Stan Evans and a model at his exhibit at the Mandate Press. Photo: Stan Evans Photography
Motorcycles. Snowboarding. Muscular women, scantily clad, glistening with sweat. Without a doubt, photographer Stan Evans has made a career of capturing the subjects of any adrenaline junky’s wet dream. His images could be featured on an inspirational poster or a Nike ad; the collection is a sleek conflation of fashion and action sport images that are dramatic, dynamic and just plain sexy.
Perusing his amalgam of over 40 photos on display at the Mandate Press on 1077 S. Main St., one could certainly imagine his work harnessed for a spectrum of commercial purposes. In fact, his repertoire includes images utilized by Red Bull, Oakley and motorcycle shops around SLC—Red Bull, in addition to Heineken and Bud Light Platinum, even sponsored his opening. Alaska-born, Evans has been shooting snowboarding and other action sports for 18 years, the most recent 12 spent in Salt Lake. Despite commercial ties, each piece, neatly framed and matted, was showcased on Mandate’s brick walls as fine art for his exhibit “Selling Out.” “Most people kind of know me for action sports stuff, so this is a good place to get people to look at me and see other things that I do,” Evans said.
The show card described the exhibit as an assemblage of work that “could be mistaken as art,” and the display could certainly lie on either side of the ambiguous art line. Either way, the images were impressive. The varied collection of photographs was assembled in just a month, a short time to prepare such a sizable exhibit. Mandate Press, which specializes in traditional letterpress printing, had made Evans’ business cards, and Evans, after visiting Mandate’s impressive location, saw the opportunity for a show. With the approval of Ben Webster, Mandate’s owner, the event materialized quickly.
Evans, while advocating for his own work, seemed equally passionate about the letterpress productions of Mandate Press, a Salt Lake gem that has been slowly growing on Main Street for the last seven years. In addition to venue, Mandate contributed letterpressed cardboard coasters, “Instastans,” which were distributed at the opening. The front side of each coaster displayed a unique photograph by Evans, emphasizing even more the diversity of his work. One coaster featured two dogs staring up at the camera, their eyes glowing like lasers, while another depicted an umbrella, dejected in the snow. The alternate side of the coaster displayed letterpress design. “[Letterpress] is a cool process. I don’t think people really know what goes into it. It’s kind of the same thing with photography. People don’t really know what goes into it unless you show them,” Evans said.
For sure, Evans’ photography could seem enigmatic—like a movie, he created a veil of illusion. A viewer could find it interesting to discern how a scene was manipulated and discover what was digital, what was fabricated and what was real. A series titled “Art in Nature” showed a hard-bodied woman partaking in various feats. In one print she heaved a massive boulder down a rock-studded mountain. Several ropes were slung around the massive boulder and then wrapped around this sculpted goddess, who, despite the futility of the task, wore a determined expression and a black sports bra. The sunset cast a sky of soft blues and oranges. This image, like others in the series, was cinematic, capturing some heroic act with glowing detail and saturated color. Other work seemed more fashion-oriented, featuring modelesque women, while some pieces highlighted motorcycles or athletes. However, despite the intensity of many images, Evans admitted that he approaches his business lightheartedly. “I hate it honestly when photographers are super stuffy and take themselves way too seriously. We joke around. We have fun. Part of having your own job and your own business is being able to make it fun…” he said.
The fun was certainly infused into the opening event as well. Evans set up his assistant, Cory Steffen, with lighting and a camera allowing gallery-goers to become part of the art and have their picture taken. In an array of creative poses, patrons eagerly entered the spotlight, with Evans cheerfully joining in many of the shots. Ultimately, he has planned to incorporate these photos into a future exhibit. The upbeat environment was replete with a DJ that blasted music, blending techno tunes with the warm spring air that channeled through Mandate’s wide open doors.
Certainly, Evans seems to be living many a photographer’s dream. Yet he still aims higher. “I pretty much want to hang out with Kanye and Jay-Z and throw $100 bills in the air,” he said. Someday, maybe he will, but until then his goals are a little more realistic. “I just want to shoot commercial work, shoot cool stuff and interesting people in interesting places and have my own little perspective on it,” he said. Sure, maybe Evans has “sold out,” foregoing the life of a starving artist for the sweet rewards of commercialism, but at least he’s having fun.
Check out more of Stan Evans' work at stanevansphoto.com and stanevansphoto.blogspot.com.