“Artists at Work” to stop at local furniture maker’s shop – Press Release – 4/13/2003

DATE 4/13/2003 6:24 PM

This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Heritage Council on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.

“Artists at Work” to stop at local furniture maker’s shop

When the inaugural Artists at Work tour rolls into Mt. Pleasant next month, participants will get the chance to see an “artist at work” and experience a bit of history courtesy of local furniture maker Dale Peel. Peel, who owns Peel Furniture Works on Mt. Pleasant’s historic Main Street, creates wooden furniture, mostly reproductions of the type of furnishings commonly seen in Utah homes 100 years ago. “We call it Mormon pioneer furniture,” says Peel, who has displayed his creations in his Main Street shop for the past 10 years. Peel’s store also doubles as his shop and studio for himself and two assistants, which makes his business an ideal stop for the touring group. The “Artists at Work” tour, which will make its inaugural visit to the area May 13-16, is designed to give arts writers, photographers and enthusiasts a chance to learn about the artists and artisans who work and live along U.S. Highway 89.

The four-day tour will take people who write about the arts for newspapers, magazines, books and other publications on a tour of U.S. Highway 89. The group will stop at studios and museums along the historic route to allow participants to spend time with and observe artists at work.

In Peel’s shop, they are likely to see him working on a reproduction piece or a custom-made order. “One of our specialties is our Great Basin features — furniture built out of wood that is one to two inches thick and has exposed dove tails.”

Peel, who is from Mt. Pleasant, studied fine art painting and drawing in graduate school in Los Angeles. He also taught art in elementary school in Las Vegas before returning to his hometown some 12 years ago. “I have always been interested in wood working and making wooden furniture, so after I moved back to the area, I decided it was what I was going to do.”

Peel uses pine or local conifers in his creations. “I’m referring to white or red pine, spruce and Douglas fir,” he says. His most popular pieces tend to be tables, but he can build just about anything, from beds and couches to large armoires. “People will sometimes bring me pictures out of magazines, or designers will show me a drawing and ask me to build what they’ve drawn only twice as big.” He has also found a niche with home preservationists, who own old homes in the area and are interested in furnishing them with reproductions that are in keeping with the time period.

One of Peel’s most unusual reproductions is that of the “Mormon Sofa,” a sort of futon-before-its-time. “It’s basically a wooden couch that would have had a straw tick on it back then, with slats that allow the couch to be turned into a bed.” The straw tick has been upgraded and updated to a special-made cushion, of course.

Following their visit to Peel’s Furniture Works, the tour group will move on to Spring City, where they will stay overnight. Other overnight stops include Kanab and Escalate. The tours are funded by a grant received by the Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council from the U.S. Forest Service and National Endowment for the Arts.

Tour participants will also learn about the area’s history, including little-known facts about colonizer Brigham Young, the escapades of outlaw Butch Cassidy and the poignant story of Native American Chief Black Hawk.

For more information Contact:Monte Bona
Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council
(435) 462-2502
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