Slant Step
Be the first to vote…
amcneary's picture


This small concrete slab is an unidentifiable object of notoriety so great that it inspired a cult following of Bay Area artists in the 60s' and 70's.


According to the legend of the Slant Step, William T. Wiley rescued the slant step (not pictured here) from a Marin thrift store in 1965, for a mere fifty cents. At the time, he considered it a novelty. Made of wood coated in linoleum, oddly shaped, sort of ugly, and not clearly useful, the Slant Step might almost have been a chair or a footrest (but not quite).



A whole clique of Wiley's cohorts and contemporaries were bewitched by the Slant Step, going so far as to form a "Society for the Preservation of the Slant Step" and to create a plethora of works of art inspired by the unassuming little guy. Rumors and speculation about the Slant Step's past abounded, painting it as a tough guy, ladies' man, and no-goodnik. Remember, this was the era of many, many drugs.



Stories of its days as a bouncer at New York brothels have since been discredited by its original group of fans and caretakers, including artist Frank Owen, who looked after the Slant Step for 45 years. "But," says Owen, "as it was in my loft in the new neighborhood of Soho in Manhattan in the 1970s, it did have a deal of fun. It met all kinds of art luminaries and sat around with them while they ate my chili and drank beer. It was exciting."