, Dean has raised nine children, all of whom have worked in the shop with him at some point in time.

Stephen Schulte

Stephen Schulte stands in front of an award-winning lesser kudu.

His oldest son, Stephen Dean Schulte, 27, is the only one who still works at the shop. He began working for his dad nine years ago, when he was in high school. Father and son both hope he will, one day, take over the family-owned business.

Stephen considers himself lucky to have been able to work for his dad and gain experience in the business.

“There’s guys that go to school for this and they pay like $10, $15,000,” Stephen said. “The best way to do this is, I guess like a tattoo artist, is to apprentice under somebody. I’ve been able to apprentice under him [and] I like doing this. That’s my ultimate goal is to run the business.”

Stephen feels confident about his ability to run the shop with his the help of his wife, who does a lot of the office work. “I pretty much run all the North American sector. I do all the managing [of] the North American stuff, which we do about 200 North American pieces a year.”

While North American animals such as deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, Dall sheep, bear and many others are his area of responsibility, Stephen also works on animals not native to the United States. He said he has done taxidermy on a lot of African animals including antelope species such as springbuck, bushbuck, impala, nyala, and kudu. Stephen is excited to be planning his first trip to Africa in May 2016, and he can’t wait to see all the animals running around.

“Kudu are my favorite. I think they’re pretty,” Stephen said. “They look awesome and I’m excited to go get mine, because I’m going to do something cool with it.” About the size of an elk, greater kudu are an antelope species with large curled horns and hides that are a mixture of grey, brown, black and white.

Stephen's award winning lesser kudu

Stephen Schulte did the taxidermy work on this lesser kudu that he entered in the Best of the West Taxidermy Championship. He won second place in the Masters Division with this free-standing piece.

“I’ve mounted a ton of them, but every time I do one I get my reference pictures out and obviously the internet has everything you need,” Stephen said. “You can pull up a million different pictures.”

Like the kudu, there are a lot of animals that Stephen hasn’t had the opportunity to see in real life. He said pictures are the key to good anatomically correct taxidermy.

“That’s the important thing,” Stephen said. “Reference pictures, reference pictures and more reference pictures. My dad will tell you the same thing.”

Stephen added, “A lot of taxidermists don’t [use reference pictures]. What happens is they do so many [animals], but then they start to stylize them to the way they think looks good.” In the long run they end up changing the anatomy of the animal.

This use of reference pictures is something that Dean teaches to all his employees, not just his son.

Kelli Dixon, who is also a hair dresser, does most of the finish work on animals at High Uintahs Taxidermy.

“They’ve taught me a lot here. I mean, I’ve never ran an airbrush before,” Dixon said, “and they taught me to sew.” Dean also taught Dixon the importance of using reference pictures. “Dean has some catalogs down there,” Dixon said. “[He has] books with pictures and stuff and then Google, amazing Google!”

Dixon, who still works out of her home as a stylist, said her new job has given her a different perspective on the art of taxidermy. “I had no idea what taxidermy took. I had no clue that it was all this art,” she said.

She really likes working as a taxidermist, perhaps more than being a stylist, and enjoys the outcome of her job. “You get the animal and you get to fix it up and make them all pretty,” Dixon said.

Dixon plans on being at High Uintahs Taxidermy for a long time because she finds her work very fulfilling. “I like when you tell people what you do, and they look at you like you’re an artist,” she said.

Having found a love for taxidermy, Dixon now appreciates taxidermy a lot more. She said, “Now I look at everything and see. I look at live animals and [I] notice every detail … It’s funny the detail that you start noticing after doing this kind of work.”

It is exactly that kind attention to detail that Dean and his son, Stephen, share. Their craftsmanship is what attracts people to High Uintahs Taxidermy. They want Dean and his team to create a piece of artwork out of the hide, horns and antlers — preserving their experience and bringing the memories back to life.

3 Squares Produce keeps farming alive in Salt Lake County

Story and slideshow by CALLI PETERSON

View the main orchard with 3 Squares Produce owners Ralph Larsen and Jack Wilbur.

Owning a family-operated business for more than 70 years can be tough, but running a farm business in the urban Salt Lake County can prove to be even tougher. Ralph Larsen, initial owner of what is now 3 Squares Produce, never let that stop him from continuing what he knows to do.

