many of the artists calling Utah their home tend to display their
works within workspaces or galleries, for one sculptor in particular
the state itself has become his gallery as his works can be found
frequently in the open for millions to see year round.
--- Cordell Taylor has made a name for himself over the past two decades with his crafted works and monumental pieces. His very creations can be found all over both as simple constructs formed to be the standout attraction, or architectural pieces incorporated into the buildings themselves. Not to mention his displays that have been created around the world. I got a chance to chat with the man himself about his artwork as well as his achievements local and global, plus thoughts on the current art scene.
Gavin: Hey Cordell, first thing, tell us a little about yourself.
Cordell: I grew up in Brigham City until 16 and then graduated from high school in Randolph. You probably know it as the ice box of the nation for its miserably cold winters. After high school I started working in the oilfield and worked there until 1987 when I returned to college to study engineering.
Gavin: What first got you into art, and what were some of your early inspirations?
Cordell: I had always enjoyed art since a small boy. My mother had many books about architecture band art. My favorite was the Meso American and Indian but I also was fascinated with other ancient civilizations as well as more modern Da Vinci and Michealangelo. As I got older my mother and father gave me books with contemporary architecture from Brazil and Central America.
Gavin: You graduated from the U in 92' with a BFA in Sculpture. What made you decide on the U, and what was their program like for you?
Cordell: I had been working in LA as an iron worker and the economy had tanked in the mid-80's. I needed to try and train my self to a new job market. Computers were new and available to the general public and life was changing rapidly. I started in engineering and quickly realized I had lost all of the skills in math and language I had learned in school and was behind the wave of technology. I had worked in a Metal Fab shop during high school and was trained in high school as a plastics fabricator, welder, wood worker and realized all this training would work well as a sculptor. I also worked for a sculptor as an assistant my first couple of years in college and saw that I could be successful if I applied myself. I was in my first exhibition as a freshman received my first commission as a sophomore. I had been fortunate that I had all of this training because it propelled me in to a new career. My senior year I had my first solo exhibition and when I graduated I was included in the National Sculpture Societies Centennial exhibition and was awarded the Pietro & Alfreda Montana Award from the National Sculpture Society in New York for excellence in sculpture.
Gavin: Why did you decide to start up your own gallery back in 1993, and how was it for you owning it and creating their while it was open?
Cordell: It was difficult for artists to find an exhibition space and I had a studio with a couple of extra rooms . My location was also in the center of down town and Lenka Konopasek and I had always talked about doing a gallery after Gayle Weyer had closed her place. She was very inspiring and dealt with contemporary painting and sculpture. Her place was on Main Street. Phillips had also just closed their court yard gallery on Pierpont so we felt we had possibilities.
Gavin: What's the thought process for you when coming up with an idea for a piece?
Cordell: "Do it, even if it's wrong." Because if you want to make something you can't just sit around thinking about it. It's a matter of focusing on an idea and then making it be realized. I've found that if I just get started things will start to happen, besides the majority of discovery comes from exploration and then learning from what you've done and then re-approaching it and re-discovering it. "Failure" is giving up. It's not always that easy but I find when I start to work the Ideas start to flow and then its almost hard to stop. Distractions can make it difficult to get restarted. Sometimes after completing a series or a commission it is hard to get you mind back into the creative groove.
Gavin: Considering the type of works you produce, how long does it take to go from planning to finished? And is there much changing while its being constructed, or is the plan very rigid?
Cordell: It can take as long as a couple of years. I make models because they allow me to understand what not to do or how to improve upon what I have done.
Gavin: What was it like for you first taking your works around for exhibitions, and how did you take the initial feedback from people?
Cordell: I've always said that doing exhibitions are a bit like jumping up on stage in front of alot of people, droping your pants and proclaiming that you, above all others, are the greatest. The hard part comes at the next exhibition because you have to prove that you are a valuable commodity and that what you have done the second time out did the first.
Gavin: You've been showcased globally, but one of the more interesting points is the work you've done in the Czech Republic. How was it for you having your work featured there, especially at a point where they had just become their own country?
Cordell: I was surprised by the acceptance in the Czech Republic at the first exhibition. The other artists there have also been very accepting of my work and I have since made many friends there. It also helps that my wife is from there and I have learned to speak the language although I would consider my ability equal to about a four year-old child but I'm not afraid to communicate either and when I did my commission for the city of Dobrichovice, (a suburb of Prague) it was great because I was alone and so my Czech language improved a lot.
Gavin: How did the opportunity come about for you to start creating works to appear throughout the city?
Cordell: I began applying for public commissions when I graduated from college and after several years of making applications my name and work became more recognized. Many of the competitions are national so you are competing against many individuals with proven records.
Gavin: What were some of the first commissioned works you did that appeared around town?
Cordell: Just south of the Immigration Canyon on Creast View is a piece called "Divided" 1989, and on the Park City Rails to trails is a piece "Torrent" 1992. In front of Utah Opera's Offices at 350 North 400 West, "Chorus" 1998 for the city, and RDA at 250 South 400 West is "Order Of Chaos" for the San Francisco Fed. Res Bank Branch downtown interior for UTA at 1300 South Light Rail Park and Ride is "Queue" 1998, and at the Wells Fargo Building on 200 South Main on the Galvin Plaza side is "Walking Bridge" done in 1995, a collaboration between Bonnie Phillips, Willy Littig and I.
Gavin: The most current set up now is “Flying Objects 2.0” going down West Broadway. What was the inspiration for those works, and what's been the reaction to them?
Cordell: This is a commission from the city and RDA. There are twelve artists involved and the pieces are on loan there for two years and are still available for purchase. Basically they rent these works. The city does this program every two to three years.
Gavin: Does it ever feel odd walking around town and seeing all these works you've done over the years still on display?
Cordell: I feel gratitude that I have been able to contribute to the vitality of the city and I look forward to doing more.
Gavin: What's it like for you joining all the local art broads and committees over the years and giving your input over various parts of the art community?
Cordell: Its very difficult and frustrating job, because you see just how many great artists and organizations we have here in Utah and just how difficult it is to give them the amount of money they need to keep working and performing. we keep working on educating the general public on the importance of supporting their local artists and organizations so that our talent stays here in Utah instead of moving away.
Gavin: Going more local, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?
Cordell: We have alot of world class talent that needs exposure to the rest of the world. Our art scene is thriving but it also needs local support. Go out and buy an original, make an investment that truly gains value. Go see exhibitions, galleries, museums, performances and plays, ballet, opera, music, etc!
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Cordell: Yes, we could ask our city and state representatives to help provide funding for the arts as well as advertising nationally and internationally about what great talent Utah possesses.
Gavin: What's your take on Gallery Stroll as a whole and how its evolved over the years?
Cordell: It has really helped to unite the arts community and its a great time to be had by everyone.
Gavin: What's your view on the galleries in general and the work they're doing to give local and national artists a place to be?
Cordell: Its difficult and it costs a lot of money, but each new show invigorates the arts here because not everyone has the ability to travel and get exposure to what is going on in the rest of the world.
Gavin: What can we expect from you going into this year?
Cordell: A show at The Art Center, and I'll be in the studio trying to top what it was I did for the last show and doing all I can to exhibit more nationally and internationally.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Cordell: My new studio space and gallery at 964 South 200 West. Call 801.580.1746 for an appointment or send an email to email@example.com.