Beverly Ann Wheeler Mastrim
March 1, 1923 ~ February 4, 2021
A farmer's daughter, Beverly Ann Wheeler Mastrim, was born in the dining room of the Wheeler Historic Farm House. She was one of two children, both daughters, of Henry Wheeler Jr., a successful dairy farmer, even during the Great Depression, bringing to much of the Salt Lake Valley its milk and cream, but also the ice blocks that were vital before electric refrigeration had arrived. Beverly grew up carrying out many responsibilities of farm operations such as cultivating corn fields by horse, milking cows, and harvesting ice from their pond. At the age of six, she was inspired when she saw a painter who had set up his easel on the farm to paint a horse. Soon she convinced her mother to let her use her window shade as a canvas so she could paint. This was the beginning of her acclaimed career as an artist, even though she did not engage in much art until she married and left the farm.
Beverly emerged quickly as an artist when she enrolled as an art student at the University of Utah from 1952-56. She was later recognized by the University of Utah as the most accomplished of their artists and alumni of the 1950s. During this time, Beverly was an art exhibit supervisor for the Salt Lake County Fair and the Murray Showcase of Fine Arts with exhibitions at the Utah State Institute of Fine Arts, Art Center Biennial, ZCMI Fine Arts Festival, Springville Museum of Art, Cedar City National Invitational, Dinosaur Arts Festival, Bountiful Art Center, Fine Arts Biennial of the Museum of New Mexico, and the National Museum of History in Taipei, among others. She won numerous awards for her work including an Excellence in Art from the ZCMI Fine Arts Festival, Best of Show from the Dinosaur Art Festival, Gold and Silver Awards at the Utah State Fair, three First Place awards at the Salt Lake County Fair, Best of Show Ching Hai Oriental Painting Award, and an Award of Merit Utah Watercolor Society, among other honorable mentions. This remarkable trophy case of recognition was little known to family and friends, showing not just her dignified modesty, but also her priorities. She didn't paint for glory, but for the pleasure she felt in the colors and forms of nature, and to do that which only a serious artist can do: convey that pleasure and that love of our world to others.
Her legacy lives on through her artwork in private and permanent public collections around the country. Wheeler Farm honored her in 2002 by establishing The Beverly Wheeler Mastrim Art Gallery on the farm's property. The life of a farmer inspired much of Beverly's artwork, and she once said, "To me the farmer is an aristocrat among men." Many of her paintings and drawings are found in the book she illustrated, "Sunset of the Farmer," published in 2008.
Many celebrated painters and sculptors are famously recluses. Not Beverly. She was of the world and in the world. Her pieces are also reflections on social and philosophical concern for world peace. One of her award-winning sculptures is of Gandhi. She respected world religions and was curious about humankind and conflict resolution. Her interest in preservation of the environment comes through in her artwork too. She was a world traveler and has hundreds of drawings in her sketchbooks from France, Antarctica, China, Norway, and Africa. She had a talent for capturing the essence of people and their cultures in her artwork.
Beverly served on the board of trustees for the Wheeler Historic Farm House, and oversaw and approved much of the current operations. She worked closely with the State Historic Preservation Office in 1976 to place Wheeler Farm on the National Historic registry. She was proud to have the farm become operated by Salt Lake County as a working farm, museum, and outdoor recreation site.
She had a deep appreciation for music. Married first to a professional jazz pianist, she herself took drum and banjo lessons. She hosted drumming circles with friends in her backyard and enjoyed family gatherings with guitar, violin, and singing performances. She was also a Utah Jazz fan, and for several years did not miss a televised basketball game together with her second husband. She loved to take her sketchbook to coffee shops and drove herself around town in her electric car until she was almost 90. Then she walked every day to Starbucks until three years ago. She loved to go on drives through her old neighborhood, to Wheeler Farm, and up Little Cottonwood Canyon. She will forever be remembered for her grace, kindness toward others, determination to persevere, and her "Mastrim Shuffle." She was never in a hurry, and always calm and optimistic. First-rate artists see the world through eyes that see deeper than others. Then they do that which non-artists cannot do. They convey that vision to others. Beverly looked at the world and saw beauty and reasons for joy. Thus she expanded our world, made it richer, made us value it more.
The family would like to thank her caretakers and friends from Sunrise Senior Living in Holladay and her team at Inspiration Hospice for helping her in her last years, as well as Starks Funeral Parlor for their compassion and care.
She is survived by her daughter, Merrily (Morris) Kulmer, grandchildren, Mark (Allison) Kulmer and Rachel (Matthew) Burnett, and her great grandchildren Isabella, Ava, Alexandra, and Rowan. She was preceded in death by her sister, Jean Wheeler Allen, her first husband, Ray Mastrim, second husband, Herald Miller, and her parents, Mary and Henry Wheeler. A memorial service will be planned for a future date to be determined. Arrangements are entrusted to Starks Funeral Parlor. Please share your memories and photos with the family at www.starksfuneral.com
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Beverly's memory to Wheeler Farm Friends, a 503c non-profit organization, that manages funds to be used in the restoration, improvement, and continuation of Wheeler Historic Farm. 6351 South 900 East Salt Lake City, Utah 84121 (385) 468-1748 https://www.wheelerfarmfriends.com/donate
Published by Deseret News from Feb. 8 to Feb. 12, 2021.