Gary Ernest Smith (b. 1942),
Gary Ernest Smith (b. 1942), "Hay Field with Figure and Barn," 1995, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 in.

Art Collection Profile > Veda Barrie and Bob Weatherbee have visited more than 120 countries over the years, not only to go backpacking and mountain climbing, but also to explore local museums and heritage sites. Not surprisingly, they have brought home to Utah a huge array of books, magazines, photographs, and art objects documenting the wonders they saw. Veda recalls, “Having viewed art in the best museums around the world, we started looking closer to home for paintings to live with.”

fine art collection - Valoy Eaton (b. 1938), "Home from School," 1985, oil on canvas, 22 x 32 in.
Valoy Eaton (b. 1938), “Home from School,” 1985, oil on canvas, 22 x 32 in.

Their first acquisition was the painting by Valoy Eaton illustrated above. Created in 1985, it depicts two boys passing a farmhouse while walking along a muddy road. Veda recalls, “It just hit home. I am from an Idaho farm family and have two sons. Bob is from a Massachusetts dairy farm background. We fell in love with it. Bam! Had to have it.”

Now, more than 30 years later, the couple’s collection is mostly contemporary, encompassing such talents as William Acheff, Babe Atha, Erin Barrett, Ken Baxter, Shonto Begay, Lee Bennion, Will Caldwell, Royden Card, Russell Case, John Cogan, Rob Colvin, Sylvia Davis, Valoy Eaton, Phil Epp, Lynn Farrar, Trent Gudmundsen, Logan Maxwell Hagege, George Handrahan, Lucia Heffernan, Willamarie Huelscamp, Frank Huff, Brian Kershisnik, Randall Lake, Merrill Mahaffey, Michael Malm, David Mann, David Meikle, Ed Mell, Jim Morgan, Kathy Peterson, Jeff Pugh, Billy Schenck, Alexander Selytin, A.D. Shaw, Dennis Smith, Gary Ernest Smith, Kate Starling, Kathryn Stats, Bryan Mark Taylor, Clay Wagstaff, Rebecca Wagstaff, Kim Wiggins, Seth Winegar, Simon Winegar, Jim Wodark, and Michael Workman.

The collection is housed in two places. At their home in St. George, in southern Utah, Veda and Bob have focused on Southwestern imagery, while in Salt Lake City the emphasis is on artists from northern Utah, Idaho, and Kansas. Most of their art has been purchased through galleries. Veda prefers this method because, she says, “We get the benefit of working with a dealer who can advise us. Frequently we can take a painting home for placement to see if it works, though we also believe that ‘Where there is a will, there is a wall!’” In addition, the couple purchases through auctions and occasionally fairs and other special events.

Veda and Bob have become very friendly with many of “their” artists, and with a range of experts who generously share their knowledge, including Donna Poulton, Kirk Anderson, David Dee, David Ericson, Jane Lund, and Diane Stewart. The couple have kept their eyes sharpened by joining several art tours organized by the University of Utah, Southern Utah University, and Utah Technical University.

Veda has been remarkably thoughtful about the collecting process. “Several years ago,” she explains, “I wrote a two-page-long statement of my goals and ideas. I made a list of what I liked, the future I saw for our collection, and what changes we needed to make — areas to leave behind and move toward, what to look for from an artist. I considered which style, genre, or period was missing from our collection, and used a grading system of 1–8.”

This approach reflects Veda’s personality: “I’m the student of art, working at a slower pace. Sometimes that means I lose out on a painting I wanted. All the research I embark on is fun and actually helps a lot. I try to remember to ask, ‘Is this painting better than what we currently have? Are the artists passionate about their work? Did the piece ‘stop me in my tracks’? My husband approaches the matter very differently: If he likes it, he buys it. That’s that!”

Veda’s thoroughness has also resulted in a file folder for every work: its history, dimensions, description, insurance, purchase receipt, and information about the artist and his or her other works. Importantly, Veda adds, “The file also indicates what will happen to the work when we are no longer able to take care of it.”

Veda and Bob also own works by historical artists, including Conrad Buff, Jim Jones, Fred Ochi, and Edie Roberson. They especially love their scene of a barn — still standing near Logan, Utah — painted by the great LeConte Stewart in the early 1940s, as well as Alyce Frank’s scene of a New Mexico landscape.

Fortunately, the collecting process is never really complete. Veda and Bob are still on the lookout for a painting by Birger Sandzen, having missed several opportunities, and Veda says she is waiting for two other works that “I missed getting at an auction to turn up again. This time I will be ready!”

Art collectors Veda Barrie and Bob Weatherbee
Veda Barrie and Bob Weatherbee

View more artist and collector profiles here at

Subscribe to Fine Art Connoisseur magazine here for expert art collection advice, gallery exhibition news, and more.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here