Theodore Milton Wassmer papers, 1930-2006  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Wassmer, Theodore Milton, 1910-
Theodore Milton Wassmer papers
1930-2006 (inclusive)
11 linear feet
Collection Number
MS 0655
The Theodore Milton Wassmer papers (1930-2006) consist of various materials that illustrate the personal and professional life of Wassmer as a successful artist, as well as many other artists whose work he collected.
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections.
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT
Telephone: 801-581-8863
Access Restrictions

Twenty-four hour advanced notice encouraged. Materials must be used on-site. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Theodore Milton Wassmer was born on 23 February 1910 to Hester Hall and Theodore James Wassmer in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was the first of eight children to be born to the family.

Wassmer's interest in painting did not begin until 1927 at age 17, when he was given his first set of oil paints. Up to that time, he had never been exposed to oil painting or artists. By selling his artwork, he saved enough money to go to the Chicago World's Fair of 1934, where he was greatly impressed by displays of Old Masters and Impressionists. For the next five years, Wassmer worked days in a hardware store, while studying landscape and mural painting at night, and on weekends with mural painter Florence E. Ware. He also worked as a model and background painter for Ms. Ware, who painted the University of Utah's Kingsbury Hall murals under a WPA project grant, which was headed in Utah at the time by his future wife Judy Farnsworth Lund. In 1939 Wassmer rented the top floor apartment of a brownstone house on the corner of 2nd Avenue and "E" Street, referring to it as his penthouse studio. During the very productive 2 1/2 years he stayed there, he held one-man art shows, and received many prominent visitors in the art and music world.

A talent scout from Paramount Studios approached him in 1941. A screen test was arranged in Hollywood, which resulted in the offer of a contract. Unfortunately, Wassmer never had to make the decision between art and films, as it was made for him by the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. In January 1942 Wassmer enlisted in the Air Force, and spent three years at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas. In his off duty hours, he painted large murals in the recreation building. Due to a freak accident in July 1944, Wassmer's right arm, which was his painting arm, was paralyzed. He was sent to Bushnell General Hospital in Brigham City for treatment. He began painting with his left arm, and created a large mural for the hospital wall. He was discharged from the Air Force in October 1945 as a sergeant, but only had 10% use of his right arm.

Wassmer married Judy Farnsworth Lund in December 1945 in New York City. They left for Cape Cod where they spent the summer painting. The two studied painting at the Art Student's League in New York City and Woodstock. After focusing on learning portrait painting, he opened a studio in the Carnegie Hall tower in New York City. He spent two years painting portraits, but decided it wasn't for him. He turned his study to Cezanne, impressionistic and post impressionistic painting, observing and copying from originals. To further their art education, Wassmer and Lund made two trips to Europe to study the museums of Spain and Italy. The couple purchased an old stone house in the rural setting of Bearsville, New York, in 1952. They made painting studios out of two garages. Here they continued to live for the next 30 years, where she worked on portraits, and he worked on exhibiting across the country. Many of his paintings are centered on dance and theater. He was never able to paint large canvasses again due to his injuries. The stone house was sold in 1985, and the couple returned to Salt Lake City. From their personal art collection of American and European painters, they donated over 700 works to the Springville Museum of Art in Springville, Utah, to Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, and to the Brigham City Museum. These collected paintings are known as the Lund-Wassmer Collections. In 1990, the Springville Museum of Art held a 60 year retrospective show (1930-1990) of 100 of Wassmer's works from around the country. There are in existence over 2000 paintings by Ted Wassmer that are in private collections, or in museums at colleges or schools around the United States and Europe.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Theodore Milton Wassmer papers is made up of various materials that illustrate the personal and professional life of Wassmer as a successful artist, as well as many other artists whose work he collected.

The collection is comprised of nineteen boxes. Boxes 1-3 contain general material on Wassmer's paintings, but also have biographical information. Specifically, box 1 has background on Wassmer's first studio, his penthouse studio in the Avenues area of Salt Lake City, as well as biographical information on the artists Florence Ware and Judy Lund, Wassmer's wife. Box 2 has information on Wassmer's brief Hollywood career and successful military career. Boxes 4-7 contain correspondence of Ted Wassmer and Judy Lund, with various friends and associates, arranged alphabetically. Boxes 8-10 house information pertaining to the art collection of Wassmer and Lund. It is an alphabetical listing of their collection of various artist's works that are located in Utah at the Springville Museum of Art and Snow College. Box 11 holds information on the "Wassmer Retrospective" that occurred at the Springville Museum of Art in 1990, reviewing Wassmer's career as a painter. Also, a list of his exhibitions of not only his work, but of the various artists collected by Wassmer and Lund. Box 12 is a collection of catalogues from the Springville Museum of Art, and a Wassmer painting on the cover of Dialogue. The remaining boxes include general materials.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The library does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR, part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects). For further information, please review the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Use Agreement and Reproduction Request forms.

Preferred Citation

Collection Name, Collection Number, Box Number, Folder Number. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Biographical Materials and PaintingsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
1 1
1 2
Astrological Chart
1 3-5
Penthouse Studio
1 6-7
Hollywood and Military Service
1 8
List of Paintings
1 9-12
Also includes some Florence Ware and Judy Farnsworth Lund paintings.

Lund/Wassmer CorrespondenceReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Also includes mailing lists.

Lund/Wassmer Art CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
8 1-6
Springville Museum of Art, Artist Surnames, A-R
9 1-3
Springville Museum of Art, Artist Surnames, S-Z
9 4-6
Snow College, Artist Surnames, A-K
10 1-4
Snow College, Artist Surnames, L-Z

Retrospective and ExhibitionsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
11 1-5
Wassmer Retrospective
11 6
Wassmer Exhibitions
11 7-8
Lund/Wassmer Exhibitions
12 1-2
Exhibition Catalogs
12 3
One of Wassmer's paintings graces the cover of this volume.
12 4

General MaterialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
13 1
13 2
Biographical Information
Theodore Milton Wassmer, "Color, the Catalyst!"
Box Folder
13 3
Alice Morrey Bailey, "Art Angels"
13 4
Parley Williams Mansion
13 5
News Articles
13 6
Pamphlets, Programs, and Exhibition Catalogs
13 7
13 8
General Materials
Scrapbook and Register
18 1
Personal Materials
18 2
18 3
Art Abstracts and Essays
18 4
18 5
Photograph and Artwork Reproductions
18 6
News Articles
18 7
19 1
19 2
"Someone Up There Didn't Want Me Overseas," World War II, 1942-1945
This folder contains a personal account of Wassmer's experience in World War II.
19 3
19 4
Biographical Timeline
19 5
Declaration and Resolution in Honor of Theodore Milton Wassmer
19 6
Exhibit Announcements
19 7
Obituary Materials
19 8
News Clippings

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Dwellings--Utah--Salt Lake City
  • Painters--New York (State)--New York
  • Painters--Utah--Salt Lake City
  • Painting--Exhibitions
  • Personal Names :
  • Lund, Judy Farnsworth, 1911-1996--Archives
  • Wassmer, Theodore Milton, 1919- --Archives
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Correspondence
  • Exhibition catalogs
  • Lists