Steve Lyons: “The Best Art is That Which is Organic to the Person Creating It.”

Artist name: Steve Lyons

Featured Work 1: “At the Mudflats” (Acrylic, 24″ X 36″)

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Artist Steve Lyons explores and conveys the textures and layers of both the natural world and human experience. Lyons uses rich color and poignant gestural marks to create tangible landscapes, expressive figures and balanced, abstracted works. He also sometimes ventures further into three-dimensional realms with found object incorporation and assemblage sculpture.

Lyons is a pioneer in sculptural painting and told DuJour Magazine, “I think life is a tactile environment. Why wouldn’t I try to bring that to the canvas?”

On March 11, 2017, Lyons’ paintings will be exhibited at Bloomingdale’s in Boston’s HOT Event and cultural celebration. A portion of of sales will benefit the non-profit,”Read to a Child.” In June, Lyons’ multimedia exhibit  “Finding Home” will launch at his gallery on Main Street in Chatham, MA. This exhibit will aim “to bring awareness to the ongoing situation of refugees looking for new homeland.” Below, view his related piece, “Fleeing Damascus.”

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Featured Works Slideshow:

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5 Questions for the Artist:

1. What is art to you?

Many years ago, I decided to stop being a painter and become a “creator.” Making that paradigm shift has allowed me to paint differently, create sculpture, and most importantly, originate what is now being called “sculptural painting” – which, in effect, is  a reinvention of the impasto technique from 1500s.

Consequently, Art is the freedom of expression, and that means I have the right if not duty, too, to explore, use and employ all media available to execute imagery, whether it’s on canvas, scrap lumber, as construction or sculpture.

Though I can’t confirm it, I believe in my head and heart that those who have made a difference in art understood this within themselves and that is how they pushed art “forward” – from classical to impressionism to modernism to post-modernism to performance art.

The best evidence of this theory (at least to me)? The art that has changed the world are those pieces that employed new techniques and new execution of image, from “The Red Rider” to the Impressionist’s work to Matisse to Warhol’s use of screen-printing mixed with paint, just to name a few instances. In sculpture, look what Koons has done by rethinking, “what is a sculpture?”

And finally: The best art is that which is organic to the person creating it. Something happens metaphysically to imagery – whether it’s a painting or a sculpture or performance – wherein the execution is completely and utterly organic to that “creator.”

2. What did you make in the past, and why?

I was raised in poverty and while I struggled to challenge myself to learn and become “educated,” I was limited by my environment as to thinking and understanding “what is art.” Today, I know it is a great many things, from a pendant that adorns a necklace to sculpture to a painting. Because of my early environment, my reference to what is art was limited to painting, so that’s where my first creative impulse went – to paint. I was seven years old and my parents managed to get me some house paint that I used to paint a picture for a competition in the state of Ohio. My piece was called “Angels in Heaven” and, to the best of my memory, it referenced Chagall. The odd thing about that is that I had absolutely no idea who the hell Chagall was or might have been. We did not have art books lying around, I did not look at art books in the school library (if they were even there), and art was not part of my parents’ discussions with me or my siblings at this time. In the years to come my mom would grow into knowing about art to some degree, which I am sure impacted me. But that first expression, to paint, was all I knew.

So, to this day I paint. And I paint. I paint a lot. And I am lucky that my work is in demand, which allows me the freedom to paint as much as I like. However, I am now moving into other creative forms, including assembled construction and sculpture itself.

Some say my contribution to art is the development of “sculptural painting” – which is to say that I create visual images (that are called paintings) that are highly dimensional and tactile. It’s the way I see and respond to the world, so creating images that mirror that observation, experience and desire makes sense to me…it’s organic to me.

3. What are you making now, and why?

Right now I am putting the finishing touches on work for an exhibition for Bloomingdale’s in Boston. The exhibition is a salute to my work which I am also using as a vehicle to “give back” – a portion of sales will go to the non-profit “Read to a Child” organization.

The show is titled “Abstracts and Elements” which references my career as painter of coastal studies and my recent award as one of the top five abstract expressionist painters in the world as selected by the top 20 galleries in the U.S. The competition included artists from 40 countries.

I love painting abstracts and have created them since I was a child. I simply intuitively understood them as a genre and how to execute them so that they “make sense” thematically and conceptually. And because I have a background as a writer, I am able to use that talent and training to tie the title and image together in a way that (I hope and pray) makes the piece understandable, if not more profound, for the viewer.

So, right now I am creating a lot of work – coastal studies that employ heavy impasto sculptural elements such as water, trees, dunes, etc. But also abstracts that are more in line with historical references to the genre and what I call “iconic” paintings that use gold, silver, and copper leaf to create the abstraction. I’m in love with gold leaf and other metal leaf right now. It’s a remarkable media. I – and collectors – seem impacted (and amused, in a good way) with a series I am doing that pays homage to the great gold leaf artist, Klimt. I know two of those pieces will be in the Bloomingdale’s exhibition, including “Mr. Klimt’s Mistresses” and “Gustaf’s Girls”. The show is also to include some assembled sculpture but we’ll see if it makes the cut.

In June, my show “Finding Home,” which references the refugee crisis, opens in Chatham before moving to other cities. That show is allowing me to push the boundaries for myself and will include a video installation as well as paintings and multi-media pieces. The conceit of the show is that the refugee crisis is really a metaphor for being human – we are just trying to find home. And the show asks the question, “How and why are we taking such an essential want in life  — to have a safe home — and politicizing it to the point of an international crisis?”

4. What are your hopes for the future?

   Of course, I hope my career continues to grow. I hope my work is well received by bigger and bigger audiences. That does not mean I seek fame or fortune (though paying my bills is always nice!)

But at the end of the day, first and foremost, I hope people see me as an example of a person who used whatever degree of talent I possess to help —  to help push art along, to help others become creative, to help others with monetary assistance (when possible), to help ignite passion for art, to help others understand and honor creativity in all its forms, whether it’s sewing a dress or building a bench, painting a picture, or doodling on their iPhone. Being creative is good for one’s soul – and for the souls around you.

5. What else would you like to say?

  Well, as you can see from my responses, I am never shy for words. However, I will add that I hope my personal story and my art inspires others to be aware of the creative gifts they possess and put them to use. We live in a culture that too often only admires “the big” and “the splashy.” But small accomplishments of creativity are powerful forces. One small light ignites many others…and lights the way for more creating in all forms. I also hope that in my career I am able to help people see that we are all being creative all the time – the way a person wears a scarf or tilts their hat references their abilities with design; the way someone places a pot of flowers on a table references their ability with design and creation of sculptural tableau. Art is not just a painting on a wall. It’s a force that comes to life – by each and every one of us, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in exhibitions. Regardless of the execution, they are all important and they all create a better place for us to live internally and in the world at large.

Artist Supplied Background:

Steve Lyons is a fine artist with an established and diverse list of collectors. Based out of Chatham, Massachusetts, he owns and manages his own gallery, Steve Lyons Gallery. Lyons has been recognized for his reinvention of the traditional impasto technique into what cultural writers now call “sculptural painting.” Recently named one of the top 5 “World’s Best Abstract Expressionist Artists of 2016” by the American Arts Awards, Lyons is known for his contemporary take on his award winning abstracts and coastal studies.

Steve Lyons is also on Instagram and on Facebook at Steve Lyons Art and Steve Lyons Gallery.

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Steve Lyons is represented by PR for Artists.
5 Questions for the Artist, © Julia Travers
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