Ohr – O’Keefe Museum Artist Feature: Steve Shepard

GulfCoastWeekend.com

Now through September 14 is your chance to see the work of local artist Steve Shepard inside the IP Casino Resort Spa Exhibitions Gallery of the Ohr – O’Keefe Museum of Art.

Artist Statement:

Born in Port Arthur, Texas in 1955 to an Auburn engineer father from Mobile, AL, and a mother from Dallas, TX educated in Spanish and English at SMU. I have spent most of my life on the Mississippi Coast. I began fishing, beachcombing, sailing, and operating a small motorboat when I was eight. I have been exploring and studying the coast ever since. My education includes a BFA from the University of South Alabama (1977) and a summer at the Santa Fe Workshops of Contemporary Art (1976).

I speak a visionary language of deep ecology inspired by the natural history of the northern Gulf of Mexico and its disintegration at the hands of developers investing in sprawling overpopulation and exploitation.

I employ several media in my drawings. Many are on paper which has been darkened by watercolor-usually alizarin crimson, phthalo blue, and phthalo green. Since Hurricane Katrina, I have also spent seven years making black ink and colored pencil drawings directly on cypress boards cut from a tree that washed up in the hurricane. Since 2012 I have also been darkening canvas with watercolor and drawing directly on this traditional surface after applying pastel ground to give the surface tooth, necessary for colored pencils to stick. I have mounted paper to board and have included many of these in this exhibit. The paper is attached to a painted board with an archival bookbinding glue known as “PVA.” Since 2012, I have also been framing works on unmounted paper—without glass to cover it—by using a very thick 4-ply museum mount as the drawing surface not prone to buckling. The frames around these pieces are plain wood which I decorate using black ink and colored pencils.

In pursuit of complexity and visual interest, I favor busy and frenetic compositions with an attention to spontaneous absurdity. I harmonize the surface with bright, rich, pure colors. Influences for my work include many self-taught artists as well as ethnic sources from Pre-Columbian to African and Far Eastern parts of the world. My style reflects an appreciation for naive and narrative art expressed outside the restraints of the Western perspective. Among traditional/contemporary influences I include the art of Walter Anderson, the Post-Impressionists, and the Chicago Imagists.

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Previous exhibits at the Ohr – O’Keefe Museum of Art:

Ohr – O’Keffe Museum Artist Feature: Adam Crosson

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Rodrigue’s Blue Dog: Discovering Late Works on Canvas & Metal