For February we’re asking Utah artists about a specific piece of art or artist, living or not, local or global, that has sparked their curiosity or influenced their work. We’ll be running some of their responses throughout the month.
Bonnie Scott lives in Salt Lake City, but her art boxes can be found in collections across the United States and Europe displayed on coffee tables and bookcases, their uses limited only by the owner’s imagination. They are keepsakes you can keep things in.
Scott constructs her creations from bottom to top, cutting boards, covering the resulting form in book cloth or paper, lining it in something contrasting and finally screwing on an interesting handle. “I deal with lines and angles and small hand tools,” she says. “Box making is just a tiny part of the local art scene. So while I know many artists, I had never thought about what or who inspires the process of making a box. And then . . .”
She recently accepted a commission from Entrada Institute for a box intended to house a set of five of V. Douglas Snow’s etchings — artist’s proofs of those contained in Wallace Stegner’s Wilderness Letter, a rare Red Butte Garden Press publication; a copy of the letter is included in the box. The donor, Susan Snow, the late artist’s wife, gave the set in support of Entrada’s $1.2 million capital campaign to build a cultural center in Torrey.
“Snow’s work,” says Scott, “both as a professor and a painter was familiar to me, but to try to make a box for a Utah legend truly inspired me to first explore the artist. To plan the box I was going to build, I started with a quick read of Final Light, Frank McEntire’s book about Snow, and I decided to make the box large enough to include a copy of it with the etchings. I also listened to a CD of Doug Fabrizio’s interviews with the artist on KUER, and perused another slim volume of Mr. Snow’s work.
“I began with an image of his color palette, as well as the interesting story of his life, extracted from the ‘Radio West’ podcasts and Frank’s essay in the book. I had never designed a box meant to reflect an individual, and I quickly discovered this project changed the vocabulary I use: process became design, engineering, and quality. Listening became consideration and voice.”
The box, Scott says, inspired work that reflected the artist: “Ceramic and mahogany handle for the lid mimics Cockscomb [a mountain he frequently painted that was visible from his Torrey studio].” She found the ceramic pieces at potter Ben Behunin’s; framer M. Scott Gardner created the underlying mahogany for her handle design.
The box was covered and lined with colors from Snow’s palette. “It was an extraordinary experience for me, and he taught me well,” says Bonnie Scott, box maker.
You can see her work at https://www.facebook.com/bonjscott
A graduate of the University of Utah, Ann Poore is a freelance writer and editor who spent most of her career at The Salt Lake Tribune. She was the 2018 recipient of the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Artist Award in the Literary Arts.