NAUVOO, Ill. -- A man with a long-standing interest in the history of Nauvoo and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will use his artwork to frame a discussion of the past.
Artist Glen S. Hopkinson, a professional artist for 43 years based in Byron, Wyo., will be a featured speaker Friday and Saturday at Untold Nauvoo Stories, an annual symposium that celebrates Nauvoo's historical past with presentations exploring less well-known topics. It is a cornerstone of a weekend of activities, including the annual Exodus and Reenactment of 1846, designed to enrich the understanding of the personalities, conditions and social currents that converge in the community.
"What surprises me is how little we know and care about what life was like back then," Hopkinson said. "When they had to make the long trek like Nauvoo to Utah, they had to go by wagons, oxen, horses, walking. That's something, when we're zipping across the Plains at 70 miles-per-hour, we kind of forget to remember."
In Nauvoo, Hopkinson can walk in the footsteps of his ancestors, including his great-great-grandfather James Henry Rollins, who was well-acquainted with Joseph Smith and followed the Mormons on the trek west, eventually settling in Wyoming. That connection helped shape some of his art, including a well-known piece "The End of Parley Street," which represents the Mormons as they are crossing the Mississippi River to leave Nauvoo with the temple in the background.
He plans to highlight the challenges in painting the history of ancestors and looking at Nauvoo "through the eyes of an artist."
Known for Western art, mainly cowboys and Indians, Hopkinson also has done paintings representing church history from its founding with Smith to Brigham Young and the settling of the west. Working with pre-production design for the church film "The Legacy" in 1990 and being on location during filming in Nauvoo spurred his own interest in the community and its LDS church history.
"We like to come out and visit," he said.
From his first visit with the film when the community "was sort of like a museum with so many of the buildings still intact" to now when "it's more vibrant, with more activities going on," Hopkinson has drawn inspiration for his art and done research to tell more of the story.
"There's just so much to paint, a never-ending supply of things to do," he said. "I paint on location, go out and do field studies. I paint in my studio -- portraits, landscapes, historical. I really look forward to the next painting."
º Untold Nauvoo Stories speakers begin at 1 p.m. Friday. A complete schedule is available online at untoldnauvoostories.com.
º Hotel Nauvoo reopens exclusively for the annual dinner and keynote presentation at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Charlie and Pam Robison will present "Joseph Smith III and Post-Mormon Nauvoo" in a first person narrative fashion.
Symposium registration is $35 per person, which includes the Friday night dinner. Session or meal-only registration also is available.
º The annual Exodus and Reenactment of 1846 will take place Saturday morning. A continental breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m. with a program at 9 a.m. at the Family Living Center, 650 White. The reenactment walk will begin at 9:30 a.m. from the Family Living Center and proceed down Main Street to the end of Parley Street -- the route the Saints took when they left Nauvoo 169 years ago. More information is available by calling 217-453-2237.
º Untold Nauvoo Stories speakers begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Joseph Smith Historic Site Visitor Center, 865 Water.
º Artist Glen S. Hopkinson will be featured in a hourlong presentation "Nauvoo Through the Eyes of an Artist" at 7 p.m. Saturday in the West Theater of the Historic Nauvoo Visitors Center, 290 N. Main. More information is available by calling 217-453-2237.
º An hourlong Exodus Program of stories, art and music will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday in the West Theater.