Slater and Ratliff respectively embody more than a quarter century of the American Southwest’s leadership in contemporary art. Both debuted “on the scene” when contemporary art diva, Elaine Horwitch, pioneered the dual meccas of Scottsdale and Santa Fe. Slater recalls Elaine’s unfailing continuous installations of his monumental sculptures in front of her galleries. Ratliff, at the time, Elaine’s Gallery Director, persistently advised and supported Elaine on her remarkable choices of artists as she chose to single out Slater from her stable of more than a hundred artists.
Today, Slater recalls that “human connection” with gratitude. As a matter of fact, it’s another nationally recognized Arizona artist who originally introduced Slater to Elaine: John Dawson.
Thirty plus years ago, the term, networking, was not on the tip of the tongue for business development. Gary Slater’s catapult to the top began with that reality. Slater recalls: “I’ve always been a practical guy in a lot of ways. And I’ve always loved geometry: I like the crisp, clear lines of geometry, its predictability, the proportion of a cube. You know what you are dealing with--what’s going to happen with its surface finishes. Geometry gives me a base for starting.”
Slater continues: “Sometimes, you don’t know the effect something will have on you. I remember it was a fellow student at ASU—watching him weld dissimilar metals –his influence was the only valuable thing I ever learned at college. It got me thinking about how to weld copper to stainless later on.”
Possibilities continued as Slater recounts: “In 1972, I was contacted by J. Paul McGinn, Manager of Park Central Mall in Phoenix. He liked my work, and we became friends. The Arizona Biltmore fire of 1973 occasioned McGinn’s acquisition of the resort’s copper roofing from a scrap dealer. McGinn actually gave this to me as he was only interested in the metal’s chemical compounds. I discovered the complexity of this copper’s wrinkled qualities and became fascinated to work with it.” Slater summarizes the effect of McGinn and his copper: “This guy and the copper have been my mainstay.”
Reviewing the variety of sculptures, fabrications and explorations in metal that Slater has developed throughout his career, this long-time resident of the State of Arizona opines “It’s hard to imagine having done this in Minnesota” (Slater’s birthplace). Slater does not particularly claim influence of Arizona’s desert qualities as an influence on his work, but he does love the sunny environment Arizona offers. He does revel in his passion of working with and polishing his metals, utilizing the sunlight. It seems to encourage the bright finishes in many pieces.
In the 60s when Corten steel became a metal of choice among sculptors, Slater also joined that bandwagon. Later, Corten lost its high profile, and there were obvious problems with its characteristic “bleeding”
Slater also works in bronze when he’s not occupied with his signature styles of copper and stainless steel. “I’m always experimenting with new things,” Slater remarks. He uses copper and bronze, copper and Corten welded together in some pieces. For the last ten years, Slater has debuted work incorporating the use of glass in copper , stainless and bronze pieces. Why? “Glass adds eye candy with its orange or blue appeal as light penetrates the slivers of glass on edge,” Slater describes.
“I’m a fabricator as well as an artist,” Slater exclaims. Perhaps that is why Slater is well known among the world of architects, interior designers, developers and civic leaders. Several American cities, museums, and private corporations have invited Slater to produce monumental works for them. The sculptor has an innate ability to work within assigned budgets and deliver singular creations which vary between actually being inspired by a company’s logo to memorialize its essence in sculpture to creating always clean-lined, site specific sculptures.
Sensitive to the ever-changing demands of the economy, Slater makes maquette (12”) sculptures which enable today’s consumer and appreciator of this art form to invest in art. Imagine having a chance to purchase personally mashed copper! Whether it’s rusted furniture fabricated in the sculptor’s Tempe studio, public work commissioned for Sky Harbor International Airport, national galleries like James Ratliff Gallery at Hillside Sedona, Gary Slater’s oeuvre represents the collective history of contemporary art through the medium of sculpture in the USA. The opportunity to personally meet the artist is a unique offering February 1, 2013. Gallery owner, James Ratliff, comments: “This reunion with Gary Slater, internationally-