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Utah Style and Design

Open-Air Galleries

July 1, 2016

In Salt Lake City, the owners of three spectacular properties converge art with landscape in their passionately curated gardens.

By Tiffini Porter | Photos by Adam Finkle

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Zelda Werner’s gold and blue Enigma and Revelation (1988) was a standout piece at Josh’s family home in Chicago. The painted aluminum sculpture appears to expand and contract on itself, depending on one’s visual angle.

For some, art is far more than a matter of decoration or hobby; it is a passion that can become an intense, lifelong pursuit. Such is the case in three Salt Lake homes where fine art is a family affair, an integral and dynamic source of activity and discussion.

While the homeowners’ tastes and stories vary, these collectors share a common motivation: Art collecting is a matter of living with things they love, nothing more or less than that. And their desire to be surrounded by beloved objects extends outdoors, where their gardens serve as open-air galleries.

Josh and Catherine Kanter

Family Affair

Set on a mountainside in the south end of the valley, Josh and Catherine Kanter’s contemporary home is respectful of its surroundings, with a design that emphasizes natural views and minimal landscaping. Approaching the property, it quickly becomes clear that lovers of both nature and art live here. Colorful, geometric sculptures are intentionally placed to complement the scenery, making their metal forms feel surprisingly harmonious in the alpine setting.

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The blue steel circle featured in the center of Balanced/Unbalanced O/Phase II—a 1980 piece by sculptor Fletcher Benton—provides a surprising frame for viewing the peaks in the distance.

“Supporting art and artists and living with art is a continuation of a tradition started by my parents,” says Josh. “They came from nothing. They simply loved art, and as they became more successful, they were able to collect work and support artists they liked.” Many of the artworks on display in and outside the Kanters’ home were originally displayed at Josh’s parents’ house in suburban Chicago.

Each piece represents a connection and fondness for a body of work, regardless of whether a given artist is acclaimed or relatively unknown. He says that living with the art in a new setting after his parents have passed away reminds him of values they instilled, including the idea that, “even with modest resources you can collect things that you find beautiful, and you can develop personal relationships with each work and each artist.”

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Mark La Mair’s Head No. 2 (1990) is comprised of a pair of painted steel sculptures that impart both visual contrast and organic symmetry amidst the greenery.

Josh and Catherine met in the mid-1990s, while  working as attorneys in Chicago. By then, Josh was an avid fan of Utah skiing and had begun building the house where the couple would later marry. Catherine, who grew up in Oklahoma, fell in love with the land and people of Utah, too, and in 2002 they moved to Salt Lake City permanently.

Today, they are busy with two sons, two dogs and active schedules that revolve around a number of social and civic causes. While their interests are diverse, ranging from health issues to childcare, education and the environment, art is a central theme in both their home and work lives.

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Chicago native and long-time Kanter family friend Zelda Werner specifically requested that her 1997 sculpture, Silent Songs, ultimately be left to Josh.

The Kanters have each served on numerous boards and committees dedicated to promoting the arts, with emphasis on contemporary visual art in public settings. In that vein, the goal is to encourage inclusiveness and help more artists share their work, which often means finding ways to make the world of visual art more accessible.

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Bill Keating’s fabricated aluminum piece Dream Forest (1978) punctuates a garden pathway.

“People get intimidated by a sense that they lack knowledge, or there is a set of rules to collecting art, but it’s not true. You don’t have to be trained to appreciate art, you just have to love it,” Josh says. “I want my kids exposed to the idea that there’s a softer side of life. The world is full of beauty and creativity. You can express yourself as you choose to, not just as people expect or tell you to.”

Marcia Price

Memory Markers

Following the winding path through the garden of her Federal Heights home, Marcia Price recalls discovering her fervor for art in all its forms at an early age. She purchased her first piece of art at the age of 16—a print of work by famed Spanish Renaissance artist El Greco.

Later,  while traveling in Spain, she was informed it was a “bad” example of the painter’s work, but that only elicits a nostalgic laugh. As she points out, there is no room for regret, as collecting is a learning process and there is much joy in finding art that “speaks to you” along the way.

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According to Marcia Price, Bruno Catalano’s patinated bronze sculpture, The Traveler (2012), reminds us that “We are both more and less than we appear to be.”

Marcia and her husband, John Price, met at the University of Utah in the late 1950s. They came from very different worlds. Marcia was a fourth-generation Utahn studying English and theatre. She describes her childhood as rather idyllic, while John’s was indelibly marked by the upheavals of World War II.

As a Jewish child born in Nazi Germany, John was forced to flee with his family in 1939, at the age of five. His parents settled in New York City, where he lived until geology studies drew him west. He and Marcia married after college and decided to stay in Utah, where they raised their family and found success in a variety of business and community pursuits.