WHERE IT BEGAN

Larsen moved to Orchard Drive in Bountiful, Utah, around the age of 9 with his parents and nine brothers and sisters. Since then, he has lived in the same white, green-trimmed farmhouse planting vegetables and growing fruit trees.

“We moved out here in 1938,” Larsen said. “July 18th, I think it was. Orchard Drive was called Orchard Drive because it had orchards.”

While his father worked as a janitor, Larsen and his family looked for other ways to supply their household with the income they needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

“Back in the Depression, if you wanted money, you go and find a job,” Larsen said. “We started out picking cherries. We had cows, and we had pigs, chickens, turkeys one year and we had geese.”

As time passed, Larsen chose not to leave his farm life behind. He adamantly continued his family farm and welcomed his brother, wife, daughter and son-in-law to help keep the business thriving.

In 2009, Larsen’s son-in-law, Jack Wilbur, took charge and turned Larsen Farms into 3 Squares Produce.

Wilbur grew up gardening with his father and then married Kari Cutler, Larsen’s daughter, who happened, as Wilbur said, to be a “farmer’s daughter.” This union brought him to Larsen, proving to be just what he needed.

“We started [the orchard] and two gardens,” Wilbur said. “That’s why we call it 3 Squares Produce. My wife likes to say we’re doing our part to help people have three square meals a day.”

But 3 Squares Produce is not just a small farm. Wilbur advanced Larsen’s business and initiated a CSA. The CSA helps the Larsen and Wilbur families stay connected to the community by providing shares to their customers. Wilbur said that about half of the business is a farm and the other half is the Community Supported Agriculture.

Wilbur spends his nights and weekends working at Larsen’s orchard and planting at the other 3 Squares Produce properties. Those properties include: two small orchards in Bountiful, a backyard orchard in Farmington, an orchard in West Valley and four private residence yards in the Salt Lake area.

“In order to make it as a small farm business in the city,” Wilbur said, “you pretty much have to have different fields in different locations. We grow the things that grow the best in the areas that grow the best.”

When Wilbur is not working in the orchards or gardens, he works as a public information officer for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, a state agency that promotes and regulates agriculture and business.

“It was not by design, but now pretty much my entire life is agriculture one type or another,” Wilbur said. “I’m either promoting it or writing about it.”

Though farming can turn into serious work, Larsen’s authentic humor and genuine personality keep the family-operated business full of laughs. His stories, told from a straightforward perspective, lead to unmistakably unforgettable stories such as the one about the skunks who enjoyed reading the newspaper.

“You know how we used to get rid of skunks?” Larsen said. “Barrel of water with a ramp going up and put a newspaper up there, see? And the skunks would climb up there to read the paper, and they’d read and fall in and drown.”

Larsen enjoys making jokes and sharing stories. And Wilbur makes sense of the tales.

“Actually, the rest of the story is, he put eggs, I think, eggs or something on the paper,” Wilbur said. “So they didn’t actually get up there to read the paper.”

Larsen chuckled, “Put down they read the paper.”

Even though Wilbur came to take care of the business, 86-year-old Larsen still makes his way working in the blossoming orchard and tending to the tasteful fruits and gardens. He contributes as much as he can to 3 Squares Produce and fills the long work days with wisdom and humor.

“We planted a tree the other day,” Larsen said. “Five years and we’ll be able to start picking. You know how old I’m going to be? Someone’s going to have to hold me up to pick the peaches.”

Wilbur nodded, adding, “He’ll still do it. You bet he will.”

TIMES ARE CHANGING

Though the work of a farmer never seems to be complete, Larsen cannot help but look back on the way things used to be when his home in Bountiful was not surrounded by paved roads and fast-moving cars.

“The street was a dirt road out here,” Larsen said. “We’d go down there and play baseball and football right there in the street.”

Larsen and Wilbur enjoy reflecting on the changes made to Bountiful and farming in general.

“Everything’s changing,” Larsen said. “Twenty years from now it’s going to be really different.”

Wilbur added, “And farming too. There’s not going to be these little farms anymore.”

They often look back on the way things used to be, but they still work just as hard, if not harder, making sure the past is not forgotten.

“Times have changed, and there are not that many farms like this anymore,” Wilbur said. “That’s kind of why we do this — to keep it going.”

Though towns are booming and land is becoming harder to acquire, Larsen and Wilbur still think about the beauty in what farming can do for a community.

