• When I show these, people laugh and I always wonder what laughter is. I suppose Baudelaire’s definition is still valid – it’s the collision of two contrary feelings.

    -- Philip Guston

    My work uses a highly stylized visual language and a subject matter rooted in childhood, dreams, and memories to deal with complex, sometimes difficult emotions. I believe that humor, however dark, is one of the psyche’s most effective mechanisms for processing trauma.

    My art is colored by grief and filtered through a mood disorder. During a two-year period I lost my mother, three of her sisters, and my wife, all to cancer. Grief and bereavement were exacerbated by clinical depression, a condition I’ve struggled with since adolescence. These circumstances led me – a former performance and multimedia artist who rarely made personal work – to re-think my whole approach to art making.

    I focused my energy on developing an art that was uniquely mine – visionary, deeply felt, and rooted in my own experience. I created a stubbornly idiosyncratic visual style that gave free rein to my baroque tendencies, combining elements of drawing, painting, and printmaking in multi-part works. I embraced qualities that were unfashionable in vanguard art – narrative and story-telling, craft and decoration, non-irony – but central to a humanist ethos which values the unique vision of the individual and its capacity to engage the minds and emotions of real human beings in a meaningful way.

    The result is a kind of travelogue that navigates a tense, dreamscape version of the Middle American neighborhood where I grew up and related environs. All action occurs in this hermetic world and is executed in a style that I’ve dubbed, half seriously, both “storybook expressionism” and “suburban surrealism.”

    Images are alternately prosaic (ladders, shovels, gardens) and startling (peeping toms, frozen dogs, a menacing creature with an enlarged brain-like head) and function as leitmotifs which help to elucidate broader themes: the dispassionate reality of loss, the moral complexity of human urges, the struggle to keep elusive, monstrous forces at bay.

    Ultimately, the work is about collisions – between visual refinement and emotional chaos, between the adult’s world and the child’s world, between objective experience and elusive inner reality. Each dramatizes the disconnect that occurs when a child is forced to confront adult themes like illness, loss, and sexuality – or when an adult confronts the same themes and looks to childhood for an imaginative language rich and intuitive enough to describe such difficult emotional terrain.

  • CURRICULUM VITIAE

    EDUCATION:

    2004-2002 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
    Painting & Printmaking Department
    Master of Fine Arts Degree
    Studied with James Siena, James Hyde, Bonnie Collura, Mark
    Harris, Joe Fyfe, Richard Roth
    Graduated Summa cum Laude: 4.0 Grade Point Average

    2001-2000 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
    Painting & Printmaking Department
    Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree
    Studied with Diana Cooper, Gerald Donato, Barbara Tisserat

    1987-1984 School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
    Emphasis on Painting, Performance Art, Film & Art History
    Studied with Karl Wirsum, Tom Jaremba, Warren Sonnbert

    EXPERIENCE:

    Teaching:

    2015-2007 School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
    Adjunct faculty, Guest lecturer, Contemporary Practices Dept., teach Seminar/Lecture & Studio courses with emphasis on Art History, Art Theory, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Performance, Sculpture, Multimedia Installation, Filmmaking, Film History, Studio Practice and Critique, and the relationship of each to Psychology, Philosophy, History, and Politics; also taught Community Based Practices courses

    2007-2004 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
    Adjunct faculty, MIS Program, taught Graduate Painting,

    2007-2003 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
    Guest lecturer, BFA, MFA & MIS Programs

    2007 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
    Adjunct faculty, BFA Program, taught Intro to Critical Theory

    2006 Union Institute & University/Vermont College, Montpelier, VT
    Adjunct faculty, MFA Program, taught Graduate Painting

    2006-2005 George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
    Adjunct faculty, Art Foundation Dept., taught 2-D Fundamentals

    2004 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
    Adjunct faculty, MFA Program, taught Professional Practices for
    Artists, Writing about Art

    2004-2001 Saint Catherine’s School, Richmond, VA
    Visiting instructor, taught Art & Music History, Drawing

    2003 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
    Adjunct faculty, BFA Program, taught Basic Drawing

    2002 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
    Graduate assistant, Screen-printing & Lithography

    Art Critic/Essayist:

    2017-2015 Murder Ballad Monday/Sing Out! (national folk music journal)
    2015 Salon
    2007-2004 Art Papers (national magazine)
    2007 Sally Bowring catalog essay (Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, VA)
    2006 DART International (national magazine)
    2005-2002 Style Weekly (Richmond, VA, regular columnist)
    2004 Pivot Points catalog essay (traveling international exhibit)
    2000 Milo Russell catalog essay (retrospective exhibit, Richmond, VA)
    1990-1986 P-Form (Chicago, IL)

    Set Designer, Scenic Painter, Muralist:

    2002-1998 Clients included Dogwood Dell Theater, Richmond Shakespeare
    Festival, Science Museum of Virginia (Richmond, VA)
    1990-1987 Clients included Clubland / Vic Theater, Ronsley Production
    Company, Renown Production Company (Chicago, IL)

    Internships:

    2004-2001 Public Art Commission, Richmond, VA
    Assistant to Commission Coordinator
    1987-1984 Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, IL
    Gallery assistant

    AWARDS & DISTINCTIONS:

