“For nearly 50 years, Ralphael Plescia has been making religious art to explore the story of creation in his private museum in Salt Lake City, Utah.
His project has one overriding vision: to tell the story of Biblical creation in the right way by restoring characters and tales lost to history. The sculptures and paintings are not within the rooms, but are a part of them. Underground tunnels have been hollowed out to make space for Hell and the Garden of Eden. Narrow pathways and bridges traverse groundwater bubbling up from below.
He believes the building has a 98% chance of being bulldozed when he dies, but that knowledge does not stop him from working every day to complete his life’s work …”
This is how we introduced the film by Travis Low and Torben Bernhard, “The Gospel According to Ralphael,” which 15 Bytes helped produce, in 2016.
Plescia, unfortunately, was right. Though after his death in August 2022 a group of local artists and art lovers attempted to save the building where he created his masterwork, the building will soon be bulldozed.
“It’s been an exhausting past few months as we’ve worked to parse through the generations of history that has been squirreled away in the incredible relic that is Ralphael Plescia’s Chrsitian School,” writes Utah artist Alexis V. Raush in a recent Instagram post. “Anyone who knew him knew how important preserving and telling stories was to him, and although @neenaplant has fought tirelessly to save this building, this chapter is coming to a close.”
Christian School SLC is working to rehouse as much artwork as possible and document the space before it is demolished. On April 22 they will be holding an estate sale, proceeds of which will go to Plescia’s family and the preservation efforts.
Ralphael Plescia’s Christian School Estate Sale, (1324 State Street, SLC), April 22, 11-6. $5 entry (cash or venmo). You can take a peek inside at https://www.christianschoolslc.org/
“It’s true, you know, what happens when death approaches,” a character says in Utah playwright Jenifer Nii’s play “Fire!”
“Suddenly there is no and too much time, and there’s little for the brain to do but wonder about any number of impossibilities: what would have been different had I done that thing or another, at that time or another? If I’d made more of an effort, could I have become more than the sum of my failings?”
In 1984, when Utah artist Horacio Rodriguez was in the fifth grade, he got a boombox for Christmas.
“At that time, when boomboxes were really prevalent and popular, they were these devices that could disrupt the space,” Rodriguez said. “The boombox has traditionally been like this object that can be brought into a space and disrupts what’s happening by the way it projects sound and can play a message.”
48 photographs cover a wall in Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA), making up the Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea exhibit. Each image features a striking, silver obelisk in a familiar western landscape—deep in an old-growth forest, in the grass beside a roaring freeway or overlooking an expanse of sagebrush. They denote a long-forgotten border, the lands south of which, in 1821, the United States ceded to Mexico “forever.” Forever, it turned out, lasted 27 years.
UTAH’S ART MAGAZINE SINCE 2001, 15 Bytes is published by Artists of Utah, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.