Diane Stewart, founder of Modern West Fine Art, has a different idea about what an art gallery should be. It’s not just about the art on the walls, or the floor, or even in the air. She believes that art should help create community. That’s one reason she moved her gallery from downtown to the historic Salt Lake engineering building on 700 West. It allows her the opportunity to create a space beyond the walls.
Modern West now includes a sculpture garden with interactive installations. Stewart sees Modern West as embracing and representing a larger idea of the American West—Western in the broadest, cultural, historical sense. That includes the West’s role as a frontier of thought and space.
On the other hand, her artistic sensibility is personal as well as professional. “I would never represent an artist I would not collect,” admits Diane Stewart. The gallery represents over 30 artists and features shows which include invitational guest artists. Modern West is a place to share ideas, concepts, and varied narratives. “Each artist brings creative energy and vision to Utah, which is helpful to gain outside perspectives and broaden our understanding of each other,” she says.
Stewart and her brilliant team present innovative, relevant and thoughtful content to their patrons and collectors. The gallery features curatorially driven exhibitions that invite artists to create works which challenge their typical subject matter or genre including themed or even politically inspired topics, like the 2017 exhibition “Art Behind the Zion Curtain.” Stewart says “By inviting artists to relay their work on social, political and personal issues, perspectives change, evolve, and bring about real social change, idiomatically ‘moving the needle.’”
A Space for Creatives (and, there’s coffee.) The top floor of MW Gallery is a creative co-working and event space, founded by four Salt Lake native millennials. The Foundry SLC welcomes creatives to rent a table, an office, or conference room for as long as needed. For events, The Foundry SLC also offers space for workshops or larger gatherings. The building was once a steel casting foundry—hence the name. Now, it’s a bright, welcoming open space including a photography studio with spectacular natural light and several backdrops. Count in a kitchen space and coffee sourced from local micro-roaster, Kings Peak. In short, “The Foundry SLC” connects creatives to community.
Book it, Diane: A Taschen Library Besides Modern West’s gallery, the space features a Taschen Library, one of only a handful in the United States. The high- quality art, design, architecture and photography books from this publisher are nearly works of art in themselves. Stewart plans to bring in Taschen authors and feature discussion groups about various topics.
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