Finding an art career, at a grocery store

Jun 27, 2018, 6:30 PM | Updated: 9:13 pm

DRAPER, Utah – Harmons – to James Bennion and Scotty Clawson – isn’t just a grocery store.  It’s an art gallery.

“Some customers tell me they’re walking through an art gallery.  It doesn’t feel like grocery shopping,” Bennion says.

Bennion and Clawson are part of a small army of sign-painting artists employed by the company to add color, character, and characters to the grocery stores.

In Bennion’s Bangerter Crossing store, Lucille Ball cries among the onions.  In produce, Sponge Bob hangs out with the pineapples.  Down the bulk food aisle, Andres the Giant recites his famous line from “The Princess Bride” – “Anybody want a peanut?”

“Some customers tell me they’re walking through an art gallery.  It doesn’t feel like grocery shopping.”

Today Bennion draws bread, but he started out baking it.  He made artisan bread in the store bakery but dreamed of becoming an artist.

“When I was a kid I used to watch my mom pull out a canvas easel and start painting along with (television artist) Bob Ross,” he says.   “I was thought that was cool and I started drawing ever since.”  When he found out Harmons hired artists he says he pestered his employer until he got the job.

Scotty Clawson was a motorcycle mechanic and a mechanical engineering student but, also secretly dreamed of becoming an artist.  He took an art class and he says the instructor convinced him to switch careers.  He quit engineering school and started taking art classes but he says he didn’t get much support.

“I had multiple people tell me you’re never going to amount to much you’re never going to go anywhere you’re never going to do anything,” Clawson says.

He says he didn’t truly believe he’d made the right decision until, at age 29, he thought he was having a stroke.

He says he was helping his father install a door when he started to slouch to one side and was having difficulty speaking.  Family members quickly rushed him to the hospital.  Clawson had a Transient Ischemic Attack, a ”mini-stroke,” from which he fully recovered.

“It made him more passionate about life and about what is pursuing,” says his wife, Jessica Clawson. “You never know when your last day’s gonna be and so he wanted to enjoy life and be passionate about it.”

Clawson, showing off his work at the Harmons at Traverse Mountain, points out a sign advertising balloons.  It depicts a bundle of balloons pulling a grocery store up into the sky, a reference to the movie “Up.”

“I love the story of ‘Up,’ taking something that seems a little far-fetched and making it plausible,” he says.  “Making a decision, changing your life and going on a new adventure.”

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Finding an art career, at a grocery store