Jared Steffensen, a Salt Lake City-based artist and curator, repurposes broken skateboard decks into enigmatic, nearly inexplicable sculptural artworks in the Current Work exhibition Nosey Taily and the Leftover Review.
Jared Steffensen: Nosey Taily and the Leftover Review
August 18–September 29, 2023
Current Work, Salt Lake City
Some time ago, Jared Steffensen’s friend, who snaps skateboards on the regular, offered the Salt Lake City-based artist a stack of broken boards. Steffensen, a lifelong skateboarder, grabbed the shrapnel and figured he could use the detritus at some point.
What does that have to do with the artist’s exhibition Nosey Taily and the Leftover Review, which showcases mystifying linear and curved sculptures that seem to be created from some sort of wood product? Exactly.
Walking into the relatively new and so-far always impressive Current Work, the visitor encounters three-dimensional objects. Other than some visible skateboard screws that Steffensen has utilized to affix a number of the sculptures to the wall, these works don’t resemble the materials’ origin. Remarkably—somehow—these pieces are the transformed remnants of the busted boards.
The show, which also features works made from skateboards Steffensen has personally wrecked while street skating, includes sculptures fashioned from the boards’ cut-off noses and tails (the Nosey Taily pieces) and the middle of the skateboards (the Leftover Review works). Generally speaking, the artist molded the colorful pieces by cutting the curved shape of each skateboard with a bandsaw over and over and from large to small (“kind of like a rainbow,” he says), and then employed glue and small bamboo dowels to connect each skinny piece with the next.
Viewing these works in person—all twenty-eight are uniquely shaped and blend colorful patterns from the original skateboard’s artwork with the deck’s innards—and considering the inherent concave nature of a skateboard, it’s likely that Steffensen’s sculptures came to form intuitively.
The pieces lend themselves to creative hangings within Current Work. Leftover No. 18 (all works 2023), a large crescent moon–shaped work that hangs high from the main gallery’s entry, beautifully and unexpectedly hugs an architectural contour that’s often underutilized by galleries. Nearby, Leftover No. 4, presented on a wooden pedestal, resembles a scrambled alternative alphabet, like one of those business signs (a fast-food chain, a mechanic’s shop) where the wind has blown all of the letters together and on top of one another.
The Leftover Review works are more straight-shaped compared to the circular curvature of the Nosey Taily pieces, which, in many cases, interact with the natural and gallery light to create their own unique shadow works—the dark spots from Nosey Taily No. 11 recall bicycle tires both realistic and abstracted.
One of the biggest rewards of the show, expertly hung by Steffensen, curator of exhibitions at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Salt Lake, is garnered by swiveling around many of the works to view the sculptures from different vantage points, whether it’s standing on tippy-toes, craning a neck to the side, or crouching down to inspect from below—it’s a show within the show. One may also see the scrapings from the asphalt or a sidewalk curb, another one of the only other subtle clues that these are somehow skateboards in an exhibition that’s playful, dynamic, and original.