Artist Statement in a Dialogue with SSJ (aka Sailor Sunny Jim the Sleeping Puppet Bus Rider)
SSJ: Where do you get your ideas from? And what about those titles?
Steve: They come to me while I’m driving, at work, trying to go to sleep at night, and daydreaming. The best ideas come to me suddenly.
The titles that come to me quickly are also the best. Sometimes I labor over them and go through a few iterations that usually turn out. The more absurd the titles are the better.
SSJ: I notice you don’t use traditional artist mediums.
Steve: We live in an age of DIY. So I get a lot of my materials from DIY stores. I used to use traditional paints, but now I use latex paint because I like the vast range of colors available. I started using more of this kind of paint after completing my first public art sculpture—I had a lot of paint left over. In fact I’m still using some of it seven years later. I also use wood and hardware I get from DIY stores with the occasional scrap of wood I find. Lately I have been using artist panels I get from art supply stores for some of my paintings. Occasionally I use found objects and recycle material such as newspaper, wire, and cords from old appliances.
SSJ: Do you ever consider doing art of a serious nature or art that makes a political statement?
Steve: I think about it now and then and come up with ideas, but I just can’t bring myself to do anything with those serious ideas. The world can be such a serious place and there are plenty of artists that feel the need to create art along serious themes. I will confess that some of the ideas I get are during stressful and unpleasant experiences in my own life or that I see going on around me, but they usually end up on a humorous, absurd note. Right now I prefer to create art that will make the world nicer and get people to laugh or smile. But that’s not to say I won’t ever make a serious statement with my art.
SSJ: Don’t you ever get tired of doing the same thing?
Steve: Yes. Some people like to eat the same thing for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Sunday dinner. In my family, we usually never have the same things to eat twice in a row for Christmas for example. The same goes with my art. That is why I’m starting to move in another direction with my abstract painting. I still keep doing my box assemblage work, but I don’t want to limit myself to doing just that and nothing else.
SSJ: Do you have more ideas for works that you haven’t done?
Steve: I have so many ideas written and drawn in volumes of sketch books and on my phone and tablet and I don’t think I will ever get them all done in my lifetime. And the ideas keep coming.
SSJ: What artists have influenced you?
Steve: I have always been drawn to abstract artists and movements. Some of the artists are Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, and Roy Lichtenstein. I have been particularly drawn to West Coast artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Charles Arnoldi, and Wayne Thiebaud. James Taylor, Dave Brubeck and music from the 60s and 70s are nice to listen to while I’m working.
SSJ: Any parting words for our readers?
Steve: Don’t try too hard to figure out meaning behind my work. You just might be working too hard. :-)
SSJ: What say we go get some papadam and tamarind chutney?
Steve: Sure. Let’s go.