In Plain Site

UTAH Copper: Thomas Schulte’s Tacoral


Thomas Schulte
Copper and aluminum

On June 30, 1980, a storm in Salt Lake City blew copper off the Utah State Capitol dome. In an attempt to salvage the copper and preserve a significant piece of Utah history (the copper was installed in 1916), Governor Scott M. Matheson, the Utah Arts Council, and the Division of Facilities, Construction, and Management came up with the idea of holding a competition for artists to create a work of art from the copper sheathing. The works would be site-specific and hang in the Capitol Building. Initial plans anticipated just one completed work but the judging committee felt that the works by three particular artists complemented each other so much as to warrant three works. Those artists were Thomas Schulte, Day Christensen and Maggie Harrison.

Tacoral, by Thomas Schulte hung in the Capitol Rotunda for years until the building went under renovation in 2004. Schulte started with a welded understructure, and the copper cover has 69 surfaces to give the viewer an almost endless display of shadows and forms, depending on where one stands. The underlying form of this piece is an abstract design from the letters in “UTAH.” The sculpture is now cared for in storage until an appropriate venue for it comes around.

This column is sponsored by the Visual Arts Program of the Division of Arts & Museums. Each month the program distributes a newsletter about upcoming events and opportunities for artists. It also features a work from the collection each month. To subscribe, email

Laura Durham works for KUED Channel-7 in the Creative Services Department, curating community engagement projects for both PBS and KUED productions that foster trust and value to the communities in Utah. She also produces Contact with Mary Dickson and Contact in the Community — a digital series featuring arts and culture groups in Utah. Prior to her work at KUED, Laura spent 15 years at the Utah Division of Arts & Museums in the visual arts program and later managing communications, branding, marketing, and public value projects for all arts and museums programming. She has served the Utah community in various capacities with her role as Vice President of the Salt Lake Gallery Association and Program Director for the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll. She lives in Salt Lake City, sings with Utah Chamber Artists, and loves to contribute to 15 Bytes as often as time allows.

Categories: In Plain Site

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