“Every year in the spring anything’s possible,” Wilbur said. “That’s the neat thing about farming. Look at those young plants, right now. They’re just going to be wonderful crops with big yields. Who knows what’ll happen.”

WHY THEY KEEP GOING

Though Larsen has spent many years working in the orchards, he still cannot find a way to stop. He says he does what he knows to do.

“Might as well do something,” Larsen said. “It’s a good day when I can get out of bed and walk. If I quit walking, I’ll probably die.”

Wilbur added, “It really does keep you going.”

Wilbur will follow in his father-in-law’s footsteps and continue planting and growing fruits and vegetables.

“I don’t really have a complete sense at what’s going to happen here, but I do have control over what I do,” Wilbur said. “I will probably be doing this the rest of my life.”

Though towns are growing and the weather is uncertain, the life of a farmer finds its way molding into the ever-changing world. 3 Squares Produce discovered a way to keep going and remain family-operated.

“Sometimes our life doesn’t turn out quite the way we think it’s going to,” Wilbur said. “It turns out in ways we can never imagine, but it’s perfect, and that’s sort of what happened here.”

Steadman’s Fine Jewelry is proud of its family legacy

Since 1904, four generations of craftsmen have worked with watches, clocks and jewelry

Story and movie by McCALL GRAY

Meet the two men behind the fine quality — and ongoing legacy — of Steadman’s Fine Jewelry.

Four generations and 111 consecutive years later, Steadman’s Fine Jewelry serves the community in more ways than diamonds.

The Steadman family refers to the family-owned and operated business as the “cuckoo shop.” Not because working with family could drive one crazy, but because Steadman’s Fine Jewelry offers clock and watch repairs in addition to its jewelry services. A practice the family has kept alive for more than a century.

In the early 1900s, Edward Steadman was in search of a new occupation. He asked a local Salt Lake City watchmaker if he could apprentice under him but was told he did not have what it took to be a watchmaker or jeweler.

His grandson, Rodney “Rod” Steadman, the current owner of Steadman’s Fine Jewelry, recalled the “exact words” from the story, told to him by his father, Virgil Otto Steadman.

“The watchmaker told my grandfather, ‘all you’re going to do is ruin watches and spoil the trade,’” Rod said. “Now if you tell a stubborn Englishman that he can’t do something, they have to prove to themselves and the world that they can do it.”

Edward prevailed and founded Steadman’s Fine Jewelry in 1904.

The business was located in Murray on the north side of 4800 South, just west of State Street, and west of where the Winger’s Roadhouse Grill now stands.

For roughly two decades Edward successfully ran the business of clock and watch repairs. He then moved the shop almost directly across the street, to 4824 S. State St., where he introduced jewelry sales and repairs.

Edward’s five sons all took a try at the clock and jewelry business, but four of them ended up going in different directions. Rod said, “My dad is the only one that ended up with the business.”

Virgil Otto Steadman took over his father’s business completely after Edward had retired and died in 1957. He had dedicated 53 years to Steadman’s Fine Jewelry by age 81.

Virgil relocated the business to 4844 South, State St. where he later taught his own son, Rod, the family trade. Rod began apprenticing with Virgil at age 12. During his junior and senior year of high school, he got out early on work release and continued to repair clocks and watches.

“While everyone was out playing, I came home and tried to learn the business,” Rod said.

Rod expected to carry on the tradition of watch, clock and jewelry repairs after his father retired. He was never forced into the position to keep the business going, but Rod was devoted to the family legacy. He allowed Steadman’s Fine Jewelry the opportunity to reach the third generation.

Virgil, like his father Edward, successfully ran the family business for 50 years before retiring in 1986. Rod then decided to move the business to its current location at 1217 W. 4800 South in Taylorsville.

“Well, it’s usually the children that ruin it [break the family businesses cycle],” Rod said. “And I didn’t want to be that child to ruin the business.” He jokingly added, “No pressure or anything, but make it work!”

As stated by CNN Money in 2008, “Two-thirds of family businesses fold before reaching the second generation, and just 12 percent make it to the third.”

Rod acquired all the knowledge he could from Virgil. One thing he learned very quickly was how powerful the main springs in the old clocks were. Rod said when the springs — a clock’s power source — are wound, it should only be done in small increments. A vivid memory reminded him of the reason behind the rule.

