We had the good fortune of connecting with Steve Cope and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steve, why did you pursue a creative career?
Early in my life, drawing things came pretty easily for me, it was something I had a knack for. The more I did it, the more interesting it became. When it came time to choose what I’d like to do as an adult, there was only one thing there, be a painter. My day job early on was bartending, good money and a bit of fun. Then I came to teaching which is a special part of my life, talkng with young people keeps me on my toes. Painting is always on my mind regardless of what I am doing. To me it boils down to two questions: how do I make a painting? And, why do I make a painting? The combination of how and why I produce work, constitute for me the essential framework for a life in painting. I have found that life in the studio is very pure, there’s only one thing to do there, paint. Before this pandemic the New York art scene was a blast, gallery openings, art fairs, parties and gatherings, it’s all about connecting, especially for artists who generally spend a ton of hours alone in the studio. I can’t wait to see how it evolves. In the end, making paintings is a generative act, you bring something new into existence, something that hasn’t been here yet and that pursuit simply makes one feel good.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
From the beginning, I’ve mostly been a landscape painter. First, when I was in Boston I’d put a new canvas in my car everyday and drive around looking for a good view, make a painting then finish it in the studio. I did that most days for 5 years. One snowy day, I was in the studio looking for something to paint and paint on. I found a small wood panel measuring 2 inches by 6 inches, about the size of a Hershey Bar. I thought, maybe a deep space vista on a such small panel would be interesting. Something vast on a small scale, a painting you could hold in the palm of your hand, the world on a micro scale. So I made many tiny paintings, highly detailed super mini American landscapes many measuring as small as 1″ x 5″. Then they started to grow, first to 5″ by 20″, then 7″ x 28″, now 16″ x 48″ all in a panoramic format, which to me is mostly how we see, left to right, back and forth. It took me a long time to learn how to make very particular paintings. I had to stay with the painting and keep working on it, so I had to develop a new way of working, the bigger they got the more stuff I had to paint. Rather than making lots of fast paintings, I had to slow down and be patient. I think the Earth is a magical looking place, I feel like I discover new things about myself and the world all the time through the visual experuence.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First we go to the Met. The Metropolitan Museum of Art I believe is the 3rd largest museum in the world and has an unbelievably vast collection, we could spend the whole week there. Variety is good so then to the Staten Island Ferry, we’d go there and back, it’s free and gets you out in the inner harbor for a ride past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. A day in Chelsea gallery district, tons of galleries and restaurants, we could exit through the High Line which is an elevated park on old train tracks, a mile and a half long, spectacular view, amazing gardens. That’s a perfect day, art, food and parks. Then to the Lower East Side to another huge gallery scene, lots of great galleries and then lunch at the Famous Katz’s Deli for a ginormous pastrami sandwich. There are so many things to do here, there are the Upper East Side galleries, the Whitney Museum in the Meat District (which is really fancy nowadays), Central Park, which could also take a week to explore and I haven’t mentioned all the other arts, theater, ballet, dance, music so it depends on what’s interesting to us at the time. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The arts community. It has been my experience with all the gallery dealers, art consultants, artists, collectors and writers, everyone involved in the arts, that they are in it to support the creative process, support each other and promote the arts. Extraordinary people make up the community and I lucky to be part of it.
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