RICK STEVENS


STATEMENT

My work may be seen as an open window to other realms. Its visual vocabulary has evolved from years of painting the landscape. Although I no longer consider myself a landscape painter nature continues to be my muse. I think of nature as a continuous flow of shapes and patterns of energy that has, or more precisely is, an intelligent force. Most modern day physicists will tell us that all the forces and particles in nature are one, just different ripples on the ocean of consciousness: a Unified Field.

While acknowledging a debt to the abstract expressionists I don’t consider myself ‘of that school’.  That movement tended to focus our attention upon the work as a thing in itself, identified with the art-process. While I wish to stay true to the modernist idea of process-oriented art, behind my shapes and colors on the picture surface there is always another realm, another order of meaning, however abstract that meaning may be.

 A sense of structure is important to me, but I avoid strong divisions. I require a certain ‘fluidity’ where everything is flowing into the next thing. My compositions are infused with an overall light that is all-inclusive. This  doesn’t allow anything to be read as separate from the whole. There is diversity, just like in the natural world, but there is an underlying unity that is apparent. I sometimes use preliminary sketches as beginning compositions for paintings and pastels. Much of my process is improvised, allowing the work to evolve organically.


PROFILE

Rick Stevens’s career as an artist has evolved in much the same way his paintings do. He takes his inspiration from the natural world in all its sublime mystery, then surrenders to that mystery to let the unseen forces of nature guide his hand—and his life. This intuitive process creates room for those serendipitous moments that emerge only when the chattering of the conscious mind is stilled, allowing him to proceed with his life and work in an atmosphere of quiet joy and reverence.

It’s been that way ever since he was a small child growing up in Sparta, Michigan, when he used to watch his talented father as he painted evocative landscapes that reflected the beauty of woods, rivers, and wildlife. Inspired by that process, Stevens went on to study art at college, but his most intense education was provided by the woods themselves.

Shortly after graduation, he retreated to an isolated cabin in northern Michigan for a year to meditate and absorb the rhythms of the life forces that commingled within the forest. The move was precipitated by his association with a spiritual teacher from India, which brought about major changes in both his way of thinking and his lifestyle, including the cultivation of practices such as meditation and yoga. These disciplines complemented his study of compatible teachings from his own cultural heritage, such as that of the transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau, which provided a way of connecting to the spiritual aspects of nature. The existential questions raised in these studies also spurred his interest in quantum physics and other such scientific theories, along with a desire to explore these worlds through his art.

Stevens thus began as a landscape painter, but the ephemeral appeal of nature eventually led him away from the realistic rendering of what he saw around him and into a realm of abstraction, where pulsating energy and lambent light create the crescendos and diminuendos of a world in continuous flux. Working both in the studio and en plein air, he draws on the realism and abstractions of the natural world to create paintings that challenge us to perceive the underlying structure of the universe within a seemingly random expression of unalloyed beauty.

“Often it comes together in a mysterious way, through ‘accident’ or intuitive guidance,” says the artist. “It’s a process of projecting intention, then letting go of fixed ideas of how it will come together.”

Recently his work has come full circle as he returns to his roots in recognizable landscapes for some of his expression. But all of his paintings, whether abstracted or representational, continue to merge the observable world with the unseen psychic energy beneath the surface that engages us the never-ending cosmic dance.


BIOGRAPHY

Education

1982
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

1979-1981
Kendall College of Art & Design, Grand Rapids, Michigan

1977-1979
Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Selected Exhibitions

2018
“Collective”, LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, MI

2017
“Perception & Intention”, LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, MI
"Freshly Considered", LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids,

2016
"Everyone in the Pool", LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan
"Collective Alchemy", LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, Michigan
"Colorado Color", Ann Korlogos Gallery, Basalt, Colorado

2015
"Let's Get Started", LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, Michigan
"Everyone in The Pool", LaFontsee Galleries, Douglas, Michigan
"Lookie Here", LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, Michigan
"The Nature of What Arises", Solo Exhibition, Canfin Gallery, Tarrytown, New York
"Interwoven Life", Solo Exhibition, Hunter Kirkland Contemporary, Santa Fe, New Mexico

2014
LaFontsee Galleries, “Annual Fall Celebration”, Grand Rapids, Michigan
LaFontsee Galleries, "Unusual Suspects”, Douglas, Michigan
LaFontsee Galleries, “Hop Skip & a Jump”, Douglas, Michigan
Hunter Kirkland Contemporary, "Wilderness Within", Solo Exhibition, Santa Fe, New Mexico

2013   
Mark Gallery, "Domain of Intangibles", Solo Exhibition, Englewood, New Jersey
Hunter Kirkland Contemporary, "Nothing but Life", Solo Exhibition, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hunter Kirkland Conteporary, "Three Painters Paint", Santa Fe, New Mexico
Thomas Deans Fine Art, "Landscapes of the Mind", Atlanta, Georgia

2012   
LaFontsee Galleries, “25 Year Gala”, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Hunter Kirkland Contemporary, “Perpetual Unfolding”, Solo Exhibition, Santa Fe, New Mexico
LaFontsee Galleries, “LG-Group”, Douglas, Michigan
LaFontsee Galleries, “Color Context”, Douglas, Michigan
Gallery KH, “Shaping the Unknown”, Solo Exhibition, Chicago, Illinois
LaFontsee Galleries, “Power of Pattern”, Douglas, Michigan
LaFontsee Galleries, “Act II”, Douglas, Michigan
Mark Gallery, "Weaving Worlds", Solo Exhibition, Englewood, New Jersey
Reynolds Fine Art, "The Line", New Haven, Connecticut

