The Gillen children were taught to serve the community. It’s a lesson JoDee Gillen Allred still remembers. Her father, Calvin Gillen, served as the Murray chief of police and worked with various civic organizations. Allred’s mother, Arlene Gillen, served on the Murray City Council, ran for mayor and is recognized for her volunteer contributions.
“They lived what they believed,” Allred said. “From the time I was very young, it was very clear.”
So it’s no surprise Allred wants to improve the community in her own way, one beautiful painting at a time.
Allred and her husband, Jim, traveled to Texas for their wedding anniversary last year to study with world-renowned portrait artist Mark Carder. She trained with Carder for an intense eight days and returned to Murray with very technical artistic skills.
She had done painting in the past for fun, but now she wanted to give back to Murray by providing beautiful artwork. During this time, her father was dying and a police officer presented the family with a portrait of her parents. It touched her heart and sparked an idea.
Allred contacted Mayor Ted Eyre and asked if he’d be willing to have a portrait painted for free that could be displayed in city hall.
“I’ve never had a request like that before,” Eyre said. “I was thrilled that someone from our community was willing to do this and donate it. It is typical of the charitable kindness of the people who live here.”
Allred took dozens of photos of Eyre to capture every aspect of his countenance and personality. She spent more than 40 hours working on the portrait before unveiling it for the mayor.
“What I saw in him was energetic and youthful,” Allred said. “I wanted to give him a portrait that he can have and hang onto when he’s my dad’s age; that he can look back at a happy time in his life.” With her trademark humor she added, “It’s probably good that I got the portrait done early in his term.”
After seeing the portrait, Eyre asked Allred if she’d be willing to display her other paintings in his newly-renovated office on a rotating basis so Murray residents visiting city hall could enjoy her artwork.
“It’s an absolutely beautiful painting,” he said. “I was just honored that she would do this for me and my family.”
Allred’s husband recently began painting, and both of their artwork can be seen at their car dealership, Happy Auto Sales in Murray (5555 South State Street). In addition to the mayor’s painting, Allred completed a portrait of Gov. Gary Herbert and his wife, Jeanette.
“I want to give God the glory for giving me the opportunity to go back to Texas and the opportunity to paint,” she said. “This is all because of Him.”