“I remember my dad and I sitting next to each other working,” Rod said. “He was working on a clock, and put a screwdriver in the end of the key and was winding it up. The next thing I know, the screwdriver whizzed past my face and stuck straight into the wall! His face turned white, you know, he thought it was a horrible thing that he just about got me with the screwdriver that slipped off the key. So there’s a lot of power in those main springs.”

If wound one turn too tight, the main spring can kick back and cause severe damage to not only the clock, but also to the person winding it. Rod recalled customers coming in with their clock, a broken spring and broken fingers.

When it came to watches, Rod said Virgil was one of only two people in the state who had a timing machine and was qualified to certify the watches of the railroad engineers. Every quarter the engineers came into Steadman’s Fine Jewelry to ensure their watches would keep accurate time.

“There was no other communication to rely on besides their watches and the time, but they knew the distance, how long it would take from point A to point B,” Rod said.

Rod also recalled one of his father’s clever watch advertising tactics to show what Steadman’s Fine Jewelry offered.

He said at community fairs, such as the one at Plymouth Elementary School in Taylorsville, Virgil would fly in an airplane and drop out a Wyler watch that he carried in Steadman’s Fine Jewelry. Whoever found the watch got to keep it. The purpose of dropping them from the sky was to show they could survive the fall and still continue running.

Virgil died in 1994 at the age of 78, leaving the legacy in Rod’s hands.

While raising a family of his own two doors down from Steadman’s Fine Jewelry, Rod introduced custom jewelry making to the business for the first time. Previously, the business only offered jewelry repairs and sales.

“We sold a lot [of jewelry], but my dad never got into the manufacturing of it,” Rod said. “So that’s why I decided I wanted to learn how to actually manufacture the pieces that are done by a lost wax method of casting.”

Rod introduced his younger son, Cassidy, to the business at an early age, just as his own father had done. He did not become that involved from the start, though. After he graduated high school he decided to experience other jobs, like construction. But, a shocking experience changed his mind.

“I had a dream that I was working on construction, demolition, and I was going to die on the job site,” Cassidy said. “I had the dream several times. I had to listen to myself, and I quit.”

It came as a surprise to his boss. A month after Cassidy had quit, the parking structure he had been working on in Temple Square downtown had collapsed. He said several people were injured in the accident. That was the moment when Cassidy realized he had made the right decision.

In 2006, he joined his father, Rod, at Steadman’s Fine Jewelry as the fourth generation of the business. He found that he enjoyed creating and doing things with his hands and designing custom jewelry.

Fashion and style are constantly changing, but Cassidy has a great skill for coming up with new ideas for custom pieces. He said it is rewarding to take his own ideas and turn them into something tangible.

“You have to be really self disciplined in this business because you can fall back in other areas, like you can get distracted easy, so keeping motivated really comes from your self-drive,” Cassidy said.

Rod said the jewelry business is very different nowadays, versus what it was during the time his grandfather and father owned and operated it.

“I think it was better in many ways because there were probably only three or four jewelry stores from Salt Lake to Sandy, so there wasn’t a lot of competition,” Rod said. “Now we’re dealing with a dime a dozen.”

There is an evident shift in where jewelry can be bought today. It can be found for a reasonable price at a chain business such as the Shane Company, at a bargain store like Wal-mart Stores Inc., or multiple places on the Internet.

Rod said that when buying jewelry, it is always important to remember to look at the piece in person. Things look different than they do in a picture and on the internet.

“The problem is that people look at jewelry and take it for the price, not the quality,” Rod said. “We’re proud of quality and in-house jewelry. Making jewelry that lasts.”

Christie Steadman, Rod’s wife, said, “I know he [Rod] has great joy and pleasure bringing happiness to couples when they get engaged or for special occasions, making a customized piece of jewelry.”

It is very rare that a family-owned and operated business can survive to the third and fourth generation. That is why Rod and Christie said they would like to see Steadman’s Fine Jewelry carry on into their grandchildren’s generation.

“We were very happy with Cassidy’s decision to become involved,” Christie said. “That was our dream, that our children would carry on the family business and legacy. But the most important thing for us was that our children be happy in whatever decision they made with their careers.”

Cassidy added, “Our goal is to make something that the customer wants and appreciates. Jewelry that will last not only a lifetime, but something they can pass on to their kids someday.”

Diamonds are said to be similar to businesses. There are old ones and new ones, rare ones and common ones. But there is none that compares to the value of Steadman’s Fine Jewelry. Dedicated to the trade and family since 1904.