    2009 Nominee: Faculty of the Year Award, School of the Art Institute
    of Chicago, Chicago, IL (student nominated)
    2005 1st place award: Radius 250, multi-state juried exhibit at Artspace
    Gallery, Richmond, VA, John Ravenal, juror
    2004 Juror: Teresa Pollak Awards, Richmond, VA
    Nominee: Virginia Press Association Award (for art criticism),
    Richmond, VA
    Academic scholarship: Painting & Printmaking Department,
    Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
    2003 Graduate fellowship/assistantship, academic scholarship:
    Painting & Printmaking Department, Virginia Commonwealth
    University, Richmond, VA
    2002 John Roos Memorial Scholarship, academic scholarship:
    Painting & Printmaking Department, Virginia
    Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
    2001 Bon Air Artists Association Scholarship: Painting &
    Printmaking Department, Virginia Commonwealth University,
    Richmond, VA

    SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY:

    2013 Kogan, Rick, Chicago Tribune, "A Yen to Be Part of Art Conversation," 11/22/13
    2010 Linn, Bruce, "The Death of Painting Is Dead" Exhibition catalog, Hite Gallery, University of Louisville,
    2009 McNary, Jeffery, New City Art, “End of the 80s/Avram Eisen
    Gallery: Recommended,” 8/4/09
    2005 Bromirski, Martin, Anaba, "Winter Was Hard" Exhibition," 3/11/2005
    Coates, Jason, Style Weekly, “Jagged Hedges: The Highly
    Personal ‘Suburban Surrealism’ of Steven L. Jones,” 3/16/05
    2004 Roberts-Pullen, Paulette, Style Weekly, “Let the Show Begin:
    Dark, Cartoonlike Paintings of Steven L. Jones,” 5/5/04
    Volk, Gregory, MFA Thesis Exhibition catalog, Anderson
    Gallery, School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University

    SELECT SOLO & GROUP EXHIBITIONS:

    2013 Cermak Center, Chicago, IL. "Open Studios"
    SAIC Sullivan Galleries, Chicago, IL. "ArtWork 6"
    2012 Cermak Center, Chicago, IL. "Open Studios"
    2011 Zhou B Art Center, Chicago, IL. "Sexier," Cheng-Yung Kuo, Larry Lee, Oh Zhoushi, curators
    2010 Hite Gallery, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, "The Death of Painting Is Dead," Bruce Linn, curator
    2009 Avram Eisen Gallery, Chicago, IL, “SAIC Alumni Exhibit,”
    Laura Olear, juror
    2008 Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL, “Agenbite of Inwit,” by
    Matthew Owens at “Site Unseen”
    2008-2005 1708 Gallery, Richmond, VA, “Annual Small Works
    Invitational,” Brad Birchett, Steve Clark, Susan Jamieson & Mary
    Scurlock, jurors
    2008-2005 Main Art Gallery, Richmond, VA, “Strictly Drawing,” Janet
    DeCover, juror
    2007 Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL, “The Power of Then (Part
    1)” by Robert Metrick and John Ploof at “Site Unseen”
    2005 Artspace, Richmond, VA, “Radius 250,” John Ravenal, juror
    Main Art Gallery, Richmond, VA, “Winter Was Hard”
    Stefan Stux Gallery, New York, NY, “Double Chin”
    2004 1708 Gallery, Richmond, VA, “Critical Mass,” Peter Schjeldahl,
    juror
    1708 Gallery, Richmond, VA, “Annual Small Works
    Invitational,” Janet DeCover, Kris Iden & Diego Sanchez, jurors
    Anderson Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University,
    Richmond, VA, “Thesis Exhibits”
    Art Works, Richmond, VA, “Kazz-arole,” Ray Kazz, juror
    Main Art Gallery, Richmond, VA, “Strictly Drawing,” Janet
    DeCover, curator
    Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, VA, “Project Room”
    2003 Main Art Gallery, Richmond, VA, “Thumbnail,” Janet DeCover,
    curator
    Orange Door Gallery, Richmond, VA, “Toss-Up”
    School of the Arts Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University,
    Richmond, VA, Richard Roth, curator
    2002 1708 Gallery, Richmond, VA, “Moveable Feast”
    Locker 5B, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA,
    Virginia Samsel & Llewellyn Hensley, curators
    School of the Arts Gallery, Ohio State University, Columbus,
    OH, Richard Roth, curator
    School of the Arts Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University,
    Richmond, VA, Kristin Beal, curator
    Student Commons Art Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth
    University, Richmond, VA, “Misfits: Recent Works by George
    Fisher & Steven L. Jones”
    2001 Anderson Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University,
    Richmond, VA, “Juried Student Fine Art Exhibition,” Dennis
    Szakacs, juror
    Bradford Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University,
    Richmond, VA, “Interaction 19,” Reni Gower & Barbara Tisserat,
    curators

    SELECT COLLECTIONS:

    Capitol One, Richmond, VA
    Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, VA
    Gerald Donato & Joan Gausted, Richmond, VA
    Paul Klein, Chicago, IL
    Heidi Lang, Quechee, VT
    Rennie Sparks, Albuquerque, NM
    John Spear & Melissa Kupfer, Chicago, IL
    Barbara Tisserat, Richmond, VA

    REPRESENTATION:

    Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, VA

    SELECT PERFORMANCE ART HISTORY:

    1991-1985
    Chicago Filmmakers, Chicago, IL
    Club Lower Links, Chicago, IL
    Franklin Furnace, New York, NY
    Links Hall, Chicago, IL
    NAME Gallery, Chicago, IL
    Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, IL
    The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
    Sculpture Chicago, Chicago, IL
    The State of Illinois Building, Chicago, IL
    Superior Street Gallery, Chicago, IL
    Including collaborations with: Robert Dalton, Brendan
    DeVallance, Werner Herterich, Tom Jaremba, Robert Metrick,
    Iris Moore & Beth Tanner, Matthew Owens, John Spear

    SELECT FILM WORK:

    Allen Ross, “When I Regain My Foliage,” Chicago, IL
    Featured performer in this award-winning independent film