Steve Muhs- Fine Art

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How would you describe your art?

My work ranges from traditional formats to experimental works. I have a Master’s degree in painting and printmaking from Eastern Illinois University and a Bachelor’s degree from the same place. I have been making art for almost 40 years. Lately I have been concentrating on decorative art, at least that is what I like to call it, and hope it can be affordable for a wide population. I also am preoccupied with ideas of concept art. In some way I correspond decorative art with ideas of aesthetics, which can only be manifested materially.

What are your favorite materials/mediums to work with?

My favorite mediums are paper, paint, ink, pencil, pen, etc. I also work with wood, ceramics, stone, concrete. For example, one of my favorite pieces is a piece of concrete with a smiley face drawn on it with a blue ball point pen. But for the most part I like paper. I also like the idea of using my computer to come up with images, or photographs and additions, then using commercial printing processes to come up with a finished piece. I like xerox machines too. I also like using materials that are not always associated with each other. Like ball point pen on plywood…I also like cellophane tape.

I am well aware of the traditions in painting and sculpture. I am also sensitive to new ideas with contemporary materials. I like printmaking more than any other medium though. I also do a lot of drawing with pencil, etc. that can always be put into prints using different methods.

What inspires you to create?

So many things inspire me to create. Art history, theory, criticism, newspapers, television sometimes, literature, philosophy, humor, talking with friends and family, children’s art, nature, animals, always people, much more I am sure.

I was heavily inspired by abstract art. But, I like to draw and paint figuratively too. I also like the idea of image and text together in one piece. I was captivated by Art history books. Sometimes I just cut out a page and frame it. Sometimes I juxtapose incoherent text with imagery. Lately I have been inspired by decorative art. No big ideas, just explorations of aesthetic possibilities.

I read a lot of philosophy on culture. Sometimes that shows up in my work, though not so obvious.

What is the most influential piece of art you have experienced?

The very first influential piece of art I ever saw was an abstract sculpture at the Cleveland Art Museum. I was 20 years old, living in Cleveland. I never had any kind of training or appreciation for art before that time. I was dumbstruck. I responded to the abstract works for reasons I don’t know why. It might be because I work in the construction field, and that is a pretty abstract way of experiencing part of the world. Hanging drywall is an abstract experience. The artist of the piece at the Museum is unknown to me now. I didn’t start formally studying art for about two years later.

Slowly I began to see a lot of the world as abstract and somewhat arbitrary or at least the shapes and forms of everything from trees to newspaper layout as being a bit similar, however beyond understanding.

There are so many facets involved with art-making, composition structure, color, those parts of art intrigue me more than a lot of other elements. Then ideas of materials can also come into play, conceptually.

Do you have any career highlights you wish to share?

I have had a lot of little one man shows around the country and a few group shows. Most of my shows were in Illinois, Montana, and now Ohio. I suppose the biggest show I ever had was a one man show in Missoula, MT at the Missoula Art Museum. I was also part of group shows in Seattle, Montana, Illinois and Ohio. My favorite show was at a little coffee shop in Missoula – Clyde Coffee. I loved the opening day. New Year’s Day 2000 something and there was only about ten people there and someone had a bottle of Champagne. It was great. I also had a show at Two Bell’s Tavern, in Seattle a long time ago. It was not the kind of work I do now.

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