16 Jul A Residence for the Arts
IN A GRASSY EXPANSE PEPPERED WITH SCULPTURES and clusters of 100-year-old trees, there are three small, traditional log cabins, a vintage barn, and their newest neighbor, a contemporary log home with a split Corten-steel roof, angled to sit agreeably among the other structures.
The new home was designed by WOW atelier and built by Paulsen Construction in 2017. The homeowners, Diane and Sam Stewart, aspired to create a home to showcase their art collection. They also wanted to establish a retreat on the property, a place where artists could gather to discuss inspiration and important Western issues — past, present, and future — and the ways in which art could enhance these discussions. And they wanted to continue the legacy of ranching on the land that Sam’s family had established 100 years ago. On weekends, Sam works in the fields with the cattle, while Diane catches up on projects.
Beyond the family’s connection to the land, the Mount Pleasant home is less than two hours away from Modern West Fine Art, founded by Diane in 2013, and the couple’s Salt Lake City home. It also shares the same view of Horseshoe Mountain as nearby Spring City, a restored pioneer town well known for its many resident artists and artisans.
With training in design from Brigham Young University, Diane developed an interest in fine art in 1993. She started collecting pieces from the Taos Society of Artists, and found that she most treasured works from artists with Acoma and Mata Ortiz pottery stand out against white walls and neutral living room furnishings. Along the window wall is a monumental bronze, End of the Trail by James Fraser; the bull’s head over the bar is by Dolan Geiman.
whom she had developed a relationship. Opening the gallery seemed like a natural extension of these relationships. She also found that no one else in the Salt Lake area was showcasing artists grounded in the contemporary West, and artists have so much to say about the land and current conditions, she says.
“I would never represent an artist I personally would not collect. I have a high regard for all the artists I collect and represent, and with the exception of just two pieces, all the pieces I have in the home are from living artists,” Diane says.
The new home replaced an adobe pioneer homestead, which had sustained irreparable water damage. After losing the adobe home in 2013, the couple debated for a year before setting their vision for the project.
“We decided to build a contemporary farmhouse,” Diane recalls. “It gives a nod to the surrounding landscape with the simple grounding of a farmhouse, and the contemporary quality is a better background for art because of the contemporary nature of our collection.”
She points to examples in the home where architectural features are specific for displaying pieces from the collection, such as the wide, carefully lit entry that functions as a gallery and the paired glass doors in the entry hallway where ceramic figures by Jun Kaneko peer across the space.
The front façade of the home lacks the glass used in the other elevations, and the windowless wall space inside is ideal for displaying art.
Gregory Walker, of WOW atelier, and Diane selected the material palette to achieve simplicity. The squared-faced, exterior logs with white chinking continue to the interior, and similarly, the Corten-steel roof repeats in the range hood and master bedroom fireplace. Limestone, leather, wood, and walls painted in the same shade of white round out the finishing details.
The four refurbished cabins and the guest room in the main home combine to accommodate 15 to 20 guests. The pool, patios, and lawn allow for gathering outdoors, and inside the main home are ample dining and seating spaces, plus nooks for private conversations.
“I am looking forward to bringing together artists who are inspired by the West,” Diane says. “Surrounded by our contemporary Western setting and their own art, it would be a venue to speak about today’s important issues. Artists are quite political, and the conversations would be filled with interesting perspectives.”
A Corten steel fireplace partitions the master bedroom from the office. The spiral piece is by Sheldon Harvey.
Editor’s Note: A recent fire has delayed plans for art retreats until spring and summer 2019. “The artworks were all salvaged and are being rehabilitated, and we will resume planning events soon,” says Diane.