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A DREAM SPRINGS INTO BEING AT TUACAHN

He knew he could go no farther when the thin red lines of a makeshift road melted into the brush and natural landscape. So he left the car and traveled by foot, over low sage-covered hills that led toward the canyon - a broad bowl of space surrounded by sandstone cliffs.

They stood like a high mountain fortress, blocks of red stone, rooted in time, with pocks of wind-blown texture accentuating the surface. He ran his eyes along the seams, over the surfaces, higher and higher, almost tripping over himself. The mountain walls commanded full focus, intoxicating the mind, spilling broad and breathless in all directions.Finally he stopped, having just ascended a small hill at the base of the canyon.

Before him, a natural amphitheater spread down and outward, a catch basin of sandstone boulders the size of houses, piled up and partly covered with melting sand laid down over countless millennia.

That consciousness of time - of timelessness, really - was almost overpowering, with a silence so still it screamed out an essence of centuries.

As the late afternoon sun turned the cliffs a brilliant red, Doug Stewart began to picture again a dream that he had often envisioned before, but never with the tangible reality that he sensed at this moment and in this spot.

He could see the wings of a stage growing out of the stone and sand before him, and hundreds of seats cropped up around him in the almost concave form of the hill.

From cliff to cliff, he could hear the echoes of often-told and ancient stories, a heritage of the conscious past, rolling out like brittle film, almost too fragile to handle, the images of native blood and pioneer spirit, folding and dodging through the landscape, spilling the pain and joy of generations onto the canyon's solid canvas of sand and stone - and water, gushing from rocks in a wellspring of aspiration.

This all occurred on an average day in 1991.

Since then, Stewart's vision, coupled with the resources of Hyrum Smith of Franklin Quest, and others who have linked this vision to the stars of their own commitments and dreams, have made the vision reality in a way that is awe-inspiring in the breadth of its accomplishment.

Tucked against the cliffs of southern Utah, near St. George's Snow Canyon, Tuacahn has blossomed into a complex of environmentally sensitive structures, designed to inspire the spirit and enhance historical awareness.

A huge amphitheater with the most sophisticated lighting and sound facilities wraps its practical grandeur around the face of the hill Doug sat and dreamed on four years ago.

Connected by broad, informal plazas, including all the amenities necessary for major musical and stage productions, a companion building is now the heart of the newly formed Heritage Art Foundation.

Designed as a center for the arts, it contains a large indoor auditorium and a variety of specialized classrooms, with two large dance studios, one of which can be adapted into banquet facilities for large gatherings. It is hoped that a second building for the visual arts will soon be built in close proximity to the first.

Professional artists and performers throughout Utah have, for decades, dreamed of a place such as this, where creative work might be shared among them and expanded into the community at large. To see it emerge so suddenly is almost a shock to those who have hoped for such a thing.

As its first season emerges, a bombardment of wildflowers spills from the slopes at the base of Tuacahn's cliffs - a brilliant blue-purple blossom of sage softens the edges of new construction. Golden yellow fountains of desert marigold accent the hillsides, along with the reds, yellows and blues of other local wildflowers, inviting Tuacahn visitors to share its vision, both now and in the years to come.