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By Karen Nikos-Rose on September 12, 2019

Published in 1969, the Slant Step Book celebrated a thrift store find that became, and remains, a part of UC Davis art department lore. Legend has it that it all began in 1965 when artist and first-generation art faculty William T. Wiley found a peculiar slanted object in a Northern California salvage shop and gifted it to his student Bruce Nauman. The rest is history.

Now you can see new takes on the object and read about it all again at Verge Center for the Arts in Sacramento starting Thursday, Sept. 12 as they feature a new exhibition and a reprint of the original book.

The Slant Step is a green linoleum-covered plywood stool with a slanted — and seemingly nonfunctional — step that has inspired artists for decades. It traveled the world. The long out-of-print book, which was originally published to accompany a Sacramento show about it, was filled with black and white images, poetry, letterhead from the fictitious Slant Step Mfg. Co., a recipe for making a slant step, and lyrics to “The Slant Chant.”

For the 50th anniversary of the book, Verge has republished it, along with a companion volume, Slant Step Book: The Mysterious Object and the Artworks It Inspired.  The reprint and companion volume can be purchased for $35 here. The exhibition, which will feature new sculptures, films and drawings, runs through Oct. 27.

Slant Step Forward is curated by Francesca Wilmott, former associate curator at the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis. She also edited the new catalog.

The original Slant Step became part of the university's permanent collection in 2012.

More Slant Step reading and viewing

More about the history is in a story by Jeffrey Day, College of Letters and Science, here. Verge’s full description of the exhibition and book are here. And a UC Davis art history timeline and photo of the Slant Step in this story.

Art tweet of the week

This week, our new feature, the art tweet of the week, is from our friends at the Crocker Art

Museum. art tweet of the week

Start planning for these weekend events

  • 2019 Ground and Field Theatre Festival Preview, Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, Thursday, Sept. 12, free,  7 to 8:30 p.m.
    • See snippets of performances from this year's Ground and Field Theatre Festival (Sept. 12 to Oct. 5) and meet the team behind the shows at the Manetti Shrem Museum. Reserve your spot here
  • Amy Nathan: Glyph Slipper, CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions, Friday Sept. 13, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., San Francisco, free 
    • This Friday evening, attend the free opening reception for Amy Nathan’s modern art exhibition Glyph Slipper. The artist will be in attendance to kick off the exhibition, which will run through Oct. 26.   
  • 2nd Friday ArtAbout, Downtown Davis, Friday Sept. 13, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., free
    • Take a stroll through downtown, admire local art, and get to know local artists during Davis’ monthly ArtAbout. An average of 30 local businesses host art, and some even offer complimentary beverages and snacks for visitors to enjoy while perusing the works. 
  • Gather: Movies at the Fort, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, Saturday Sept. 14, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., free
    • This Saturday, round-up the family and take in a movie or two under the stars. Zootopia and Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse will be screened on the exterior walls of Sutter’s Fort courtesy of Explore Midtown, Sacramento.

For the latest news on performing arts in the region, look at the UC Davis Capital Culture List.  It offers both a blog and a podcast.

Upcoming: fashion and jazz

Shape Up: Case Studies in Fashion Making, UC Davis Design Museum, Monday Sept. 23 to Sunday Dec. 8, free

The UC Davis Design Museum kicks off its 2019-2020 season on Sept. 23. The exhibition investigates the structure of traditional clothing items from around the world. See the Design Museum webpage for hours and more information. The Arts Blog will carry a full story next week.

And Jazz Night: Kim Nalley, Crocker Art Museum, Thursday Sept. 26, 6:30 p.m., $10 for members, $20 for nonmembers. Come on down to the final summer jazz night at the Crocker. Visitors will enjoy a performance by Kim Nalley and her band. Ticket price also includes full access to the museum. More information here