Steve is our seventh featured 2019 artist in our fourth 7x7x7 Series, which asks 7 questions to 7 Charlottesville artists and published once a week for 7 weeks.
If you had a free afternoon in Charlottesville what would you do or where would you go?
I work downtown, so an easy walk along the downtown mall is great for people watching, sketching, getting coffee, and finding inspiration. I especially like drawing the back alleys with their wires and cans - the kind of lived-in detail you just can't make up.
Describe your artistic work in 7 words.
Searching for the heart of the story.
Who or what inspires your current work?
I came to art via Illustration. Some of the greats that continue to inspire me are Ronald Searle and Ralph Steadman with their beautifully intricate and passionate messes. Of the dead white guys, Paul Klee and Thomas Hart Benton are artists that I regularly go back to that blow my hair back. We are incredibly lucky here in Charlottesville to have the Kluge-Rhue Museum so easily accessible because I am always highly impressed by the aboriginal art they display there. The meditative patterns and deep cultural meaning behind such emotive 2D and 3D mixtures of materials is truly amazing.
Consider one piece you’re working on right now. Give us a snippet of your routine—from start to finish, what goes into making it?
I always start with drawing. I can get lost in the act of observational drawing almost any subject. I primarily use a well-worn sketchbook, but recently have enjoyed drawing on more unexpected surfaces too. I love getting lost in the details--the kind of specific elements I would be hard-pressed to be able to make up. I collect the drawings on my computer by scanning and isolating them with photoshop. Then I print the drawings out at various scales and sometimes in multiples. I try not to get too caught up in the subject of the drawings at this point. I painstakingly cut out all the drawings into their interesting shapes, sometimes dissecting them in ways that make them less recognizable. Continuing the push towards abstraction, I start to piece the drawings together as if they are puzzle pieces to which there is no reference photo. I can push them in a direction, but often they have their own gravity and pull to become unpredictable shapes and forms. I then go back in to draw more connective details as the piece calls for. Often when working the collage towards a desired outcome, usually a particular scale or theme, I find that the pieces collect to make interesting forms which might not apply, but are still worthy—little orphans which eventually build their own lives in future assemblages.
What have you learned about yourself as a person through the experience of making art?
I have surprised myself in how slowly I actually like to take things. It is not just as I get older either. When I think back to being a child and the hurry that I was always in, making art/drawing was always a refuge that I could lose hours in. The business side of art is frustrating to me. It tends to get in the way of the time I would rather spend drawing.
What would you like to see happen in Charlottesville to better support artists in our community?
To have a great artist community it must be vertically integrated. We definitely have an incredibly rich pool of artists here in Charlottesville. Organizations like New City Arts, Second Street Gallery, The Bridge and McGuffey are also absolutely necessary for a healthy scene. There needs to be more! There is no such thing as too much competition in the Arts. We need more gallery spaces and alternative spaces (like The Garage) which have a strong curatorial voice. That would then attract more buyers and the cycle then really gets an exciting momentum.
What is currently on your studio/work desk?
It is not good for the clutter, but I have many projects in all stages on my desk. Too many of those projects are in the infant stage! I wish I had more time, but lack of it is a pretty wonderful filter letting only the best (or profitable) ones through. I currently have a half-completed moon drawing on my desk. I hope to complete it to then make a screen or block out of to print the phases of the moon onto a book of old 78 records. This project remains on the desk because I am really excited by it, but it is not my usual thing (art books from found objects) and so keeps getting pushed to a back burner. Talking about it now is a good kick in the butt.
Photos courtesy of the artist.
The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the artist and do not necessarily represent the policies or positions of NCAI.
Steve Haske is a rambler. Sometimes he is classified as other things too, like an Illustrator, designer, fixer or Dad. He teaches art at Renaissance School in Charlottesville and keeps lots of sketchbooks and is always searching for beauty in the world, both real and more than real. Earthworms and construction equipment can be sources of beauty as much as butterflies and stranger's faces. He enjoys a good bike ride or hikes with frequent stops for looking around and drawing. He grew up in Southern California and has taken a crooked, rambling path to Charlottesville, Virginia, which he is proud to call home along with his wife and two boys.
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