Wednesday, July 16, 2014

CC3C - Challenge 6 - Burlap Panel - Theatrical Great-Grandparents

I am participating in the Compendium of Curiosities III Challenge on the Studio L3 blog by Linda Ledbetter.  The Challenge 6 technique features the Tim Holtz Burlap panel technique found on page 37 of Compendium of Curiosities 3 by Tim Holtz. Challenge 6 is sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique, and also by Mario Rossi and Tim Holtz!

I had never created anything on a Tim Holtz Burlap panel before. It took me a while to find one, but I found one at Hobby Lobby. The Tim Holtz Burlap panel is better than the other brands because it has some masonite behind the burlap so it's more sturdy and will hold up to lots of glue, paint, and embellishments without stretching all out of place and becoming saggy. Nobody wants a saggy project. Eeeeeew!

Sometimes I'm at a loss as to what to do with a flat thing. I've been researching my great-grand parents so I decided to gather up some clippings and feature them in this project. I actually had fun doing the canvas and am glad this challenge forced me to do a "flat thing" and I plan to do more.

John Henry McEwan (1854 – 1922) and Nellie Rosamond Fleming McEwan (1868 – 1955) are my great grandparents.
My great-grandparents met doing community theater back in the day when tv had not been invented and there were no motion pictures yet. One of the plays they were in together was called "The Octoroon". I found an old program graphic for that play and included it on the canvas. I also found an old photo of a Salt Lake City acting company from the same time period, so I included that on the left. They probably knew the players. Actually my great-grandfather looks almost exactly like the rightmost steampunk top-hat man in Tim's stamp so I included that stamp. J.H. McEwan was also the manager of the Provo Opera House for a time so I found a graphic that said "Opera House". He was also involved in the mining industry so I included some steampunk elements as well. He often wore a top hat, dark coat, and his mustache was well known in town. This photo of him was equivalent to today's theater headshot and was displayed in the theater. I couldn't find any younger photos of Nellie, so I dressed her up with some "jewelry". They were both well known for their acting ability. They passed away before I was born so I've never met them. My mom has his top that he wore in many theatrical productions.

They had 11 children, and somehow managed to find time to also do community theater!

My research....don't fall asleep...don't worry...there will not be a quiz.

The History

John Henry McEwan was born in Provo, Utah only a few years after Provo was granted a territorial charter in 1851 giving boundaries to the city. Utah was still a territory. His parents had Scottish accents. During the time of his birth, there was only one log schoolhouse and during this time the residents were just venturing out of “Fort Provo” to build their city.

John Henry McEwan watched Provo City grow during his lifetime from an early pioneer settlement to a thriving hub of industry and culture, with a railway station. He played a role in industry, working as a bookkeeper in the mining and coal industries, and in his free time was active in community theater performing for more than 20 years. At one time he was the manager of the Provo Opera House. He also was a member of the Provo City Council securing water rights for the city.

The Theater

The cast of the very first theatrical performance in Provo included his parents John and Amanda McEwan during the winter of 1853-1954. The performance was held in a log cabin. This was the year John Henry McEwan was born. His parents joined a local dramatic company that became the beginnings of the thriving community theater ventures in the area today.

J. H. McEwan, as he was known, as well as other members of his family performed in most of the early theatrical productions in Provo. J. H. McEwan performed in many productions with “Nellie Rosamond Fleming” and they eventually got married.

J. H. McEwan is recorded as having performed lead roles in Provo theatrical productions from 1877 – 1896 and was a theater favorite in the community. He was well known in town for his many roles and was a recognizable character in his top hat and mustache.

Mining mogul and philanthropist “Uncle Jesse” built the Provo Opera House in 1885. Jesse Knight was married to J. H. McEwan’s sister Amanda McEwan Knight. 

The Provo Opera House became the home of fine "Home Dramatic Company" productions until 1897 when community theater was gradually replaced by professional touring companies and entertainment with their larger budget productions. J. H. McEwan served as the manager of the Opera House for many years. The Provo Opera House had a seating capacity of 900 and cost over $30,000 to build.

The grand opening for the Provo Opera House was July 22, 1885 and it continued to operate as a theater until 1920. After 1920, the theater seating was removed and it became a dance hall, and was rented out for other events, and was eventually sold to the city where it was converted into a National Guard Armory. The Provo Opera House was torn down in the 1950s. 

J. H. McEwan served as bookkeeper for the Knight Company and also as bookkeeper for a mining company and at one time he ran the Independent Coal Company. For a period he was upon the stage with the mother of Maud Adams, probably the most famous actress that Utah has produced (at the time), and at another period he was manager of the Provo Opera House. He was also a member of the city council of Provo, serving several terms and was instrumental in securing the water rights to Provo city when threatened by private ownership.


Utah since statehood, historical and biographical (Volume 3),pages 332-333

Inside of the Provo Opera House. What a shame it was torn down!!!
 Outside of the Provo Opera House. It used to be located about 50 North 100 West where the large parking garage is. I think it was fitting that my son just performed in the Provo Rooftop Concert Series concert with "We are the Strike" in the very location where his great-great grandparents used to perform!

I'm certainly not a performer, although my children are! Their great-great grandparents would be so proud!


  1. What a great post! LOVE your burlap panel... retro vintage. Love all the embellies, especially the mask! Thanks so much for playing along on our burlap canvas challenge at CC3Challenge!!!

  2. I'm late commenting, but I truly love your panel and love even more what it prompted in you. Fantastic!


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