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Jim Dine’s The Technicolor Heart is a bold, 12-foot-tall display of one of the artist’s signature themes.

Over the years, John and Marcia have become well-known figures in Utah, due to their respective cultural interests and public service. The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA)  building bears the couple’s name. John has served on numerous boards, and he was U.S. Ambassador to the African nations of Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros (2002-2005).

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Ball and Jacks by Enna Deer depicts an oversized child’s game on the Price family’s lawn.

As for Marcia, when it comes to supporting the arts, there are few who can match her energy, enthusiasm and impressive track record. She currently serves in her long-time role as board chair at the UMFA, and she is on the Kennedy Center National Committee for the Performing Arts. The Prices are influential in the public sphere, but their art collection is decidedly personal.

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Tucked inconspicuously along a winding garden path, Le Bon Genie (1907) is an intimate work by French master Auguste Rodin.

The couple bought their current home in 1986 and immediately replaced much of the lawn with drought-resistant, native plants to significantly reduce water consumption. Clearing the land revealed openings for art—an opportunity to build an outdoor collection. Over the years, they have pulled together a lively mix of artworks that reflects their travels and experiences. Marcia says she believes in the adage that “art always fits” and her garden unfolds like a multifaceted life narrative rendered in 3D.

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Standing Horse (2011) by Deborah Butterfield appears to be made of fragile driftwood, but is actually cast in bronze.

While exploring, one can find everything from a small, figurative sculpture by French master Auguste Rodin to large-scale pieces by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists. There are also many works by prominent local artists, and several commissioned bronzes depicting the Price grandchildren and pets. As Marcia explains, “You have a visual memory every time you look at a work of art; what was happening and where you found the piece. It makes you stop and think.”

Diane and Sam Stewart

Collected Wisdom

Diane Stewart believes that every home should have a piece of fine art and she leads by example. As a collector, arts advocate and owner of Modern West Fine Art gallery in downtown Salt Lake City, she encourages would-be collectors to “take the first leap toward original art.” She says people should start small and discover how each artwork contributes “its own energy.” She adds  once you do that, “your posters will never look the same.”

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Ancient Trojan Prince Ganymede (marble, 19th century) surrounded by lush foliage in the shadow of the Utah State Capitol dome.

Diane and her husband, Sam Stewart—chairman of Wasatch Advisors investment firm—are recognized for utilizing their resources to help foster artists and art education throughout the state. The Stewarts have been collecting for over 15 years, and they claim “total agreement” on their art decisions, thanks to a thoughtful, measured approach.

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Spheres made of natural wood add an organic, contemporary element to a garden corner.

As natives of Arizona and Utah, respectively, they started by focusing on prominent artists in the American Southwest and grew from there. As the name of Diane’s gallery indicates, she specializes in contemporary Western art, but the Stewarts are not dedicated to a particular genre. As Diane puts it, developing a collection requires patience and “exposure, exposure, exposure.” She and Sam find themselves pushing their own envelope as their tastes evolve.

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Mythical figures at play in the Stewart gardens. Jun Kaneko’s colorful, ceramic “Tanuki” sculptures represent shape-shifting Japanese characters. They stand as mischievous sentinels while 19th-century statues of Greek mythology figures Hippomenes and Aphrodite give chase in the background.

As a gallery owner, Diane understands the logistics of placing art. Size and material dictate placement, she says, and decisions about how to address wear and maintenance are part of the equation. She sees a sculpture garden as a “natural extension” of collecting. Art lovers want to “fill their world and look at broader vistas,” she says.

The Stewart family home embodies that art-centric philosophy, providing a tranquil urban retreat in Salt Lake’s Avenues neighborhood. The garden is laid out in sections—Mediterranean, Bowling Green, and English—with classical, figurative statues placed throughout. When installing sculpture, Diane believes in “letting it breathe,” and creates intimate experiences by considering the way people instinctively explore a garden.

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Her feet placed along a manicured hedge, Diana de Versailles (French marble, dated 1710, restored in 1802) seems poised to move as she reaches for an arrow from her quiver.

That balance is accomplished by playfully punctuating meticulously landscaped outdoor spaces with artful surprises, mixing local with international and traditional with contemporary.

The presence of art in personal spaces triggers emotions and conveys meaning, from ideals of beauty to humor  to provocation. Water features and flowerbeds are wonderful, but next time you find yourself planning your plot, consider adding a gallery stroll to your outdoor “to do” list. After all, there is no reason to keep all of that greatness inside.

Ashley Miller

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