The Christian School on State Street will be evacuated

A December 1 deadline was set to remove the art made by Ralfael Plesia, who died in August.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Christian School at 1324 S. State St. In Salt Lake City, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. Ralphael Plescia, the artist who created the solo collection of sculptures and paintings throughout the 50-plus building, died August 14, 2022, at age 84. His widow, Vona Ray Plesia, was asked to remove her husband’s artwork – some of which are part of the building’s structure – by December 1, 2022.

Vonna Rae Plescia said she’s in a muddy, kind of hard place to be. She has a daunting task ahead of her: to continue mourning her late husband, Ralfael, and figure out what to do with his life’s largely immovable work.

“It’s different being on your own,” Funa Rai said Tuesday.

On August 14, her husband, Ralfael Plesia – a quirky and energetic artist and sculptor – Die, after months of gastrointestinal illness, at the age of 84. She and her late husband have been together since 1956.

In Ralfael’s final months, as he had stomach and intestinal problems, Fauna Ray said, “He didn’t do much, he didn’t have the helping energy he needed to do the things he wanted to do.”

That’s why, she said, her husband had no plan before his death on how to handle his Christian school, the two-story art installation at 1324 S. State St., Salt Lake City. It is, for all intents and purposes, a holy shrine filled with biblical and religious sculptures created by Ralfael over 50 years. Some artwork was attached to the structure of the building, such as the hole he dug in the basement down to the water table.

Vonna Rae Plescia said Ralfael’s father made his will so that his son could use the building until his death. After that, she said, she will go to Shriners Hospital for Children.

Fauna Ray said the family had received a letter from the hospital asking them to vacate the personal belongings building – which means Ralpha’s art and gadgets – by December 1. hospital.

“I have no idea what they planned,” said Funa Rai. “It’s going to be really fun, trying to get everything out and figuring out what to do with it.”

In a statement sent Wednesday afternoon, a representative for Shriners Hospital for Children said it was “not aware of the extensive artwork on the building and had no intention of causing any stress on Ms. Plesia. We understand the importance of the Christian school building to her and her family, and we will certainly do what we can.” To ensure that Mrs. Plesia is able to safely transfer her late husband’s work.”

In August, Kirk Hafker, a former director of the Utah State Conservation and now a consultant to conservation projects, noted that the significance of Ralpha’s artwork is due in part to how it relates to the building’s structure.

“even if [the building] It’s donated to someone like a nonprofit, and they’re given guidelines so that they need to invest that donation into real estate property, inventory, or whatever comes along as quickly as possible,” Havecker said.

Phuna Ray and her family said they don’t have much plans when it comes to moving art items, but they are considering renting a storage space because there aren’t any other options. She said it’s frustrating because she doesn’t really know what to do with it all.

“It’s kind of sad,” she said. “It was very difficult for him [Ralphael] Not being able to do all the things he loves to do. He’s been very creative, a very busy person, but he hasn’t had what it takes to do anything extra over the past few months.”

As of Tuesday, there are no GoFundMe or other efforts underway to keep the Christian school facility intact.

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