Local painter Marti Steffy believes color has the power to stir up memories.
“I think color can bring up nostalgic feelings from a place that a person has been,” Steffy said. “It stimulates the senses.”
Steffy, one of five artists displaying new works this month at Art Access Gallery, enjoys traveling the world and then portraying her experiences using colors. “In Tuscany, for example, it brings up all those orangey colors and rusty, dark greens,” she said.
Her paintings fall into two very different realms: “fresh, impressionistic” landscapes and vivid “expressionistic” abstracts full of blocks of color, curlicues and occasional thoughtfully placed lines. Steffy said she often is working on both styles at the same time.
“Sometimes I wonder about other artists that do the same thing over and over. My mind just doesn’t seem to work like that,” she said. “I have to constantly reenergize it by switching into abstracts or switching into landscapes or into collage.”
She takes pleasure in experimentation while working on the abstracts, layering and glazing to create many different effects. Because of that, no two of her works look especially similar.
When viewers observe one of her abstracts, she doesn’t mind if the colors don’t bring to mind the same location they do for her.
“If the transference of colors to the senses inspires that person, hopefully it would bring to mind an experience or a place where they’ve been, so they could relate to it in their own life,” she said.
The other four artists featured on the walls at Art Access this month share Steffy’s tendency toward rich, vibrant colors. Many of Columbus-based Ellen Bazzoli’s encaustic paintings resemble thick, turbulent waves of color, but for Bazzoli, what matters most about her work is the process of shaping the wax on the surface to create texture.
Cincinnati artist Susan Mahan turns strips of magazines and other media into vases and flower arrangements that seem to pop off the canvas, and local painter Paula Rubinstein also focuses on colorful still lifes. Rounding out the lineup is Brian Nash, a Ralph Lauren marketing exec turned country songwriter turned painter, who creates cute imagery of flip-flops, bow ties and animals perfect for children’s books.
“Dazzle Me Red,” by Marti Steffy