In my mind’s eye, the months of a year lay out like an oval. January begins at the far left, then February and March make the turn, then a straightaway for April and May, June starts to round another corner to July, the polar opposite of January, and the oval continues. I refer to this oval often when planning out events, tracking seasons or referencing memories. I’ve created this calendar using basic shapes and dates, yet it’s uniquely mine. It’s funny, one’s connection to shapes: a square with a triangle on top is universal for a house, and an octagon is synonymous with a stop sign. A contemporary artist will flip that triangle, open up that octagon, dissect a line and recreate and redefine your basic views on shape, space and perspective.
Utah is home to some amazing contemporary art venues and artists. Take, for example, Central Utah Art Center’s (CUAC) featured artist for the month of January, Steven Stradley.
Stradley marries painting, sculpture and architecture, using the stark, white gallery walls as his canvas. Likened to modernist architecture, Stradley uses well-defined planes with horizontal and vertical lines, juxtaposed alongside functional or operational elements for dramatic effect. The process engages angles, corners, floors and doorframes, putting the whole gallery on display. Dana Hernandez, gallery manager at CUAC, is thrilled to have Stradley’s work on display. She says, “He came into the gallery one day with some friends and family during one of our gallery strolls. He mentioned he was an artist and how he loved the space. I looked him up later, and his work blew my mind. I thought, ‘Wow, he’s really good, and it would be amazing to see what he could do with our space.’”
Stradley, a Utah native, attended Utah State University for his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting. He currently resides in Michigan while he finishes his master’s degree in the same discipline at Michigan State University. His work has been seen in numerous group shows in Salt Lake and Michigan. His past solo exhibits in SLC include Kayo Gallery, Palmers Gallery, Baxter’s Cafe and Tanner Frames. His work continues to find its way back to Salt Lake as he is a participant in the annual 300 Plates show for Art Access. Stradley’s impact on the Utah art scene reaches beyond his personal career achievements; before moving to Michigan, he taught at Mountain Ridge Junior High School in Highland, Utah and formally held art talks and critiques from his Salt Lake home for aspiring artists and art patrons.
Stradley is currently working with CUAC to highlight its transition and under-appreciated spaces, such as the storage cubby and hallway between the gallery’s two exhibition spaces. Plans include using the floor space, which might not initially sound super avant-garde, but how often do you go into a gallery and walk on the artwork?
As you can imagine, working within a particular gallery, using their walls as a canvas, each piece is very site specific and temporal. No two shows are alike, and after the show ends, the walls go back to their nondescript, uniform look.
Stop by to see CUAC as you’ve never seen it before, and show this Utah artist some Utah love on Friday, Jan. 17, from 6–9 p.m. CUAC is located at 175 E. 200 S. The show will remain on display through March 15. Regular gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday, 12–7 p.m. and Saturday, 12–4 p.m. For more information, you can visit them at cuartcenter.org.
Take time to appreciate local art—slow down and enjoy the stroll.