2011    
LaFontsee Galleries, “Come Out and Play”, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Hunter Kirkland Contemporary, “Potentiality”, Solo Exhibition, Santa Fe, New Mexico
LaFontsee Galleries, “Fall at The Lakeshore”, Douglas, Michigan
LaFontsee Galleries, “Summer Fun”, Douglas, Michigan
LaFontsee Galleries, “Opening Celebration”, Douglas, Michigan

2010
Mark Gallery, "Luminous Terrain," Solo Exhibition, Englewood, New Jersey
Hunter Kirkland Contemporary, "Between Connections," Solo Exhibition, Santa Fe, New Mexico

2009
Hunter Kirkland Contemporary, "Picture Music," Solo Exhibition, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Gallery KH, "Invoking the Unknown," Solo Exhibition, Chicago, Illinois
Hunter Kirkland Contemporary, "Annual Show of New York," Group Exhibition, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Mark Gallery, "Rhythms of Nature," Group Exhibition, Englewood, New Jersey

2008
Hunter Kirkland Contemporary, "Diverging Elements," Solo Exhibition, Santa Fe, NM
Gallery KH, "Directional Developments," Solo Exhibition, Chicago, IL
Mark Gallery, "Rhythms of Nature," Group Exhibition, Englewood, New Jersey

2007
Hunter Kirkland Contemporary, "Evolving Structures," Solo Exhibition, Santa Fe, NM

2006
Hunter Kirkland Contemporary, "Emerging Balance," Solo Exhibition, Santa Fe, NM

2005
LaFontsee Galleries, “objective-nonobjective,” Two-Person Exhibition, Grand Rapids, Michigan

2004
LaFontsee Galleries, “63 Years and Painting,” Three-Person Exhibition, Grand Rapids, Michigan

2003
LaFontsee Galleries, “Holiday Muse,” Group Exhibition, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Edgewood Orchard Gallery, Featured Artist, Fish Creek, Wisconsin
LaFontsee Galleries, “Natural Code,” Four-Person Exhibition, Grand Rapids, Michigan

2002  
Montage, “Beaver Island Perspective,” Solo Exhibition, Beaver Island, Michigan
Hankins Gallery, “New Paintings,” Solo Exhibition, Lansing, Michigan
LaFontsee Galleries, “LaFontsee Galleries’ Fifteenth Anniversary Celebration,” Group Exhibition, Grand Rapids, Michigan

2001   
LaFontsee Galleries, "Common Ground," Three-Person Exhibition, Grand Rapids, Michigan

2000  
Hankins Gallery, “Light and Reflection,” Solo Exhibition, Lansing, Michigan,
Michael FitzSimmons Decorative Arts, “Sympathetic Resonance,” Group Exhibition, Chicago, Illinois
Grand Rapids Art Museum, “Rick Stevens: Mindscape-Landscape,” Solo Exhibition, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Honors / Awards

2003   
Festival Award, “Festival Visual Arts Competition,” Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan

2001
First Place Festival Award, “Festival Visual Arts Competition,” Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan

1999
Best of Show, "11th Annual Juried Exhibition," Holland Area Arts Council, Holland, Michigan

1998
Best of Show, "West Michigan Regional Competition," Lowell Area Arts Council, Lowell, Michigan

1997
Artist-in-Residence, Arcadia National Park, Maine
Artist-in-Residence, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter, Indiana
Brickley Delong Award, "Regional Competition," Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, Michigan
Perugino Award (First Place), "A Renaissance Garden," Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan

1996
First Place, “2nd Annual Juried Exhibition,” Franciscan Center, Lowell, Michigan
Second Place, “Holland Friends of Art Annual Competition,” Holland, Michigan
Best 2-D Award, Lowell Area Arts Council Annual Competition, Lowell, Michigan
Purchase Award, "Festival Visual Arts Competition," Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan

1995
Best of Show, “Holland Friends of Art Annual Competition,” Holland, Michigan
Henry Witt Buick Painting Award, “Regional Competition,” Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, Michigan
Artist-in-Residence, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Empire, Michigan

1994
Saginaw County Purchase Award, “State of the Arts Annual Exhibition,” Saginaw, Michigan
First Place, Premier Collection, WGVU-TV Auction, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Artist-in-Residence, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

1993
Artist-in-Residence, Isle Royale National Park, Isle Royale, Michigan

1991    
Second Place, “Holland Friends of Art 28th Annual Competition,” Holland, Michigan

1988    
Friends of Art Award, “Regional Competition,” Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, Michigan

1987
Second Place, "Celebration: A Festival of Religious Arts," Grand Rapids, Michigan

1986
First Place, "Winterfest," Holland, Michigan
First Place, "Celebration: A Festival of Religious Arts," Grand Rapids, Michigan

1984
Festival Award and City Purchase Award, "Festival Visual Arts Competition," Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Best of Show, "Art in the Park," Birmingham, Michigan

1983
Best of Show and Best Display, "Ramparts: Affairs of the Arts," Grand Rapids, Michigan