Thousands of people a year pass by a mural to what closely resembles the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover and never know why it’s in downtown (250 S. 400 W.) Salt Lake City or who created it.
If they only knew that it was Jann Haworth―one of the most accomplished pop artists since the 1960s, who lives and works in Utah and is helping to shine a light on seemingly forgotten but important women. The 2004 SLC Peppers mural was a reboot to include a more diverse group of people since the 1967 iconic record was released.
Now, Haworth and others are working on a Utah-centric piece to commemorate the anniversary of women’s suffrage a century ago. The collaborative work will honor 200-plus Utah women from all walks of life who are being nominated in workshops throughout the state and by word of mouth. The mural is slated to be unveiled in August on the Dinwoody building (37 W 100 S), owned by Zions Bank, which is also providing funding.
Changing the once male-dominated art scene has been one of Haworth’s prerogatives, but more needs to be done to recognize not only female artists but women in social activism, science and other endeavors, she says.
“We can’t yet sit down and enjoy the spoils of our marches and the Me Too movement,” she says. “The needle is moving, and it’s high time that we heard other voices.”
Growing up in California in the ‘40s, Haworth was influenced by her parents. Her mother was a painter, printmaker and ceramist, and her father was an art director who won an Oscar for the film Sayonara, starring Marlon Brando.
Unlike others, she never felt star struck and thought of the celebrities as equal to everyone else working behind the scenes or on set.
“I was around people who were famous, but I was a kid, and to me they were boring adults,” she says. “To me, they were working people, making mistakes, messing up lines. Billy Wilder was as important as the actor or the prop man.”
Even with Beatlemania in full swing, meeting band members and tapped to design the album’s cover with her then-husband Peter Blake, she says she never was a big fan. Instead, she preferred songs played by the trailblazing disc jockey Hunter Hancock, who is credited with exposing the West Coast to rhythm and blues.
“A white boy band isn’t for all,” she says, recalling her emotions evoked by Hancock’s programs and playlists.
Haworth’s proudest achievements include raising her three children, being a stepmother, and working on the centenary project underway for women being able to vote one hundred years ago.
Another fait accompli is The Work In Progress exhibition designed by Haworth, her daughter, Liberty Blake, and other artists featuring portraits of more than 100 women that is on display in Chichester, England, in the esteemed Pallant House Gallery through February 23.
If she hadn’t grown up in the Hollywood glam sensation of the ‘40s and ‘50s, Haworth could imagine herself being a geologist, especially in Utah, with the diverse landscapes from the mountains to the red rocks and deserts. They are part of the reason she put down roots here in 1997.
Perhaps someday other artists will pay homage to Haworth, and younger generations will see her image in a mural and know what she achieved. But that is not her goal.
“I eschew the whole concept of self promotion,” she says. “I do applaud the changes that have taken place, but we have a long way to go.”
And, certainly, she is not the only one who feels that way.
Diane Stewart, founder of the Modern West Fine Art Gallery (412 S 700 W) bought one of Haworth’s pieces in Paris and the two have shared their passion for boosting women artists for almost eight years.
“Jann pushes the spotlight and the focus on other women artists,” she says. “I work with quite a lot of artists whose egos are tricky to deal with, and Jann is not one of them. I marched with her in Washington, and she is an amazing woman to me and so many others and shows how we need to support each other. We need these women to be recognized for all of their contributions, not only in Utah, but well beyond.”